Is it harder to be an athiest in the US?

ssalvia
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Is it harder to be an athiest in the US?

 Hey guys,

 

I feel so sorry for athiests in the US. It must be very frustrating having to deal with the bible belt and all that goes with it. Don't get me wrong, I'm from Australia and we are still a typically christian country, but it seems that there are so many more fanatical christians over there. Plus I've noticed that there is a lot of press on how insular the average American is. This would seem to only fuel the problem more. Over here, there is a general sense of apathy towards religion for the most part, and fanatical christians dont make it into office as frequently. So my question is, is it harder to express your opinions towards theism in the US, even with free speech?

 

S.

 


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 Also, I apologize for the

 Also, I apologize for the misspelling of atheist in the post. My finger slipped. Numerous times. 


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I have the same impression.

I have the same impression. Reading some of the comments from American christians on this site has made my jaw drop to the floor more than once. Considering what they're up against, I can't help but feel a certain admiration for any openly atheist americans.


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 It depends on where in the

 It depends on where in the US you are. In the larger cities most people seem apathetic. If you get into bible thumping country you can quickly make yourself an outcast. Probably the most irritating thing is that the churches have a strong grip on our political system. My main problem is the left which tends to be less religious (although they still feel the need to pretend) also is incapable of doing basic math and understanding economics. The right, while have some kind of grasp on economics becomes so obsessed with their religious causes that I can't stomach them. 

If, if a white man puts his arm around me voluntarily, that's brotherhood. But if you - if you hold a gun on him and make him embrace me and pretend to be friendly or brotherly toward me, then that's not brotherhood, that's hypocrisy.- Malcolm X


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Living in a mid size town in

Living in a mid size town in TX is probably about as bad as it gets. I couldn't imagine it being worse and I'm thinking of saving up and leaving this god forsaken place.

Faith is the word but next to that snugged up closely "lie's" the want.
"By simple common sense I don't believe in god, in none."-Charlie Chaplin


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In God We Rust

Virginia checking in. The intolerance is strong here, but probably not as bad as NC, SC, TX and a few others. I was walking in the store yesterday and there was this group of 3 people huddled in the isle. I heard the woman say as I passed. "... Then they brought up the separation of church and state. Then I went 'Oh boy, here we go again'...". I wanted to stop and listen, but didn't want to make it obvious. I have been confronted for just saying what I believe, even by family and friends. Major disbelief that I could hold a contrary view. My daughter when she was younger even cried in front of me because she was sure that I was going to hell. That was hard to take. Her views have changed on this matter and it was not by me. I left it alone.

However, I don't think we are in the worst situation. I couldn't even imagine being an outspoken atheist in Iran or other fundamentalist countries. I would think you would give your life for it. 

In time I think the U.S. will move in that direction if there is no turnaround. Home schooling is a bane. What happened to the hippies? I frequently ask myself. Like Dylan they gone to Jesus. I will never understand the how and why.   When I was a kid there were Sunday Blue Laws. Some stores would not open on Sunday and if they did they were by law only allowed to sell certain items. There is a humorous true story of one of my more salty older women relatives back then. She was buying toilet paper and beer. The cashier told her she could not sell her the toilet paper because of the  Sunday Blue Laws. My relative shouted back at her, "Are you telling me I can get drunk on Sunday but I cannot wipe my ass?". 

It is crazy shit and I don't see anything that will stop it. The cancer grows.

Ignorance is not bliss, it breeds intolerance.

IN GOD WE RUST.

 

 

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


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As an American Christian

As an American Christian living in the South...I can promise you it is tough. Here, open atheists are almost non existent. As well, true Christians are just as rare. Here it's all about tradition. Everyone goes to church of Easter and Christmas and in between the pughs are fairly empty. Very little seperates those who claim to be Christians and those who are openly atheist in God's eyes, but in human eye it's a huge difference. Where I live, you're more likely to meet some one who has been struck by lightning than an open atheist (I mean it, I personally know 3 open atheists and 4 people who have been struck by lightning!). You pretty much have to say "I believe in god, I just don't think I should have to go to church, and I'm not sure what God". That way people get off your case.

 

It's sad, because it's America...you've got the freedom to hold your own beliefs without fear of persecution from the government, however other have the freedom to patronize you about it. I can't comment for places like LA or NYC, but I can say the South is a tough place for anybody other than a Christian, card carrying NRA member, who loves Johnny Cash. I point to a country song "our houses are protected by the good lord and a gun, and you might meet em both if you come round here not welcome son".

My Master has no desire to be merely victor in a debate: he did not come into the world to fight a battle of logic just
for the sake of winning it. --Charles Spurgeon


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ex-minister wrote:Virginia

ex-minister wrote:

Virginia checking in. The intolerance is strong here, but probably not as bad as NC, SC, TX and a few others. I was walking in the store yesterday and there was this group of 3 people huddled in the isle. I heard the woman say as I passed. "... Then they brought up the separation of church and state. Then I went 'Oh boy, here we go again'...". I wanted to stop and listen, but didn't want to make it obvious. I have been confronted for just saying what I believe, even by family and friends. Major disbelief that I could hold a contrary view. My daughter when she was younger even cried in front of me because she was sure that I was going to hell. That was hard to take. Her views have changed on this matter and it was not by me. I left it alone.

However, I don't think we are in the worst situation. I couldn't even imagine being an outspoken atheist in Iran or other fundamentalist countries. I would think you would give your life for it. 

In time I think the U.S. will move in that direction if there is no turnaround. Home schooling is a bane. What happened to the hippies? I frequently ask myself. Like Dylan they gone to Jesus. I will never understand the how and why.   When I was a kid there were Sunday Blue Laws. Some stores would not open on Sunday and if they did they were by law only allowed to sell certain items. There is a humorous true story of one of my more salty older women relatives back then. She was buying toilet paper and beer. The cashier told her she could not sell her the toilet paper because of the  Sunday Blue Laws. My relative shouted back at her, "Are you telling me I can get drunk on Sunday but I cannot wipe my ass?". 

It is crazy shit and I don't see anything that will stop it. The cancer grows.

Ignorance is not bliss, it breeds intolerance.

IN GOD WE RUST.

 

 

Dylan can go anywhere he wants as long as he writes songs like he does! (I'm a Bob Dylan fanatic). Where I live you can't buy any alchohol on Sunday (you should see the lines at gas stations and liquor stores at 11:30 p.m. on Saturdays!)

My Master has no desire to be merely victor in a debate: he did not come into the world to fight a battle of logic just
for the sake of winning it. --Charles Spurgeon


ex-minister
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bob dylan

Crossover wrote:

Dylan can go anywhere he wants as long as he writes songs like he does! (I'm a Bob Dylan fanatic). Where I live you can't buy any alchohol on Sunday (you should see the lines at gas stations and liquor stores at 11:30 p.m. on Saturdays!)

I am a superfan of Bob Dylan as well. The lyrics of his old song are incredible. He even said in a 60 minute interview a few years back he doesn't know how he wrote, "It's alright ma, I am only bleeding" and he certainly could not write a song like that again. I love it stabs at religion. But I find it hard not to point out that too many drugs made his brain mush and then he turned to Jesus. I still hold him in high regard. Slow Train Coming was his coming out for Jesus album. The recent ones seem far more quiet on the subject. Not sure what he thinks today.

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


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Crossover wrote:ex-minister

Crossover wrote:

ex-minister wrote:

When I was a kid there were Sunday Blue Laws. Some stores would not open on Sunday and if they did they were by law only allowed to sell certain items. There is a humorous true story of one of my more salty older women relatives back then. She was buying toilet paper and beer. The cashier told her she could not sell her the toilet paper because of the  Sunday Blue Laws. My relative shouted back at her, "Are you telling me I can get drunk on Sunday but I cannot wipe my ass?". 

It is crazy shit and I don't see anything that will stop it. The cancer grows.

Ignorance is not bliss, it breeds intolerance.

IN GOD WE RUST.

Dylan can go anywhere he wants as long as he writes songs like he does! (I'm a Bob Dylan fanatic). Where I live you can't buy any alchohol on Sunday (you should see the lines at gas stations and liquor stores at 11:30 p.m. on Saturdays!)

 

I grew up in Arizona.  Similar law, no alcohol before 12 pm noon on Sundays.  So you go to church sober, and then can get stinking drunk Sunday afternoon.  All the old alkies (alcoholics) would stand in front of the store displays Sunday morning, unable to even grab the beer before the signs (No alcohol sales before 12PM) came down.  What else is funny?  Arizona has no restraints on selling alcohol at any other time.  You can get your gallon of vodka at the grocery store where you pick up your eggs and bacon to go with that Bloody Mary for breakfast.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


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Yea, if you live in New York

Yea, if you live in New York or San Francisco or Los Angeles, being an atheist isn't hard.  It cuts down your potential social circle because there are still plenty of theistic bigots, but most people don't care.

But if you live in a rural area there is a good chance you're in fundamentalist Jesus land where half the people have not left their own state and think demons are as real as the mail man.

(Edit:  One of my favorite anecdotes was when World War 2 came up at a company picnic and I was talking to one of the head chemical engineers.  We were talking about concentration camps and what drove people to do horrible things.  I talked about how cultural and environmental pressures can drive just about anyone to do just about anything and he just snorted, smirked and chuckled.  No, he said, Hitler and the holocaust was the result of direct demonic intervention.  People don't do monstrous things like that unless Satan interferes and Christians fail in their faith.

 

This isn't some whackjob either, he is a well traveled and educated person and at least half the people at my company would just nod sagely at this kind of wisdom.)

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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western US

I currently live in Portland, OR.  Generally the west is more agnostic/atheist/non-religious statistically.  Practically, you need to live on the western side of the coastal mountain ranges - the Sierra Madres, the Cascades.  And living in the larger cities also helps.  Living in central Washington for 12 years, they are just as many believers there when it comes to religion as any other place I've visited.  Though they are more tolerant.  I was openly atheist when I lived there and the most I got was "how could you?"  Then I would be largely left alone unless someone decided they wanted to practice proselytizing and use me for their practice target.

Portland is wonderful.  You believe what you believe and if someone disagrees with you, it is okay to tell them to leave you alone.  I still get Jehovah Wittnesses in the airport, occasionally downtown and in my neighborhood.  My front yard is fenced and I just let the dogs out - no one comes to my door.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


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ex-minister wrote:Crossover

ex-minister wrote:

Crossover wrote:

Dylan can go anywhere he wants as long as he writes songs like he does! (I'm a Bob Dylan fanatic). Where I live you can't buy any alcohol on Sunday (you should see the lines at gas stations and liquor stores at 11:30 p.m. on Saturdays!)

I am a superfan of Bob Dylan as well. The lyrics of his old song are incredible. He even said in a 60 minute interview a few years back he doesn't know how he wrote, "It's alright ma, I am only bleeding" and he certainly could not write a song like that again. I love it stabs at religion. But I find it hard not to point out that too many drugs made his brain mush and then he turned to Jesus. I still hold him in high regard. Slow Train Coming was his coming out for Jesus album. The recent ones seem far more quiet on the subject. Not sure what he thinks today.

Is that the same interview were he claimed he was as good a singer as anyone else? I forget who he claimed he was better than, but the 60 minutes guy sure disagreed! As far as I know he still professes to be a Christian. I think he probably just got tired of writing Jesus songs (which as a coincidence, I'm tired of hearing them...so it works out!) In all reality it would've been career suicide for him to just keep making Gospel songs, since compared to the sales of secular albums, Gospel albums don't sell.

My Master has no desire to be merely victor in a debate: he did not come into the world to fight a battle of logic just
for the sake of winning it. --Charles Spurgeon


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a good voice?

Crossover wrote:

Is that the same interview were he claimed he was as good a singer as anyone else? I forget who he claimed he was better than, but the 60 minutes guy sure disagreed! As far as I know he still professes to be a Christian. I think he probably just got tired of writing Jesus songs (which as a coincidence, I'm tired of hearing them...so it works out!) In all reality it would've been career suicide for him to just keep making Gospel songs, since compared to the sales of secular albums, Gospel albums don't sell.

I don't recall him saying that in the interview. It would have stood out to me because he never had a good singing voice, but man it is sp harsh today. I wince when I hear it and after a song or two get used to it. That is some severe dain bramage for him to think he is a good singer. However, no one can touch him for his lyrics.

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


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Anybody else?

 I hope I didn't distract the conversation from being an atheist in a god-soaked world to Bob Dylan and thereby kill it.

 

Was interested in hearing from anyone else in the U.S. *(or even elsewhere) and their experience with being an atheist and the reaction of Christians or any other type of fundamentalist?

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

http://jesus-needs-money.blogspot.com/


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I live in Toronto, Canada,

I live in Toronto, Canada, and all I can say is that in all my travels, in Canada (with the exception so far of Nunavut and Manitoba) I have had it easy, no real problems with hard core theists with rare exceptions, I have friends from various faiths, but we all get along well, with some minor exceptions, it's all honky dory over here. At least my experience Canadians are easy going and religion is more about personal faith than a social aspect (I don't speak for all Canadians just how my perception due to my experiences). I have traveled the US and well it's been fine when I have been in California and New York, Florida was a different experience, and South Carolina, although very nice people, where dumbfounded as to how I could not believe in god.

South America however with my family, that was funny to see, as they know my father and I are both atheists, some still try to convince me that there is a god, even when I point out the problems with their so called evidence, we still get along as they only see me very few years, my closets cousins are what i call social christians, they don't really believe but still go to church and all that.


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I'm from Alabama and if you

I'm from Alabama and if you say you are an atheist there, you say it and run like hell. Of course I'm only joking but the part I'm from they look at you like you are a cockroach and you know you are the topic of gossip for years to come. I lived in texas for a good while and no one seems to really give it another thought. Though I didn't like a lot of things about living there one thing I can say is people don't seem to condemn you for that.

If all the Christians who have called other Christians " not really a Christian " were to vanish, there'd be no Christians left.


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It really isn't that much of

It really isn't that much of a problem here in Suburban California, especially as a teenager. Most of my friends are either only superficially religious (I often know more about the Bible than they do) or actually "agnostics" (read undecided) or atheists. Adults are a bit different, but the ones that I've talked to have been fine with a lack of belief. Can't say that it isn't a bit of taboo, since being outspoken about your views garners a few frowns, but people get over once they realize you aren't going to kill them because you don't believe in their god.

"The Chaplain had mastered, in a moment of divine intuition, the handy technique of protective rationalization and he was exhilarated by his discovery. It was miraculous. It was almost no trick at all, he saw, to turn vice into virtue and slander into truth, impotence into abstinence, arrogance into humility, plunder into philanthropy, thievery into honor, blasphemy into wisdom, brutality into patriotism, and sadism into justice. Anybody could do it; it required no brains at all. Just no Character."

"He...had gone down in flames...on the seventh day, while God was resting"

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D33PPURPLE wrote: (I often

D33PPURPLE wrote:

 (I often know more about the Bible than they do)

I know a guy who got some kind of minister license in prison /cough, and I know so much more of the bible than he does and he says he wants to start preaching.

I would consider preaching for $ but it's too widely known that I am an atheist for one and for two I'm a bit on the non public speaking side. It would be so fun to undermine the whole thing while seeming sincere though wouldn't it

Faith is the word but next to that snugged up closely "lie's" the want.
"By simple common sense I don't believe in god, in none."-Charlie Chaplin


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I'll agree with the

I'll agree with the prevailing sentiment that it depends on where in the U.S. you reside... I am a New yorker (living in NJ presently)... But I have an internet TV show that employs cringe humor......and everyone who knows me knows about my beliefs, and have heard me bash every religion there is... I have yet to recieve any negative fallout...  maybe some of that has to do with my lack of hesitation to tell anyone to go fuck themselves... and Granted, i do get the ocasional hate mail from some Christian Jizzbucket... But in this part of the country Atheism is aboout as controversial  as wearing a Yankees Cap is in Boston...


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robj101 wrote:D33PPURPLE

robj101 wrote:

D33PPURPLE wrote:

 (I often know more about the Bible than they do)

I know a guy who got some kind of minister license in prison /cough, and I know so much more of the bible than he does and he says he wants to start preaching.

I would consider preaching for $ but it's too widely known that I am an atheist for one and for two I'm a bit on the non public speaking side. It would be so fun to undermine the whole thing while seeming sincere though wouldn't it

 

It's been done so many times before you would think people would get wise to the scam.

-- I feel so much better since I stopped trying to believe.

"We are entitled to our own opinions. We're not entitled to our own facts"- Al Franken

"If death isn't sweet oblivion, I will be severely disappointed" - Ruth M.


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I'm an atheist in SC and

I'm an atheist in SC and it's not easy...not at all.  I was raised in a Baptist church (can I hear an AMEN???!!--how many times did I hear that growing up?) and my whole family is made up of church-going Christians.  Not just the Easter and Christmas Christians, either.  No, most of my family think it's an absolute that they should attend every time the doors are open.  Their religion penetrates every aspect of their lives.  So you can imagine, I have to bite my tongue quite a bit when I'm around them.  I've got a million stories, but will share just one--

When I told my mother I was going to have a baby, the first words out of her mouth were "Are you going to raise it to be an Atheist?"  No "Congratulations" or "I'm so happy".  Nope.  Just a 20 minute lecture on why atheists shouldn't procreate because they're damning their own children to hell.  Even before my son was born, I started dreading the inevitable moment when my mother tries to "save his soul" behind my back.

Also, I briefly worked at a child care center this summer.  My first day there, I was surprised to see the other teachers in the room leading the children in a "blessing" before lunch and snack.  I told them I didn't really think that was appropriate, since we don't know what the children's parents believe.  As word spread around the daycare over the next few weeks about what I'd said, I was ostracized, ignored, and eventually snapped at when I brought it up again.  "Well, that's just the way we do things here!"  I could not get anyone there--including the director--to understand why it was not right to lead those kids in a prayer, without the parents' permission, before they were allowed to eat.

I want so badly to put a bumper sticker on my car that says "My dinosaur ate your Jesus fish", but don't because of the possible consequences.  Not just with my family--I would be afraid of parking my car somewhere and coming back to find it smashed with a crowbar or something.  Seriously.

 


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KY, here. It's

KY, here. It's pretty mixed. We have a couple big cities where people are accepting, but everywhere else you find mostly bible-thumping biggots... Who sometimes go into those big cities.  It's weird.

Bridge breeding proves evolution false.


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LLMitch wrote:I'm an atheist

LLMitch wrote:

I'm an atheist in SC and it's not easy...not at all. I was raised in a Baptist church (can I hear an AMEN???!!--how many times did I hear that growing up?) and my whole family is made up of church-going Christians. Not just the Easter and Christmas Christians, either. No, most of my family think it's an absolute that they should attend every time the doors are open. Their religion penetrates every aspect of their lives. So you can imagine, I have to bite my tongue quite a bit when I'm around them. I've got a million stories, but will share just one--

When I told my mother I was going to have a baby, the first words out of her mouth were "Are you going to raise it to be an Atheist?" No "Congratulations" or "I'm so happy". Nope. Just a 20 minute lecture on why atheists shouldn't procreate because they're damning their own children to hell. Even before my son was born, I started dreading the inevitable moment when my mother tries to "save his soul" behind my back.

Also, I briefly worked at a child care center this summer. My first day there, I was surprised to see the other teachers in the room leading the children in a "blessing" before lunch and snack. I told them I didn't really think that was appropriate, since we don't know what the children's parents believe. As word spread around the daycare over the next few weeks about what I'd said, I was ostracized, ignored, and eventually snapped at when I brought it up again. "Well, that's just the way we do things here!" I could not get anyone there--including the director--to understand why it was not right to lead those kids in a prayer, without the parents' permission, before they were allowed to eat.

I want so badly to put a bumper sticker on my car that says "My dinosaur ate your Jesus fish", but don't because of the possible consequences. Not just with my family--I would be afraid of parking my car somewhere and coming back to find it smashed with a crowbar or something. Seriously.

 

That sucks about your mom.

Make a real account sometime, it can be therapeutic to discuss this stuff with people who have experienced the same issues.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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South Jersey

I live in Camden County, New Jersey, which is across the river from Philadelphia. It is not a problem, being an atheist, for me.

Of course, I am more tactful when I am working in a church (as a musician,) or when I was teaching in the catholic school, than I've ever been online, but at the theaters, with my family, and anywhere else I have never felt pressured to keep quiet about my atheism.

It used to surprise me how many people disagreed with my views. I cannot tell you how many times I've heard myself say, "You believe that? Literally? Wow." Now it surprises me how often people agree with my views, openly. Of course, as a musician, many or most of my friends and acquaintances are more progressively leaning than not, and I wonder if there is a correlation there.

My theory (hypothesis, really) about all of this is that being in a region that is mostly urban from Boston down to Washington, D.C., or at least sub-urban, we are maybe more used to encountering people who's views do not match our own. I don't think we North-Easterners are inherently more intelligent or open-minded than anyone else, but I do think we have a lot more people. I grew up a catholic with a large number of jewish friends and neighbors. There were also a lot of 'African-Americans' and while I don't think that really means a whole lot, I imagins that if I lived in an area where I was not exposed to jews, blacks, muslims, asians, gays and a whole lot of other minority groups, I might not be as accepting of them. Who knows?

This is why I think it is important to 'come out' as an atheist. If we can gain the attention of the more main-stream of our fellow-americans without alienating them, we will get a long way toward a more reasonable and open-minded America.


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I think urban vs rural is a

I think urban vs rural is a big part of it. Urbanites are exposed to other cultures, personal beliefs and religions. It is desensitizing. In a rural area it is far easier to be a bigot.

Everything makes more sense now that I've stopped believing.


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In agreement

Tadgh wrote:

I live in Camden County, New Jersey, which is across the river from Philadelphia. It is not a problem, being an atheist, for me.

Of course, I am more tactful when I am working in a church (as a musician,) or when I was teaching in the catholic school, than I've ever been online, but at the theaters, with my family, and anywhere else I have never felt pressured to keep quiet about my atheism.

It used to surprise me how many people disagreed with my views. I cannot tell you how many times I've heard myself say, "You believe that? Literally? Wow." Now it surprises me how often people agree with my views, openly. Of course, as a musician, many or most of my friends and acquaintances are more progressively leaning than not, and I wonder if there is a correlation there.

My theory (hypothesis, really) about all of this is that being in a region that is mostly urban from Boston down to Washington, D.C., or at least sub-urban, we are maybe more used to encountering people who's views do not match our own. I don't think we North-Easterners are inherently more intelligent or open-minded than anyone else, but I do think we have a lot more people. I grew up a catholic with a large number of jewish friends and neighbors. There were also a lot of 'African-Americans' and while I don't think that really means a whole lot, I imagins that if I lived in an area where I was not exposed to jews, blacks, muslims, asians, gays and a whole lot of other minority groups, I might not be as accepting of them. Who knows?

This is why I think it is important to 'come out' as an atheist. If we can gain the attention of the more main-stream of our fellow-americans without alienating them, we will get a long way toward a more reasonable and open-minded America.

 

Excellent points. My younger daughter was a fundie, then she went to a state college. It really opened her mind up to the differences people have and there is NOT JUST ONE WAY <ARROW UP>. That is the best exposure children can have. Red States tend to be homogenized and home schooling is a curse. 

Religion Kills !!!

Numbers 31:17-18 - Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

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Kavis
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rebecca.williamson wrote:I'm

rebecca.williamson wrote:

I'm from Alabama and if you say you are an atheist there, you say it and run like hell. Of course I'm only joking but the part I'm from they look at you like you are a cockroach and you know you are the topic of gossip for years to come. I lived in texas for a good while and no one seems to really give it another thought. Though I didn't like a lot of things about living there one thing I can say is people don't seem to condemn you for that.

What part of Alabama?  I live south of Birmingham, in that surreal mix of urban enlightenment bordered by Deliverance.

I'm pretty laid back about my atheism.  I don't censor myself if I feel like saying something that would out me, but I don't wander around picking fights in the middle of the gorram bible belt either. The part about being surrounded that annoys me the most, though, is repetition.  The common theist has more or less the same list of arguments as any other theist, and at the first sign that I'm an atheist they trot out the list like it's won best in show.  It gets old.

Religion is a virus.
Fight the infection.