"Should I Come Out of the Closet?"

Every once-in-a-while I'll get an email asking me if a person who is a non-believer should "come out of the closet." I received another one today:

My question to you is, should I “come out of the closet” with regard to my agnosticism? If I were to do so, I would only give my opinion if asked or if religious issues were being discussed. I know that some of my wife’s family and my own family would not like me anymore, but that doesn’t really bother me. However, I know that it could negatively effect my wife and I do not want to make life difficult for her. What should I do?
Here's what I said:

1) People will still like you. If they don't like you after you tell them they probably didn't like you before. It just means you've given them an excuse to say so. 2) Jesus was the first one to say believers should be willing to forsake family for him, so if there is a problem it's because of what Jesus purportedly said, and another reason to come out against such stupidity. 3) Life is difficult. Get used to it. But you can choose your battles. Ask if you can live with yourself in hiding. Many of your forbearers suffered a great deal to make your life as an agnostic better. Some were burned alive. If they can do that for your freedom to speak out, then such a difficulty as yours should be considered minor and met with courage. 4) We need you. If every agnostic and atheist came out of the closet people would get used to it. There is safety in numbers. Please do your part.

In the end though, this is your choice. You see what I would do. But I am not you.

For still more advice see this.


ReallyEvilCanine said...

2) I doubt Jesus was the first to say something like that but what kind of "loving" deity would ever tell you to shun a family member? That's one of the most disgusting bits of the religion, trumping even the acceptance of slavery.

3) I don't know about you but being open about my atheism was due to stubbornness and not for any altruistic reasons. I suffered dearly as a child but never was my intention to make things easier for others. I can't stand lies and hypocrisy and I don't know when to keep my trap shut.

4) Amen!

Anonymous said...

I've been an agnostic for almost 20 years and I still haven't told most of my family members that I'm no longer a Christian. Some of them are devout Missouri Synod Lutherans, while others are not very religious. I won't lie if asked, but I just don't discuss my politics, weight, income or agnosticism with most people and so far it has worked out fine.