I just finished listening to the latest episode of the most excellent podcast The Thinking Atheist: I’m An Atheist, But I’m Not “Out”. If you’ve never listened, this is a great episode on which to start.
To anybody who is in the closet I want to say: I understand.
I understand that you may be in a place in your life where the price of coming out as an atheist may be too high. Perhaps you are still young and fear your parents kicking you out or cutting off from financial assistance for school. Perhaps you are older and have a family of your own and are afraid of losing that. Perhaps it could affect your career or ruin your social life. Perhaps your physical safety could be in danger, or you could face other serious consequences if you were to come out publicly. Perhaps you simply feel that the harm of hurting those who love you simply outweighs any benefits of coming out.
Let me say a couple of things. First, though it may be difficult, I would encourage you to come out if at all possible. I understand there can be consequences, and only you can weigh whether or not it would be worth it for you. I can tell you though, it is so incredibly freeing. Yes there may be consequences, but for me it has been well worth it by being able to truly feel free and be who I am and not always feel like I’m hiding something. My wife and I are now able to, because we came out, shield our kids from religious indoctrination. But of course, only you can know if it is right for you.
If it isn’t right for you at this point, and you must remain in the closet, know this: those of us who are able to be out are paving the way. We are helping to make the world a safer place for all of us atheists. We are increasing in numbers, we are living good lives and slowly changing opinions, and some of us are actively crusading for the atheist movement. I personally play a small part, but collectively, we are fighting for you.
If you are closeted, also please know that you are not alone, and you’re not crazy (borrowed from Seth at The Thinking Atheist). You may be the only person you know who doesn’t believe, but there are millions of us out here. If you want somebody who will listen to you, we are here for you. Please feel free to email us (ThyGodIsFictitious@gmail.com) or message our Facebook page (Thy God Is Fictitious). We would love to help you and would of course absolutely protect your anonymity. There are also tons of other resources out there. If you are a member of the clergy, The Clergy Project is especially for you (http://www.clergyproject.org). Just have a look around Facebook and you will find many, many, many groups and pages very willing to help you.
Good luck to you. Keep searching, and keep reasoning. Never be afraid of new information or ideas. Always be open-minded. And remember: you are not alone, and you’re not crazy.