Look, if you don’t want to believe, that’s fine. But why do you atheists have to talk about it? Just say you’re not a person of faith and leave it at that. You atheists need to understand that the majority of the nation is still faith based and always will be.
As I’ve become more open about my atheism, I’ve had to deal with statements like the one quoted above from people. Oddly enough, it’s always outspoken Christians who say this to me. It is perfectly fine for them to wear their faith on their sleeve, to publicly declare their love for Jesus. But atheists are supposed to keep a low profile and accept their status as a lowly minority. I won’t deal with the hypocrisy in such thinking in this post(however if you’d like to read a brilliant response to such hypocrisy please click here). What I will do, however, is explain my reasons for writing about religion as I do and for publicly identifying as an atheist.
I do it because I’m a writer. I started when I was eleven years old. Though my output has decreased at times, it has never ceased altogether. Writing has always been a way for me to process my thoughts and my feelings. Apostatizing from Islam and leaving religion altogether was one of the watershed moments of my life, so it was only natural that my experiences in faith would become a major topic of my writing.
I do it out of necessity. The stigma surrounding apostasy-even in a nation like the USA-can be incredibly difficult to bear. Those who say no to religion are still ostracized and treated as lepers simply for existing. The pain and alienation that nonbelievers face from friends and family is very real. In the middle of that, we need to know that we are not alone. And while I can certainly empathize with atheists and agnostics who choose to “pass” in this society, I myself refuse to do it. Would it be easier to just stay in the closet? Sure. Could I just follow the example of others and kowtow to organized religion, walking on eggshells in order to refrain from offending the delicate sensibilities of the majority? Of course. Will I ever agree to such a thing? Hell no. If things are ever going to change, some of us have to speak up!
I do it out of solidarity. I do it for the Muslim who is at the same place I was one year ago, having doubts and questions but unable to share them with anyone I knew. I do it for the muslimah who chafes internally at the restrictions she lives with and knows in her soul that the Qu’ran is flawed. I do it for the teenager living in a home where church attendance is mandatory and free thought is banned. I do it for the person who is sitting in the pews Sunday after Sunday though their conscience is telling them they have been deceived. I do it for the Black person who wants to divorce themselves from religion, but thinks that it’s impossible to do so because they were raised to think of it as an inseparable part of their identity. I do it because all of these people need to know that they are not alone. They need to know that they can doubt, they can question, and, most importantly, they can leave.