Prejudice against non-believers

secular non-religious not alone

(Photo: SecularLife.net)

I have always known that if I didn’t belong to the cult, my social life would suffer.  Of course, living in a big city for two decades mitigated that problem to some extent. Then and there the snootiness came from the direction of the monied, rather than the religious. Having little money wasn’t too hard when I was by myself, as there were plenty of equally poor friends to socialize with. But once I differentiated myself from my friends by bringing a wee one into the world, the social life naturally changed.

Like so many non-religionists, I have struggled to find our “happy place” without having to join the local sanctioned cult. I’m sure the members of those sanctioned cults – e.g., Christianity and Judaism – are perfectly lovely people. But how can I seriously force myself to go sit and listen to fabulous fairytales, horror stories and platitudinous pabulum about non-existent characters of Middle-Eastern descent every Sunday? (Or Saturday.)

For the non-religious, this lack of an organized cult in our lives can be trying for these very social reasons. If something bad happens, no support – no church to turn to if the health slips, the house burns down or some other tragedy strikes. We are left hanging, and even in a progressive area we also must not expose our unbelief for fear that we too will be quarantined, as has happened to so many non-believers – and us in the past as well. This exact concern is expressed by a  family in Texas, who wrote a letter to a columnist at “Freakonomics“:

We are agnostics living deep in the heart of Texas and our family fakes Christianity for social reasons. It’s not so much for the sake of my husband or myself but for our young children. We found by experience that if we were truthful about not being regular church attenders, the play dates suddenly ended. Thus started the faking of the religious funk.

It seemed silly but it’s all very serious business down here. We don’t go to church or teach or children one belief is “right” over another. We expose them to every kind of belief and trust that they will one day settle in to their very own spirituality. However, for the sake of friends and neighbors, we pretend we are Christians. We try not to lie but rather not to disclose unnecessary information. As the children are getting older, this isn’t so easy for them and an outing is probably eminent….

I understand their concerns, although I am not in redneck country or the Bible belt, fortunately. I can only imagine what that would be like. Because of these issues, I have spent years online trying to build a community there. My vision has included such a community in the “real world” as well, with our own places for gathering to create friendships; to discuss religious, spiritual and mythological subjects; and to inspire each other. Being a non-believer in itself is not enough for most people – humans tend to be herders, and we need community for a variety of reasons. I continue with my vision… Wish me luck – and join me!

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  1. Some day i’d love to be a part of your real world social group with my bro’s , we love to discuss religious, spiritual, and mythological subjects, but feel very uncomfortable sharing the information with our extended family… it gets old feeling like we are sinners for questioning, and talking about these things.
    -MS

  2. I heard. . .
    I heard there was something like this in the LA area. On the news a few years ago I saw a place like this (but unfortunately I do not remember the name of it), only it was a place for Atheists to take their kids to on Sundays to learn about science and whatnot.

  3. I hear ya
    I understand and concur. I have recently come out of Christianity, though my family remains (wife and Children). Though I have told my wife my feelings, she doesn’t want me to tell my children. So I don’t, Directly, though I discuss things in a leading manner to stimulate thought.

    I still attend Church for my wife, but instead of being angry or resistant I play along and in some cases I am entertained. I had done much theological study, so I converse with the leaders and throw out some leading inquires.

    As far as listening to the fairy tales; I do JUST that. I am in a “Small Group” with my wife. I engage the material as though we are in a book club discussing a novel about “This man who saw visions” or “The story of a great teacher”

    I am just trying to keep my family together with out losing my mind. I agree in Non-believers building up these networks, just as religious groups do.

  4. Good point!
    Great article. I agree. I live in the Ark-la-Tex ….. it’s the region of north-east texas, north-west louisianna,and south-west arkansas. It’s VERY religeous here. There’s a church or two on just about every corner. :sad:

  5. Imagine no religion Nothing to kill or die for
    and all the people
    Living life in peace…
    You may say I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope someday you’ll join us
    And the world will live as one

  6. I’ll second a lot of those sentiments. I live in Stephenville, Tx. Population of 18,000. 52 churches listed on our chamber of commerce page. New ones are being built. Seems like more when you drive around.

    1. Stephenville
      I’m going to Tarleton now. I lived in DFW for my entire life and it’s taking some getting used to. I feel like I’m isolated completely. The only non-believer I can talk to is my g/f who is still living in Denton. I know you posted this a long time ago, but I was searching for some sort of group for freethinkers around stephenville, and came across this post.

      The things I’ve heard in my science classes amaze me. Even some of the instructors are science deniers it seems.

  7. Prejudice Against Non-believers
    There are many options for social gatherings in ‘eclectic communities’ both for kids and adults. This town is filled with them from dance activities to non religious gatherings to many volunteer opportunities. Check out possibilities at your local information center, newspapers, or posted bulletins at an open minded market.
    For spiritual shock writings send an email to me ArhataFreeSpeech@yahoo.com

  8. The sanity spot
    I am one of those non-believers living in the south. I’ve lived most of my adult years living between NC and VA. Im origianally from California and moved to the southeast when I was around 10. HUGE culture shock! But, California has its fair share of religious fanatics.

    I’m an out non believer and it has not been easy. I also have three kids which 2 are out and the youngest aviods the whole subject all together. I can tell you nightmare stories of what my children and I have endured living in the bible belt, all day.

    My daughters were told by neighbor kids that they were going to hell for not goinng to church and that their mother was lazy and irresponsible. My poor older daughter came home crying and scared too death that god was going to send her whole family to hell. lol We laugh about it now, it wasn’t so funny then. MAny of the neighborhood kids were not allowed to play with my kids and not because I was out, cuz I wasn’t at that time, but just because I did not go to church.

    And don’t get me started about the schools! I’m still a little bitter about that. grrr

    My husbands co-workers wives avioded me like the plague and still do. Thats ok I do the same to them. lol And I’m sure most of their husbands don’t want them socializing with a femi-nazi as well, they might start to get their own ideas or something.

    I got ran off the road once for having a darwin fish swallowing a jesus fish on the back of my car and had HEETHEN on my plates to poot. It was at that point I realized why so many people had cut me off or would refuse to let me merge. lol Needless to say, I changed my tags and replaced my darwing fish with a dog fish hicking his leg. lol

    Such is the crazy life of being a non-believer in the bible belt. I am out for the most part, but I do not advertise it anymore. lol

    I have to say even living in the bible belt I have been able to find a small group of non-believers(to include my family Dr.) to hang out with once in a while and talk about our views.

    Before that I spent a LOT of time at Truthbeknown and Acharya myspace. And I have to add that for many years now truthbeknown has been my place of sanity. I don’t always have to time to check on it every day, but I always come back to it when I do.

    Thanks for creating my sanity spot Acharya!

  9. To Each Their Own

    I’ve questioned the whole concept of Christianity since I was a teen. For the most part, it made no sense, and was so contradictory. Being curious, I tried different denominations, for a short period, and discovered it didn’t matter…they all seemed the same. The older I became, the less attention I gave toward that particular subject. Then along came Acharya, with her numerous online articles and comments, which lead me to buying several of her books. I’ve been enlightened, and not only have I learned so much, she has provided background to her research which backs her information. It all fits…and makes sense. I have two words for Acharya…THANK YOU! :-)

  10. Social community for atheists and spiritual alike
    Here’s a suggestion for a “non-religious” social group that can provide a sense of community for non-believers. The Unitarian Universalist “church” is not only non-denominational, it has no “creed” … or belief requirements. It’s well organized, has an interesting history and can be found in many communities. UU promotes “social justice” and is often very active in community affairs, working to make a difference, without a having any religious agenda. It welcomes not only atheists, but agnostics, christians, buddhists, pagans, etc. It’s a great place to learn about the variety of religions and their spiritual traditions, share the support of community, and express your own spirituality (or lack of) without pressure to “join”. I know many atheists who are active in UU communities, and who enjoy progressive, non-reliegious lifestyles while contributing their talents and efforts to make the world a better place.

  11. True spiri and belief
    True spirit knows no faith or belief, it cringes at the face of a large building, it cannot be found anywhere but inside. I propose that most on this planet have no spirit and as such, need prepackaged whatever to consume! So soulless and consumerism is the real point we are trying to get across, nothing original as the BOOK tells it. Not all is false, just soulless and weak!

  12. I have nothing on my vehicle to identify my interests including a NRA sticker. There are just too many nut cases out there. I was raised a Catholic, hence the name Jude that had “Last Rights” three times. In grammar school I started doubting my religious up bringing and the behavior of the nuns and priests. In my adult life I studied many belief systems and finally cooked it all down to something I was comfortable with and came up with my own beliefs about the world and how it all relates. I now consider priests to be parasites along with others of the cloth. I keep my mouth shut as I go to weddings and funerals respecting others and their beliefs. The religious holidays are to me like any other day. Saint Pats, Easter, Christmas and Halloween if you will. I decorate the house and pass out candy on Halloween too. As far as being a Christian I really go beyond that. Probably reincarnation would be the closest. I ponder the mysteries of life, savants, the precision of the universe, extremely talented children, physics, animals that interact with humans, the list goes on and on and in my mind it is an order of things that some call their God. I’m getting long here so I will close and wish you the best.

  13. Awakened!
    Likewise I thank people like Acharya for being a “rung” on my proverbial “ladder of spiritual evolution” by spending long hours researching subjects that address COMMON SENSE matters and freely distributing this research to those whom will appreciate it.

    The evidence pointing toward an extreme corruption of information, as it relates to religious control and political domination found poisoning us like a virus in every facet of our lives, is deafening! Yet the soul I have in me pursues Truth with more zealousness than the addictive, emotional intoxication that I had become my “solace” in my earlier, Christianized, and naive years of life.

    I’m not badmouthing anyone except those who would pervert the truth and sell it to us as if we were maggots and mindless sheeple. I pity those who were like me for a long time, simply lost in the chaotic drug-like effects of our “hit” of religious control and roboticism.

    Unfortunately my wife is not ready to let go of the comfort of the ideals into which she has been indoctrinated . . . perhaps for a long, long time. I have been going to church with her and faking it as another person on this thread mentioned. Also, we just got pregnant and I’m sure I will have a challenge in showing our baby how to be a free thinker and balanced with a set of morals and common love with respect.

    Yet, I’m not worried. I see that we are at a place in our spiritual or philosophical development that is different from others. We know a kind of liberation that is the true example of freedom while others try to force us to “be free (patriotic) . . . or else.”

    1. Let’s Not be ‘Herders’!
      ‘Building a Community’ is one thing, but being ‘herders’ is something else again. Herd instinct is a the root of all cults in the first place. Any ‘non-cult’ community would have to be continuously aware of the need to avoid ‘herdism.’ You only need to look at the herd instinct prevalent in some atheists. The history of the Soviet Union is the best example of all. (see my web site: rootsofmindcontrol.com)

      1. Richard,

        I had a chance to briefly check out your rootsofmindcontrol.com blog and I think many of your observations are very “awake” , well thought out and accurate.

  14. the Jesus Ping thing
    I’d like to join in and support a community of free thinkers publicly, but due to my occupation, sales, I could be jeopardizing my income. I am often pinged by Christians to see if I return the correct signal, if I don’t bounce the ” Jesus is Lord” signal back, my sale is sometimes lost. Like Elton John has his gaydar, many Christians have their Christdar and they are always doing their sonar ping, sending “Jesus” tones out to see what bounces back. Return the wrong signal and they’ll try to torpedo you.
    One of my motivations for seeking financial abundance is to feel free to associate with freethinkers without worrying about whether anyone of any religion knows who I am. But for now, I mostly hang back and give what little support I can to my more courageous of brothers and sisters.
    I appreciate what Acharya has done and recognize the tremendous amount of courage it takes to do what she does. I have benefited greatly from her work.

  15. WRONG
    Right? WRONG. How can you say your social life will suffer because you are a “non-believer” Are you stupidly blind to today’s society? It is the “awesomely cool thing” to be liberal and anti-religion! If anything, these fools are the followers of an uneducated and blind crowd! Perhaps Texas is different, but with a new wave coming across the nation, you will soon be with the blind crowd, if you wish.

  16. Like Amy I live in the south as well. It’s exremely frustrating to hide who you are out of fear of being persecuted by our local “Christians” for not believing as they do. Only once did I feel comfortable enough to have a calm discussion with a Christian coworker about the bible, whenever I asked any kind of technical questions about the bible all I heard was “that’s where your faith comes in”. Since I don’t buy that brain washing tool the conversation didn’t last long.

    All I ask is for tolerance, my kids are also harassed by other kids at school they are going to hell because we don’t attend church. At an after school care program I [i][b]pay[/b][/i] for, an employee was appalled my daughter was not going to church Easter Sunday and then told her how sad that was. I just don’t understand why Christians get so angry at non believers.

  17. FACT OR FICTION
    FICTION!DANIEL WENT INTO THE LIONS DEN SPENT 30 DAYS WITH THEM AND THE LIONS WELCOMED HIM AND NEVER SO MUCH AS GROWLED AT HIM.(FACT)IF DANIEL OR ANY OTHER HUMAN BEING FOR THAT MATTER WALKED INTO A DEN FULL OF LIONS WOULD HAVE GONE STRAIGHT TO THE TOP OF THE FOOD CHAIN AS THE LIONS NATURAL INSTINCT WOULD BE TO ATTACK AND DANIEL WOULD HAVE MET A MOST GRUESOME DEATH THE LIONS WOULD HAVE TORN HIM TO PIECES AND THAT IS A FACT ANYONE WHO BELIEVES OTHERWISE THROUGH GRITTED TEETH JUST WONT OR CANT ACCEPT AND HANDLE THE (FACTS)I REST MY CASE.

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