Why couldn’t you be quiet?

I was out (at the races!) yesterday and met this guy; he was the sort of person who observes other people and then starts poking to see what will happen. It was all in good fun. He was drinking way more than me, and I can be a good poker, too, so I’m not sure which of us had the upper hand in our little battle of wits. I told him he was like the Sicilian in “The Princess Bride”, which he was really taken aback by, and a lot of people thought my observation was just hilarious (because it was true). He was accurate, too, when he said he wasn’t sure if I was the sort of person to have a Jesus fish or a Darwin fish on my car. “Interesting you should say that,” I said. “I quit Christianity two years ago.” That topic didn’t come up again until later, when I mentioned that I was glad to be out with everyone because otherwise I would be at Bible Study right then.

And this guy was really curious and started asking questions. I briefly told the new guy that I’d quit Christianity because I didn’t believe in God any more, and that I was a part of the local atheist group, and that my husband was an Evangelical Christian. But what confused him was this: “Why not be a quiet atheist?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, why say anything? Why join a group? Why cause all this stress with your husband?”

“Why shouldn’t I say anything?” I asked. “It was kindof a big deal, and I needed to tell my husband. The only other option was to lie, and pretend to be a Christian, and fake praying and worshipping … I couldn’t do that. Besides, it is true that I am an atheist. And it is nothing to be ashamed of. I’m an atheist, and I’m not sorry for it. I’m actually proud of it. Why not be open about it?”

He didn’t know.

At this point my friend says, “Alice is the sort of person who, if you ask her opinion, she’ll gladly give it to you.” This is true. I’m honest and open and see no need to hide something unless it is a confidence I am keeping. Also, I believe the best way to live is to be as informed as possible. Know as much as you can, as well as you can, and you’ll be able to make better decisions. Believing that, it would be hypocritical of me to hide my atheism. I try to explain it to people as well as I can, because then that’s one more person who understands what atheism is and what an atheist looks like and behaves like.

So, for example, while my friends from Bible Study can go on making claims about what non-believers do, they know a non-believer personally, and if they ever want to know more about what secularists are really like, they can talk to me. If they choose not to inform themselves, that’s their choice.

But then, they might fall victim to one of the classic blunders– the most famous of which is, “Never get involved in a land war in Asia.”

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One Response to “Why couldn’t you be quiet?”

  1. Lorena Says:

    It all depends on one’s personality. Being quiet about it is easy and good for some. Others find it burdensome.

    I could never keep the whole thing from my husband. He knows where I am at. But I don’t talk about it because it hurts him.

    Only he and one my sisters know about my situation–and anybody else my sister may have shared it with. I tell strangers, but not Christians or family members.

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