Coming Out Of The Closet

Whether or not to “come out of the closet,” or tell family and friends, when one deconverts from Christianity is a major question many new deconverts face. Austin Cline, an American, wrote a good article on whether or not to tell dear ones about one's atheism.

While rejection of the Christian God does not necessarily mean an adoption of atheism, the issues encountered by new deconverts may be similar enough across the board for Cline's article to be relevant.

Cline explains how "religion and theism force atheists into the closet," and that the danger of coming out is the same as for homosexuals. He asks the question so many exChristians ask themselves: Does staying in the closet make a person a hypocrite?

Austin Cline says:

Perhaps, but it is a very hard person who would suggest that the truth be told in all cases, even when it results in unnecessary emotional and psychological anguish. Sometimes perhaps it is better to leave well enough alone and keep quiet.

He then raises another concern so prominent among exChristians: How will this reflect on atheism? He replies that it is not so much a reflection on atheism itself as on the intolerance Americans have for atheism. In his words: [I]t really isn't a reflection on atheism itself that so many people in America have trouble accepting a relative who is an atheist.

That is the underlying problem. People — especially Christians, and not only in the U.S. — have a problem tolerating atheists. He goes on to show how this makes certain topics of conversation impossible. Over the long haul, the relationship can die for want of discussion of deeply important topics.

Though Cline does not discuss this in any depth, in situations of zealous religiosity, the Christian community at time turns upon the new deconvert en mass. The possibility of this must be taken into consideration when deciding whether or not to come out of the closet.

More Articles by Austin Cline

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