I mean, really. You're just asking for trouble if you decide to be outspoken about your lack of belief in God. Sure, you have every right to believe what you want (this is America!), but it's better for everyone if controversial beliefs are kept silent.
Oh wait, I mean the exact opposite of that.
I've been thinking about this a lot since the Damon Fowler incident. I had someone say to me during a discussion of the issue that "he brought this on himself". I flinched internally at this. It reminds me far too much of the struggle gays* continue to go through because so many people would prefer that they keep who they are a secret.
Discrimination isn't a fight between right and wrong. It's a fight between what's right and what's accepted. We know that the discrimination Damon suffered as a result of his request that his public school stop breaking the law was wrong, but many people also don't have a problem with it. This worries me.
I remember way back when Myspace was the place to be, I hesitated when answering the religion question in my profile. I thought, "Do I really want to say that I'm an atheist? Will there be repercussions if I do?". Then I decided to not be a pussy and went for it. I mean hell, if there's no shame in admitting you're a Catholic on a social networking site, and I know I'm not ashamed of my atheism, why on earth wouldn't I include it?
So I did, and the only possible repercussion was that my 8th grade math teacher de-friended me not too long after. He appeared to be a very dedicated Christian, so it's ok. Atheism is evil and scary.
I have had people ask me why I need to say I'm an atheist in any medium. I've never had a good response in the past, and I realized that's because the only response is: "Why not?"
If they choose to tell me "why not", they'll likely be repeating the first paragraph of this blog, which will give me the opportunity to kindly explain how discriminatory their opinion is. They honestly may not realize it, so I'll be doing a public service.
*I am in no way insinuating that the level of discrimination we see with gays compares with that of atheists. I think there are basic "laws" of discrimination that are common throughout all discriminated groups, and the concept of "don't ask, don't tell" is one of them.