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Coming Out of the Closet

Posted 12-22-2008 at 01:45 PM by ChildrenofSodom
Wrote this for the school newspaper. I'd like your feedback.

_____________________

Day after day you sit in class, and your secret sleeps silently below the surface. You hear classmates discussing their lifestyles comfortably; their way is the societal norm. You can’t help but feel like an outsider, and you doubt the time will ever be right to speak your mind.

You fear that your parents will weep in shame, your pastor will rally the congregation against you, and, above all, you fear your friends will alienate you. For thousands of students in America today, these feelings are typical. Although this anxiety is commonly associated with homosexuality, for a growing number of students another closet exists. The truth is, many teens are too fearful to admit their irreligion.

Atheism is the lack of belief in a god or higher power, and for many teens religion is as unappealing as ever. Several factors have contributed to this feeling, including the decline in family church attendance and the failure of the religious community to combat an increasingly secular pop culture. Those facts, coupled with the all-but illegalization of school prayer and other measures, have loosened religion’s death grip on American youth.

Teens today feel a natural urge to stray from their family religion, in part due to the typical angst and rebellious tendencies that come with growing up. The rise in child abuse in the Catholic Church has also done little to improve the image of religion. Despite these changes, atheism is still a largely unacceptable taboo at the American dinner table, so to say, especially in conservative hotbeds such as Miami County.

Across the board, atheism has been discouraged. Our society is just liberal enough to encourage the free exchange of ideas, refractory periods for teens to ‘find themselves’, and the tolerance of non-Christian religions. But somehow a disbelief in God warrants your labeling as a murderer and practitioner of abortion, bestiality, and immorality.

In a study by the University of Minnesota shortly after 9/11, researchers found that when asked whether they thought a particular group agreed with their own personal vision of American society, most Americans trusted Jews, immigrants, Hispanics, homosexuals, and Muslims considerably more than atheists.

The study also found that nearly 50% of all parents would be most concerned with their child marrying an atheist over any other minority group.

It is not surprising why many atheist teens find themselves afraid to admit their irreligion. For many students, they fear that they will be ostracized for ‘preaching’ their beliefs, known as militant atheist. In fact, in the process of writing this article, I was accused myself. Why is it that atheists are so discouraged from sharing their ideas? Christians are permitted to wear their fish and crosses without persecution, the Bible is studied in English class, and Christians gather at the flag pole to pray before school.

Even in science class, our temples of deduction and reason, our teachers teach Darwinian evolution sheepishly and with a low voice, for fear of religious backlash in the community.

I would like to extend a comforting hand to my fellow atheists at Troy High School. You have nothing to fear. This is America, and in America we believe in the free expression of ideals. Christians can wear their hearts on their sleeves, and so can you. I do not advocate the demolition of religion, just as I would not appreciate Christians calling for my extermination. I do, however, advocate an admission of faith (or lack thereof), no matter what that may be.

Our society was founded on compromise and tolerance, and we must come to terms with our own differences. Do not let evangelists keep you in your closest any longer. Think for yourself, read, and thank your teachers for their dedication to free thought. You are not a freak for believing something different. Your mind is merely one of a millions contrasting hues in this massive rainbow called America. Embrace yourself, and embrace the diversity around you. It can only benefit our environment.

Sit down with your family and friends, and let them know how you really feel. Tell them that you have thought about your atheism for quite some time. If they truly love you, (and I suspect they do) then they will accept you. Your confession may be shocking and acceptance may be hard to come by, but this is our cross to bear.

Know well that your fellow disbelievers are here for you, and we will stand strong with you in your convictions. You’re in good company.
Total Comments 11

Comments

Old
Sinfulsot's Avatar
I liked your use of the term "irreligion".

great opening. you take your audience in the direction you wanted them to go.

I didn't realize atheism was considered so taboo, so you opened my eyes to another social issue that may become quite the hotbed of debate and controversy.

I also like that you stress the American ideals of free thought and free expression - that "an admission of faith or lack thereof" is not about being preachy; one's beliefs are the right of the individual.

and a solid close, speaking directly to those individuals that are in the same boat as you, the writer.
Posted 12-22-2008 at 04:39 PM by Sinfulsot Sinfulsot is offline
Old
ChildrenofSodom's Avatar
I am not trying to encourage people to disgrace Christianity, I am encouraging people to admit their disbelief if God. That isnt preaching, thats just saying what you believe.

It would be different if I had written the piece talking about how religion sucks and how God is stupid. But I didnt.
Posted 12-22-2008 at 05:46 PM by ChildrenofSodom ChildrenofSodom is offline
Old
Sinfulsot's Avatar
I didn't mean to imply that you were preaching. saying what you believe and telling me what to believe are two different things. I thought you were pretty clear on this. i should have said this earlier, but it was your reply that made me think of it.

and on many levels, i am glad it wasn't a piece about how religion sucks and how God is stupid.
Posted 12-22-2008 at 05:59 PM by Sinfulsot Sinfulsot is offline
Old
ChildrenofSodom's Avatar
haha...yeah..I was just reiterating my point..

Thanks, bro.
Posted 12-22-2008 at 06:03 PM by ChildrenofSodom ChildrenofSodom is offline
Old
Sinfulsot's Avatar
You're welcome. i'm glad i checked out the blog section.
Posted 12-22-2008 at 06:06 PM by Sinfulsot Sinfulsot is offline
Old
(sic)&disturbed's Avatar
Most of the time the "irreligion" you are preaching about is just so you can do the things you want to do and not feel guilty about them. There is a God you even make reference to him at the end when you say " it is our cross to bear"! I am not what you would call a fanatical Christian I believe in God and I believe in Heaven and Hell I just dont live my life according to the bible and therefore dont care what people think of me. But I dont say there is no God just so I dont feel guilty about listening to certain music or reading certain books or watching certain movies. Someday we will all find out who is telling the truth I just hope you arent wrong about what you "believe"!
Posted 12-31-2008 at 11:05 AM by (sic)&disturbed (sic)&disturbed is offline
Old
SomewhereInTime72's Avatar
I'm late, but this is pretty cool. Was there much of a reaction to this?
Posted 02-17-2009 at 04:18 PM by SomewhereInTime72 SomewhereInTime72 is offline
Old
this is a long overdue comment, but i really enjoyed reading this. i am not athiest myself (agnostic), but i can appreciate and understand what you're saying. good article!
Posted 04-12-2009 at 09:24 PM by b_halperin b_halperin is offline
Old
TowardsDeadEnd's Avatar
sic and disturbed, beleive what ever u want, but fdont tell me their is " a god" when you have zero proof bro, the writer said in their that he isn tofr or against people believeing in god, so dont come bakc at any athiests saying that their is, when your religion is based upon stories an dzero factual evidence
Posted 05-07-2009 at 06:27 PM by TowardsDeadEnd TowardsDeadEnd is offline
Old
Fratt's Avatar
Real nice writing. I guess I can't understand why Atheism is such a huge taboo in America, but you text was really interesting.
Posted 10-26-2009 at 04:04 PM by Fratt Fratt is offline
Old
bassmasta257's Avatar
this was some good writing, very enlightening
thanks dude
Posted 11-30-2009 at 04:15 PM by bassmasta257 bassmasta257 is offline
 
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