4/10/11

Being an Open Atheist in Mississippi

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We know there are atheists in Mississippi. We also know that many keep their thoughts on religion to themselves because "coming out" as an atheist can be a scary proposition around here. What is a bit more surprising - at least to some of us who live here - is that there are also people here who are fairly open about their atheism. Granted, the few I know personally moved here from other states (or even other countries). But I have encountered at least a few Mississippi natives via the Internet who are fairly open about their atheism.

I write this post not to make anyone who cannot be open feel guilty. I know full well that this must be a personal decision made with full appreciation of the potential consequences. Rather, I post it to offer hope. It seems to be at least possible for some people to be open about their atheism here in Mississippi without being run out of the state. Perhaps it will become somewhat easier in time, and more of us will be able to join those who do not conceal themselves.

I certainly have my own horror stories of losing friendships and being told by strangers I was going to hell simply for disclosing that I do not attend church. I've had coworkers steer clear of me and spread rumors behind my back related to my "immorality" and the like. But I've also had the experience of being at least somewhat accepted by some Christians.

There are many obstacles to being an open atheist in Mississippi. But there should at least be some hope that more of us will eventually be able to take the plunge and find that it might not be as bad as we'd feared. We do have a choice in how we live our lives. Maybe we will find that the benefits of being more open outweigh the costs.

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