Midnight Pub

Atheism: coming out


Hi. I'm back to Town, and I enter this pub again after more than two years (!) since my last post.

A number of things changed in my life. I changed job. I moved to a different place. I gave up the bad habit of being angry about unimportant things. I have been growing quite a lot, while being a little surprised that one can still grow when hitting the 40's.

Among other things I went from (mildly enthusiastic) Christian to plain Atheist, through a process of deconstruction of what I was thought in my childhood. In case you're curious I was never particularly fervent. I just gave voice to what I already knew deep down, that is I can not rationally believe what I am supposed to.


And even if I could beieve it, how could I be sure that the specific narrative of my church are the correct ones, since the "competitors" are equally impossible to prove or disprove?

I'm not here to convince you who still believe, although I am curious about your answer for the question above. For the record, such matter is not the only one that motivates my distrust in religion, but it is definitely relevant.


The reason why I'd like to discuss this topic is because my closest social circle is made of believers, who don't know about my awakening to atheism. I don't mind pretending with most people, but I'd like to come out of the closet with those who matter most in my life.

My deconstruction was not painful, as it is allegedly for many people that take the same path, but it took some time label certain things as nonsense. For example, I have been listening for the "Misquoting Jesus" podcast by Bart Ehrman to find out the origin of certain beliefs and dogmas. I have been doing this privately, without sharing my findings to those around me, in order not to upset them.

It might be because I'm a little nervous about coming out, but I can picture myself being asked why I don't believe (or rather, I never believed deep down).

It is not hard to think of a number of reasons, but I feel like I should organize my ideas in order to justify it, while in fact I simply lost interest in the matter, completely. In the same way as I don't feel like watching all the Batman movies to justify why I don't believe that Batman exists.

Another possibly unpleasant situation might come from the fact that my wife has lost one of her parents, recently. She is a believer (for what I know. I tend to avoid the topic lately), and I think that religion is giving her some consolation. I don't think I should bring her despair by arguing about why I think it's all bollocks.

In conclusion, I feel somewhat stuck. I'm craving for consistency, but I'm afraid of the effort. Any advice, any word of wisdom, is well accepted!

Also, I'll have a pint of that Belgian Style Blonde Ale, please.


Just exploring: what does "coming out as an atheist" accomplish? Many people are emotionally weak and can't handle such shocks and you may lose them or the relationship will forever change. What's the point? What is the exact value of everyone around you knowing every thought you have? If they ask you directly, you can answer with vague allusions and mysteries.

Imagine it was 500 years ago where atheism meant death. Would you "come out" then?

Sure, it would be nice to have everyone in your inner circle agree with all your deepest metaphysics; but, let's be frank, at 40 and with a wife, you're already on a path that's hard to change, or to find new, close friends or wives.

Alternatively, if you feel a need to do it, I think one thing religious people dislike about atheists is their concern that they are unmoored in morality, meaning, or purpose, so emphasizing that you still have a solid foundation in those things can help prepare the ground.



Hi ~kevg,

There is some wisdom in your words: the gain is probably little, but as I stated in other answers of this thread, it is a matter of honesty with those people I value most.

I don't want a ...uh... wife upgrade. I'm also not seeking for agreement. I'm just aiming at honesty and acceptance, so that I can avoid pretending and just be myself.



Welcome back to the pub, ~kyle.

Congratulations on reaching this point in your own self-development. Overcoming childhood indoctrination is not easy for many people because doing so requires a willingness to accept that you have been misled by those you trusted the most. As you have noted, changing religious identities (or disassociating with those you previously held) can have real social consequences on your relationships with your family, friends, and co-workers.

As some patrons have already noted in this conversation, you are not under any obligation to make this announcement to anyone with whom you are not comfortable. However, you should also not feel obliged to participate in any religious activities that you don't believe in.

At the end of the day, there are no gods, demons, spirits, fairies, elves, trolls, or other supernatural forces. There are just humans judging and interacting with other humans. Take your time finding your own meaning in life, and live it fully to the best of your ability. Perhaps try to leave your small part of the world a little better than you found it. That's all any of us can hope for.

All the best and cheers!



Thanks ~tracker,

It's not a matter of obligation, as much as a matter of assonance. Being there and pretending is annoying.

I agree on your viewpoint on making the world a little better. This is in fact one of my basic traits, regardless of my religious belief (or lack thereof).



As an atheist, I'm going to tell you that you don't have to be "out" as an atheist. There is no "atheist movement" to which you owe allegiance to the detriment of your relationships or your own personal safety.

You can be a quiet, discreet unbeliever. If somebody asks, just tell them you're having a "crisis of faith" and would prefer not to discuss it.

My wife of almost 19 years knew from the start that I'm an atheist. Likewise, I know that she still believes in the Judeo-Christian God but has serious problems with the Roman Catholic Church. If she wanted to go to church I'd go with her but quietly not participate in any prayers or rituals.

It's no big deal for me; I've set foot in churches without bursting into flames before, after all.



Hi ~starbreaker,

"Coming out" in a broad sense, intended as a declared lack of belonging, more than a change of flag. It actually feels quite good not to belong, even if as I said most people I'm hanging around with are believers.

Ironically, I feel that not belonging results in the acceptance of people of different cultures. For example, in my youth I have been fearful of Islamic people around me, simply because I kept hearing the Islamophobic views of my catholic parents. Soon after I started recognizing myself as atheist, I realized that my fear was based on yet another biased standpoint.

If I may ask, I would be curious to know what are your wife's problems with the Roman Catholic Church.

For the record, I can also enter a church without bursting into flame, but I feel increasingly embarrassed when I listen to anyone professing their beliefs. I especially cringe when I hear about supernatural events such as miraculous healing.


If I may ask, I would be curious to know what are your wife's problems with the Roman Catholic Church.

Aside from the corruption, the tolerance of child molestation, the misogyny, and the authoritarianism? Any one of those would be enough, I think.



Holding that in with your spouse will be challenging, but you're probably wise to not get into it right at this moment. After being very involved in an evangelical fundamentalist community myself for most of my life, i deconstructed privately over the course of several years. I was fortunate that my wife and I were on similar paths so there was never conflict there, but no one else in my extended family really knows the extent to which I disengaged from the faith. (To be clear, my deconstruction went from "staff member in a small church" to somewhere in the "atheist / agnostic / whatever works for you, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else" zone. Very few people know anything about my "faith journey" beyond a few years of saying "I'm just not looking for a church community right now".

Hit me up if you want someone to talk to one-to-one. I started blogging and posting ti places like this anonymously so I would have somewhere to be honest about my deconstruction and connect with others.

And because I'm a giant nerd.

ropocl at proton dot me



Hi ~ropocl,

I can relate. I'd like to speak honestly about this with my wife, eventually, as well as with those few people that really matter to me. There are some people who I can't be honest with, even if I would like to. Doing so would be detrimental.

Thanks for your offer!

I hope I can find some moment to write you, even though I'm really snowed under these days :-/



You might find "The God Delusion" by Richard Dawkins useful. It's about the problems with religion.

I read it when I had already been an atheist for a long time, so I didn't expect to get much out of it. But it takes such a thorough, logical, evidence and reason based approach to the topic that I did find it both interesting and useful.

Good luck.



Thank you ~morgan,

I've skimmed through the synopsis and it seems very relevant.

It is somewhat hard for me to read books lately. In fact I've got a pile of books that I'd like to read, and no time for doing so.

I guess the pile just grew of one unit... :)



If you can ruin your important relationships and social circles by announcing becoming an atheist I would say it is not worth it.

However, remember that you have a lot more knowledge about your own life than random people on the internet and you should always take time assessing the possible actions that will affect your life and their outcomes.



Thanks :)

Of course I'm very cautious about this, as there's much at stake.