This is (one of the reasons) Why I Won't Be Quiet.

This article from the Washington Examiner showed up on my Facebook news feed the other day. I'm not sure why it was posted, or why I went to read it. But I did, and it angered me enough to leave a comment.

The "Opinion Article" is basically just a summary of the longer article linked from another newspaper, but check out this part:
The Paine Foundation is part of the Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia, a tiny nonprofit (annual income: $14,000) seeking to purge religion from private life.
I've spent a lot of time in the past year investigating and interacting with nontheist groups. Everyone that I've met has been friendly and accepting, and while they may not agree with religion, they'll fight harder for everyone's right to practice it than anyone else I know. Not one group that I've seen is fighting to purge religion from private life. We tend to be the strongest supporters of "Do what you want as long as it doesn't interfere with someone else's ability to do what they want." David's statement is a hateful stereotype based entirely in ignorance, and I was compelled to tell him so.

My comment:
Okay, you generally did a good job summarizing The Morning Call article, but you got one thing very, very wrong. The Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia has no interest in "seeking to purge religion from private life." Their mission statement is on every page of their website and impossible to miss. But, since you obviously did, let me quote it here for you: "The Freethought Society of Greater Philadelphia (FSGP) was founded in 1993 by Margaret Downey. Today, FSGP's community outreach efforts have changed the hearts and minds of many citizens who never met or talked to an atheist. FSGP sponsors activities, events and speakers to educate the public about the nontheist life stance. FSGP's efforts to keep religion out of government and government out of religion ensure Constitutional protection for theist and nontheist citizens alike."

Did you notice that last part? It's important. Please think before you go spouting off hateful stereotypes.
When Mike and I first dove into the world of non-theism, I was torn between being excited about all of these new ideas and wanting to just be quiet about it and not upset anyone. We could just keep pretending to be Christian, after all we'd already been doing it for a while and a 'bad' Christian is better than an atheist. Our families wouldn't have to know or be upset. It was difficult to make the decision to tell our families, knowing that it would drive an uncomfortable wedge between us and them that would likely never completely go away. We chose to go ahead for two reasons:

1. We wanted to be true to ourselves, and we love our families enough that we didn't want to spend the rest of our lives lying to them.

2. There is a lot of hate for atheists in this country. Statements like the one above are common. Senators can call atheists "anti-American" and presidents can say that we shouldn't be citizens. News stations and newspapers can twist a message of hope and acceptance from atheists for atheists into one of hate (here, here, and here). There are so many more examples out there, but I won't take all of your time. All of these things are talking about me, my husband, and many of my close friends, who are all some of the most accepting, tolerant, and moral people I know. How would you feel? Would you stay silent in the face of such undeserved criticism? I won't.

Never stop questioning,


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