Whenever I hear the word atheist, it’s generally met with some sort of negative response. It’s has a very dark ring to it and just makes me feel threatened whenever I hear someone say it out loud. I don’t know if it’s just me and my catholic upbringing or whatever it is, it just seems to raise eyes whenever anyone says it and isn’t something I don’t want to be called.
Ever since I turned into an atheist I’ve felt very uneasy whenever someone says it and feel very worried I’m going to be shunned and almost always people see it as a negative and some defect in my personality, it’s really insulting to me. Because of this I feel extremely uncomfortable when someone starts talking about atheists. Not like a feeling of awkwardness, but strong nervousness or just plain old anxiety. Even when I’m talking to an atheist I still feel it ironically. I’m so worried people are going to think I’m some weird intellectual freak because of it and someone who isn’t moral, even though I’m a pretty nice, happy person who lives a very meaningful life, probably more than almost anyone I know.
As I think of this, it’s very much like LGBT rights years ago. People want to identify as gay, lesbian, whatever you are, but the word is very… scary. You really would feel much better saying you like men, women, etc. rather than saying I’m gay, I’m lesbian, etc. There is a serious issue right now in the LGBT and Atheist community, there is an extremely negative connotation with their identity words, especially the words gay and atheist. It deterred me from even accepting myself as an atheist while I deconverted from catholicism. But how do you change this terrible connotation?
Show them atheist, gay, lesbian, or whatever you are is a positive word and there’s nothing wrong with being that.
If you are ever in a situation where people are talking about atheists, don’t try to say why atheism is right or wrong, why you don’t believe, leave that out always unless someone explicitly asks. The one thing I’ve learned most from being out as an atheist is that very few people realize there’s nothing wrong with disbelief. I cannot stress the importance of explaining why there isn’t anything wrong with being an atheist and you’re still a good person. Just tell them, you still do the same things as everyone else, you still help strangers, you still don’t want people to die, it amazes me as I type this that so many people think atheists have handicapped morals. You do things because you feel it is the right thing to do just like everyone else including religious people, even though they may claim to do it for god.