Friday, July 20, 2012

Young Atheists and The Closet

By: Matthew Chatterton

I wrote about coming out of the closet before (Hiding In The Atheist Closet) but I didn't focus on young atheists. Below are the costs of coming out and the advantages to coming out while still young.


Divorce:

Teenage atheists aren't likely to have a spouse. If they come out of the closet when young, they are not going to lose their spouses for being atheists because their spouses will already have known and will probably be secular themselves.


Children:

Teenage atheists will not lose the children they, hopefully, don't have. Provided their spouses are secular, their children will be raised secular. Unless these children are converted, they certainly won't come to despise their parents over religious affiliation.


Friends:


Teenage atheists will likely have friends. The friends they'll lose  by coming out of the closet  will not have been in the picture for decades and will, therefore, amount to a relatively small loss simply  replaced by better, real friends.


Family:

Teenage atheists may be disowned by their family. This can happen at any age but may hurt more as a teenager. I recently spoke with someone whose parents are fundamental Muslims. She was asking for advice on how to come out of the closet. I advised her to wait until she was 18 and could move out. The atheist's family is often a catalyst for remaining in the closet well into adulthood. Family is often said to be irreplaceable. I beg to differ. Blood relation is arbitrary. The secular community has become a second home to so many that they no longer need a relationship with their families that have disowned them. I am fortunate that my family did not disown me but I feel secure knowing that I will always have a sense belonging with the secular community.


Conclusion:

The price for atheist teenagers is relatively low but will rise as they get older. This is precisely why it's important to come out early to cut the losses short. I know it may be hard now but it's not going to get easier later. Sometimes the cost is simply too high because of serious consequences due to being under 18. In that instance, you can anonymously escape to the internet where you can talk to people and get advice until you are independent.


Here are some sources for a sense of belonging. Top Ten Atheist Organizations


Feel free to use the comment section to take that first step out of that goddamn closet and don't forget to use the #AtheistRollCall hash-tag on Twitter! (◕‿◕✿)

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