Jun 4, 2009

Social Networking - Are you out as an atheist online?

With today's Internet culture what you put online could be viewed by virtually anyone. A good example of this is Wigglez's wife having his blog viewed by a Christian employer.

Knowing this, many of us are hit with a personal (maybe even moral) decision...should be be out online or not? I say that maybe it is a moral decision because I have been told by fellow atheists that it is immoral for me to hold back on being completely outed online. However, I'm honestly not sure if I should consider it a moral choice.

Yes, I do want to support the atheist cause and help to further our progress in being accepted as normal. That's actually one of my main goals...one of Happy Atheist Forum's main goals. But, I'm also pragmatic; if what I say online ends up keeping me from being hired and keeping a job and potentially does the same to my husband (who is a teacher) then that is going to end up harming the efforts I am currently taking since so much of it requires frequent Internet access.

So, I filter what I do online that is associated with my full name verses what I do online that is just associated with my first name. I don't shy away from posting my picture on atheist related sites, but I also don't make my picture my main image on most of them. My profile on MySpace is an atheist profile (which I honestly neglect updating as regularly as I should) where I can post anything without any worry of an employer associating it with me. However I also have a Facebook profile, which won't link here for reasons stated, that is mostly just my IRL friends (some of whom are also atheists) and I don't post any controversial atheist messages there. I also have two twitter accounts...but that's because one of them is potentially for business and shouldn't have any atheist content on it (@HappyAtheist).

So, what do you think? Do you also feel conflicted on this issue; probably in daily interactions too? Is this a moral question or just a personal choice?

Feel free to post your comments on the related Happy Atheist Forum thread: http://www.happyatheistforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=3403


  1. We "should" be able to speak our minds outside the workplace, but pragmatically atheists are discriminated against. If it gets around the workplace you are an atheist, then it very possible they will get rid of you as soon as it is convenient for them. I have had this happen...I am sure my story is not uncommon. Americans dislike atheists more than terrorists according to a 2007 study, that says volumes.

    I don't feel conflicted usually...I try to stay away from religious "doings". I don't think work is the place for airing beliefs, even if the religious zealots feel like it.

    If the workplace finds out about my thoughts on religion then oh well...life is too short to worry about what an idiot might do.

  2. I dont think twice. I am proud to be a rational thinker and atheist and I feel it is very important that the "closet" atheists start coming forward.

    On a side note if you really were fired from a job because of your beliefs and can prove it you have cause to sue for discrimination. We have just as much right NOT to believe as the believers have, at least in America.

    The longer we feel intimidated the longer it will take for rational thought to spread. The world needs to know that atheists are not evil or different. We are your teachers, doctors, neighbors, family and friends.

    I encourage you to be brave and honest and to stand up as who you truly are online and in life.

  3. I am amazed Americans', as a relatively educated society, still discriminate toward atheists. For me, and generally where I am from, it's quite the opposite. Christians display a lack of cognitive development by not being able to explain their beliefs with logic so people tend to shy away from hiring them. The most Christian places I have visited are third world countries that are less educated and have more reasons for blind faith (lack of financial security, don't understand the science and psychology behind beliefs etc).

    What is America's excuse for this plague against intelligence?

  4. I too find this ludicrous. In the UK atheism is respected and in fact most intelligent thinking people now are atheists. Church and Christianity, while its not a minority yet, people are "passive Christians". They don't really go to church and don't really follow God and are often only Christians because their parents had them baptised. Congregations in this country never really rise above 20-30 in your average church service.

  5. My wife, who is also an atheist, wanted me to say "unbeliever" instead of atheist on my blog's bio. But I am what I am and that is an atheist. One of my bigger clients when I lived in New York was a Jesuit university but I never kept it a secret that I was an atheist. They just wanted a capable photographer to shoot their annual report. So saying your an atheist needn't be detrimental. I prefer not to have to play games.
    Paul Treacy

  6. I have come to a point in my life where I really don't care who knows I'm an atheist, or whom it pisses off. I had a fundie tell me yesterday that it was foolish of me not to believe in her god. Oh, the irony.

  7. 'Atheist' on every online profile :) like others have said... who cares what people think?

    it's funny that people are ok with the label 'non-religious' but find 'atheist' shocking. The level of ignorance around what atheism is about is mind-boggling.


  8. Hey everyone. Thanks for your comments. Djee, it is weird that most of us can say "non-religious" without issues but "atheist" scares people. I can even tell conservative relatives non-religious without any shocked looks...the word atheist has resulted in preaching from my mom. :Sigh:

  9. As a teacher in Alabama I completely understand the concerns. I decided early on that I would make no secret of it (and looked up the local ACLU, just in case).
    It was a little touch-and-go at first, but I've done a good enough job - seven years on I now teach AP - that I shrugged off social criticism. I do think the support of my department chair, a minister's wife, went a long way.
    Now I hope I'm an example of a 'happy atheist' who doesn't denigrate other's beliefs aggressively, but instead provides a counterpoint and a touchstone for skeptical students (I've also discovered a core of secreted non-believers). I am a reminder to consider non-believers and other religions when discussing school functions, etc.
    Very few of my co-workers and students had actually met someone who acknowledged their atheism. Some of my early critics are now very positive and complimentary towards me.
    It can be done in a potentially hostile environment, but there are no guarantees.

  10. Neither theists nor atheists can speak to your own morals or beliefs. It's amazing how many stupid atheists are out there as well as stupid fundamentalists.

  11. I have a bit of an issue with people that try and project a Christian image, especially in business. If anyone use the Jesus fish in their business or in their advertising I keep clear. I always think I would prefer not to deal with someone that can be forgiven for cheating me.

  12. I am 100% out as an atheist online, I have multiple websites that I help develop and have made it a point to keep them as open to different viewpoints as possible. Some members are surprised by my declaration but they know my motto so they know where I stand on free speech for the internet.

    I also created a social network for people to specifically share, educate, debate views on atheism. Officially Atheist Social Network