That Shameful Secret

For some, it’s the atheism.

For others, the Paganism.

And for others still, of course, both.

There is a lot of prejudice and delusion out there, and people jealously guard their beliefs. When confronted with someone who believes differently, many of them…well, not to put too fine a point on it, freak out.

I wish I could advise you all just to tough it out, to let your rational, Earth-loving flag fly. Because it is definitely something to be proud of. You embody Principles and Values that are honorable and meaningful, and stand for a better world.

But unfortunately, some of those prejudiced and closed-minded people are prone to violence. At least in some parts of the U.S., people can be made to pay dearly for being what we are.

So some of us have to be careful. It’s not right, or just. It’s just true.

Myself, I live in a liberal area, work in the nonprofit sector which is generally left-leaning, and am surrounded by a community of Pagans and tolerant folk who are more curious than critical if and when we get to talking spirituality. I am “out” as an Atheopagan, and it costs me little, socially. At worst, for some it is “that weird thing Mark is into”.

All of that is privilege—or at the very least, good fortune—relative to others not so lucky.

So I’m not going to lecture anyone who lives in a community or family dominated by religious conservatives about how they should be “braver” or “stand by their conscience”. When it comes to personal danger or potential loss of treasured relationships, you have to make your own decisions.

What I hope, though, is that over time there are moments for those of us who must be solitary or quietly sequestered in a small circle of confidants: moments where we can not only show who we are through our acts, but also to state explicitly what we believe in and care about.

I wish you the company of fellows on the journey, Atheopagans, not only online but in physical presence in your lives. I wish you deep and fascinating discussions about beliefs and practices and how we know what is real and what is unlikely to be; about values and what we hold as Sacred.

But if this is not to be, I commit to providing as much support and fellowship as we can muster in online forums.

You are not alone.

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