Trapped in the Closet, Not With R. Kelly

This post was inspired by Richard Dawkins.

I am coming out of the closet. Truth be told, I have been living with a secret. I have not been able to be forward or honest with my peers and coworkers because I know society frowns on my beliefs. However, as is often said, it is difficult to live with a secret – the pressure on your heart and nausea in your belly spike whenever the thought enters your mind. It is my prerogative to relieve this pressure.

I am an atheist. Webster’s defines atheism as “the doctrine or belief that there is no god”. My blend of atheism is slightly different than this definition, but it is sufficient to say, for today’s purpose, that I have my doubts.

One of America’s age-old guiding principles focuses on allowing all the people in society to practice the religion of their choice. Our society is supposedly, although sometimes not overtly, accepting of people – people from all creeds, colors, and races (to use the trite phrase). However, when looked at more closely this liberty carries a caveat. The religious freedom act should read more like this, “Society will accept your worship of any god, so long as your worship a god”.

Richard Dawkins, Photograph: Murdo Macleod, photo from

Sure, America’s freedom of religion refers to our legal right to practice as we please, and certainly I have not been arrested or fined for my belief. However, living in and open and accepting society, one would hope that no belief would be even socially persecuted.

Recently, I was told to, “watch it” by a coworker after mentioning my lack of belief in god during a casual lunch. Of course, her remark wasn’t intended to threaten me, but instead she was making clear that my belief system was not welcome in the conversation.

Atheists, as a tiny fraction of society, encounter this type of criticism often. In the face of such criticism, this post is my personal proclamation. Moving forward, I will be proud of my belief, and welcome the ensuing debates – debates, which will likely end when the word “faith” is uttered and all logic crumbles. I choose to no longer hide my beliefs because they may offend.

My purpose in writing today was not to make a logical defense of Atheism (for that, turn to Dawkin’s brilliant book, the God Delusion), rather I wrote out of the hope that Atheism can be a welcomed and valid opinion at the table.

Peace and Love,

East Coast Gross can be reached at

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