Why be openly atheist? Why not just live my life and not get involved in what may be the world's most insoluble problem? I would prefer not to have to identify myself as an atheist at all, because to me it's self-evident as to why nobody should ever believe in any god or follow any religion.
For many years, I have stayed out of the debate but fumed quietly from the sidelines. I raised my stepkids as godless and with the faculties to think critically, and I felt that was the most important thing I could do to change the world (they are wonderful kids and I'm very proud of them).
Raising my children the way I think best isn't enough, because I have good cause to fear for their future safety and freedom, as well as my own. America is in danger of destroying itself from within. If the fundamentalist right has their way, our destruction is assured, and it will only be a matter of time. Radical Islam will still want to destroy us from within as well as without. Under the oppression of christofascism, America will not even be worth living in (although it would make a great setting for a social science fiction story).
I used to joke that I wasn't an activist... I was a deactivist. That little joke was good for a wry chuckle now and then among my family and friends. But I no longer think that. I perceive that the freedoms we in America hold dear are under threat, not just by Muslim extremism but by dominionist Christian extremism. Exposing this frightening doctrine is one of the reasons why I write this blog.
I suppose I could support the cause of freedom quietly, while outwardly do and say nothing to make theists think I am any different from them, but then I would be living a lie, and I can't do that. I do not believe the ends justify the means: that is the way of the cheater, the liar. That is how people convince themselves to commit atrocities. I believe the means justify the ends, and if I am to speak out against lies then I cannot live a lie. I will not sit by and hope other people do what I could be doing. I can leave my country or I can fight for it. I choose to fight for it (many years ago, I chose to fight for it another way by enlisting in the Marines, but that is a different story I'll tell later), and my first move is to declare myself openly an atheist.
If you have found yourself growing concerned over the the future of this country and the rise of the irrational religious right (both Islam and Christianity), you may have wondered if there is anything you can or should do about it.
There certainly are specific things you can do, but only you can decide if you should openly declare yourself as a person on the side of reason and rationality. There are many places online to begin learning if these ideas are entirely new to you. The links to the right or the book The End of Faith, by Sam Harris are good places to start.
We may be in the minority, but we could stand to have a stronger voice than we currently do. The song will be stronger if you add your voice to the choir (uh oh! church metaphors! look out!). One way to add your voice is to start your own blog. Chronicle your own observations of a world gone mad or your own personal journey into your outlook and philosophy. To show solidarity, to show that you are indeed part of a group that stands for freedom and for reason, you can link to other atheist and secularist blogs and websites. You can post links to social bookmarking sites. You can rejoin ridiculous comments left by ignorant fundies. I'm sure many atheists are wary of appearing to take on the same outward conventions as religion, and I understand that, but humans are social animals after all. We can band together for protection, strength, and friendship.
Somewhere out there, a young teenager may be just starting to think for herself. Who will she find when she types in her query at a search engine? Maybe it will be you, maybe it will be me. The more of us there are, the better, and that is why I am openly atheist. That is why I implore you to become more active if you've been holding back or, if you're unsure, to learn more. Know yourself. Be true to yourself. Being true to yourself can be surprisingly difficult, but it is worth it. For me, being true to myself means being openly atheist.