As I mentioned when I came out as an atheist, I hesitated for a long time to announce my lack of religious faith because I fear being shunned and judged. Today that fear was justified when I noticed that one of my uncles deleted me from his "friends" list on Facebook after a couple of back and forth comments that started with him wishing God's blessing on me. This is an uncle that I see only a few times a year because of distance, and Facebook was our primary means of communication. Since my dad passed away nearly five years ago, I've felt a special (though now I suspect one-sided) connection with this particular uncle who reminds me so much of my dad with his appearance and mannerisms. You know what? I understand not wanting to be confronted with an idea one finds offensive, as apparently my atheism is to him. But I don't think that's why he deleted me. I believe that he, like many other conservative Christians, likes to lump all atheists into a group of "immoral" or even "evil" people, and when he reads little status updates with snippets from our very normal lives, it interferes with his conservative ideas about atheism. It's much easier for him to keep all of his ideas if he simply dismisses me altogether. It sure doesn't feel good to be dismissed though.
My uncle's response to my atheism makes me wonder how my parents would have responded, had I revealed my views to them while they were living. That sounds suspiciously like something to explore in another blog post, another day...
Other than the above mentioned uncle's response and a couple expected "I'll pray for you" comments on Facebook, I've received such a warm outpouring of support since I came out. And while I greatly appreciated the warmth from my atheist friends and family, it really meant the world to me to read positive and reaffirming messages from many of the Christians in my life. They are good ambassadors of their faith.
I'm also moved almost beyond words by the messages I've been flooded with from the online atheist community, thanks to Hemant Mehta and the Secular Homeschool community. Knowing that others have felt and experienced what I have is very empowering, and very easy to forget in the day to day life of this small town. Dale McGowan encourages us to "be out and be normal." This does not mean I want to dwell on my atheism ad nauseum, but it does mean I won't be pretending or trying to hide it anymore, especially in front of my kids.