So, my coworkers found out I'm an atheist....
and now most of them are shunning me, my boss is trying to convert me, and I think I might be in danger of losing my job.
Let me back up a little bit....I first want to say that I DO NOT talk about religion or politics in public, ESPECIALLY at work. EVER. It's a personal policy because of situations exactly like this. So I want to make clear from the get-go that this is not a case of me going around and acting all superior or "smug atheist" and just getting backlash for it.
The whole thing started last weekend (not this last weekend, but the one before that). I had gone to see one of my internet heroes, Mr. Hemant Mehta (I made a topic here about it for anyone who still cares). I was really stoked about it, got him to sign my book and everything. I went to work on Monday that week, just like normal. No problem. I've mentioned to some of my friends at work (in passing) that I don't really do religion, that I don't believe in an afterlife, etc., so it was my understanding that they basically knew this much about me, and were more or less "okay" with it --- even if they didn't *like* it, per se, we seemed to get along pretty well, and nobody ever tried to argue with me or convert me or anything. So it's not like this came out of NOWHERE; they knew that I was nonreligious. We just never talked about it because there was never a reason to.
Well, that Monday, this older lady I work with asked me how my weekend was. I figured if I kept light on the details, it would be no problem to tell her that "I met one of my internet heroes this weekend, and got him to sign me a copy of his book." She asked who it was, I told her his name, and she had never heard of him. I said, "Well, he's this atheist guy who basically promotes synergy between religious groups and atheist/secular charities and stuff. He has a blog," etc. etc., minor details. Well, she stuck on that word "atheist" and made it clear that she disapproved.
I didn't want to argue about it, so I kinda tried to defer the conversation in another direction. Instead of outright defending Mr. Mehta, I said something to the effect of, "well, at least he's not like that pastor guy that was gonna burn all those Korans. I mean, it's not like he's going around ****ing on people's faith, he's just trying to help people out." She said that yes, he WAS as bad as the koran-burning pastor, actually WORSE, because "at least that guy believed in some god." That was when I realized it was a bad conversation. So I just kinda shrugged and went back to work, like, "well, anyway, it's over now, so...."
But she followed me into the other room and started trying to argue with me. "So you don't believe in god? Well how did all this get here, then? Who created everything?" I told her, "I don't know." She said, "that's right," and kind of mocked me, like "take that!" I tried to walk away again, but she followed me and said, "What I don't get is, you don't believe in god because you can't see him, but can you see the wind? Do you believe in the wind?" I told her that this was a really gross simplification of even the most primitive atheist belief. It really seemed to be bothering her, though, so I said, "Look, it's not like I'm hostile to religion. My mom's Baptist and my dad's some weird kind of naturalist or something. I've grown up around Muslims and Christians and all kinds of weird stuff. It's no problem to me." I basically tried to assure her that I wasn't going to try and convert her to Satanism or whatever. She interrupted me, though, and insisted that I "must've had some tragic event happen in my childhood to drive me away from GAWD," since my mom was so Baptist (she's actually not that religious, she considers herself "spiritual") and I was raised that way.
Well, I got pissed at that point and decided to bail out. I just said, "That's entirely wrong," and I walked out. She was busy with something by that time, so she couldn't follow me.
Well, I thought it was all done with after that. In a completely unrelated story, I had just purchased this book (the same day, as it were) by Christopher Hitchens (for research purposes, I'm starting a blog) called "God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything." It was sitting by the coat rack in the back of the store, and I tend to read it on break. Well, I have a feeling this lady went and said something to somebody, because *all of a sudden* people were taking a heavy interest in what I was reading at the time. The book got slightly defaced (someone poured water on it), but since it's still readable, I decided to keep bringing it to work. Other people bring prayer books all the time, so I figured fair is fair --- this is pretty much the only time I have to read, so I'll be damned if I'm not gonna read what I wanna read. I never talk about it to anyone, and I never show it to anyone. The only way it'll bother anyone is if THEY look at it or if THEY ask about it. Otherwise they'll most likely never even know I'm reading it.
But then, today, my GM came out and asked me blatantly, "So you don't believe in god?" She's a Christian, too, but I figured if anyone would have some sense about this it would be the GM. So I said, "Well....you could say that." So then my manager says, "Well, how do you think this all got here? Who created the world?" And that other lady, who's at the other end of the room listening, says, "That's what *I* asked him." And I told her the same thing I'd said before, "I don't know." So my GM smugly says, "That's what people who 'don't believe' can never answer." I tried once more to derail the conversation in another direction to keep the peace, so I said, "yeah, you're right. It's a mystery. But there are mysteries no matter how you look at the world, not even god explains everything." She countered with, "Well, the Bible has the most truth of any other book."
This is when I started getting irritated....like I ****ing ASKED you for your advice? Jesus, leave me alone! So I said, "Yeah, my favorite part is where Jesus teaches us how to properly beat our slaves. I also like the part where Moses says guys whose 'stones' don't work aren't allowed to enter the house of god." She just looked at me with this weird expression like she'd never heard of that before.
And so suddenly people are starting to have "complaints" about my work, which, for the last 3 years, has been perfectly satisfactory (to the point that they call me in to work when other people don't show up). I'm worried that these things may be related, although to be fair, I must say it's too early to know for sure. Just to be safe, though, I'm putting in applications elsewhere.
I already know what I'm gonna do to get around this, I just thought it was an interesting story. I've never been too open about my atheism in real life, so I never realized exactly how crazy people get over it, especially down here in Alabama....it's like, no matter what kind of person you were before or how well you got along, once they find out you don't believe in god, suddenly you're worse than a pedophile or Hitler or something. It's insane.
For all the things that I never did
For all the places I never was
For all the people I never stopped
But there was nothing I could do..."