Are more people coming out than usual?

… as atheists, I mean …

There has been a spike in the number of people coming out of the woodwork to declare themselves atheists and the head of both the Arizona Coalition of Reason and The Phoenix Atheist Meetup Group said blogs, Facebook and Twitter are just part of the reason.

Yeah, I’m the guy who sees “twitter made this social movement happen” and I want either real proof or at least a more contextualized, nuanced analysis. John Lynn suggests safety in numbers, and that could be. Convenience even, or a (false) sense of anonymity. Either way, it’s good:

“As more people become educated as to who atheists really are, the better off we are,” Lynn said.

The stigma of declaring yourself atheist has diminished.

But I’m not sure that twitter made them do it.

The original comments are here.

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10 Responses to Are more people coming out than usual?

  1. cholten99 says:

    Such things are always easier to do when you think it’s an accepted norm. Atheist commentators have always been predicting an eventual cascade of people ‘coming out’ who, up to now, have just been keeping their heads down.

    Expect even more of this when well-known sports/music/TV people start doing the same.

  2. unbound says:

    It is definitely becoming safer to come out in many areas of the country. Perhaps it will be safe enough in my work environment to come out one day too, but way too many complications to be certain that it will be possible without destroying my career while I’m still alive.

    Always good to see progress in the world regardless of my own situation.

  3. SundogA says:

    I don’t live in the US – there is little (but some) stigma in Australia to being an Atheist, nothing like what it is in the states.
    But I’ve noticed that a number of Americans living here have come out as Atheists in the past few months (not myself – I’ve been open about it for years). The common theme seems to be “I just don’t want to be confused with those fools back home giving the US a bad name.”
    Backlash?

  4. Warren says:

    I don’t think it’s Twitter either. I’ll agree with SundogA’s tentative suggestion that it’s a groundswell response to the insane shatbittery we’ve been seeing from the teabaggers and the ‘right’ in general.

    Those of us who like to see rational arguments supporting the viewpoints of those who would be governators are understandably alarmed at the outright lunacy of nitwits such as Bachmann and Perry, and the contortions they put themselves through to appeal to people who sincerely believe the universe to be less than ten kiloyears in age.

    As long as idiots continue to spew their bile, I think we’ll continue to see a countering rise in rationalism.

  5. The Lorax says:

    Oh I disagree. Certainly, placing all the blame on Twitter and their ilk would be disingenuous. Clearly, there is a cause of that effect, and that is, as has been stated, the overwhelming explosion of ignorance in recent years. However, it is worth noting that social media venues, like Twitter and Facebook, allow for rapid communication of ideas, the likes of which were unavailable ten years ago.

    With greater communication comes greater intelligence and awareness, and this contradicts the push toward ignorance and faith. So yes, it is not the only culprit… but it is a strong ally.

  6. rork says:

    I work in medical research, in a very diverse town (Ann Arbor). It’s the religious people who need courage to “come out”, though some are just out there, clueless that very many of us are unbelievers, especially the higher up people. They think we are the same as the folks back home in Saginaw, and that atheists are rare. Hi Ho!

    40 years ago I would have predicted that in 25 years 80% of us would be atheists – cause we’d be more educated, and more folks would be saying the faith stuff is full of crap, so the weaker minded would be pulled along.

  7. Howard says:

    Some professions, such as the one I spent my working career in, are quite safe for atheists and agnostics. Others would mean financial suicide, particularly as you travel further south.

    While I’m appreciating the boldness we are witnessing, it bears remembering that atheism as such, isn’t a belief system as much as it is a rejection of traditional beliefs, and an intellectual move to honesty and open mindedness – something tragically lacking in Christianity and other religions.

  8. Leo B says:

    Yeah, I have to give credit to the Internet in general (not just the “social media”). I actually met some atheists in college without realizing it until they had expressed their views to a small group of other friends, but coming out for me was easier knowing I had on-line friends that I could turn to for emotional support.

  9. machintelligence says:

    My take on it is that ever since 9/11 the “mortal enemies” of the USA have not been the godless communists but rather god besotted fundamentalists.

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