Sunday, October 21, 2012

Atheism in NC

It can be difficult to be an atheist in North Carolina, and for some coming out is much harder than others.  This blog exists to discuss issues of interest to atheists in NC.  It will be open to guest bloggers.  If you wish to join the discussion, please feel free to post comments, and if you wish to guest blog, send me an email at  As I know sometimes it is hard to put your name to things, depending on whether or not you're "out,"  anonymous commenting is on and welcome.  What is unwelcome is religious badgering of any kind, proselytizing or evangelizing.  Please, no family members, mine or otherwise, telling me how deeply we're being prayed for.  Such comments are unwelcome here and will be deleted because, come on - they are not unique and don't add to the discussion, at best.

To sort of get things going, I want to recommend an organization that opened my eyes to what seemed like a whole new world. 

I made the transition from church pastor to atheist over several years, and most of that transition happened in my head.  There weren't a lot of people for me to talk to about it, and while I credit much of the actual fleshing out of my current beliefs to science learned through books and the Internet, I really missed out on the social ties that could have been gained by meeting other nonbelievers. 

It didn't have to be that way.  This March, I attended a fundraiser in Raleigh for the Triangle Freethought Society, a group for nonbelievers headquartered in Raleigh.  The event featured Dr. Richard Dawkins, a pivotal leader in the current atheist movement whose work The God Delusion was seminal in my own atheistic education.  I attended, fully expecting a signature and a handshake.  I was simply not prepared to meet the hundreds of people who were just like me in one very important way. 

I have not been able to travel to Raleigh as often as I'd have liked since then, because of my military obligations, but now that I'm retired I plan to attend meetings there more often.  Not just to attend meetings, but because I had such a wonderful experience meeting people who shared my love for science and my belief that religion had failed, in its thousands of years-existence, to make a case for the existence of the supernatural.  People for whom the theory of evolution was not a subject written in a foreign language. 

That's why it's hard to be an atheist in whatever corner of North Carolina you happen to live.  Because, there's maybe several hundred in Raleigh.  But, in Sanford, where I live, there's maybe just several.  And, I don't know them.  We're not connected.  But, I'll bet we'd have a few things to talk about, if we were.  Richard Dawkins said (I'd quote from The God Delusion, but I've lent my last copy again!  blast!) that maybe the first step towards "herding the cats," that is, getting an atheist movement together, is encouraging them to come out.  Maybe through organizations like TFS and through online forums and, yes, even through contacts found through blogs, we can begin the process of finding one another.  It's difficult to be an atheist in NC, sometimes, but I've found that when you're friends with other atheists it's not nearly so difficult as you might think.


  1. Hey Jay, I'm very happy to know you, and your new friends at TFS look forward to seeing more of you! It's amazing how often I discover that acquaintances I've known for years are also nontheists--it doesn't come up, partly because we're not the ones to ask "What church to you belong to?" I know there are surely lots more.

    There is so much that that the nontheist community can do to set an example for those around us, to first show that we are normal, and that we can and usually do have solid moral foundations, and a commitment to a better world--but it really helps to be part of a community to get the courage to do so more and more openly. Cheers, mate!

    Come out, come out, wherever in NC you are!

  2. Cheers, indeed! I had more than a few hits in my FB inbox after the blog went up that all started with "I don't know if you remember me, but I'm a nonbeliever, too!" It's an awesome, wonderful thing.

    Thanks, Sue, for posting! Your wisdom is welcome here anytime.