October 12, 2011

The Silent Atheist Majority

SilenceSome are atheists who do not see atheism as worth discussing. They may even look down at their outspoken colleagues for what they perceive as proselytizing atheism. They may acknowledge the existence of bigotry and discrimination against atheists in the larger culture, but they have not experienced it themselves. It is unfortunate that others have confronted it, they say, but it really isn't their concern. Others remain silent out of fear. They worry that they might face consequences for disclosing atheism, and they have chosen to play it safe. Collectively, they make up the vast majority of the atheist community, even as many of them deny that there is any sort of atheist community. They are the silent atheist majority.

Among the more outspoken atheists, some are quick to disparage the silent atheists. They may be viewed as apathetic or accused of cowardice. Although nobody would argue that some atheists are indeed apathetic or fearful, such accusations probably do little to attract people to a more active style of atheism. Moreover, this silent atheist majority is the greatest ally outspoken atheists could have. They are the sleeping giant that the atheist movement should be desperate to awaken.

I hear from new readers at least once or twice a week. These are people who are just now discovering Atheist Revolution. Most are members of the silent atheist majority. For a variety of reasons, they have decided to look into atheism. For some, it was a story in the mainstream media. For others, it was a personal experience. But the point is that they started the process of exploring. Anything we can do to facilitate that is worth doing.

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