March 16, 2010

Do You Wear Atheist T-Shirts?

WHITEDESIGN2B.jpgI realize that what I experience as an atheist living in Mississippi is a bit different from what those of you in more enlightened areas experience. My experience here shapes how I view the world, and there is simply no getting around that fact. But I've found myself thinking lately that I want to be more than a passive recipient of my environment; I want to shape it as well. I'm going to look at atheist t-shirts, vehicle emblems, and the like as examples of what I'm talking about.

Each time I leave my home, I can count on running into countless Jesus bumper stickers and car decals and at least one person who will be wearing an over-the-top Jesus t-shirt. This is a reflection of the widespread Christian privilege where I live, but it also represents my neighbors' exercise of their right to free expression. I sometimes find myself feeling envious of this.

I do not affix any sort of atheist-oriented, pro science, or anti-religion symbols to my car for fear of vandalism. I would like to be able to do so, but I refrain. I do not generally wear clothing with such messages in public for fear of physical assault, but I would like to be able to do so more frequently. Why? Given that I am not particularly interested in having religious conversations with complete strangers in public, why would I have any interest in having such messages on my vehicle or on my person?
  • When I see a pro-reality message on someone else's vehicle or person, it immediately puts a smile on my face. I'd like to be able to provide that experience for other atheists.
  • When I encounter pro-reality messages, I feel a bit less alone. I'd like to help other atheists feel a little less alone.
  • I'd like to be able to take advantage of the same right to free expression that Christians take advantage of on a regular basis and without fear of consequences.
  • I'd like to be able to celebrate the atheist part of my identity. It means something to me, and I am tired of feeling that I must hide it.
How about you? Do you wear atheist t-shirts, have pro-reality messages on your vehicle, etc.? If not, would you like to be able to do so without having to be as concerned about the consequences of doing so?