When I ran into an old friend, we decided to meet for a quick coffee to catch up on old times. At our first meeting, religion was not discussed. Not even a little bit. The second time we met, the subject came up. He brought it up first by saying that since weíve last seen each he has grown closer to his creator. In other words, more religious, more Christian. When I told him that I grew in the opposite direction and considered myself an agnostic, I could see a look of sadness in his eyes. We discussed things from there including why Iím agnostic and why he was Christian. I told him that while I do not deny the existence of God as he knows it, I am highly skeptical in the existence of any god. That I even consider myself an agnostic atheist or even a spiritual atheist. He said he would just consider me to be agnostic.
We have continued to remain friends and spend time together. He told me that he was sad for me when I told him I was agnostic. Then he said that the more he thought about it, the more he realized that Iím still Theresa. Iím still the friendly, compassionate person that he knew and he was okay with my skepticism. And that is fine with me. But I think in the back of our minds, we think we can eventually Ďconvertí the other.
Although this particular experience with my friend has been somewhat positive, I know that there are other friends and family members who wonít be so open-minded. Iíve heard way too many friends whoíve lost family members and friends simply because they told them they donít believe, that they are *gasp* atheists. According to a 2011 poll by Gervais et al, atheists were considered just as untrustworthy as rapists and more untrustworthy than any other religion or ethnicity. Itís because of this viewpoint that many of us non-believers choose to not tell anyone. We risk losing a lot because of this view and hence why I decided to be an editor for this site on BellaOnline. To raise awareness, create camaraderie, and tell it from our viewpoint. Perhaps, just perhaps, this distrust will dissipate in the United States in a few years.