Sunday, May 17, 2009

I Must Admit...

I must admit that I was seldom "out" as an Atheist at a workplace.

I live in a strangely mixed area. There are a dozen Bible "colleges" in the city and hordes of Calvinists of varying sorts. But through the magic of the Internet, I've found the other part of our population. Unfortunately, few businesses in my area are owned by people who are openly tolerant of non-theists.

Everywhere I held a job when I was in the 9 to 5 world, God was a frequent topic of conversation and disdain for non-Christians and Christians of other sects was made abundantly clear. At one workplace, a co-worker was accidentally outed as a non-theist. Two days later she was canned but not before the valve stems were cut on all four of her tires in the employee parking lot. My own accidental outing by a friend who picked me up for lunch one day resulted in getting my car vandalized in a different way - profanity and threats had been scratched into it with a sharp object.

My co-worker was supposedly fired for being late in excess of three times. However, the last incidence of lateness had occurred over a year earlier and it was very minor. Michigan is an "at will" employment state which allows employers to sack a person for any reason at any time, so long as they don't express a discriminatory reason. They also don't need to give a reason, they can just terminate you with no explanation. So, for years and years I bit my tongue and remained in the Atheist closet, because I wanted to be safe and I wanted to keep my job.

Now that I'm disabled and working out of my home, it's not an issue anymore. I can be as out as I want to and not fear job loss. I am a bit ashamed that I wasn't out before.

It feels great to stop the lying by omission that being closeted requires.


actonbell said...

I would've kept my mouth shut, too. Actually, religion and politics are two topics that really should not be discussed in the workplace, anyway.

Anonymous said...

We atheists in the US have been forced to suppress our opinions due to the oppression of a Christian majority society.

Kylyssa Shay said...

It is really hard to keep your mouth shut when your co-workers are quoting Michael Savage's radio show about shipping atheists out of the country and calling them terrorists.

I think my tongue is finally healed because I haven't had to bite it in so long.