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Defriended for Disbelief

There have been quite a few people who have told me that valued friends and family members have defriended them on one of the many social networking sites like facebook or myspace because they posted atheistic opinions.

While I am pretty open about my lack of belief in ancient superstitions, I do have some theistic friends and family particularly on facebook. I don’t really want to offend them by telling them that their deeply held superstitious beliefs are bronze-aged fiction that is holding the entire human race back and threatening the freedoms, happiness, and very survival of all of humankind. However, I post a link to my blog entries on my facebook anyway. Sometimes when an old friend or family member adds me as a friend on facebook, I have to think about whether or not they will be offended by the things that I post.

When I stop to think about it, it really does seem ridiculous to me that I spend time considering whether I should or should not express my opinion on such an important subject matter out of fear that someone I care about will be offended. This especially seems ridiculous to me in light of the fact that many of these religious people who I care deeply about have zero problem posting overly religious stuff and I doubt very much that they stop for half a second at all to even consider that they might be offending me or someone else on their friend list who doesn’t share their ridiculous beliefs.

Not to worry religious friends, I am not so easily offended but the point is that in general, I doubt that they even consider my sensibilities into their religious posting. It seems that atheists are much more aware, thoughtful, and considerate when we self-censor ourselves for the benefit of our religious friends and family members.

Still, even though I think we ought not to self-censor ourselves and that we should express our opinions, thoughts, and criticisms openly I too struggle with this issue. Do I add my religious cousin as a friend? Do I accept the add of an uncle who may or may not be religious? How about that old college friend?

The fact is that not all atheists are as open as I am and even I struggle with these issues. It really comes down to a personal judgment call. But for the most part, I add who I want to add and if someone adds me, I generally accept them. If they get offended by the stuff that I post, then they will either start a conversation about it or they will defriend me.

I welcome the conversation and do my best to keep these discussions civil, polite, and friendly. If they defriend me on facebook, that doesn’t mean that we can’t still be friends in the real world. And relatives will always be relatives regardless of whether we are facebook friends or not.

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  • ProgRockGirl

    I got defriended by some myspace friends for denouncing paganism. People want to be thought of as open-minded, but they can’t be open towards people who contradict them.

  • qwertyuiop

    I’d rather not be friends with hypocrites.

  • http://myspace.com/scott888 Scott

    On Facebook, I don’t really post atheistic stuff but rather scientific stuff that may plant the seed of doubt eventually down the road.

    Yesterday I wrote a note about how animals evolved with us and explained how the large of access to domestic animals to the Native Americans is directly related to why they never really produced large civilizations. They didn’t have animals that could pull plows (they had to do that by hand) nor did they have the mobility one has with a horse. And before that part I explained the Pleistocene extinctions so it was clear why this happened.

    • http://myspace.com/scott888 Scott

      Oh, I want to mention that you can’t deconvert someone who deletes you, so there is good cause to be slick and subtle about what you post.

  • Mike O.

    Scott,

    I agree with what you are saying, but you are giving some of these fundies too much credit. I have been burn simply by answering a Facebook poll such as ” Do you believe in evolution or creationism?” and even worse “Do you think that being gay is a choice or genetic?” apparently saying that being gay is genetic made me way to liberal/godless for some family members. My stepmother just defriended me, I suspect for listing secular humanism for my “religion” on my info page. I’m torn, because I know we have to be out there and assertive in order to make a difference, but don’t want my entire family turning their backs on me. I’m at the point now where I feel that they need to accept me for who I am, not a lie they want me to be.

    Staks,

    Great article buddy!

    • http://myspace.com/scott888 Scott

      I flat out talk about evolution within notes I write and I don’t touch the issue of gay marriage. The context I present my information usually allows me to get away with it because I explain my whole thought process out so what I said makes sense.

  • Mike O.

    iPhone = typos!

  • http://myspace.com/jasyn333 Jasyn

    I am around the religious all the time. I get to hear all their talk of God and the Bible. Do I ever tell them of my disbelief? Sometimes, but it always leads to them being pissed off at me. Thing is, I’m not trying to deconvert them when I mention I don’t believe, just state my opinion as they are. It doesn’t matter, most of the religious will find the atheist offensive.

    And they call us angry!

  • Rick Miller

    I had to de-friend my creationist sister because of the rude and irrelevant comments she kept leaving under my status message postings.

    For example, I posted a pic of a supernova showing an expanding ring of light and said that it proves that the speed of light has always been constant, and directly disproves any attempt to reconcile young-earth creationism with the fact that we can see stars more than 10,000 light-years away. To this, she replied that she was “offended”, that I was a conceited know-it-all, that I was deliberately insulting her, that I had better watch what I say, and that God is real, etc.

    I told her that if she doesn’t like my postings she can either “Hide” or un-friend me but she just kept responding the same way to anything I said against religion or superstitions in general.

    I’m glad I defriended her before I posted a link to “Kissing Hank’s Ass”. :D

  • MJ

    As a Christian I’ll be friends with anyone; homosexuals, atheists or even satanists. Like God, I genuinely love and care for people in general, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I always agree with their point of view though. But we can nonetheless still respect each other enough to get along and be civil and friendly. Woudn’t mind having some of you guys as friends on FB or MS. †

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Go ahead and add me. Links in the side bar —>

  • SmilodonsRetreat

    That’s the way I see it as well. But I’ll tell you, there’s a lot of people who think the concept of a representative government is dead. Politicians are among the lest trusted people in America and the average America’s faith in their government is at an all time low… just as what would be freedoms in other countries also seem to be dropping quickly.

    • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

      Yeah, but Americans are lazy.

      • SmilodonsRetreat

        You know… I was about to say that. And, in general I tend to agree… but I saw what happened in Austin the last week, I remember Wisconsin.

        It’s not that American’s are lazy, but we tend to be… unfocused. Too, we’ve been without threat for a long time as a culture and like the Romans, we seem to have become complacent.

        • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

          Very good point.

  • Peter

    It almost happened once in your country and it wasn’t religious it was by the corporate elites who wanted to establish a fascist regime modelled on fascist Italy.
    The Business Plot
    . From my perspective as a Canadian the US is drifting toward fascism.