A Message for the Atheist in the Closet

1. Know you are not alone — not even a little bit. 

If you are in the States, here are American Atheists local groups and American Humanist Association local groups.

2. Whatever brought you to this decision, it was for a good reason. You did your research. You responded to questions lingering in your mind and came to a solid conclusion.

3. There’s nothing wrong with you (a misconception I grew up with).

4. Not everyone has to know, but you shouldn’t have to hide either. Share as much or as little as you want.

5. You don’t have to prove anything — that falls squarely on the shoulders of believers.

6. Be prepared to face backlash — which may or may not come. (You might be surprised.) 

7. There are resources — books, blogs, groups, podcasts, etc. If you found Freethought Blogs you’re on the right track.

My publisher, Freethought House, has a nice collection of secular books. I suggest Atheist Voices of Minnesota. This isn’t my book and I’m not from Minnesota, but I really enjoyed this anthology of personal stories. If you want something relatable, this is it.

8. Reach out for support if you need it.

Check out this organization — Recovering from Religion

9. Stay safe.


Please add advice and resources to the comments!


  1. John Morales says

    I do appreciate the issues in cultures such as that of our blog host.

    Best I can do is to note that, in many places, there’s no problem with being an out atheist. For real.

    Where I live, it just doesn’t come up in professional or public interactions.

  2. blf says

    A Message for a Closet with an Atheist (or Gay, Trans, and very long list of other)

    1. Know you are not alone — not even a little bit.
    Occupied closets, both physical and metaphorical, are everywhere.

    2. Your occupant may be hiding from genuine persecution, imagined enemies, socioeconomic absurdities, playing hide-and-seek, or properly accounting for a genuine crime.
    All but the last should be sheltered and cared for. Overstaying hide-and-seekers without other reasons for hiding should be gently coaxed out.

    3. A stout (but not air-proof) closet, doors openable from the inside, is a comforting place.
    So are pillow forts, which also tend to be more comfortable… but a stout closet nearby is a great comfort.

    4. Don’t block mobile or WiFi signals.
    Not ever. The occupant needs to be able to reach out. However, this can be tricky is cases of genuine persecution, when They™ are looking for the occupant.

    5. Doors that won’t open should the persecutors arrive can be useful; better is the occupant is hiding someplace else, to return once you’ve been searched.
    Multiple closest, corridors, doors — think Scooby Doo — are both fun and surprisingly effective.

    6. Occasionally things go wrong.
    Put the mask off the villain.

    7. There are resources and allies.
    Older closets may be protected by historical societies. More modern closets by rental or lease agreements. And…

    8. Reach out for support if you need it.
    The occupant has friends and contacts, albeit it may take a bit of persuasion (possibly on both ends) to the calvary to arrive. (An actual calvary can be very impressive.)

    9. Stay safe.
    Anticipate. Be proactively promoting & protecting, not just a reactive hiding place.

    (Probably doesn’t qualify as “[adding] advice and resources”… Sorry if this attempt at a tongue-in-cheek look at the role of the physical closet upsets or confuses anyone !)

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