Question for atheists: your online persona vs. real life

A question for atheist Dopers: Do you express your atheism the same way in both online and real-life situations?

The reason I ask is that I do know some atheists personally, and they tend to be rather restrained about it. They don’t mention it unless they’re asked a specific question about it, like “Do you belong to a church?” or “What are you doing for Easter?” They are reasonably respectful and tolerant of religious people, and don’t go out of their way to pick fights with them. However, I’ve noticed whenever atheism comes up online (on message boards, chat rooms, etc.) the self-identified atheists tend to be very strident and abrasive.

So, my question for atheists is, do you take a more muted approach in real-life situations, or are you equally vocal online and in day-to-day life? If the latter describes you, then how’s that working out? I’m not being sarcastic; I really want to know. I’ve never met any really vociferous atheists, and I’m wondering why. I do know plenty of people who are extremely outspoken about their political views and don’t seem to care if they are alienating their friends, family, or coworkers, so it’s not as if everyone I know is soft-spoken.

I’m a self-identified atheist. The only reason to not give my honest opinion of organized religion if asked is if I can’t be bothered getting into an argument. In real-life this is a much greater concern than on-line.

I am exactly the same in all cases. Except at work, and since I’m out of a job right now that shouldn’t matter. The main thing I did at work was to avoid prayer breakfasts and always turned down any requests to go to anyone’s church. Only one person was noisy enough to ask me point blank my beliefs. My answer was none of the above. I also don’t get into political arguments at work.

Online I’ll sometimes initiate discussions about religion, faith, and belief, but I very rarely do in real life. I think that’s kind of the point of a forum like this- it allows you to have discussions about challenging topics with others who actually want to have these discussions with no risk of offense.

As I’ve said in the past, as far as I know there’s only one real life person who knows I’m an atheist; my brother, who’s also an atheist.

I don’t know any Christians*, so it doesn’t really come up. I have a friend who is Jewish, and one is a Mormon. Although I think both are too smart for such nonsense, I do keep my comments respectful IRL.

*there is a woman a work who I believe attends catholic church, but I don’t really know her or whether she really believes in god.

Do you really not know any Christians, or do you mean you’re not close to any Christians? I’d be very surprised if there’s anyone who has lived in America for more than a few years and knows at least a handful of Americans who does not know a Christian.

This is not really a debate.

Off to MPSIMS for personal declarations.

I’m totall non-religious I very rarely think about it in real life. So I don’t really discuss it. I discuss it more here because the topics come up more.

I don’t describe my self as an atheist, I’m leaning toward agnosticism. However, sometimes I’m too tired to explain the difference between those two for people who don’t know them, so I response with “I’m irreligious”. For me personally, I don’t expose my ideas about religion (either online or in real life) unless I’m asked to. The reason is I don’t want to be engaged in comments war if its online, or loud, pointless conversations, plus losing friends if its in real life, and most of all, I respect others ideas despite the fact that I mostly disagree with (in my opinion thats the best thing of being a faithless). Sine I am an ex-Muslim, many of my friends are Muslims, whenever they know that I left Islam for many many reasons, they go nuts, start conversations, try to justify how Islam is the greatest thing on earth and how “stupid I am” for not understanding their great religion. Of course they call me names like infidel, ignorant, heretic, and claim that they can no longer sit with me since “Its forbidden” to sit with a disbeliever. Which I used to feel sad about, but not anymore. So in conclusion. I avoid talking about it because many religious people are too sensitive toward this idea, and they feel offended, and mostly hate you for thinking this way. It may sounds arrogant and ignorant at the same time, but I think the problem is not with us (faithless people) the problem is with them (religious people) whom mostly don’t accept others’ opinions :slight_smile:

Thanks for sharing, and welcome to the Straight Dope Message Board.

Some friendly advice- it can be hard to follow your “block of text” style of post, so I recommend you start to use some paragraph and line breaks to break up your thoughts. Anyway, welcome aboard.

I live in the Bible Belt, and I’m in a “moral advisor” type of job, what do you think?

I’m living close to the edge as it is when I admit that I don’t have a current “church home,” although there are times that I ought to not mention that either, because I get invited to church all the damn time and have to beg off.

I don’t have to lie, the christians around here assume everyone is already a christian (except maybe not the best kind, and maybe not actively as christian as they could be regarding church attendance) and everyone who isn’t a christian pretty much just doesn’t bring it up, and changes the subject when it does come up.

For me it depends, if you want a debate I will happily give you one irl or online. Out in the real world I dont go looking for them like I do here though. On the other hand when the mormon kids on bikes come riding up while I am out walking the dog I can be pretty brutal in my critique of their personal indoctrinated beliefs.

Thanks for the advice :slight_smile: I know my comment is too long and I was worried about it hahaha, but I found the topic too interesting and was eager to share my perspective.

I’ve been trying to think of someone. That woman at work is the only person I know that attends church. I had a friend who was an Priest in the Episcopal church, but I haven’t talked to him in at least ten years. And, I often wondered if he believed in god as a literal god.

There is no one else I’m related to, work with, off friends with, that appears to be religious in any way.

In Canada no one, and I mean NO ONE, ever asks about your religious beliefs. It never, ever comes up in casual conversation. I have friends that I’ve known for 25 years and I have no idea what they believe. I have a good friend who I know is an atheist, but we never talk about it.

In Canada, religion doesn’t really matter at all, except of course, in Quebec.

All my friends, family, co-workers, all know I’m an atheist. They all know I’m gay too. But unless it comes up contextually, then it just doesn’t get mentioned. For instance, I work with a very conservative co-worker (listens to NewsMax-type podcasts all day long)…she had an interview set-up outside the company but after researching the company, found out that she’d be helping out Union members all day long. She said to me “that’d be like you working at a church”.

I appear to be alone here in being actually somewhat more stridently atheist in person than online. I don’t generally get involved on here in religious discussion, but I actually do fairly often in reality, though maybe that’s just because of my group of friends and family.

It may be worth turning the question around:

A question for religious Dopers: Do you express your beliefs the same way in both online and real-life situations?

I’m a fed at an agency in Washington, and basically the only way we learn anything about coworkers’ religious lives is at funerals.