On one hand, I can totally understand the Christopher Hitchens in many of us. That vitriolic anger, that refusal to sit back quietly and bite my tongue, that decision to finally let the sarcasm run rampant, the eye roll that has been waiting to happen.
The public debates of religion and other belief systems has reached an all-time high. I am certain that there has never been such a storm of opinions out there. The WWW has made it possible for each of us to sit with our selves and to post our deepest beliefs out there in the ether.
For better or worse, we are embroiled in a debate that is unprecedented.
At the same time, I know many atheists who are sitting quietly in their closet, in their cars, at their dinner table, at their desks, quietly being skeptical. And no wonder. Posting opinions online is a bit like mooning the world from a passing train...you never know who has your picture or when or where it will show up again. And it will show up again...
Does this flurry of verbosity require that we are all fully engaged in the discussion? Can we sit quietly with the knowledge that we are atheists?
Must we "come out"?
It's a good question, really. Because each time we don't speak up to the vocal fundamentalist or to the "Bless You" or to the majority prayer/sermon/message, we are giving our tacit approval, we are allowing the word "Christian" to mean "Good Person". We are allowing that moment to go by where we might open the door a bit.
I am certain that most atheists are entirely in the closet. Because "coming out" means facing the furious debate. It means identifying with that angry atheist out there who is speaking the words we feel but not living in our skin. It is hard! It can mean that WE become the face of ATHEIST to someone out there.
I have found that I MUST be "out". I must be true and honest and proud of the label "ATHEIST". *I* am the definition of that word for many people and it is important to me to represent that as naturally, comfortably, positively, and joyfully as I can.