An Atheist Asks for Advice

For a second job, I am a part-time instructor at a college in my city.  It’s a big school – about 30,000 enrolled, and I have been employed there for 17 years. It is a state college, so it is Federally funded, and is thus subject to separation of church and state.

My department has a shared office that is available for all of the adjuncts, full of desks, chairs, computers, supplies, you name it.  But it’s also a haven for religious propaganda, specifically, that of the Christian persuasion.  I don’t know exactly who puts out the religious materials (although I have my suspicions), but in the past, the materials have ranged from religious-based articles to church fliers and Billy Graham books.  Yesterday, there was a binder titled “The Loss of America Has Been Brought About By the Loss of Her Moral Standards.” When I opened it, I noticed that it was full of Christian propaganda…you know, the kind of garbage we atheists laugh about all the time. There were articles about America being a Christian nation, bible quotes about morality, statistical studies about how crime rates went up when prayers were taken away from schools, and articles about archaeological digs discovering giant human remains, which support Scripture.  Of course, we know this is all false and easily debunked, but I can’t put into words how angry I was reading this garbage, and knowing that this misinformation was being spread in my house, a public college.

My first inclination was to do some research and print out some articles and casually insert them in the booklet, to debunk this Christian misinformation. But I also don’t want to start a holy war. Some of these people I’ve known for almost two decades, and I’m not interested in burning bridges. On the other hand, I can’t let it go. I don’t want to see this garbage ever again.  It has no business being there.

So my question to you is: What do I do?

Here are some things to consider –

  • I am employed at will, and could not have my contract not renewed for any reason, on a semester-by-semester basis.
  • I am not out as an atheist.  Only a handful of people know.
  • I do not want to send an email, as that would not be anonymous.
  • My department chairperson is very religious, and at one time had a sign in our department office that said “God Bless America.” “Someone” tore it down one evening. 🙂
  • The lead professor knows I am an atheist, because we used to date. She is a devout Christian, and ended our year-long relationship due to our religious differences (allegedly), so if a complaint somehow was made anonymously, she might suspect me, and my job could be in jeopardy.

Your thoughts?



Filed under Atheism, Uncategorized

2 responses to “An Atheist Asks for Advice

  1. Suzanne

    Ohioatheist, thanks for the support you’ve lent to my blog (via Danica’s comment). My advice would be to tread carefully. It’s clearer than it’s ever been to me that some people will seek to end your job just because you are an atheist. Thrown some activism into that mix, and things could get pretty ugly. Given the job situation, I would file an anonymous complaint with the FFRF or ACLU.

  2. I fully understand both sides, for once I was religious. I believed 100%. I had sold everything and bought a one-way ticket to Israel in 1982 and worked on Kibuts Yif’at and several moshavim and traveled to Turkey, Greece, and several other places until I returned to the United States in 1987. I even got married in Jerusalem. To make a long story short, I came to a point of un-resolvable inner conflict. I have always been interested in science and facts, but I have always been very idealistic too. Having a book like the bible with answers to the mysteries of life just seemed so right. I compartmentalized my brain into two sections: science and religion. I embraced both, but the contradictions became too massive for my brain to contain, so I resolved to divorce myself from one or the other. My natural logic forbade me from dumping science, so in one fell swoop, I abandoned my long-cherished belief. My prison of belief was gone and my escape gave me a freedom unlike any other.
    Now to address your want for advice: religious people have a need to save others; they need an outlet, a catharsis. I advise you to let them scatter their religious propaganda hither and yon and just feel pity for them. You could throw the religious propaganda in a recycle bin I suppose, but that might be a little risky. You seem to be in a pickle over not being able to come out of your atheist closet. After reading Free Will by author Sam Harris I think you would see that religious people are simply reacting; they have no free will. You could subtly convey atheist concepts in routine conversation with others. You could just allow believers their catharsis and free expression even though they are technically breaking the rules at your federally funded place of employment. Keep your job; do not let religion be the cause of you loosing your job.

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