Roy Speckhardt of the American Humanist Association has written a piece at the Huffington Post encouraging atheists and nonebelievers to “come out” for their own good and for the good of us all. Speckhardt hits upon what I think is one of the most positive effects of coming out, for the individual and for the wider freethought community:
Furthermore, failing to openly identify misses the opportunity to put a positive human face on a wrongfully vilified identity. As gay rights activist Harvey Milk noted about another maligned community, “Once they realize that we are indeed their children, that we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and for all.”
Indeed, it’s certainly (or at least hopefully) more difficult to despise someone you know, much less love.
Speckhardt also mentions the challenges of coming out to young atheists or freethinkers who are financially or otherwise dependent upon believers for their livelihood or security. We need everyone to do what they can but in the end we all make our own way.
You can read Roy Speckhardt’s piece “Is it Unethical to Hide Your Nonbelief?” here: