I gets mail
A fan – who shall remain anonymous for reasons that will be clear in the email – sent me a letter I thought I would share with the rest of you. I’m not the best at giving advice to people in awkward situation like his, but since this is an atheism site, readers are bound to have opinions that they’re only too happy to share.
How do I ask my boss for Friday off to attend the Texas Freethought Convention?
The financially-fit, skilled, and competent version of me that I strive to be would be honest. Regretfully, I am not that man, and honesty is not really an option here.
I just started an internship at the end of August following a long stretch of unemployment. As an intern, I am extremely dependent on both my boss and my coworkers to learn on the job.
Even though I’ve only been with the company for a few weeks, I’ve found that my co-workers are vocal about their lives outside of work. Through this I’ve gathered that the three people in my immediate group are Christians. One of them even expressed frustration with being set up on a blind date with an, “atheist.”
A couple of years ago, my Christian parents found out that I had discarded the belief in god that I was raised with. Aside from their initial negative reaction, my lack of belief has not been discussed. They are still expressive of their beliefs around me while I keep my outlook to myself. My immediate family and friends of the family are also un-aware of my lack of belief. I remain silent partially due to respect, but largely due to my poor financial state.
The complicating link between my family and my work is my father; he has been with this particular company for all of his life.
I need my both parents and this internship to survive. I don’t feel comfortable risking either direct or indirect recourse with my co-workers or my parents. I am – for lack of a better word – scared.
The most appealing solution I can discern is to say that I am attending a Leadership Conference. If my co-workers accept this at face value and don’t prod any deeper, then I might be okay, but I wouldn’t know how to answer the, “who is hosting it,” or the, “where is it at,” follow-up questions.
Do you have any suggestions?
Well, I’m not a big fan of lying, but I don’t see you having a lot of choice. It sounds like drawing attention to yourself isn’t a good idea. My long-term suggestion would be to find a way not to have your balls in that kind of vice. Maybe that means moving somewhere else, where you don’t have to hide your beliefs for the sake of your job. I don’t know your family situation (which is what makes this part almost impossible), but living in such a hostile environment to unbelief for the rest of your life doesn’t seem desirable in the slightest.
Your story makes me wonder if there shouldn’t be an “covert” option available for people wanting to attend atheist conventions where the event builds a fake site for people with bosses and colleagues that just wouldn’t “get it”. It’s true that makes us non-believers appear dishonest or “closeted” about our beliefs, but we can’t expect everyone to risk losing their jobs, their friends, or even their family to show up at one of these events. It would be a little like the site “Ashley Madison” which bills your credit card under a pseudonym to ensure your spouse is unaware of your actions. It’s sad that such a service seems necessary, but that’s just the way things have to go until religious people stop having a “problem” with our existence.