Episode 22 :: Losing My Religion :: Coming Out As An Atheist

| July 23, 2010 | 0 Comments

Bug Girl

Panel discussion on coming out to one’s family and friends as an atheist. We talk with panelists PZ Myers, Bug Girl, Jennifer Ouellette, Lyra Lynx, Maria Walters, Jen Mana, Ted Meissner, Debbie Goddard, Carrie Iwan, and Dave Walbridge.

Religious tolerance is a very different thing from acceptance. Sometimes we’re able to come out to our loved ones, our friends, our co-workers, and have it be at least accepted, if not welcomed. And sometimes, we’re in situations where the details of our beliefs are best left unsaid. Situations, and the people in them, vary sometimes from one day to the next.

In July of 2010, I was honored to participate in and moderate a panel discussion titled Losing My Religion, about coming out as an atheist to one’s friends and family. My sincere thanks to the panelists for their interest and willingness to be a part of this exploration, and to the audience at the convention for listening. You will hear the occassional censor beep — this is not done out of disrespect to the integrity of the language used in the discussion, but due to a desire to maintain a Clean rating.

A few (but not all) of the panelists are pictured below, where the interwebs provided some information of interest.

Bug Girl has a PhD in Entomology. Her bug research involves using pheromones to try to control insect populations without pesticides. After a decade or so as a professor, she decided to jump the academic ship and went on to be a dot.com designer, web mistress, forensic consultant, and more. She is now back at a University in the Midwest, giving students (mostly) helpful advice.

Jennifer Ouellette

Jennifer Ouellette is a recovering English major who stumbled into science writing as a struggling freelance writer in New York City and found it was the perfect career for her. She has been avidly exploring her inner geek ever since. Now based in Los Angeles, California, she is the author of three popular science books for the general public: The Calculus Diaries: How Math Can Help You Lose Weight, Win in Vegas, and Survive a Zombie Apocalypse (August 31, 2010), The Physics of the Buffyverse (2007), and Black Bodies and Quantum Cats: Tales from the Annals of Physics (2006), all published by Penguin.


PZ Myers

Paul Zachary “PZ” Myers (born March 9, 1957) is an American biology professor at the University of Minnesota Morris (UMM) and the author of the science blog Pharyngula. He is currently an associate professor of biology at UMM, works with zebrafish in the field of evolutionary developmental biology (evo-devo), and also cultivates an interest in cephalopods. He is a public critic of intelligent design (ID) and of the creationist movement in general and is an activist in the American creation / evolution controversy.

Carrie Iwan

Carrie Iwan is one of the Skepchick panelists, based in Minnesota.





Debbie Goddard

Debbie Goddard is the campus outreach coordiantor at the Center for Inquiry Transnational in Amherst, NY. She is also the director of African Americans for Humanism, a program of the Council for Secular Humanism. Before working for CFI, she participated in local freethought groups in the greater Philadelphia region and helped organize and support campus groups internationally as a student volunteer. She has also been involved with progressive issues and LGBT activism.





Ted Meissner

Ted Meissner is the podcaster known as The Secular Buddhist, and has been active in interfaith dialogues, atheism, and skepticism.






:: Discuss this episode ::



“I see life as a long journey, and you’re on it, and I don’t judge people.” — audience member mother of one of our panelists



Web Links

Music for This Episode

Hon Shirabe

Rodrigo Rodriguez

The music heard in the middle of the podcast is from Rodrigo Rodriguez. The tracks used in this episode are:

  • Traces of Truth

Tags: ,

Category: The Secular Buddhist Podcast

Ted Meissner

About the Author ()

Ted Meissner is the host of the podcast Present Moment: Mindfulness Practice and Science. He has been a meditator since the early 90’s, has been interviewed for Books and Ideas, Mindful Lives, and The Whole Leader podcasts, spoken about mindfulness with various groups including Harvard Humanist Hub, and has written for Elephant Journal and The International Journal of Whole Person Care. He is the Executive Director of the Secular Buddhist Association, host of the SBA’s official podcast The Secular Buddhist, and is on the Advisory Board for the Spiritual Naturalist Society. Ted’s background is in the Zen and Theravada traditions, he is a regular speaker on interfaith panel discussions, and is interested in examining the evolution of contemplative practice in contemporary culture. Ted teaches Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care & Society, where he is the Manager of Online Programming and Community Development.

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