African Female Atheist Reveals Why She is in the Closet

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By Leo Igwe


She is from one of the countries in Southern Africa and is in her 20s. She asked me not to reveal her true identity so I will call her Sara. Sara comes from a strong catholic background and knows a lot about catholic faith and rituals. Recently she told me why she is a closeted atheist and may remain so for some time.

“I was very religious and almost became a nun… I come from a staunch catholic home. I used to help out at the church and when people asked for some assistance. I was that good that the bishop heard about me and invited me for a lunch”. She told me during an online chat.

Unfortunately the lunch did not bring Sara closer to God or to the church. In fact it had the opposite effect because she is now an atheist but wants to remain in the closet because she has so many concerns. Yes she thinks it is not yet safe and conducive for her go open and public with her atheism.

Sara is of the view that declaring her atheism would cost her a lot in terms of family support and social capital. In fact it may jeopardize her chances of getting married or at least of maintaining a stable relationship. “As a woman it’s better kept closeted because potential boyfriends flee”. She explained. Sara is really weighing the options in terms of balancing her psycho -social needs with the (mis)perceptions of the people.

“Generally people look at you differently, they misjudge you for what you are not, sometimes the relationships you have are worth keeping rather than lost due to what people can’t fathom”

Meanwhile some of her friends are aware of her doubts and disbelief but they think it is “a passing phase “in her life and that she would eventually bounce back faithfully to God.

From my interaction with her that is not likely. But Sara has very serious concerns. She thinks if she leaves the closet today her “Mum will have heart attack”. Yes I have heard many ‘aspiring (closeted) atheists’ in the region say that. They fear that if they openly declare their atheism, their mother would die and so they prefer remaining in the closet.

But I have not heard any incident where the mother of a ‘potential’ atheist had cardiac arrest when the son or daughter came out as an atheist. My mother is very religious too and I was worried how my mum would react to my decision to identify openly as an atheist. She was not happy with my decision but she quickly adjusted and she is fine now. Sometimes our concerns may be misplaced. Our fears may be unfounded.


However, one thing all of us, Africa’s first generation atheists, must bear in mind is that some family members and friends would feel disappointed to know that we  have lost ‘faith in faith’. Sara says if she comes out as an atheist today “I will break the hearts of lots of people who have looked at me as a role model for youngsters”. She could still be a role model but this time to youngsters or to other women who are struggling with their doubts and disbelief.

Sara says that some people who would be livid  ‘waiting for one to fall from grace or they think one is ‘a Satanist’’ – a worshipper of the devil. But she says “In my mind I am laughing and thinking, there are no gods or earth trolls”. But people in her country are of the notion that “since you cut yourself off from the vine that you are vulnerable to being initiated or attacked”.

Sara is not worried by all that She only concerned about the judgement of others, she says: “People misjudge and look at you differently. They don’t bother to get to know you even though you may have a higher morality compared to church girls”.

She is worried that not many men in her country would condone atheism from their wives. “Very few men can stomach it and when they realize that you are not kidding someone will take it upon himself or herself to bring you back to Jesus”. So Sara is treading carefully. She values community relationship and solidarity though it is soaked with religious piety


9 Responses to  African Female Atheist Reveals Why She is in the Closet

  1. Though I don’t believe this is a real story and lacks objectivity,I believe that there are people out there who don’t believe in Jesus as the only way to God and heaven and that there is life in hell or heaven after death. Beloved Jesus loves you and one day you shall die and face Him in judgement.Please repent of your sins,confess and accept Him as your Lord and saviour and He shall give you eternal life today,John3:16, 2Corinthians5:17.Acts17:30.Matth25:31-46

    Jesus Loves You
    August 23, 2015 at 8:51 am

  2. The Fool says in his heart, “There is no God”, they are corrupt,their deeds are vile…Psalms14:1

    Hell is Not My Portion!!
    August 23, 2015 at 8:57 am

    • “Hell is not my portion”. Typical of a christian who lies to oneself and to her/his god that they love their neighbor as they love themselves. With your self righteousness, if hell is real, I can assure you that it is YOUR portion.

      October 10, 2015 at 5:54 am

  3. Sorry! The lunch invitation by the BISHOP is what turned her away from God. I’ve heard it so many times from my many catholic girlfriends about the SEXUAL ASSAULTS by Catholic Bishops! Why do you think hasn’t the story touched on what happened at the lunch meeting???

    August 23, 2015 at 12:23 pm

  4. Dear Sara, please stop equating God’s existence with religion. God did not create Christianity or Catholicism. People created the God of Christianity or Catholicism. Whether you believe in God or not it’s your issue and not God’s issue. To me it feels like you are susceptible to feeling guilty and stupid about yourself and you are projecting that on others. God didn’t make a mistake to create you. Stop going in life rejecting yourself-created in the image of God. God doesn’t need your approval to exist.

    Foolish Religious Believers
    August 23, 2015 at 4:13 pm

  5. There was once a person who used to call himself MERCUCIO(sp). This person used to write a lot in our daily papers that there is no God. He did not last long….we came to learn that he was NO MORE. I do not know what happened after his death …whether he still prophesied that there is no God. BELIEVE IN THE LORD JESUS, BELIEVE IN GOD AND YOU WILL NEVER GO WRONG.

    A Believer
    August 24, 2015 at 7:55 am

    • A believer, this is a good reminder to me about the mercies of God. I regularly read Mercucio’s articles in the POST. I was slowly getting influenced by his articles to a point where I regarded Mercucio as a great man. His articles were addictive. I started preaching his views. One day, the light of the gospel of Jesus shone in my heart. I realized the dangerous path on which I was travelling. I thank God that He saved me because of His kindness. As for Mercucio, it is my hope that he accepted Christ as his personal savior before he stepped out of time into eternity. I feel sorry for people who say there is no God. God is real. His existence is perceived by the things He has created. The creation we see around us did not come by accident.

      August 24, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    • Everyone dies..there are a lot of people who openly and actively profess their unbelief in all gods (take Richard Dawkins for instance) and they have lived longer than most christians i know. You too professing your faith in your god, people will “come to know that you are no more” some day, that is if you are still alive.

      October 10, 2015 at 5:42 am

  6. I read it and I am not sure what to make of it. She’d probably bring more value in her life by coming out as then people who do not really value her would walk away while she could retain people who put value on her as a human. I think it’s always good to open yourself up to the possibility of meeting people who share the same life outlook as your and hold the same life values as yourself as your life is so much better enriched by candid relationship rather than superficial relationships.

    January 21, 2016 at 1:26 pm

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