As a pagan, I usually spend a lot of my time in the religious closet. It's like the gay closet, but not as fabulous. And one thing that has always bothered me is people claiming to be in that closet when they aren't. Think the crazed right wing evangelicals who scream about how they can't be Christian anymore. Please, talk to me about not being able to practice your religion. I mean it. Then tell me about how you can't even keep your religious tools/books out in the open in your own house in case you have company because if this kid's mom knows what religion you are your kids won't be able to play together anymore.
However, there is a very small sect of Christians who actually are residing in the closet. Ada Calhoun wrote a wonderful piece for Salon about it. The secretly religious when your friends are atheist. I can honestly say I never thought about what that might be like. But it sounds amazingly like the experience all the rest of us have. And in a way those right wing crazies make it bad for them too. They reinforce the concept of Christianity or any other faith being evil making it harder to just say, "Dude, I go to church every Sunday, can you lay off the snide comments about how stupid people who go to church are?"*
I find it sad whenever people can't practice their faith in the open, or feel so uncomfortable about doing so they chose not to. Faith can be a comfort, it can provide answers, and it can create a sense of peace for people. Not all people, but some of us. I also find it sad that one group of marginalized people, like atheists, can in fact create a space where they hold a whole other group of people in the same disregard they are held in.*
I dearly hope that one day this might stop. People point their fingers at religion being the source of so many ills, and man terrible things are done in it's name. But at the same time we also find that the real source of this is the people within the religion. We need to address the people, not the religion. I think sometimes we all lose sight of that in the mass of anger and accusations.
*Obviously, not all atheists are like this. There is a small sect of Dawkins like atheists who to tend toward this, which is why I avoid like the plague anyone who is really really into Dawkins. I get tired of being called stupid. I am hoping that as people become more accepting of atheism that rage will cool. I wonder sometimes if there isn't a source of constant anger that causes a lot of the bitter name-calling over on his end of the spectrum. I know it tends to be the reason why a lot of name calling goes on over here in the pagan community.