Is It Embarrassing to Be Religious?

A bashful NYC Christian dreads coming out as religious to her friends

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Fear of judgment from her liberal, proudly secular friends in New York City has driven Ada Calhoun to attend church covertly. She calls herself a "closet Christian," and imagines that she's not alone in finding her religion a source of embarrassment. (Andy Warhol, she notes, kept his Catholicism a secret till his death.)  She blames part of this on her fellow faithful, who are seen by liberals as "protesting gay marriage, giving money to charlatans, and letting priests molest children." On reflecting whether to speak openly about her religion, Calhoun asks:

Am I allowed to get spiritual fulfillment from something that has been, and continues to be, so disastrously invoked by other people? Am I allowed to just go to church sometimes and read the Bible sometimes without wearing a huge cross necklace and checking an official box on forms? But also, increasingly, I wonder: When I'm getting a ride from some friends and they start talking about how stupid religious people are and quoting lines from "Religulous," do I have an obligation to point out how reductive and bigoted they're being, the way I would if they were talking about a particular race?

Is religion really an embarrassing obstacle in certain communities?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.