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It’s been 11 years since I first stepped out of the closet by posting quotes from famous nonbelievers on my office door at the Catholic college in Minnesota where I taught.

I took another step out when I published a satirical novel about a secular humanist professor at a Catholic college in Minnesota, did a book signing at the college bookstore, and ended up profiled in the local paper under the heading “Profile of Unbelief.”

I blew my cover even more with the nonreligious parenting book I co-authored and edited in 2007, not to mention the Newsweek article about it that same year. Being named Harvard Humanist of the Year in 2008 probably didn’t help my camouflage, nor did the release of my second nonreligious parenting book the year after that.

Traveling all over the country teaching nonreligious parenting workshops and writing about it on my Facebook page every time is a bad way to keep the whole thing hushed up, as was launching a secular humanist charitable foundation in 2010.

The bumper sticker on my car, my email address, and the 515 blog posts about secular parenting are also, now that I think about it, dead giveaways.

Ah, well. Despite these minor slip-ups, my secret was still safe in some distant corners of the world.

Like my own family.

“Did you hear that Dale is AN ATHEIST??” wrote one cousin of mine to another a few weeks ago, I just found out. “I cried all day. What should we do??”

Damn, I thought. Who squealed?

I picture Richard Dawkins being collared at a family reunion. “Bless me, if it isn’t Cousin Dickie! What have you been up to, old bean? Godly work, one hopes, wot?”

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Dale McGowan is the author of Parenting Beyond Belief, Raising Freethinkers, and Atheism for Dummies. He holds a BA in evolutionary anthropology and a PhD in music.