I was in a very slow line for Master Pancake (an Austin comedy group) the night Jen McCreight posted her brainstorm about a movement called Atheism+. And it was spot on — despite the fact that I was standing in a crowded space, I had to keep reading and pointing out excerpts to my wife.
I noticed I haven’t been blogging much, and I feel extra guilty that I haven’t contributed anything to the current inter-blog discussion about what a good idea Atheism+ is. Ultimately I don’t really have a lot to say. For as long as I can remember being involved with the Atheist Community of Austin there have been discussions about how to keep events from being overwhelmingly populated by white guys like me. We’ve spoken many times about how atheism doesn’t necessarily extend philosophically to anything other than “not believing in any Gods”; how technically Raelians are atheists; and you can be an atheist and still believe in all sorts of supernatural woo as long as it’s not God. That’s all still true.
Technicalities aside though, we’ve also been bold about taking on issues that are outside the minimal scope of atheism, and worked to present a strong front of core values from our community. The ACA has had a booth at the Austin Gay Pride festival for several years running, and put out press releases denouncing politicians banning equal marriage rights. We’ve had many on-air discussions with concerned atheists from minority groups. We’ve spoken for women’s rights to choose, and defended that position despite the fact that anti-abortion atheists exist. Our TV show has a fairly diverse cast, and we’ve been producing Godless Bitches for a year and a half now — a show hosted by prominent female voices and promoting outreach on behalf of atheist feminists. More recently, the ACA board began drafting a formal anti-harassment policy for members as soon as the issue started gaining discussion where conventions were concerned.
Our group strives for a diverse, welcoming environment. There’s an argument that comes up a lot where tolerance is concerned, but should not be taken seriously by anyone: that you can’t be truly tolerant unless you tolerate intolerance. Or alternatively, if you identify and condemn bigotry, you are being bigoted against the bigots.
Hopefully people get the point through my rambling, but this is a roundabout way of saying that I think “Atheism+” is a welcome new label for an old concept, it’s something that many groups have already been striving for before Jen bothered to give it a new name, and I’m all for spreading this particular meme.
For more excellent posts on the subject, please see: