By Frederick Sparks
I’m especially not here to talk to black people, an important target audience of mine, about how great religion is, and specifically, how African-Americans took a religious paradigm that was a significant factor in justifying enslavement and encouraging complacent acceptance of a repressive status quo and flipped it into a liberation theology. That narrative is already ascendant within my target community. How Jesus has been good for black folks is still largely un-debated, and those who have debated it in the past have had their words whitewashed in historical revisionism or wholly ignored. I and others are here to provide a much needed counter narrative.
And as much hoopla and prominence as the new atheist movement has received, it’s still not the ascendant narrative generally. So I view many of the critiques of new atheism with a mixture of bemusement and annoyance, in part, because I think some of the critics are simultaneously pissed they didn’t write the End of Faith or The God Delusion first, while at the same time owing whatever attention they receive to the very phenomenon they critique; because of course where would they be without defining themselves in contradistinction? Wouldn’t it be just as easy to proselytize the ecumenical atheist vision of “interfaith” cooperation without tearing down other atheists?
Those of us who are atheists/secularists and interested in issues of social justice (many of the bloggers here on freethoughtblogs) are fully aware of and engaged in the struggle to bring these issues to the forefront of the “secular movement”, facing resistance from those who think such subjects are not in the purview of skepticism, or those who feel that raising issues of race, gender or class inequality is too “political” and risks alienating those neoconservative neo-libertarians who might otherwise be attracted to the conversation. We are fully aware of the need to provide avenues of community support that religion at its best provides. And we don’t appreciate accomodationist straw man construction that ignores our efforts and awareness, particularly when the straw man constructors turn victim when called on their intellectual dishonesty.