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Aug 30 2012

Is Atheism+ Divisive?

No.

I wanted to give Greta’s piece a standing ovation after reading it, and I wish I could force everyone who’s made the claim of “divisiveness” to read the entire thing. But if you read anything, let it be this:

The people who are hand-wringing about how Atheism Plus is “divisive” are basically saying that they are entitled to me. They may not intend to say that — but that’s the upshot. They are saying that they are entitled to my work, my ideas, my fundraising efforts, my late nights, my grueling travel schedule, my passion, my exhaustion, my efforts to make atheism stronger and more visible. They are saying this about me… and about every other feminist woman in the movement, and every feminist man, and every feminist person who doesn’t identify as either male or female. They are saying, “If you want to be in this movement, it has to be on our terms. And if those terms means putting up with hate, abuse, harassment, violation of privacy, threats and more… well, I guess those are the breaks.” And they are acting as if a group of people in the movement deciding that they get to choose who they work with, and deciding to form a subset of the movement with people who share their core values, is some sort of horrible betrayal.

Fuck that.

I said at the beginning, and I’ll say again: If you’re wary about Atheism Plus and want to see where it’s going before you decide whether to get involved… that’s fine with me. If you understand the motivations behind Atheism Plus, but prefer to align with another segment of the godless community, such as secular humanism… that’s fine with me. If you can see why people would want to form Atheism Plus, but personally prefer to keep your activism focused on more traditional atheist issues… that’s fine with me.

But I am sick to death of people calling me “divisive” for not wanting to work with people who despise me, who abuse me as a matter of routine, and who have been working for a solid year to drive me out of the movement. I am sick to death of people calling Atheism Plus “divisive”… and yet somehow not applying that word to the hate, abuse, harassment, violation of privacy, threats, and more that women in this community are subjected to as a matter of course, or to the stubborn, hyper-skeptical, willfully ignorant defenses of those behaviors. I am sick to death of people calling Atheism Plus “divisive”… and yet somehow not applying that word to the shit that motivated people to form Atheism Plus in the first place.

Unfortunately, I have the feeling the people who keep crowing about divisiveness will conveniently not read her piece. At the very least I want to see them try to justify how an endless stream of abuse is somehow not divisive. That sort of mental gymnastics amuses me.

In lighter news, the AtheismPlus.com forums are going really well. Over 600 people have already registered, and the forums are quickly filling up with a lot of passionate discussion. And so far we’ve managed to keep the hateful crap under control. Maybe this can actually work.

60 comments

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  1. 1
    Ganner

    Jen, I tried to register for the atheismplus forum 2 days ago, but I never got an activation e-mail. Told it to resend it, still never got it. And there’s nowhere on the forum or website to contact staff unless you’re already logged into your account… which I obviously can’t do. Any advice?

    Unrelated: I’m getting exasperated at some of the responses to our new group. What I’m finding is that a lot of people, at this point, are simply beyond convincing. They are completely certain that a) All of our concerns are overblown, hypersensitive, made up, and being used to unfairly label all of atheism sexist and racist (and refuse to listen to reason arguing otherwise), and b) That this is just about freethought blogs and skepchick being bullies who can’t tolerate anyone disagreeing about them in any way about anything. In other words: “Shut up about what you’re concerned about, you’re overreacting and need to get over it! Oh, you got mad at me for that? You’re a bully! You’re a facist! you can’t tolerate disagreement!” It’s maddening.

  2. 2
    TychaBrahe

    @Ganner – Mine went to my held mail. Check all possible inboxes.

  3. 3
    SubMor

    Ganner,

    I share your frustration. It’s almost like the people opposed to it aren’t interested in having a dialog about their concerns. It’s sort of like they’d rather just yell and scream until they get their way.

    I wonder. If A+ is so divisive, do they expect their attacking of people who support it to build a better community? Why, it’s almost like they don’t actually care about avoiding divisions.

  4. 4
    Jen

    Other people have been having registration issues too. Email me (blaghagblog at gmail dot com) the email and username you used during registration and we’ll try to get it sorted out.

  5. 5
    Dr24Hours

    You might want to edit the “I wish I could force everyone…”. That seems to me like it might play into the hands of the people who have decided that A+ is tyrannical.

    For my part, I’m more interested in social justice efforts than atheism, but I find I have close friends and allies in the atheist movement. So I support the idea of blending the aims.

  6. 6
    The twelfth vote

    Unfortunately, I have the feeling the people who keep crowing about divisiveness will conveniently not read her piece.

    Yes, sadly. When I read her posting, the first thing I thought was: if this doesn’t open their eyes, then nothing will. But then I realized that all the haters and thunderf00ts of the movement wouldn’t bother reading past the first sentence, as soon as they realized that it was going to challenge their beliefs.

    There comes a time in any broken relationship when you have stop and walk away, and we’re clearly walking now.

  7. 7
    Eric RoM

    That IS a righteous rant. Wow can she write!

  8. 8
    kbonn

    I think the biggest issue in the current “situation” is that people who have legitimate concerns or who disagree more on a manner of approach/execution are getting lost in the noise. One of the bigger causes of this are the comments section on different blogs here. I have seen many people who agree with all of the goals of A+ and the goals of separate FtB, but might not agree on the best method to achieve said goals(NOTE: This is different than people who feel certain goals are not important), get called trolls or worse here. These posts typically get no reaction from the actual blog poster and it can be seen as approval of these labels. For the most part(perhaps minus Carrier recently) the posts I read here(FtB as a whole) are not divisive. However, discussion in the comments can often make people feel that any dissenting opinion(regardless of legitimacy) is unwelcome.

    I suspect most of the hostility or “wariness” of A+ is that the community in which is arose is seen by some to be unwelcoming of differing opinion. I am also fairly sure many of you know this, yet I haven’t seen on a single blog post(granted I haven’t read them all), any poster come to the aid/defense of a dissenter and tell other to back off. I’ve seen other posts about it, but never direct confrontation.

    I am hopeful that the forum format will lend itself to better discussion(blog comments can be sometimes a pain to read through). Anyways, I’ve signed up, didn’t have any issues with registration either.

  9. 9
    birdterrifier

    I what your sentiments kbonn though there is a blogger willing to allow dissenting comments and to protect those dissenters from the majority opinion and that is Daniel Fincke. But I must admit that this commentariat doesn’t jump unpopular views so viciously as some blogs on the network.

  10. 10
    birdterrifier

    That should be “I share your sentiments”

  11. 11
    Improbable Joe, bearer of the Official SpokesGuitar

    The problem isn’t whether or not Atheism+ is divisive or not. The problem is that it isn’t shutting up, which is the ONLY thing that will make the majority of critics happy. Either shut up about feminism, or shut up about atheism, but for fuck’s sake if you don’t shut up about SOMETHING then the critics will never be happy.

  12. 12
    Onamission5

    I can’t help but feel like the push back against A+ is because we’re keeping the word atheism, as if we have any valid claim to it when someone else has already staked our their territory, planted their flag, and let us know we’re Not Welcome. Then we uppity divisives dare to act as though we’ve got just as much right to that word as they do? Fer shame.

  13. 13
    Ganner

    Improbable Joe, I’m starting to agree with that. We think that we’re working for a positive change, to make our movement and our world better. The people who don’t think what we’re doing is worthwhile, don’t think we’re addressing a problem, like things the way they are… well, by definition we’re trying to change them or at least change their movement. And if we’re painting it as a social justice issue, then whether we’re actively targeting any of them, they feel targeted by people. This is where the “us and against them” and “you think you’re better than us!” lines come from. We’re on a social justice crusade – so if they disagree with us, they perceive that they’re on the wrong side of social justice in our eyes. We can’t work for what we see as social justice, because they don’t see it as social justice and they don’t want to be on the side against social justice.

  14. 14
    Jacques Cuze

    Onamission5,

    I wrote about that a bit here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/08/30/atheism-plus-and-some-thoughts-on-divisiveness/#comment-92470

    I perceive Atheism+ as saying it is a triangle whose legs are Atheism, Skepticism, and Feminism.

    Personally, I am Skeptic first, and from there derives Atheism, Humanism, and a bunch of other stuff.

    Very very cynically, my perception of Atheism+ is that first comes Feminism, and a certain branch of (politicized) feminism that cannot be critiqued within Atheism+, and from there comes, Atheism (for abortion rights) and when convenient, Skepticism, except when it applies to Atheism+.

    Going forward, if there are basic axioms that cannot be questioned, is the movement really Skeptical? If we have to take such axioms on faith, is it really atheistic?

    The movement as its unfolded and with its origin story seems more a branch of feminism than a branch of atheism.

    And so you’re correct, I object to the word Atheism, because I believe Atheism+, as I understand it, has a logical conundrum embedded within it that precludes identifying it as an atheism movement.

    Perhaps these names might be more appropriate to Atheism+ mission and principles.

    Feminist Atheism
    Skeptical Feminism
    Atheist Democrats

    ??

    And of course, I completely support all the people that do not wish to go to conferences where they will be harassed and wish to form conferences and groups of their own of principles they describe themselves where they can discuss anything they wish without harassment.

  15. 15
    Orlando

    @JC Talk about begging the question. We have to accept your premise that A+ is predicated on “a certain branch of (politicized) feminism that cannot be critiqued within Atheism+” in order for any of your subsequent points to apply. But your premise is bollocks.

  16. 16
    Jacques Cuze

    Orlando, it certainly seems to be predicated on contemporary feminism.

    Here is Stephanie Zvan’s take: http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2012/08/29/legitimate-differences-of-opinion/

    And Greta Christina’s take: http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/08/30/atheism-plus-and-some-thoughts-on-divisiveness

    And actually, I was telling you this was my very very cynical impression.

    But if you can explain why you feel Atheism+ is not predicated first on contemporary feminism, than please do so.

  17. 17
    SoulmanZ

    Jacques,

    It doesn’t really matter what you think comes first in the triad of atheism, skepticism and feminism.

    The people who are engaged want to express that they value atheism. That supports the entire atheist movement, not just A+.

    Why would you want to oppose that? If you had your way and they didn’t identify as open atheist groups, what have you gained? Cos it seems like you (atheism in general) has lost.

  18. 18
    JJ

    Truer words were never spoken but…

    ” They are saying, “If you want to be in this movement, it has to be on our terms. And if those terms means putting up with hate, abuse, harassment, violation of privacy, threats and more… well, I guess those are the breaks.”

    Do people say (or directly imply) those things within the atheist community? Yes, yes they do. Do these people need their world view challenged in ways that any skeptical thinker would afterwards find them ridiculous? Yes, yes they do.

    But here is my problem about where we are going: Our top minds in the movement are starting to concentrate on our own neanderthals; meanwhile back in the world (you know where people with power are making real decisions that affect real people’s lives) are saying things like, “Perhaps where we’re making our mistake is, that we are asking President Obama and Sen. Bob Casey, to do something they have no knowledge of. They’ve never been in business. They’ve never ran businesses. They don’t have that knowledge. I mean, it would be like, your wife wrecks the car, you gonna take it to the beauty salon to get it fixed? No.”

    So my proposition is, let our proven and adept writers like Greta and Jen take on the big threats of power (like moron Tom Smith quoted above) and let us, not as skilled writers but none the less able to put together logical and skeptical arguments, handle the flippin’ morons (sorry that flippin’ moron thing just slipped out) internally.

    Otherwise it seems to me we are pointing our big guns inside while the real-world, will actually have an effect on our lives, is left to those that while may be fully committed, are actually less capable to affect change.

  19. 19
    Jafafa Hots

    So my proposition is, let our proven and adept writers like Greta and Jen take on the big threats of power (like moron Tom Smith quoted above)

    Here’s MY proposition. Let writers write what they themselves choose to write about.

  20. 20
    Myoo

    @JJ
    The Internet is the real world. The people being racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and all around assholes are not diaphanous gusts of wind, they are real people who hold those same views in the “real world”

  21. 21
    Ryan

    I really like that second paragraph quoted from Greta. As a part of the divisiveness argument, I’ve been seeing a lot of people criticizing Atheism+ for its “your with us or against us” and “if you don’t join us you are misogynist, homophobic, or filled with some other type of hate” attitude, which I can’t possibly find any evidence for, no matter how much I ask them to link to such claims. I don’t think this will have any effect on the worst of them, but it’s a very well written and powerful piece that I think will explain things to anyone who is unsure.

  22. 22
    Ben Snyder

    I’ve read Greta Christina’s article, and I’ve just finished reading through all of Jen McCreight’s blogs on Atheism+, including the article she wrote prior to it having a name.

    Let me first say that I am a male atheist, and I am a humanist. I am also a feminist who supports equality for all sexes.

    I have some serious reservations regarding Atheism+ and Ms. Christina’s article.

    Since I read Ms. Christina’s article first, I will address it first.

    Her primary theme in her article is outrage over the nerve of people calling Atheism+ “divisive” when many misogynistic blogs, comments, etc. have not been called “divisive.” She writes in her conclusion:
    “I am sick to death of people calling Atheism Plus “divisive”… and yet somehow not applying that word to the shit that motivated people to form Atheism Plus in the first place.”

    Firstly, this is simply an argument which appeals to the hypocrisy of one’s opponents. Just because your opponents are hypocritical, it does not invalidate their arguments.
    Secondly, a great many of us who do not support Atheism+ do consider misogynistic comments, blogs, etc. to be divisive and wrong.
    Thirdly, atheism is merely the lack of belief in gods (the opposite of theism). Beyond that, there are no other beliefs which are automatically shared by atheists. We atheists are a diverse group of people with political and social views all over the spectrum. We have always been divided, and to form a single movement around atheism itself is naive (not referring to Atheism+ in this sentence).

    I will now address some things from Ms. McCreight’s blogs.

    In her article titled “How I Unwittingly Infiltrated the Boy’s Club & Why It’s Time for a New Wave of Atheism,” Ms. McCreight writes about her experiences of misogyny and sexual hatred from certain male atheists and how those experiences have convinced her that the prior atheist movement(s?) was(were) a boy’s club where women were simply around to be ogled and hit on. She tells of how as she began to speak out about respecting women’s personal boundaries, she was verbally attacked and threatened. As a result, she believes that she was never welcome in the atheist movement and that the atheist movement needs to be reformed.

    Firstly, it seems that what she is really calling for is a new wave of feminism, not a new wave of atheism. I say this because her issues are with how women are being objectified and demonized for being feminists. Those are feminist issues; not atheistic issues, for atheism only deals with the question of whether or not theism is true, not with gender equality.
    Secondly, this “atheist movement” that has occurred includes all sorts of people with all sorts of values. Being an atheist doesn’t stop people from being sexist, racist, etc. in the same way that being gay doesn’t stop people from being sexist, racist, etc. Atheists are too broad of a group to really unite over any other issue. Thus, I’m unsurprised by the number of sexists whom Ms. McCreight has encountered in her experiences. However, that isn’t a reason to demonize the atheist movement as a whole as sexist and to claim that we need a new wave of atheism. I agree that it would be nice to wake people up to becoming in favor of gender equality, but it isn’t accurate to call the atheist movement a “Boy’s Club,” especially when so many women have arisen to prominence and so many male atheists support gender equality. It is unfair to paint the whole atheist movement as wholly sexist as Ms. McCreight has done.

    In her article titled “Atheism+,” Ms. McCreight says a couple of things which I disagree strongly with.
    Speaking about the name of her movement, she writes,
    “It illustrates that we’re more than just “dictionary” atheists who happen to not believe in gods and that we want to be a positive force in the world. Commenter dcortesi suggested how this gets atheists out of the “negativity trap” that we so often find ourselves in, when people ask stuff like “What do you atheists do, besides sitting around not-praying, eh?””
    and,
    “It speaks to those of us who see atheism as more than just a lack of belief in god.”

    The thing is that atheism is not more than just a lack of belief in gods. It isn’t at all. Feminism, animal rights, etc. are also not exclusively atheistic positions. It is important to note that this movement of hers began as a reaction to misogyny by certain atheists. This movement was initially a wave of feminism, but she is using the term “Atheism” instead. This is troublesome, especially since she said in her previous article that she is trying to start a new wave of atheism, one which this article suggests is about pushing certain social views (most of which I personally agree with, if not all) under the name of atheism, a term which in reality says nothing about these issues.

    She writes,
    “Feel free to use this post to discuss how you feel about A+. I don’t think it needs to be an official name – I want to improve the atheist movement, not create a splinter faction or something. But it’s fabulous marketing-wise and as a way to identify yourself as a progressive atheist, or whatever term you want to use. I know I’d love for people to start wearing A+ pins and Surlyramics so I know who I want to chat with.”

    Reading this portion of her article, it is of little surprise to me that people accused Ms. McCreight of causing division within the atheist movement. To suggest that she would only want to talk with people who wear A+ pins comes of as elitist, snobbish, and certainly divisive. It is of little wonder that Ms. Christina had to write her article now. I don’t wear A pins or A+ pins, but I like to think that not having one wouldn’t decrease my attractiveness when it comes to picking people to converse with.

    In conclusion, I think that Atheism+ is a distraction from resolving the issue of misogyny. I think that Atheism+ is a misnomer, that it is a new feminist wave, not a new atheist wave. I think that Ms. McCreight and Ms. Christina are misguided in what they are doing, although I support their rights to do what they are doing.

  23. 23
    shripathikamath

    Atheism+ is a hastily crafted concept. Five salient features, three of which are spelled out, but are a subset of the first.

    Here it is:


    Atheists plus we care about social justice,
    Atheists plus we support women’s rights,
    Atheists plus we protest racism,
    Atheists plus we fight homophobia and transphobia,
    Atheists plus we use critical thinking and skepticism.

    Where is Atheists plus we fight child rape and coverups?

    Since neither atheism nor atheism+ embraces it explicitly you have an issue

    1. You cannot now claim that it is part of 1., because you explicitly spell out 2, 3, and 4 which are also part of 1.

    2. Atheism by itself makes NO comment on 1 through 5. Nor on the sixth I proposed. But atheism+ is explicit on things it cares about. So if it does not explicitly mention 6, well, it is less credible than atheism in some sense.

    But I am not sure the concept itself is so radical that it is divisive.

    What is divisive is the “with us or against us” declaration by Richard Carrier blogs and when someone says he or she’ll remain with plain old atheism, he is banished into douchery.

    He is also not the only one.

    Note, that someone does not say why, or if he is against Atheism+. But that is the conclusion Richard has drawn.

    So, if Atheism+ adherents are honest, they should find such behavior divisive, or explain why it should not be considered that.

    The “NO” that starts this article off is conclusion sans argument.

    But the real test is if atheists and atheists+ are picking sides? If they are, well, one of the two is divisive.

    So I prefer to be termed as an atheist who among other things also believes in 1 through 5, and 6. And 7. And 8. And…

    Decide if that is divisive.

  24. 24
    Joe Zamecki

    So what are the Atheism + opinions on the issues? I mean specifically. The list of purposes for Atheism + existing sound great, except that they’re vague. Are there going to be position statements on the issues of the day, that will come down solidly, each in one school of thought only? If so…

    What’s the Atheism + attitude on capital punishment? Immigration? Affirmative Action? Gun control? Abortion? Pot legalization? Assisted suicide? Homelessness? The war?

    I hope these questions can be answered briefly because I don’t have time to sift through a forum. If it’s all liberal positions on these issues, I think the moment that’s made clear, and specific, then a lot more friction will occur. We’re very independent thinkers, and most of those particular issues are side-issues. I’ve spent a lot of time operating with people in our movement, and I can tell you that we’re not all going to take the liberal side on each issue. Sometimes, you’d be very surprised at how we think on certain issues, apart from religion, the supposed existence of God, and state/church separation.

    I like Atheism + so far, but I predict that it’s going to involve a lot of headaches for some. More than what’s already happened. Myself, I’d like to see us continue to get along a thousand percent better than theists do. I have abundant hope that Atheism + will help our movement, and great confidence that its founders will strive to make that happen. But it won’t be easy, or even close to that. Yes, I like how we have go-getters.

  25. 25
    Jafafa Hots

    But the real test is if atheists and atheists+ are picking sides? If they are, well, one of the two is divisive.

    So I prefer to be termed as an atheist who among other things also believes in 1 through 5, and 6. And 7. And 8. And…

    Decide if that is divisive.

    Yes, it is divisive.
    Get rid of all of those numbers.
    Now you have just atheist.

    Still divisive. “Atheist” is divisive. Just ask most theist. Actually, you can probably ask most atheists if “atheist” is divisive and they would say yes. Most atheists don’t call themselves atheist.

    Any time you take a position on ANYTHING you are being divisive. Complaining about divisiveness is often just a tactic of the apathetic to protest others’ lack of apathy. It’s also often a tactic of dishonest people on one side of an issue to vilify those on the other side of that issue.

    Deciding to play on one side of the sandbox because a couple of kids on the other side keep throwing sand in your face while the rest ignore it is divisive. It’s also a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

    If you are socially active in any way your actions can be justly characterized as divisive. Even if your activism takes the form of trying to be all-inclusive, you’re being divisive because some people will want no part of that.

    Divisiveness is in itself a bullshit reason to condemn any social movement because social movements are inherently divisive.
    What should be aimed for is productive and effective and just.

    Divisiveness can help something be productive, or it can harm it.
    I see no evidence that A+ has harmed the atheist cause (whatever that, without the +, is…)

    There is ample evidence that what it HAS done has been to encourage many who were too turned off by atheist activism to even use the label “atheist” to finally feel welcomed.

    So far that seems to be a net gain for “atheist” despite the complaints of the relatively smaller (but more vocal) group who are turned off by it.

  26. 26
    Ray Moscow

    Actually, I’m glad for a bit of a ‘divide’ from those atheists who don’t care about social justice or any other progressive causes.

    Yes, I’ll still join with them in disbelieving in Bigfoot, lest the world fall into a new Dark Age of Bigfootism, but that’s about it.

  27. 27
    Jimbo

    “Unfortunately, I have the feeling the people who keep crowing about divisiveness will conveniently not read her piece”

    Does anyone else read comments like this in the voice of Eyore from Winnie the Pooh?

  28. 28
    Nick Gotts

    Jimbo@27,

    Only idiots.

  29. 29
    Lance Armstrong

    kbonn @8

    I suspect most of the hostility or “wariness” of A+ is that the community in which is arose is seen by some to be unwelcoming of differing opinion.

    What is unwelcome is arguing to the point of obstruction about taking measures to make atheists in marginalized groups feel safe and welcome. At some point you have to let go of trying to convince your philosophical opponents on a point, and move on with doing what you believe is right. It isn’t intellectually isolated or dishonest to not want to re-engage a debate that’s already been beaten into the ground. The disagreement on these points isn’t going to be resolved, and Atheism+ is moving on from that to more productive tasks.

    Fighting to make things better is going to piss off supporters of the status quo; it’s not avoidable.
    http://www.citizenorange.com/orange/2008/01/the-divisive-martin-luther-kin.html

  30. 30
    David Smith

    As one of the so-called “dictionary atheists,” I want to say how much I like this A+ idea.

    I’m behind it 100%.

    When will the new A+ logo be available on a t-shirt?

  31. 31
    stevebowen

    Firstly, this is simply an argument which appeals to the hypocrisy of one’s opponents. Just because your opponents are hypocritical, it does not invalidate their arguments
    sorry, what? It’s axiomatic that hypocricy and a valid argument are exclusive.

    Secondly, a great many of us who do not support Atheism+ do consider misogynistic comments, blogs, etc. to be divisive and wrong.
    good, what do you propose we should do about that?

    The thing is that atheism is not more than just a lack of belief in gods. It isn’t at all. Feminism, animal rights, etc. are also not exclusively atheistic positions. It is important to note that this movement of hers began as a reaction to misogyny by certain atheists. This movement was initially a wave of feminism, but she is using the term “Atheism” instead. This is troublesome, especially since she said in her previous article that she is trying to start a new wave of atheism, one which this article suggests is about pushing certain social views (most of which I personally agree with, if not all) under the name of atheism, a term which in reality says nothing about these issues.
    There is some sense in this but arse backwards, just because social justice issues are not exclusively atheist is not a reason for a sub-set of atheists not to align with them. Support of atheism+ does not preclude engagement with other aspects of atheism, it does however make a statement that the tropes of religion that perpetuate sexism, racism, otherisms in general, do not play a part in your world view. What’s wrong or divisive about that?

  32. 32
    stevebowen

    Bollocks, apologies for my html, :(

  33. 33
    Dcg1

    I have watched with incredulity as atheist feminist ideologues have attempted to damage and denigrate the reputation and work of Richard Dawkins; one of the foremost scientists of our age.

    The apparent justification for these orchestrated and unjustified attacks, has been his failure to embrace feminist dogma. An additional failing was his skepticism about the existence of Rebecca Dworkins fellow elevator passenger; He has a history of not believing in peoples imaginary friends don’t ya know.

    The advantage that the FTB/Skepchick crowd have however, is that they are lead by Scientific Giants such as Jen Mcreight and PZ Myers; The number of significant peer reviewed papers and books they have published, dwarfs the pathetic output of Dawkins.

    I do have one criticism however, I do think that their new concept of “Shitting on the shoulders of giants” may not catch on.

  34. 34
    skmind

    Yes, it is divisive.
    Get rid of all of those numbers.
    Now you have just atheist.

    Still divisive. “Atheist” is divisive. Just ask most theist. Actually, you can probably ask most atheists if “atheist” is divisive and they would say yes. Most atheists don’t call themselves atheist.

    Any time you take a position on ANYTHING you are being divisive.

    Then you have answered the question posed by the article differently than its conclusion.

    As in “Atheism+ is divisive”

  35. 35
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    I am aware of several A+ members having multiplied. To the best of my knowledge, none have been divided.

    That settles that.

  36. 36
    JJ

    “Here’s MY proposition. Let writers write what they themselves choose to write about.”

    Or, yes, yes of course we could all do that. But, that really wouldn’t make A+ much of a “movement” would it? In fact, that would make it look exactly like Secular Humanism. You know, “hey we have this general doctrine, but no real vision of how we can appeal to our fellow humans as to why we think that they should adopt this.”

    I think we are at a point where we not only have all the evidence on our side (SH has had that for decades), but now we also have not only bright thinkers, but absolutely fantastically brilliant speakers and writers in our camp.

    My humble opinion; if we waste that now, it could take decades to recover.

  37. 37
    Azkyroth Drinked the Grammar Too :)

    My humble opinion; if we waste that now, it could take decades to recover.

    Well, yes. That’s the point.

  38. 38
    Jim

    ” At the very least I want to see them try to justify how an endless stream of abuse is somehow not divisive. ”

    What kind of argument is this?

    As others have said, the fact people giving sexist abuse is divisive does nothing to effect the divisiveness of A+. They both can be divisive.

    I hear people like Greta commonly rail against people when they use the argument “well there’s terrible misogyny in the middle east, why aren’t you concentrating on that?”. In fact I can probably get direct quotes of Greta criticizing that argument. Swap out “misogyny” for “divisiveness” and somehow that argument is sound? In fact its bad for exactly the same reasons.

    *shrug*

    Also its a total strawman to suggest that the divisiveness people are concerned about is twixt that of people like Greta and abusive assholes on the internet. Everyone (but the assholes themselves) is cool with those people being ignored/excluded. People are being quite clear that they’re concerned that attaching a large number of political beliefs to Atheism is unnecessarily putting up barriers between atheists who could work together on common causes but won’t be because they’re separated by certain political differences.

    How I or others feel about animal welfare or the environment should not get in the way of working with people in favour of gay marriage, female reproductive rights/abortion, church state separation, but in A+ it does.

    There is a reason charities in this area don’t try and combine 100 different causes, because its terribly inefficient and massively limits your potential support.

    I actually agree with about 90% of things in A+ (As I’m sure a large amount of anti-A+ers do). However I have absolutely no urge to A) merge atheism with politics at large (I’m involved in other political groups for that reason) B) Exclude potential allies who might work on atheist related issues.

    Shit, when it comes to the drug war or gay marriage, I don’t even want to exclude theists, let alone atheists who don’t agree on other things. I want every ally possible, which is why I’ll join specific groups for specific causes that don’t damage the causes they fight for by wanting to be surrounded by ultra like-minded people to the exclusion of potential allies.

  39. 39
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Adam Lee of Daylight Atheism makes the case for _why_ atheism [rather, the atheist movement*] and social justice should mix.

    If we truly care about supporting reason and fighting the pernicious influence of fundamentalism, then we should recognize that religion serves to prop up political ideologies that harm real people across a broad range of issues: gay rights (too obvious), reproductive choice (single-celled embryos have souls!), sex discrimination and gender essentialism (God made men the breadwinners and women the homemakers), environmental protection (it’s OK to wreck the Earth if Jesus is coming back soon), international relations (prophecy says there will be war in the Middle East), economic equality (just think of how religion flourishes in poor, unequal countries and fades in secure, prosperous ones), and many more. By weakening religion’s influence in any of these areas, we weaken it in all of these areas, and that’s a goal that any politically engaged atheist ought to support.

    *I’m wondering if some of the pushback against A+ blending social justice and atheism comes from people who do not consider themselves part of the atheist movement (or for that matter, people who don’t think there _is_ an atheist movement). If they consider themselves _just_ an atheist, then I can see why (at first glance) they don’t want the two mixed together. However, I can see that the implications of _not_ believing in a deity lead morally (because of humanism?) to advocating for social justice.

  40. 40
    Anpetit

    “I said at the beginning, and I’ll say again: If you’re wary about Atheism Plus and want to see where it’s going before you decide whether to get involved… that’s fine with me.”

    Unless you’re worried that it’s divisive because then you’re:

    entitled to me… …entitled to my work, my ideas, my fundraising efforts, my late nights, my grueling travel schedule, my passion, my exhaustion, my efforts to make atheism stronger and more visible. They are saying this about me… and about every other feminist woman in the movement, and every feminist man, and every feminist person who doesn’t identify as either male or female. They are saying, “If you want to be in this movement, it has to be on our terms. And if those terms means putting up with hate, abuse, harassment, violation of privacy, threats and more… well, I guess those are the breaks.” And they are acting as if a group of people in the movement deciding that they get to choose who they work with, and deciding to form a subset of the movement with people who share their core values, is some sort of horrible betrayal.

    So it’s not with us or against us, but if you have certain concerns you are entitled and against us, and believe this long line of things.

    You’re not just worried that changes like this are difficult and can fracture movements.
    You’re not just concerned that adding more things to the null belief of atheism changes it’s very metaphysical status making it much harder to support and defend with unity.
    You’re not just worried that since people are getting very animated both for and against the idea that divides will open and you will be shoved on one side or the other and accused of believing things like the long list of entitled ideas above…

    No. You merely believe the long list of entitled ideas, because you said you’re worried this might be divisive.

  41. 41
    Ani J. Sharmin

    Thanks, Jen. Will now go read the whole thing …

  42. 42
    Ben Snyder

    @stevebowen,

    You write,
    “sorry, what? It’s axiomatic that hypocricy and a valid argument are exclusive.”

    My point is that she is pointing out that other groups are also divisive throughout the entire article, which is not a valid defense of her own position.

    You write,
    “good, what do you propose we should do about that?”

    I propose that we just get on with our lives doing what we are doing. I think better moderation of blogs to prevent abuse is good, and I think there should be rules at conventions to ensure the safety of its participants and to lower abusive statements at said conventions. I do not think that Atheism+ is anything that will solve anything. A lot more of my thoughts on the matter can be found in my earlier comment.

  43. 43
    Sally Strange
    “sorry, what? It’s axiomatic that hypocricy and a valid argument are exclusive.”

    My point is that she is pointing out that other groups are also divisive throughout the entire article, which is not a valid defense of her own position.

    It is an effective attack on the critics who promulgate the self-evidently false idea that it’s inherently bad to be “divisive.”

    “good, what do you propose we should do about that?”

    I propose that we just get on with our lives doing what we are doing.

    Which is what A+ is about. Ending the counterproductive arguing with the reactionary elements of atheism so we can get on with our lives and do the work we think needs doing.

    I think better moderation of blogs to prevent abuse is good, and I think there should be rules at conventions to ensure the safety of its participants and to lower abusive statements at said conventions.

    OHMYGOSH YOU ARE BEING SO DIVISIVE!! <–sarcasm

    The number of atheists in the movement who think it is wrong to have anti-harassment policies is not insignificant. You're being divisive towards them now. Don't you feel bad about not being sufficiently tolerant of their right to free speech and insufficient deferential towards their "rational" "skepticism" about the need/effectiveness of anti-harassment policies.

    I do not think that Atheism+ is anything that will solve anything.

    Atheism+ is the people who did the lion’s share of work in getting anti-harassment policies instituted. Does it not count because they weren’t then identified as A+? Can you give us a more than two weeks before you decide that we’re not actually doing anything?

    A lot more of my thoughts on the matter can be found in my earlier comment.

    Bah.

  44. 44
    beerijuana

    Good intent is often not enough to overcome bad PR; from a standpoint of PR, this whole movement and what presaged it has been handled like a usenet flame war.

  45. 45
    TerranRich

    @Joe Zamecki #24:

    What’s the Atheism + attitude on capital punishment? Immigration? Affirmative Action? Gun control? Abortion? Pot legalization? Assisted suicide? Homelessness? The war?

    What is the Atheist Knitting Group’s position on Guantanamo Bay? What’s their position on traffic lights, the War on Drugs, and caterpillars?

    My point is, Atheism+ is a subgroup focused on X, Y, and Z. You’re asking about A, B, and C, and while they may be related in various ways to X, Y and Z, those aren’t the main goals or points of interest.

    I’m very sure that, much like now, people who associate with Atheism+ can have differing views on things outside of the main scope of the group. Some atheists believe in Bigfoot, some don’t. It is very likely that some Atheism+ers will believe that the death penalty is OK in some circumstances, and others will not.

  46. 46
    john

    A movement that champions objectivity and reason getting the “celebrate diversity” treatment?

    wadda surprise. Never saw that coming.

    A few people will find work as pundents and spokespeople for news organizations but as a collective for removing or reducing superstition from the culture of daily life, the group or movement as a whole will have far less impact.

    it’s sad because i agree with just about everything under the umbrella of A and A+. It’s just when one formalizes a collection of values that one has to support and believe in then people lose the ability to discover these topics themselves. One of the beautiful end results of exploring athiesm is the discovery of self awareness.
    if one has to believe and support a list of topics then its just one gang’s colors verses another gang’s colors. This is obviously known and when intelligent people deny this i get to call them stupid about human interaction. or they have something to hide. (New markets? anyone)

    anyway. athiesm is dead because the next cultural battle will be defining religion as just plain old culture. no mythology here!

  47. 47
    Sergio

    It’s shocking that fellow athiest who came to atheism through logic and reason still fell its ok to look at half of our species and not see how much we lose by treating them as lesser beings.
    Not only do we all lose out as a people but it shows that’s some amongst us are little more the primitive theist with out a god.

  48. 48
    John

    It’s shocking that fellow athiest who came to atheism through logic and reason still fell its ok to look at half of our species and not see how much we lose by treating them as lesser beings.
    Not only do we all lose out as a people but it shows that’s some amongst us are little more the primitive theist with out a god.

    How on Earth did you come to the conclusion that I exclude “half our species” from what I wrote? Please re-read what I wrote and take a deep breath. (remember that logic and reason part)

    Overwhelming people with a multiplank platform when most are just interested in a topic or two is a bit much to ask.

    While I may have been cryptic and harsh – that had nothing to do with whether or not people were of “one half” or the “other half” of the species, and everything to do with purposfully co-opting the concept of athiesm.

    Please re-read what I wrote. I wrote nothing about excluding people because of their sex – or religion – or orientation – or having a star belly or non star belly. (Dr Suess reference if you need help reading)

    I wrote that intelligent people that are trying to create “tiers” of athiesm are obviously smart enough to raise red flags to the rest of the athiesm community. Is this manipulation? Is it some wedge program by some really rich religious billionaire? Is it really necessary?

  49. 49
    Zephron

    It reads more like a sub-branch of feminism rather than Atheism.

    I’ll be sticking with the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, thanks all the same

  50. 50
    petereakin

    If we’re picking teams….I want Ben @22 on my side.

  51. 51
    ritchiepruitt

    I appreciate your article on atheism can be a vehicle towards more ambitious goals like you spelled out via “Atheism+”. Definite A+ for the goals and putting in the words what many people within this large and divisive group have vocalized/written a million times over the decades. I started a group called The Atheist Left which has similar goals and ideals of what you wrote down for A+. I hope you have a good sabbatical and take this idea to the next step. Best Regards.

  52. 52
    Ichthyic

    “I am sick to death of people calling Atheism Plus “divisive”… and yet somehow not applying that word to the shit that motivated people to form Atheism Plus in the first place.”

    Firstly, this is simply an argument which appeals to the hypocrisy of one’s opponents. Just because your opponents are hypocritical, it does not invalidate their arguments.

    this is a red herring. the issue is NOT even whether “opponents” are hypocrites or not, it IS about the fact that what is causing DIVISION is the behavior of misogynists and sexists within the atheist community itself.

    this is what Greta was speaking to, and you’re an IDIOT not to see it right off.

  53. 53
    Ichthyic

    If we’re picking teams….I want Ben @22 on my side.

    go for it. I found his rhetoric and analysis inane.

  54. 54
    mikelomenzo jr.

    I think this A+ thing is absolutely illogical and self serving. Ironic, that the person that started it claims that she is starting it to help the group as a whole, when the motivation for the new group is based on what seem to be a few bad experiences of HERS (based solely on her accounts). How fu**ing narcissistic does one have to be in order to see the irony in her own writing. This has nothing to do with sex in my opinion. To me, it comes off as some Napoleon complex bullshit. Think about her approach for a moment. She targeted one half of the Atheist population as her market. In doing so, she is effectively driving a wedge in to what was worked so hard for because, for some reason, she knows best. It is reckless, ridiculous and rife with theocratic undertones. Not to mention, HOW the hell does she expect to keep these few bad seeds out of her new club anyway? How is she going to govern admission? See what I am getting at here? I could go on all day… but I feel that this is a good starting point.

  55. 55
    Banned Atheist

    :( I can’t believe how many jack-ass-atheists exist on the interwebz — referring now to those who not only don’t want to “join the club” of Atheism+, but don’t want anyone else to join, either.

    I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised… but I am. Thankfully the real world atheists I’ve met aren’t like this. (Of course, I don’t attend conferences, or I might have a different opinion.)

    Take the knowitall who posted right before me (#54). I’m sure he thinks he’s asking the tough questions, but really he’s defending what he thinks is HIS atheist movement. Good. Fine. Go navel-gaze and spout a-theology, dudebro. Not every atheist is interested in blabbing about how and why there is no god. I could care less, myself. I guess I’m a de facto atheist because the non-existence of gods is a profoundly banal topic IMHO.

    From it’s very recent inception, movement atheism has been an explicitly political — not philosophical — movement. That atheism, by definition, has no ethos, expressed or implied, is a no-brainer. Up to this point, movement atheism (New Atheism, if preferred) has concentrated on protecting and strengthening the Wall of Separation, and defending those non-believers who are negatively impacted when the Wall is breached.

    But the fact that sexist, racist, homophobic atheists exist at all is sufficient evidence that there is no philosophical basis for an atheist ethics inherent in the raw notion that gods don’t exist. If such an ethos did exist, and if that ethos did support bigotry (as the Christian ethos does) then bigoted atheists would not be hypocrites. They’d be typical atheists — just as it’s typical for Christians to be misogynists.

    From what I’ve read of Atheism+, though, nobody’s saying that atheism has an inherent ethical system. Rather, they (read: We) are saying that since atheism lacks an ethos, and this is unsatisfying from a philosophical and political POV, we are going to ADD ONE to our OWN atheist cosmology.

    I’ve read the complaint that one can always add secular humanism to atheism and render Atheism+ moot, but frankly secular humanism ain’t good enough. It’s barely modern, and fails to take into account the great strides the progressive political movement has made in the last century or so. In short, it is too accommodating to bigots, appeasers and Randians. We need to update secular humanism, and since it’s us doing the updating, we get to call the new ethical philosophy whatever the fuck we want. Atheism+ is what we’re calling it.

    Don’t like it? Don’t call yourself atheist plus. Call yourself whatever you want. Nobody’s forcing anyone to join this political movement to fashion a complete and fulfilling atheist philosophy.

    In other words, the naysayers can keep their empty cosmological atheism and go on acting according to whatever ethos motivates them currently. Personally, Atheism+ fits my own moral inclinations to a tee, so I have no problem with the term. It synthesizes the banal cosmology I like (a universe devoid of supernatural forces), the politics I have always liked (Enlightenment-era secular democratic republicanism), but also takes into account the tremendous social changes that have occurred since, for instance, Thomas Jefferson put quill to goatskin.

    Now all the dudebros like (#54) are giving me another reason to dig on Atheism+ … I can’t stand bullies and always side with the underdog.

    Jen — I’m sure you won’t read this, but if you do: fear not. The Atheism+ movement was already well-underway long before it was given a name, and the haters do nothing but put wind to the wings of psyches like mine, and the thousands of other militant atheists who care more about living people than nonexistent deities.

    There’s my 2 cents on the detractors.

    More constructively, here’s my piece on how, “We were Atheist+ before Atheism+ was cool.” This movement has been a lonnggg time coming, eh? That’s why some of us knew what we saw the minute we saw it.

  56. 56
    Banned Atheist

    Edit to #55: “I couldn’t care less” about navel-gazing. (Or maybe I could. Freudian slip? I should work on that.)

  57. 57
    standancer

    I just wanted to say,HELL YES, to Banned Atheist at #55. I’m too tired when I get off work and get incoherent when I try to respond to the detractors, who claim those of us who support A+ are trying to define atheism, and then proceed to tell us what should and shouldn’t be included in an atheist movement. At this point, Go F Yourselves is the closest I can come to diplomacy.

  58. 58
    jeffreyumeh

    I simply think atheism plus will be ineffectual because it is a minority of a minority of a minority. And when you push people out you agree with basically not being a dick and trying to advocate for some good. You decrease your effectiveness by excluding people who believe in a god. Or have minor disagreements with you on the disparity between the sexes “mainly that the negatives of that disparity are not all on one side.” But want to fight for what you want to fight for all the same.

    As I said in an earlier post its cutting your nose of to spite your face. obviously if people are trolling you, simply don’t work with them.

    But if you simply disagree about the mechanisms of social disparity; But agree on the end results, and can agree on how to solve them then its simply an ideological difference that doesn’t much matter in the grand scheme of things and those people should be included or at the very least worked along side with.

  59. 59
    mohammadsaiful

    But your approach reinforces my own opinion that you need more than technical skills these days, and that customers should EXPECT more than just technical skills, when hiring a web designer. Someone with online marketing expertise should definitely tout the advantage of working with them.
    medprax

  60. 60
    andrewviceroy

    Hi Jen, I hope that everyone at A+ will consider this respectful suggestion I’ve drafted in the form of a potential petition, with the aim of healing wounds in the atheist community. Thank you:

    PETITION FOR ATHEISM+ TO CHANGE ITS CHARTER LANGUAGE FROM AN EMPHASIS ON “FEMINISM” AND “WOMEN’S RIGHTS” TO AN EMPHASIS ON “GENDER EQUALITY”

    It is widely held by the creators and leaders of Atheism+ residing @ Freethoughtblogs that ‘gender equality’ is implicit in the labels of “feminism” and “women’s rights.” This is in the context of “women’s rights” portayed in Jen McCreight’s seminal post: http://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag/2012/08/atheism/:

    “We are…
    Atheists plus we care about social justice,
    Atheists plus we support women’s rights
    …”

    While we DO support women’s rights, we contend that the phrase “gender equality” is more appropriate in any current or future A+ *umbrella* charter for the following reasons:

    • If ‘gender equality’ truly is implicit in the labels of “feminism” and “women’s rights,” then these labels are *still one step away* from semantic accuracy. And it matters, because as technical writers will tell you, a title should be a promise of what’s inside. Atheists spend half their lives defining the word “atheism” as it is.
    • “Women’s rights” are often equated with “feminism.” “Feminism” sine qua non is too easily interpreted as “feminism” simpliciter and so is often perceived as philosophically institutionalizing inherently polemical sexual bigotry. This has caused a great strain on the atheism movement and even misperception is a genuine pragmatic concern.
    • The label “gender equality” is superior in the sense that it is more in line with the neutral American principles in the Bill of Rights, which used forward thinking to anticipate possible counterexamples of reverse favoritism in general. To semantically exclude or underrepresent one single male victim in the charter does not comport to the kind of ethical accuracy that atheists cherish. For example, we feel that “In God We Trust” or “under God” is actually semantically untrue and/or doesn’t represent us semantically (and we take issue that the Supreme Court has downplayed the semantic relevance).
    • “Gender equality” is a superior label, because it still allows for everything good in feminism, but *also* accommodates male victimization, which is a real and ever-potential problem in everything from custody battles to the fact that males receive more violence upon their gender than females receive (and it would be ethically fallacious to contend that because men commit more violence than females, being a male victim somehow warrants that violence upon them from other males). For male victims, the notion that males should be singled out to ‘suck it up’ for the greater good can feel like something a sexually abusive priest might tell an alterboy.
    • If the use of the labels “feminism” and “women’s rights” are compensatory and/or reparative social devices, there are currently no charter standards of empirical evidence for when the use of these terms should be abandoned, become irrelevant, or become less beneficial than the term “gender equality” or even, “male rights.” We submit that gender specific labels- male or female- should only be used in specific contexts and not as inappropriate ‘umbrella’ labels for the movement.
    • The label “gender equality” is superior in the sense that it is more likely to prevent the fringe positions of both men and women (i.e. underlying misogyny or misandry) from actually taking over and/or from being perceived to be taking over on gender lines. It presumes, analogously, that members of a ‘purplism’ movement wouldn’t actually have as much of a propensity to be for ‘all the colors in the rainbow’ as members of a ‘rainbowism’ movement would; that there would more likely be a higher propensity for members who favor a more purple agenda in the ‘purplism’ movement.
    • The division in the community creates an intuitive unwillingness to both access and support other atheist’s academic and/or social work based upon ideological barriers that are debatable and, most importantly, *can change with the context of evidence in the world*. Institutionalized sexual polemics, even with reparative, compensatory roles, are very difficult to abandon when ethics progress or the context changes. For some, an assertion that the context will never change is a cynical one.
    • “Gender equality” is not anti-women in any way; it is pro-equality. More important to being on the side of women in history is being on the side of equality in history. The face of atheism as a positive ethical proposition will be remiss in the eyes of future generations in a very salient way concerning violence upon men, when definitions that aren’t clearly represented by their title require too much nuance to be politically or ethically practical.
    • If A+ truly is a progressive movement, the change of the labels “feminism” (in arguments by supporters) and “women’s rights” to the label “gender equality” portayed in Jen McCreight’s seminal outline of an A+ ‘charter’ will show atheists that A+ is capable, in the least, of semantic progress, which we believe they are. This will be a step toward healing the movement and help prevent at least one *unnecessary* division. It is unnecessary, because there’s no real compromise even requested, just a semantic adjustment with real consequences.

    The worst thing A+ could do right now is suppress, belittle, or hand-wave away these kinds of suggestions for the wording of any current or proposed charter. We ask that you rise above, be real ethical leaders (if that’s how you choose to represent atheists to the world), and genuinely consider, with the foresight crucial to any ethical founder, what is right, what is fair, and what is best for the movement and each individual within it.

    Sincerely,
    Andrew D. Viceroy
    Freethoughtblogs member

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