Apr 19 2013

American Atheists has a favor to ask

From Dave Muscato of American Atheists:

As part of a joint effort amongst national groups, and in partnership with Boston Atheists and the Humanist Community at Harvard, we want to educate public officials about the diversity of their communities in times of tragedy and atheists’ desire and need to be included.

Atheists are hurting from this news as much as anyone else, and part of the grieving process for atheists affected includes things such as representation at the official memorial service and in the community response. When memorial services include exclusively religious language, and especially when public officials use terms such as “godless” as a slur to describe these attacks, atheists who are affected are excluded and shut out from the community.

We are asking you to assist us by writing a short paragraph that includes the following three things:

1) Who you are and whom you represent or speak on behalf of (e.g. Matt Dillahunty is President of Atheist Community of Austin)

2) Why you’re hurt by the exclusion from the memorial and/or use of “godless” as a pejorative

3) What’s you would like to see happen as a solution

Greg Epstein from the Humanist Community at Harvard is meeting with public officials to discuss this issue and would like to pass on responses from our community’s leaders. We also encourage you to solicit responses from members of your communities (if you run a blog, your readers; if you have a TV show, your viewers, etc) that he can include as well.

Please send your responses to me by early next week so we can make sure he gets them in time.

IMPORTANT: Please send your responses to [email protected] and encourage your fans/listeners to do the same. Please DO NOT send your responses to [email protected]. Thank you.


So, get those responses written and send them to [email protected]. Let’s do this.


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  1. 1
    Argle Bargle

    Since I don’t represent anyone except me, apparently American Atheists is not interested in my comments. This doesn’t strike me as a good attitude for people complaining about being left out of events. If I were permitted to submit comments, I’d say:

    Being godless is not a moral failing. It just means I don’t believe in gods. I am a citizen of the United States, an honorably discharged combat veteran, and a husband and father. I’ve been gainfully employed ever since my graduation from college and I’m indistinguishable from millions of my fellow Americans except for one thing, I don’t believe in gods. When I heard about the bombing I was devastated. People had been killed and injured for no apparent reasons. I would have liked to have been represented at memorial services but since I don’t believe in gods, my attendance or representation is not wanted at such services. This is a very short sighted and, to use a bad pun, parochial view. Contrary to be beliefs of many believers in gods, I am just as good an American citizen as they are. Next time, it would be appreciated if people like me were invited to attend memorial services for their fellow citizens.

  2. 2

    I don’t see how this excludes individuals. In fact their input is specifically requested:

    “We also encourage you to solicit responses from members of your communities (if you run a blog, your readers;” This is what Ophelia has done here.


  3. 3
    Argle Bargle

    I read:

    Who you are and whom you represent or speak on behalf of (e.g. Matt Dillahunty is President of Atheist Community of Austin)

    as “we want the leaders of the atheist community to respond. You peasants will keep your mutterings to yourselves, thank you very much. If we want your input we’ll demand it from you.”

    Perhaps you’re right. Maybe this is just a case of Muscato following American Atheists’ proud tradition, established by David Silverman, of being obtuse, awkward writers.

  4. 4
    Ophelia Benson

    I won’t hear a word against my buddy Dave!


    But seriously. It is a bit disjointed. While reading the first half I wondered why Dave M had sent it to me, then when I got to the part about bloggers and readers, I realized we were invited to contribute too. I don’t know – maybe they’ll have messages from The Leaders first and then messages from the rabble after that.

    Just kidding.

    I suppose what they meant was, everybody please contribute, and if you have an official leadership role of some kind please say so.

  5. 5
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    A few thoughts.

  6. 6
    Josh, Official SpokesGay

    Your few thoughts are bang on, SC, and deserve a wider airing.

  7. 7
    SC (Salty Current), OM


  8. 8

    I agree with Josh. SC, your point about “interfaith” being necessarily exclusionary is well-taken.

    “Faith” is not a good thing. Period.

  9. 9
    SC (Salty Current), OM

    Thanks! (Nothing to add, really. :))

  10. 10

    *warm fuzzies*

  11. 11
    Argle Bargle


    I agree with Josh and Sally about the interfaith problem. Chaplain Epstein is a big fan of atheists/skeptics/humanists having a place at the interfaith table, something which many atheists, including me, are more than dubious about. If Epstein wants to play the interfaith game, then that’s what he wants. But it’s not what I want.

    I left a comment on your blog that’s pending your approval.

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