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A Word on “Community” and Movement Atheism

Please join me in welcoming our newest guest author to the Manifesto – Jasmine! You will undoubtedly remember her from her participation in episode 5 of SERIOUSLY?! I am excited to have her perspective joining the crew here, and am looking forward to hearing more from her.

This post by Jasmine

Between Thundef00t’s recent videos —where he projects his views on free speech, how feminism is “poisoning” the atheist/secular community (it isn’t) & how he thinks secular women should respond to disrespect on the internet— and the recent failed “experiment” carried out by a few YouTube atheist vloggers to see if viewers care more about content with drama than topics of substance(the three main culprits have since closed their channels), it’s pretty obvious that things are not as they should be in this collective known as the YouTube atheist community…hell, maybe with the main atheist and secular community, period.

These occurrences, along with the continued issues regarding the treatment of women and other groups, have me and others wondering if it makes sense to continue to build a community or a movement based only on the basis of a lack of belief in a god or gods. I would argue that having such a community in itself isn’t a bad thing and shouldn’t be dissolved; however I do think there are micro-issues within the community that I think need to be addressed.

First and foremost, I think everyone needs to remember that atheism, like every other –ism or ideology, is NOT MONOLITHIC. People from all walks of life and variance of experience come to atheism, and not always via logic and reasoning. Logic and reason are not innate traits within us; they are acquired through learning and experiencing life, therefore they are not synonymous with atheism, and acquiring these capabilities does not make an atheist better or superior to anyone who ISN’T an atheist. We are all human beings, capable of being just as shitty and just as dogmatic in our thinking as the average fundamental evangelical, and it would do us well to remember this, lest we turn into the very thing we as atheists rally against. This is not to say that we can’t question, critique, or ridicule those theists that make extraordinary claims, or use their faith as a means to perpetuate ignorance and hatred. I suggest that we don’t lose sight of that thing those kinds of people don’t seem to grasp: nuance.

Second thing: Things are not always going to go smoothly within communities and movements; at some point, certain issues may come up within said movement, such as a current lack of diversity in the mainstream movement. Instead of taking the road of least resistance and downplay the concerns made by a group (groups) within the movement, we should hear them out and come to a consensus to remedy the situation. The worst thing we can do is dismiss the life perspectives of those who could/would make great allies or add more to the community.

Lastly, regarding drama…more specifically, drama between atheists in the movement/community: I think at times, debates or discussions over differences of opinion and ideals are conflated with being “drama”. Some people would rather debate theists than fellow atheists and I have to wonder…why? If there’s a particular issue between two atheists over something of significance that needs to be addressed, why should they not discuss it, especially if one of those atheists is acting in a very negative way, or they’re perpetuating ignorance? Discussion can lead to solutions and can open people up to other points of view that they might not have considered before, and these things can help keep a movement going. Why would anyone not want to do that?

So, I think that having an atheist movement and a community isn’t a bad thing in itself; we’re a rising minority in the US and the UK, and as that number increases, people will still need a base of support and information. However, it’s when our points of views become or remain narrow-minded and desaturated that runs the risk of making any movement seem unbearable and unappealing.

Follow Jasmine on Twitter, and check out her YouTube channel!