I’m pleased to see the creation of a new coalition, Openly Secular, that will encourage atheists, agnostics, skeptics and humanists to be open about their beliefs if they can and give them a forum for documenting instances of discrimination that may occur.
A new coalition of secular organizations hopes to combat prejudice and discrimination against atheists, humanists and other nonbelievers.
Called “Openly Secular,” the coalition wants to draw attention to incidents of anti-atheist discrimination in hopes of making such bias socially unacceptable.
“Our goal is a world where there are no social costs for being secular, where people do not have to risk losing relationships, jobs and elections when they are open about their nonreligious beliefs,” said Todd Stiefel, chair of Openly Secular.
“By getting more people to be open about who they are, we will reduce the misunderstandings that lead to fear and distrust of secular people.”
Openly Secular is a project of four secular heavy-hitting organizations: the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, the Secular Student Alliance and the Secular Coalition for America. An additional 20 organizations have signed on as supporters.
Stiefel, whose foundation has funded a number of atheist projects, described Openly Secular as “the next step” of the Dawkins Foundation’s “Out Campaign,” an effort to encourage nonbelievers to “come out” that was started in 2007.
“We are broadening and expanding the (Out) campaign to make it easier for people to become open with fewer social consequences,” Stiefel said. “We are also expanding the open strategy beyond atheists by reaching out to agnostics, humanists and even the spiritual but not religious.”
This is a great idea. And I think it highlights the importance not only of individuals coming out, which really does combat negative stereotypes, but also of building secular communities that provide a safe, supportive environment for them to do so.