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Introducing ‘Openly Secular’

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.

Comments

  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    Now the Secular Coalition of America can quietly close its doors and go away with a clean conscience.

    Bye, Edwina!

  2. raven says

    and give them a forum for documenting instances of discrimination that may occur.

    This is an extremely good idea. There will be a huge number for sure.

    I used to get a Pagan newsletter on the west coast a few years ago. About half the issue was discrimination and atrocities committed against them by…xians. And everyone used names like Starflower and Graywolf because they were afraid of being outed. They keep a low profile for safety reasons.

    As I found out, fundie xians hate Pagans. They spent 2,000 years genociding them and thought they got them all. They almost did. And now they are…back.

    1. Kicked out of rental housing.

    2. Fired from jobs. In one case, a fundie xian manager at a company systematically went through searching out the Pagan employees and firing them. This was stopped when the company was sued, lost, and fired him.

    3. Property including autos and houses vandalized or in some cases shot up.

    I know that Pagan is not quite the same as atheist but the fundies don’t know that or care anyway.

  3. raven says

    Wild Hunt Dec. 2013:

    The Maetreum of Cybele, which had just won an important legal victory in their property tax fight against the Town of Catskill in New York, has been the victim of another vandalism attack. The news was posted Sunday morning at the religious order’s official Facebook page. Quote: “The Maetreum was attacked again last night with four windows broken out, three in the cafe and on the second floor. The Circle W next door was also hit.. Cops taking it very seriously this time.”-

    See more at: h ttp:/ /webcache. googleusercontent. com/search?q=cache:7Lx9uOqYWRgJ:wildhunt.org/2013/12/pagan-community-notes-maetreum-attacked-ardantane-fundraiser-moonlady-news-and-more.html+Crossroads+Pagans+attacked+by+Christians&cd=7&hl=en&ct=clnk#sthash.HSFYqKzz.dpuf

    Here is an example of anti-Pagan vandalism. These sorts of attacks could go on for pages.

    And not surprising, quite often the police don’t do anything.

  4. magistramarla says

    I’ve already posted this over at Pharyngula, but I think that it fits in well here, too.
    It shows that so many xtians feel privileged and think that they can say anything that they like to a non-xtian.
    Add in the fact that they have no problems whatsoever with taking advantage of the disabled.

    I’m disabled, and I can no longer drive, which is a real pain for someone who is only 56.
    I signed up for Via Trans, which is transportation for the disabled run by our local bus company. I’ve found that when I’m picked up by an actual bus, the service is great, but when I’m picked up by one of the vans operated by the contractor, Star Shuttle, the service is crappy.
    Yesterday, after waiting in front of the building where I have physical therapy for nearly an hour, I was picked up by a van twenty minutes late. I always have to make sure that I’m waiting early, since if I’m not outside waiting, I’m counted as a no-show. I then endured the ride from hell.
    The driver asked if we could pray together for gawd to heal my disabilities. I politely told him “No thanks, I’m not religious”. That set him off. He spent the entire rest of the trip proselytizing.
    He ranted about evolution and kept telling me that if I didn’t shape up I would be sorry when I died and met jesus. He also claimed that everyone, including Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus were going to meet gawd and jesus and know their sins just before they went to spend eternity in the pits of hell. He claimed that the state of Texas was Christian and that the people here weren’t like those Muslims that only want to kill people. He also claimed that he had been sent by gawd to pick me up and save my soul.
    I begged to get out of that van at any bus stop, but he wouldn’t let me out. I could have ridden any bus for free with my Via Trans card and waited for my hubby at a bus stop. Hubby called to tell me he was home, and I asked him to meet me at the corner, but the guy still wouldn’t let me out. I really didn’t want him to take me to my house. I wound up getting out of there right in front of the house and promptly fell on the curb.
    I called Via and made a complaint against that driver, but I also canceled my upcoming rides with them. It might be more expensive to call a taxi or the really cool rideshare company called Lyft to take me to medical appointments, but it will be worth it. At least those drivers are prompt, courteous and reliable.

    It seems to me that anyone should be free from religion on public transportation and that the driver was horribly unprofessional. I’ve put up with being picked up very early or very late. I’ve put up with a driver who refused to drive me with my service dog because she was afraid of him. I’ve tolerated other passengers who were praying or singing hymns, but this was the last straw. I had just endured and entire day of testing and treatments at the university center the day before, so I still felt weak and vulnerable yesterday. My physical therapist had made sure that I had a gentle workout, and I really needed a calm day. That driver ruined everything that all of my therapy had done for me that day.

  5. Randomfactor says

    I begged to get out of that van at any bus stop, but he wouldn’t let me out.

    That sounds an awful lot like kidnapping.

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