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Jan 31 2012

Frederick Sparks at Black Skeptics on Be Scofield, Greta Christina, and New Atheist Racism

There have been a lot of discussions about Be Scofield’s piece in Tikkun, chiding the so-called “New Atheists” for being racist and culturally imperialist because we think religion is mistaken and try to persuade people out of it.

I’m more than usually swamped for time right now, and don’t have time to get more deeply into the conversation. But I wanted to point out an excellent piece by Frederick Sparks at the Black Skeptics blog — Be Scofield, Greta Christina, and New Atheist racism — which dismantles Scofield’s piece with surgical precision, and hands it back to Scofield in neat little bloody pieces on a platter.

I especially liked how Sparks eviscerated Scofield’s out-of-context quoting of Sikivu Hutchinson’s Moral Combat, revealing that Scofield either didn’t read the rest of the book or didn’t digest its conclusions — since its conclusions are exactly the opposite of the one Scofield comes to.

If I started quoting the best bits, I’d just quote the whole damn thing. But I do want to mention this:

I don’t see an either or proposition between advocating for rational thought, where beliefs are based on evidence, and confronting issues of social justice. The idea that black people should be left alone in their clinging to Jesus due to their history of oppression smacks of just as much paternalism as what Scofield accuses the white new atheists of here.

Go read the rest of the piece. It rocks.

6 comments

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  1. 1
    fredericksparks

    Thank you Greta!

  2. 2
    Stan Brooks

    Thanks for pointing out this piece, it is a great article and I’m glad to discover yet another intelligent spokesperson for the atheist and secular cause.

  3. 3
    Rieux

    Yup. Surgical indeed.

  4. 4
    Stonyground

    I have recently read somewhere else a letter that Martin Luther King wrote from prison in response to a letter sent to him signed by the clergy of various black churches. Anyone who has tried to claim that these churches were in support of the Civil Rights movement is shown that they are in error by the contents of this letter. The internet has made it really easy to prove to people who are wrong that they are wrong.

    The other thing that I learned from the letter was that laws giving equality to black people and against segregation were already in place at that time. The protests were about certain people finding the law to be inconvenient and ignoring it. People ignoring a law that they don’t happen to like, now why does that ring a bell?

  5. 5
    Alethea Kuiper-Belt

    Be’s replied now, http://www.tikkun.org/tikkundaily/2012/02/01/a-response-to-frederick-sparks-over-reason-and-racism-in-new-atheism/ – which I only skimmed, but it seems to be a combo of goalpost shifting and side-stepping the hard questions.

  6. 6
    'Tis Himself

    Althea H. Claw gives a link in #5 to Scofield’s latest feat of hole digging. I particularly like this comment:

    It must be difficult to move goalposts while simultaneously building strawmen.

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