Frequently-Asked Questions

Why Are Those Polyamorists So Damn Preachy?

No discussion or mention of polyamory would be complete without a monogamous person chiding the polyamorous person to not be “preachy” about their “lifestyle choice.” There will often be an accompanying anecdote about how the monogamous person once met a polyamorous person who was very “pushy” with them. “I don’t care what you do in the bedroom,” the monogamous person will assert, “But I wish polyamorous people wouldn’t be so judge me for my choices when I don’t judge theirs.” Even articles ostensibly about non-monogamy do this.

Though I don’t doubt that monogamous people have had experiences that left them feeling judged, and it is a fact that there exist some rather smug-seeming polyamorous people, I don’t buy the idea that they are as common as monogamous people make them seem. Rather, it is more likely that monogamous people are picking up on and picking on polyamorous people in an absurdly disproportionate way.
[Read more…]

Preventing Abortions with Planned Parenthood

Years ago, at an atheist meeting, a Christian showed up, as was wont to happen every few months or so. I decided that I would take one for the team and fully engage him so that others could have the more nuanced conversations that drew most people to the meetings. Lucky for me (but not for him), his prepared topic of conversation for the time he had chosen to break bread with us baby-eaters was abortion.

He led not with a question, but with an assumption that we atheists tended to support reproductive rights. He wasn’t wrong (though of course there are some over-represented exceptions among atheists). I decided to ask him a question: “How many abortions have you prevented?”

My inquiry may have dumbfounded him for a while, but I was hardly exaggerating or lying. At the time, I was an unofficial guerrilla unwanted-pregnancy-preventer thanks to Planned Parenthood. [Read more…]

It’s Cruel for an Atheist to Pray with Their Dying Mother

Unsurprisingly given its content, a specific Postsecret entry has been addressed by several of my atheist colleagues over at Patheos.

PostSecret card of a hospital bed reading: "I don't believe in god / when I was 19 my mom was on her death bed and asked me to pray for her / I told her I couldn't because I would by [sic] lying / now she's gone forever, and I feel like I failed her as a daughter"

Hemant started the conversation, saying that he felt for the postcard’s creator and saw no way by which he could gain from refusing to pray. Matthew agreed, adding that he sees prayer as a supportive act. Galen contributed some very nuanced thoughts. The people with whom I find myself agreeing not only most but actually entirely wholeheartedly are Kaveh and Cassidy, although I might amend Kaveh’s answer from “Fuck no and fuck you” to “Fuck no and fuck this question” for reasons that are not dissimilar to those of Cassidy.

It is downright cruel for an out atheist to pray with a theist relative on their deathbed: Cruel to the relative, cruel to the atheist, cruel to anyone even marginally involved, and cruel to the non-religious in general. [Read more…]

Remember Who They Are

I fully accept that this will be too little, too late for some, and too much, too soon for others.

I will begin this with a doubled, modernized set of secular Serenity invocations: Noodly Lord grant me the serenity to accept that there are people I cannot change, the courage to change the people I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Noodly Lord grant me also the serenity to accept that bad-faith actors exist, the humility to recognize my good-faith critics, and the help I need to discern the difference.

Both of these, but especially the latter, directly reflect my Accountability Pledge, which I wrote a while back. I keep thinking about it as matter after matter arises within skepto-atheist circles. [Read more…]

Irvine No Longer Friendly to Religious Diversity

Sometimes, with all the intercommunity issues, I forget what we’re up against as secular Americans. I was reminded of it last night.

I attended the July 14th Irvine City Council meeting in which a proposed measure to add a display of In God We Trust to the council chambers was deliberated. Irvine is my hometown, the city in which I spent most of my life and where I was educated. Although it severely lacked in economic diversity and bred some of the classist views of which I’ve had to actively divest myself, as far as ethnic and worldview-based diversity and acceptance goes, it was a great place to grow up for a young hijab-wearing Muslim like the one I was. I wanted to speak against the addition of the motto.

No more is the Irvine I knew, it seems. Between Mayor Steven Choi’s heavy-handed Christianity, Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway’s absurd insistence that Christianity was in need of tolerance from non-Christians, Councilmember Christina Shea’s rather dismal insinuations that atheism leads to child abuse, and the majority of the Councilmembers’ disingenuous insistence that “God” is a secular term (the notable exception being Councilmember Beth Krom, who showed great courage last night in standing up for church-state separation and secular inclusivity), I can’t say that I give the city quite as much credit that way anymore. [Read more…]

Search Term Round-Up #4: Dating & Sex + Religion & Race, Oh My~

Content notice for racism and sex and racist sex and sexual violence.

Inspired in no small part by the grand tradition of Captain Awkward.

racial preference is racism / dating preferences racist / are preferences racist / race preference dating / is having a preference racist

TL;DR answer to all of these: Sometimes.
Slightly longer answer: Saying “I’m attracted to [members of a particular racial/ethnic group]” is a faux-complimentary way of saying “All [members of a particular racial/ethnic group] look alike to me.”
Much longer answer: What Is Racist About Race-Based Dating Preferences

i’ve been fantasizing a bout girls in hijabs


Between weirdos on campus and at atheist meetups, I have a lot of personal not-good feelings about men who profess veil fetishes. [Read more…]

Search Term Round-Up #3: Non-Binary Gender & Other LGBT Issues

two brides holding hands

For the next few round-ups, instead of a plain listing, like I’ve done in the past, I’m going to respond in the grand tradition of Captain Awkward. I mean, with incoming search terms like “top ten male authors” and “heina dadabhoy boob“, how could I not?

In honor of same-sex marriage being made legal by the Supreme Court of the United States, I’m going to focus on the LGBT-centric phrases and questions that have led to this blog.

[Read more…]

Haramadan 3: Fasting & Other Health Hazards

If you’re in Southern California and free tomorrow afternoon, I urge you to attend the Free Raif rally, presented by CFI-L.A. in conjunction with Amnesty InternationalMuslims for Progressive ValuesPEN Center USA, and the Los Angeles Press Club. More information can be found on the CFI website and on Facebook.

One of the health hazards associated with living under Saudi Wahhabi-style Islam is a significant risk to expressing any views that might be interpreted to be offensive or irreverent. Another health hazard, one that can be found in nearly every flavor of Islam, is the fasting observed by many during this time of the lunar year. [Read more…]

Haramadan 2: A Wedding Reception

Heina & Danny decked out at their reception

Photographers are good and all, but friends sometimes capture the best moments with their phones.

A question I am asked rather often as an ex-Muslim is whether or not I continue to participate in Islamic rituals, holidays, and celebrations as a cultural sort of thing, just as many former and never-Christians celebrate holidays like Easter and Christmas. The one “holiday” of which never-Muslims tend to be aware is Ramadan, which isn’t actually a holiday at all and has no appeal to me as a non-believer. Dehydration is bad, period, but especially in these long, dry, Southern Californian summer days.

There are other aspects of my cultural and religious background that I continue to honor or at least acknowledge for a variety of reasons: Filial duty, unchecked expectations, checked associations, the die-hard nature of old habits, and even, when it comes to a few specific things, a tinge of fond nostalgia.

All those play a role in how I feel about my two recent birthdays, just two months apart from each other, as well as my family wedding reception. [Read more…]