Quantcast

«

»

Sep 04 2012

Should Atheism Take Stands On Social Issues?

There is much talk these days about a phenomenon called Atheism+. This is the notion that atheism is not just a definition but a weltanschauung that should and, it is thought, necessarily does, encompass the taking of stands on a variety of social issues. Those who think this are being recruited to the new, and growing, ranks of adherents to the concept of Atheism+. Some worry that the arguments being advanced for both sides of the issue will create a schism in atheism.

Will it? Of course it will. That is why it is a bad idea.

I have seen this happen before. Been there, done that, bought the T shirt, wrote the book, working on the sequel.

Atheism means without a belief in a god. That’s it. Within that shell are many many different points of view. This became clear a few years ago when several life members quit the organization American Atheists because it’s then President was actively working for the defeat of President George Bush. The quitting life members liked Bush and thought the organization had no business being against him, or for or against anyone else for that matter. I know this because they told me.

I could not imagine any atheist being in favor of Bush. But these folks were. I have also met atheists who are members of American Atheists and who oppose a woman’s right to choose. And who are opposed to gay marriage. And all sorts of things like that. The only thing that they all have in common is being atheists. Start taking sides on social issues and learn what chaos is all about.

I am a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) unless my membership has lapsed. I am also an NRA Certified Handgun Instructor. And I know some of our members don’t like that. Anyhow, a few years ago the NRA went against its own policy of being a single issue organization and took a stand on an abortion issue. In consequence, the NRA immediately lost about half of its members. Members who were in the NRA to protect gun rights, not to legislate women’s health issues, quit the organization.

The NRA changed their policy in a hurry, became a single issue organization again, and got its members back.

American Atheists is a single issue organization dedicated to complete separation of Church and

State and to fighting for the rights of atheists to equal protection of the laws.

That’s quite a bit.

It should stay that way.

Every generation does not have to re-invent the wheel.

Edwin
© 2012 by Edwin Kagin.

102 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Ze Madmax

    Well, technically American Atheists is a two-issue organization: http://atheists.org/about

    Of course, you can argue those two issues are related. But the Atheism+ argument is similar: social justice issues are a natural outgrowth of rejecting religion.

    And as Greta Christina so eloquently put it: Atheism+ isn’t causing a schism. It’s a reaction to an already existing one.

    1. 1.1
      Michael Kingsford Gray

      Raelians are a concrete counter-example to your false & thoughtless generalisation about atheism leading to social justice.
      As were Mao, Stalin & Pol Pot.

      1. NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

        A+ is for people who do think atheism leads to social justice.

        If you don’t agree, than just ignore us.

        Really.

        What is so fucking hard about that?

        1. Verity Manumit

          @ NateHevens: You said that atheism leads to social justice, but where is your evidence for that? You sound like a christian who says christianity leads to social justice. Obviously, we do have ample evidence that that is most definitely not the case. But try convincing the christian of that.

          The problem here is that people are connecting the dots between atheism on one side, and social justice on the other.

          Atheists are not necessarily smarter, wiser, better educated, fairer, more diplomatic, less prejudiced, more insightful, or what have you. To suggest that atheists should then be the shepherds of social justice is idealistic and impractical. Not to mention misguided.

          You can and never will be able to build consensus in this world. It just isn’t going to happen. And there is no reason in the world to conflate gender equality (or any issue) with atheism, period.

          For example, do you support equality of women who are atheists only, or for all women, regardless of their religion, race, or orientation? If the latter, then why on earth does atheism need to play any role in the fight for gender equality?

          Atheists should support the issues that are important to them, but they should support them for the sake of the issue, not because of atheism.

          The little I’ve been exposed to Atheism+ leads me to believe that it is already becoming quite dogmatic. And dogmatism leads to divisiveness. What they are insisting upon is not social justice, but conformity. Conformity to their POV, in toto, no questions asked, no dissent tolerated.

  2. 2
    MichaelD

    Ok question. Should a group of atheists take a stands on social issues?

    1. 2.1
      michaeld

      I’ll just reply to myself and expand a bit.

      The big problem with what you are saying is that you’ve made a solid point against an organisation with a specific goal deviating from that goal.

      You have not supported the idea that a separate group shouldn’t form to pool the resources of a different set of people towards a different goal.

      Example this is like saying that a pro-life atheists group should disband because it would be harmful to American atheist to start supporting the pro-life movement. Or that it should disband because a lot of atheists on the internet disagree with them and argue about it.

      Its a non sequiter and I fail to see how anything you have said beyond your assertions in the 2-3 paragraphs even relates to Atheism plus.

    2. 2.2
      michaeld

      One final thing and I’m sorry to anyone bothered by my replying to myself yet again. In response to this:

      “American Atheists is a single issue organization dedicated to complete separation of Church and State and to fighting for the rights of atheists to equal protection of the laws.”

      Then you need to talk to the web master cause the AA website disagrees. From the aims and principles page http://atheists.org/content/aims-and-principles

      “American Atheists, Inc., is organized…

      to encourage the development and public acceptance of a humane ethical system stressing the mutual sympathy, understanding, and interdependence of all people and the corresponding responsibility of each individual in relation to society;

      to engage in such social, educational, legal, and cultural activity as will be useful and beneficial to the members of American Atheists and to society as a whole.”

  3. 3
    sqlrob

    Not all schisms are bad.

    How do you propose dealing with social justice issues within the atheist group?

  4. 4
    Aratina Cage

    Geez, Edwin. Your ongoing curmudgeonliness is still shocking to behold. If a few bigots left American Atheists because of their love for W, then all the better for AA! You should be applauding AA for taking that stand, not lamenting the loss of a few bigots.

  5. 5
    Decnavda

    You are assuming that the A+ movement has to take over other atheist organizations. What if the A+ movement just does its own thing, and the A+ people ALSO belong to non-social justice atheist organizations, only bringing up social justice issues when it affects internal issues (getting non-social justice atheist orgs to have non discrimination and non harassment policies, for example)?

  6. 6
    WithinThisMind

    As I said previously –

    I was raised a Christian. Upon reading the bible for myself, I noticed two things. 1 – There were large sections that just didn’t make a lot of sense, and 2 – This god entity was kind of an asshole.

    Among the things that didn’t make sense were things like – woman is the weaker vessel (I am not weak) and should be submissive and silent (HA!) along with things like homosexuality should be punishable be death (who the fuck cares what consenting adults do in their bedroom) and that unbelievers should be shunned/killed (the pinnacle of hypocrisy).

    So considering a large portion of what brought me to atheism in the first place was the social justice issues, why the fuck am I supposed to abandon them now that I’m a member of ‘teh club’?

    1. 6.1
      Stan Brooks

      Absolutely!! Well said.

    2. 6.2
      AdamTM

      “So considering a large portion of what brought me to atheism in the first place was the social justice issues, why the fuck am I supposed to abandon them now that I’m a member of ‘teh club’?”

      Then you did it wrong.
      Your emotional argument that you didn’t like what your religion had to say about social issues is not a valid concern for Atheism.

      Atheism addresses the existence of god, not if god is a dick, immoral, if Christianity is a good/bad belief-system or if social justice should or shouldn’t be applied to society.

      So you didn’t like what your religion had to say about women, social justice, food, idk, take a pick.
      That is the shittiest reasoning to join Atheism.

      Atheism informs nothing, stop trying to tell us that it does.

      1. WithinThisMind

        Then you did it wrong.
        Your emotional argument that you didn’t like what your religion had to say about social issues is not a valid concern for Atheism.

        Atheism addresses the existence of god, not if god is a dick, immoral, if Christianity is a good/bad belief-system or if social justice should or shouldn’t be applied to society.

        So you didn’t like what your religion had to say about women, social justice, food, idk, take a pick.
        That is the shittiest reasoning to join Atheism.

        Atheism informs nothing, stop trying to tell us that it does.

        Hmmmm….

        “Atheism informs nothing, stop trying to tell us that it does”

        Rereads rest of post.

        Hmmm….

        “Atheism informs nothing, stop trying to tell us that it does”

        Hmmm…

        I’m looking for a word here…wait a minute…ah, yeah, got it!

        HYPOCRISY

        1. AdamTM

          Tu quoque. Oh you.
          FTB and its commenters, the lol never ends.

          1. WithinThisMind

            It’s hilarious. You have your knickers in a twist because someone is ‘telling you how to do atheism’, but felt not the slightest hesitation about telling someone else that they ‘did atheism wrong’.

            Thank you. In a nutshell, you’ve beautifully demonstrated all that is ridiculously stupid about the ‘detractors’ of atheism plus.

    3. 6.3
      ccdimage

      I used to think that the “you are an atheist because you hate god” was one of the silliest things Theists said.
      Now having seen comments here I understand where they are coming from. This Pathetic (pathos) reasoning has got to be one of the worst reasons to call yourself an Atheist. If you have chosen to label yourself Atheist because of Pathetic arguments then you should seriously reconsider your label. Maybe Aptheist or Agnostic is better for you.

      1. WithinThisMind

        Why?

        Does the fact that social justice issues with religion are what brought me to atheism somehow mean god may actually exist?

        Does the fact that the first ‘proof’ to me of god’s non-existence was the ‘problem of evil’ somehow mean there might actually be a god out there?

        Does the fact that genetic diseases and other issues that come part of the evolution package are one of the many things that puts the lie to us being ‘intelligently’ designed somehow mean that gee, maybe there could have been a designer after all?

        Why is it YOU get to decide what atheism is? How absurdly arrogant, and we are talking self-righteousness on par with many church leaders, is it of you to tell anyone that they are ‘doing atheism wrong’?

        Thank you again, for providing such a wonderful example of how absurd the detractors of atheism plus really are.

        1. TrueAthiestsKnowC

          a·the·ist[ey-thee-ist]
          noun
          a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

          Sorry That’s where it ends. For some reason Dictionary.com forgot to add more.

          1. trazan

            So, for dictionary atheists, there wouldn’t be much (a little, but not much) reason to engage in activities like camping or blogging?

          2. TrueAthiestsKnowC

            I don’t need to change the definition of Atheist to include camping and blogging to do such things.
            I give money to charity, I do computer programming, teach my children, speak Spanish, do volunteer work with the homeless, etc. I’m also an Atheist. I don’t need to change the definition of Atheist to include these things.
            One of the many problems with A+ is that Atheists can be both Atheists and Secular Humanists. You can also be “Atheists for Humanism” if you want, but why try to change the definition of a word that other people identify? It is not needed and just makes people angry.

    4. 6.4
      Anna Nimus

      “why the fuck am I supposed to abandon them now that I’m a member of ‘teh club’”

      Wow, who on earth said you had to abandon them? Not the author of this blog, that’s for sure.

      People are missing the author’s point. You can have your social values, I’m sure the author has many of the same. What the author is pointing out is that they simply have nothing to do with each other. To say an atheist should be for women’s rights is as redundant as saying Asians should be for women’s rights or Hispanic people should be for women’s rights. Yeah, indeed they should be, but that’s got nothing to do with one’s race, just as it has nothing to with not being a theist.

      This whole debate is just… weird.

      1. Besomyka

        The problem as I see is that some people are only talking about atheism as claim about gods. Another set of people are talking about atheism as a movement. I generally talk about it in the second way.

        I mean, there’s nothing about Atheism as a claim that would indicate that we should hold conventions, or post billboards, or advocate for secularism. There’s nothing about it that would urge the local Austin Atheist to provide for the homeless. As a movement, however, we do. As a group that wants to influence other people we do.

        One these boards, given the roles of the authors, movement atheism really should be assumed to be the default, right?

  7. 7
    magicthighs

    There is much talk these days about a phenomenon called Atheism+. This is the notion that atheism is not just a definition but a weltanschauung that should and, it is thought, necessarily does, encompass the taking of stands on a variety of social issues.

    I don’t think anyone has said that they necessarily follow from atheism. Most FTB bloggers say it’s atheism plus other things like social justice. The mere fact that it’s a response to the actions and statements of other atheists suggests that they’re very aware that these things most definitely do not follow from atheism an sich.

    Those who think this are being recruited to the new, and growing, ranks of adherents to the concept of Atheism+. Some worry that the arguments being advanced for both sides of the issue will create a schism in atheism.

    A schism in what exactly, though? This Atheist Community people keep referring to? There’s no such thing in my opinion, the past year has pretty much proven that. What we have are various sub-groups of atheists, some of which share nothing with others except a disbelief in deities.

  8. 8
    A Hermit

    Atheism doesn’t have to do anything. Some of us atheists will take stands on social issues.

    How this creates a “schism” is something no one has actually been able to explain yet…

    1. 8.1
      SecularJustice

      The reason it creates a schism is because of the harsh, extreme jerkism of the pieces that lead to this.

      “we will stop being friends and associating with the bad, evil people who refuse to immediately adopt our morals” is asking for trouble when “we believe there are some social issues that are problems in atheism and we’re postulating creating a sub-sect of atheism to address these issues, so women can feel safe and not have to be subjected to abuse” might have worked better.

      If some Americans suddenly stated they wanted to create America+ and any American who didn’t believe in their interpretation of the constitution, or freedom or anything else immediately was crapped on as a bad person, how many converts do you think they’d win over?

      1. Danny

        Nearly half the electorate. They’re called Republicans.

        Anyway, it started as the second statement. Then people started telling us we’re doing it wrong.

        Now it’s the first statement in effect since the people drawing lines are the anti-Atheism Plus people.

  9. 9
    Besomyka

    I would add that this started because there was a segment of the Atheist community that vocally resisted taking steps to bring in a more diverse set of people, both on the floor of conventions, and on the dais.

    That is, they took a stand not to maintain atheism, but to maintain the old white guys club. Since when is misogyny part of Atheism? You want to blame someone for bringing ‘social issues’ to the party, you should start with the people that threw the tantrum in the first place.

    1. 9.1
      JanaTheVeganPiranha

      Thank you. I’m fed to the fucking teeth right now with ANY guy telling me my opinions, desires and needs are irrelevant- FUCK the “Old White Guy” club, and he’d better make damn sure he’s solid before he confronts me to my face too. I’m coming out swinging.

      I don’t ask for my rights from old white guys, I inform them that I HAVE rights, and EXPECT THEM TO BE RESPECTED. No on “gives” me respect. No one dictates to me how I view atheism or anything else. If I care about the world and I’m an atheist, NOBODY gets to tell me the right way to do it.

      Actually, they can tell me whatever they want, it’s just completely irrelevant to me. Completely.

  10. 10
    Egbert

    Bravo Edwin Kagan, for daring to have a different opinion!

  11. 11
    Lex

    Unlurking to write this.

    I have NOT joined atheist orgs or communities (actively decided not to join) because I don’t care ENOUGH (not that I don’t care at all) about “not being a believer” to get involved in atheist groups. I do however care a lot about a bunch of social justice issues and that will get me involved in Atheism +. I don’t WANT to join your club, the club which has alienated and frankly scares me these days.

    Have you considered that the lack social justice (plus the rampant misogynist raging in the community of late) has been keeping people like me from joining in the first place?

    There are a lot of lurkers who if we had a reason other than “not believing” to engage will engage more. Read Jens original post on A+ a whole bunch of people delurked to post there expressing this exact sentiment!

    No one is asking existing orgs to change focus but we some of us aren’t interested in them or want more to focus on. No one is saying you can’t keep doing what you doing but some of us want to do something different. You can keep your space no one is threatening to invade and force you to care about social justice.

  12. 12
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    Yeah, it sure is horrid of me to want to have an atheist group where I feel like my values and interests are taken seriously. I guess I should stop giving money to social justice groups, humanist groups, environmental groups, and anything else that isn’t American Atheists. I will suggest forthwith that the crafters at the atheist and agnostic group on Ravelry should shut it down because being atheist knitters is DIVISIVE.

    Thank you so much for illustrating why I so dislike American Atheists.

  13. 13
    ImRike

    One of my hobbies is knitting. For a while, I joined a knitting group, but got tired of being asked which church I go to or would I like to join a prayer meeting on Wednesday nights? So I’m thinking of starting an atheist knitting group, where knitters can get together and talk about things other than church or crackers. I am going to call my atheist knitting group “AtheismX” (the X is for two crossed knitting needles). Are you saying that will cause a schism in the atheist community?
    All we are saying is that we are atheists who are also interested in things other than atheism. If you are interested in knitting, join us, if you don’t like knitting don’t pay any attention to us. We’re not taking anything away from any other atheist, we’re just forming a group with a common interest because it’s more fun to do things together with with people who have the same interest.

    1. 13.1
      Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

      There’s a FB group called Crafting Without Religion, FYI.

      1. Sassafras

        Seam-splitters!

  14. 14
    kraut

    “will create a schism in atheism.”

    Since when is non organizes atheism as represented on FTB part of an organized atheism?
    I’m am with Groucho here and will never join any group that would have me as its member. That’s why I have never joined a party, a n official club or anything remotely organized.

    If there is a “schism” in this unorganized group, it is because some members think social issues are part of being an atheist, and some reject this, but reject it in a way that makes them look like real arseholes, i.e relating to the topic of feminism and misogyny.
    So yes, I have no interest in the opinions of those idiots, and I gladly see them posting somewhere else where I am not inundated by their hatred towards what they call “uppity” females.
    Those same idiots would in past times have no problem to call slaves “uppity niggers”, as their writing lets one believe.
    No, good riddance to those and if you don’t like it Ed – you are not forced to post on those topics at all. You can stay with atheist and post about that.
    But a schism to get rid of arseholes – bring it on.

    I rather be not seen to be associated with atheism if one has to defend the inanities of the misogynistic branch of non stamp collecting.

  15. 15
    Kilian Hekhuis

    “American Atheists is a single issue organization dedicated to complete separation of Church and State and to fighting for the rights of atheists to equal protection of the laws. That’s quite a bit. It should stay that way.”

    I don’t think anyone has suggested the A+ movement should take over the American Atheists. So your argument is a bit of a strawman.

  16. 16
    c

    Good letter

    I would argue that the “fight” to protect the civil liberties of those who would have “free thoughts” (whatever they happen to be) is the prime issue.

    That is allegedly what our First Amendment is about.

    Unfortunately, we find in our society many times and places where the belief in something other than the mainstream will get you in trouble.

    I will admit that while I support Atheists in their own personal world to believe what they want, I do NOT support any Atheist who ends up trying to convert others to the idea that there is no God (and yes, these individuals do exist).

    I think that activism is what has gotten the movement in trouble with people who do believe.

    I remember when Ellen Johnson would get up on TV and declare that “there is no God”.. instead of “I do not see personal evidence of a GOD” She (and others) cross the line into the murky waters of preaching instead of holding merely a personal belief system.

    I understand that Atheists are ones who do not believe in GOD. Yet, while you all live in a “Free” country your beliefs end where others begins, apparently that is the case within the microcosm of the Atheist movement as well….. and you begin to see the sticky wicket when any movement or belief system starts to dictate other positions outside of their realm of expertise and control.

    I think one of the most valuable things to protect is the FREEDOM to THINK, the FREEDOM to EXPLORE, the FREEDOM to DISCUSS etc without the fear of persecution. Unfortunately, far too often folks step over that line and mistakenly believe that what is good for them AUGHT to be good for everyone else. You have seen that in every Religious movement, the Feminist Movement, etc.

    I do see more schisms occurring if AA starts taking on other positions that detract from the AA position.

  17. 17
    kraut

    “and you begin to see the sticky wicket when any movement or belief system starts to dictate other positions outside of their realm of expertise and control.”

    Is that a projection on your part or willful misunderstanding?
    Nobody tries to dictate anything, the matter is simply: is atheism enough.
    You also misread the article: Ed does not talk about the position the AA takes. I have no beef and they can do whatever they want, I am not a member and simply not interested in their official position.
    He is talking about “atheists” in general. And please, who is he then to dictate to us big unwashed unorganized to what discussion we should engage in or not? Who is trying here to stop a movement of not alike thinkers talking about different but related issues that go beyond the dictionary atheism Ed is apparently arguing for. Towards an atheism that includes questions as to ethical and social behaviour.

    Should those questions not be addressed because of the fear of schism, atheism is nothing but a hollow shell, and this I would call “old” atheism, that is solely concerned with the god question, a question that was settled for me decades ago and after that never much interesting.

  18. 18
    One Thousand Needles, lumper-splitter

    Subset. A+ is a subset. Why is that so hard to understand?

    Yes, I’m excited to be a part of A+. Does that mean I’m shunning other atheist organizations and conference? No, of course not!

    Do CFI members not go to AA conferences? Do AHA members not go to CSH events?

    Then who fucking cares if there is one more abbreviation out there?

  19. 19
    A Lowly Apprentice

    Social justice is a logical extension. A logical extension of desire and emotion. It is not a logical extension of Atheism.

    Atheism is often born of discovery in science and skepticism. Humans invented the wheel. But the car or bicycle is not a logical extension of the wheel in and of itself. It is a logical extension of the desire to get from point A to point B. A flour mill is not a logical extension of the wheel alone. It is a logical extension of the desire to mill flour.

    Social justice is a logical extension of desire and emotion. Atheism at it’s most would by a way point on the road to the realization of one’s desired outcomes in the world. It is not the genesis of much of anything.

    The wheel of atheism can be a part of many things. But the wheel itself did not logically extend to be a part of anything.

    I have no problem with people forming a group to have a safe place if they desire to do so. FTB can be a rough place. I do have a problem with unowned hypocrisy, self delusion, and subterfuge. Creating a group where the primary goal is to create a safe place for women to converse is fine. They should have just said so from the beginning. They could have started from there and when the group becomes more diverse then expand their mission.

    For 2 decades I participated and helped run a non-profit to give poor and disadvantaged youth oratory skills and provide them with a sense of accomplishment and the skills to succeed in today’s work force. the organization was for black children and it said so in the mission statement. It took me a few years but I railed on and on about being exclusionary once it was obvious the demographic of the organization was changing. But you know what… we were being honest with the community at large. Nobody had any misconceptions about the main purpose of the organization. Today we have a new charter and a new mission statement. And nobody has any misconceptions about what the organization does today and who it is for. We took our wheel of oratory and made a bicycle. When people joined and wanted flour, we made a flour mill with our wheel. One day we will make a car. But we do not go around telling people we have a car when we don’t.

    Atheism+ is Feminism+ they should have just said so from the start and not tried to put on airs about why they actually exist.

  20. 20
    Hershele Ostropoler

    There is inevitably going to be a subset of atheists who feel drawn to social justice activism, unless you can defend the claim that atheism precludes social justice. I don’t see how having a label for people who want to identify with that subset is any more schismatic than the subset existing in the first place.

    I wish “dictionary atheist” weren’t a pejorative term. Anyone who doesn’t believe in gods is an atheist, and I don’t see anyone trying to change that. Does the fact that some people sit at home quietly lacking belief while other people go forth and do activism create a schism?

  21. 21
    Mattir, Another One With Boltcutters

    Yep, it’s a good thing there are people like Edwin around, protecting atheism from the danger of having Jen McCreight suggest that random assholes calling her a cunt doesn’t do much to make her want to remain affiliated with atheism as a movement. So what you really just said, Mr. Kagan, was that you don’t want women to be part of American Atheists, or even the larger atheist movement, whatever that is, because our opinions, our desire not to be called cunts, our very voices, are DIVISIVE and might scare away some of your precious wealthy funders. It’s okay, presumably, if we remain silent, bake cookies, and give handjobs to your amazing friends.

    Fuck you.

    1. 21.1
      Renee Hendricks

      Mattir, WTF does Edwin say *any* such thing? Seeing how all the little A+ lackeys are saying this “subset” *isn’t* about feminism but rather about social issues and atheism, where does your presumption come from?

      1. Anonymous Atheist

        Of course A+ is about feminism, which is one of many social issues it’s about, and I would say is the central one. It was started primarily by a woman (Jen) expressing frustration with the way a subset of atheists have been harrassing women.

    2. 21.2
      Hershele Ostropoler

      Wow, that’s not what I got from this at all. I see him saying that having a specifically atheist social justice movement is divisive and that’s bad (for all the usual nonsense reasons). I don’t see him overtly endorsing sexism, just trying to build a partition between atheism and social issues.

      I disagree, because:
      * I see no reason to separate them
      * The issues social justice activism addresses are manifest among atheists and within atheist communities and spaces
      * If there are specifically religious social justice movements there should be a specifically atheist one for the same reason a lot of atheists aren’t comfortable at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

    3. 21.3
      Killerrat

      Nice job Mattir – you simultaneously claim you cannot handle insults while hurling insults. Wow!

  22. 22
    Mike

    Shrug. Retaining an old boy’s club because some of the old boys might leave if they don’t get to keep doing things the same way doesn’t hold much appeal for me. I haven’t been interested enough in sitting around and saying “I say there isn’t a god, had you noticed?” to each other to go to the events as they are now. The thing that has actually kept me interested in the skeptical/atheist movements is the social justice discussion.

  23. 23
    A Lowly Apprentice

    You’re a brave man Kagin.

    How will you ever continue to go on without a select few that once provided you with silence, baked cookies, and handjobs? Mattir is so OTT. *sigh

    A+ will not take over atheism. I don’t even think the atheism part of the current discussions is as relevant as many make it out to be.

    People want a safe space. That is totally fine. But A+ers should not claim that they are for everything under the sun when…

    the most active threads on A+ main forum are

    1) Fat Shaming
    2) Feminism vs MRA
    3) SGU Watson petition

    After number 3 the margins on activity are sizable. I’m all for safe spaces. But to continually profess egalitarian views for all manner of topics and for it not to actually be displayed by activity should give people pause.

    Why can’t A+ers just say “We want a safe space to discuss women’s issues” and be done with it?

    1. 23.1
      proudmra

      Because when you’re starting a new movement, you want it to sound noble and all-encompassing. Atheism+ IS “atheism for radfems,” but that doesn’t sound anywhere near as good.

      Especially in a community of people who are devoted to reason and skepticism, which radical feminism of course is not compatible with. And which is the true underlying cause of all the arguments; radical feminists keep trying to insist that all skeptics unquestioningly embrace their politics (No Skepticism Allowed!), and rationalists keep refusing to turn off their brains and embrace the radfem agenda.

      Even leftist and humanist atheists want nothing to do with the “plussers.”

  24. 24
    Renee Hendricks

    Finally! Someone at FTB gets it! I expressed the exact same thoughts, Edwin. Thanks for putting it out there.

  25. 25
    feedmybrain

    So the people who are being driven away from ‘The Movement’ are to blame for the impending schisms as opposed to the people driving them away?

    1. 25.1
      JanaTheVeganPiranha

      Yes. If anyone complains about the main organisation, we are “creating a schism”. Nevermind the MEN forcing themselves on us are NOT “creating the schism”. Fuck that in the left ear.

  26. 26
    Killerrat

    I agree Edwin –

    A+ supports many political positions I do not subscribe to. I have no problem with this in general and I do not expect all atheists will agree with me on political issues.

    The problem I have is that the A+ crew are somehow claiming that every atheist MUST share their political position. As a result they are claiming that I do not have a seat at the table. They wish to control the speech and speakers at atheist conferences and they wish to control the writing of those who disagree.

    A+ is trying to take over the entire atheist sandbox and they are screaming insults at those who wish to have their own space in the sandbox.

    You could see this schism brewing when PZ originally posted the infamous “dictionary” atheist opinions. His claim was that you could only be a “proper” atheist if you agreed with his social and political agenda. Many of us fired back our complaints then… and we were promptly shouted down and insulted.

    Tempers have flared and the atheist/feminist blog war of 2011-12 is the result.

    1. 26.1
      C

      This was very much true in the Pagan community as well, as I so learned and discovered.

      Many issues just don’t seem to mesh well.

      I will state emphatically.. that in fighting for your cause you cannot then oppress others in the process.

      I always endlessly find it frustratingly “amusing” how so many so called “Christians” sects will go out there and DEMAND justice for THIER beliefs yet all the while suppress and persecute others beliefs.

      Live and let live is what I say.

      My personal beliefs in my own spiritual journey will lead me on causes for equal rights for women (that women are not getting abused for merely being a woman etc) and causes concerning the environment (I don’t want to see it polluted or abused either) and general justice for ALL humans .. and ALL freedoms. It is my spiritual path that “Calls” me to be active in these areas.

      I cannot speak for what calls Atheists to action as they can be a diverse group. I have seem some very compassionate humanistic Atheists and I have seen some very uninformed, who cares kind of atheists. So.. .

      I have, for instance also been very perplexed at how Gay people could be Republicans!.. but now I understand a bit more that your sexual orientation does not always equal a general concern for other issues. (Such as fighting for the environment, womens rights or even Liberal issues).

      It is a strange world.

    2. 26.2
      Hershele Ostropoler

      The problem I have is that the A+ crew are somehow claiming that every atheist MUST share their political position. As a result they are claiming that I do not have a seat at the table. They wish to control the speech and speakers at atheist conferences and they wish to control the writing of those who disagree.

      I keep seeing this claimed by people who have issues with A+ but I’ve never seen anything cited to support that, nor have I seen any A+ proponant make any such statement.

      1. Killerrat

        Did you miss this little gem by Carrier?

        http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/2207/

        “In the meantime, are you an atheist? Do you identify as an atheist? Then I can’t insist, but I do ask that you to defend these goals and values (not in comments here, but publicly, via Facebook or other social media): are you with us, or with them; are you with the Atheism+ movement, or do you at least cheer and approve it’s values and aims (since you don’t have to label yourself), or are you going to stick with Atheism Less and its sexism and cruelty and irrationality?”

        1. Hershele Ostropoler

          A lot of A+ people are disagreeing with Carrier. And I did miss it, but technically I only said I hadn’t seen anything like that, not that it didn’t exist. But all that’s arguably shifting the goalposts; I may have set them up in a bad spot but I imagine people will feel the honorable thing for me to do now is live with that placement.

          So: the claim is that A+ is bad because A+ers are demanding that everyone join A+. Carrier is not making that demand. As I read it, he is only asking that people who support the goals of the submovement support (not necessarily join) the submovement itself. With, to be sure, a bit of nasty language directed at people who don’t support the goals. But even the nasty language stops well short of drumming them out of Atheism, let alone atheism, entirely.

        2. Hershele Ostropoler

          Also, Richard Carrier is only one person. I’m not going to say that he doesn’t represent consensus opinion, but if you’re attributing the position to “the A+ crew” it’s certainly fair to point out there’s nothing demonstrating that he does.

          1. Killerrat

            I must declare I am with A+ or I am labeled a “C.H.U.D” and I support “sexism and cruelty and irrationality.” Ummmm…. yeah….

            and I suspect that many others share his opinion… but will not state it so boldly. I have been called a rapist, wife beater, child abuser, misogynist, and rape apologist by some of the FTB crew. Forgive me if I am now wary.

          2. Hershele Ostropoler

            and I suspect that many others share his opinion… but will not state it so boldly.

            That is one of the most blatant strawman arguments I’ve ever seen. You’re actually coming right out and saying that the things you’re arguing against are things people haven’t said.

          3. Killerrat

            ok – so Carrier and Greta have come out with their real feelings (thanks Justicar for the link).

      2. Justicar

        Here’s Greta arguing, explicitly, that one is free to remain just a regular atheist, but there exist atheists who care about social justice and that’s atheism+. Apparently, not accepting the label of atheism+ implies one doesn’t care about social justice.

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWB54obUmOI

        1. NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

          I’m sorry, but how did you make that leap? I don’t think Greta implied any such thing.

  27. 27
    SecularJustice

    The problem with Atheism+ is the vitriolic extremism that accompanied the launch. If they could do it over again and reset the tone, you better believe they would. However, the writers who fired the opening shots have dug their heels in(well except Jen, who has since left the internet)and embraced this petty false dichotomy.

    How did I hear of atheism+? Over a social network, where it was being blasted for its mean and uncompromising tone. Everyone who I knew was blasting it because it was “dogmatic” “mean spirited” “divisive”.

    And who were the leaders of backlash?

    Women who otherwise routinely post on gender, social justice and homophobia. Almost everyone I have encountered personally who I communicate with in my atheist evangelism is against the tone and approach of atheism+, but at any other time are very active in criticism of religious social injustice. These people are active agents for the causes atheism+ supports. But when they dared criticize the tone or approach? Labelled bigots, swore at, derided as misogynist etc.

    To see atheism+’s militant and hostile tone against any critic does not further social justice. If anything, it harms social justice by creating an artificial false dichotomy between people who are basically the same and want the same things. Misogyny will always be an issue on the internet, but every single atheist woman I have spoke with since this broke out has told me their experiences in atheism have never made them feel unsafe. I’ve never once seen homophobia or misogyny tolerated in any setting without being met with harsh opposition. Most women feel the complaints of Jen could be somewhat over stated.

    However, any place you dare say anything to that effect, you’re immediately dismissed and renounced as a horrific bigot, trollm idiot, low wattage bulb, patriarchal monster and literally “EVIL”. The dialogue on problems in the atheist community has been closed as such.

    Atheism+ could have been a great thing. So far it has been a terrible thing. Noble motives don’t automatically result in noble actions. The blogposts that have set the tone for this movement have been hateful and petty. Thus the movement itself has been hateful and petty. Every place I’ve gone to discuss this with atheist+ supporters has not been pleasant.

    It makes me sad. I liked reading many of the writers posts and contributions. Seeing them torch their own credibility, shut the dialogue on social issues down, and needlessly cast stones at their brothers and sisters who, by in large, share their same values has not been enjoyable.

    1. 27.1
      Besomyka

      The problem isn’t that harassment and misogyny isn’t ever dealt with appropriately, it’s that sometimes it isn’t, and it’s often enough that it is putting people off participation.

      I’m very glad that the women you know haven’t had any negative experiences, and I hope that becomes the universal experience. Surely you understand, though, that harassment isn’t up for a vote. There are people reporting legitimate problems and it’s not like each negative experience is made equal by a positive one.

      This all started because between the people on stage and the people participating, it was largely white and male — not representative of society as a whole. Atheism is neutral, though, right? So what else could it possible be?

      I’m gonna go with social factors. The scope of the problem was revealed as soon as people started making suggestions. Examples of inappropriate behavior that puts off women, suggestions about common, well-accepted, procedures and policies for dealing with the hopefully infrequent issues.

      So people like me started talking about it, and people like you are telling me, elaborately, to be quiet. Telling me to stop trying to solve the problem.

      I hear people say there isn’t a problem, and every time I now think of Thunderfoot’s initial posts. The one in which he opened with a photo of Vader pointing away from Princess Leia. In the movie, he’s shouting ‘take her away!’. In the photo, he’s saying ‘The kitchen is that way’. That’s how he started, a misogynistic joke.

      It’s because jokes like that are not just tolerated by defended that is the problem. It’s another fellow that I know that causally said he watched Giada on the Food Network because she’s attractive, not because he cares about her work. Not that he actually does, he just knows who she is, which makes it all the worse IMHO.

      Casual sexist, objectifying comments that people think are acceptable, but do real harm.

      And it’s not that those comments should be banned, but it’s things like that which create the plausible deniability for the real predators out there. The people taking up-skirt photos, or who don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. It’s the banal sexism that creates the fog of war making it hard to tell who is just an ass-hat and who is a real threat.

      And then, to top it off, you have people defending the situation as acceptable, making it look like we would have no recourse if something did happen. Like you said in your post, I might be exaggerating like Jen.

      It’s the whole culture, it has to change, and you’re not helping.

      1. Justicar

        1.) atheism isn’t a randomly selected group, and you shouldn’t therefore expect that its membership would approximate society’s distribution. It’s self selected, and women happen to be overwhelmingly more religious than men are. Someone should try to figure out why this is so.

        2.) no one actually took an upskirt photo such as all available evidence actually is capable of demonstrating. Please distinguish fact from imagination

        3.)1 and 2 above are, in part, why you’re not taken seriously: you don’t understand that non-randomly selected samples aren’t to be expected to approximate a randomly distributed population; you conflate gossip and people’s imaginations with reality. Someone thought someone else might have been taking upskirt photos. Sorry, but someone’s inner thoughts don’t amount to evidence – remember that evidence bit? It’s only relevant to the atheism+ crowd when it’s convenient, as you’re here demonstrating.

        1. Besomyka

          1.) atheism isn’t a randomly selected group, and you shouldn’t therefore expect that its membership would approximate society’s distribution. It’s self selected, and women happen to be overwhelmingly more religious than men are. Someone should try to figure out why this is so.

          The surveys are curious. When you look at practical matters like going to church or bible study, it’s only around a 5% difference. Even going to general spirituality the difference is only 15%. In claiming ‘none’, it’s about 20% of men, and 13% of women. So I’d expect – just on the claimed belief – that participation should be about 60/40 male/female.

          You got any stats on registration? I can’t find any.

          I did fine this, though. The 2010 presenters at the global atheist convention, back before all this started. That convention also took place 2 years after the pew research that I linked.

          I count 28 presenters, of which 8 are female for Only ~28%. Still a sizable gap.

          2.) no one actually took an upskirt photo such as all available evidence actually is capable of demonstrating. Please distinguish fact from imagination

          I said

          And it’s not that those comments should be banned, but it’s things like that which create the plausible deniability for the real predators out there. The people taking up-skirt photos, or who don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

          I wasn’t referring to a specific person or event, but to the general class of predators that do exist out there that this sort of argument provides social shelter for. Are you denying that there’s an entire sub-culture fetish around up skirt photos?

          In the instance I think you’re referencing, I don’t know if photos were or were not taken, they certainly weren’t taken of the people that issued the complaint. However, carrying a camera on a pole inverted is a concern because of the wider social issues that I was trying to point out.

          3.)1 and 2 above are, in part, why you’re not taken seriously

          And it’s the denial that a problem exists like what you posted that I speak out. It’s confusing a specific instance, when a cultural problem. It’s confusing the natural apprehension of predatory behavior, with an actual instance of violence.

          That’s why the elevator thing is so iconic to both sides. While nothing violent happened, predatory behavior was mimicked – intentionally or not. Violence doesn’t have to occur to put people off. The guy doesn’t have to take a shot, all he has to do to make people in skirts worried is to hold the camera low.

      2. SecularJustice

        1. I did not tell you, elaborately, to be quiet. I told you to stop being irrational and insulting jerks. I said many people have been alienated by the approach of the movement, not the aims or motives. Explain how that is telling you to be quiet?

        2. Even if Jen’s experiences were 100% true and she did honestly feel “unsafe”, her experiences do not represent the norm based on evidence. Provide evidence. That is after all what we’re all about right? Robberies happen in all neighborhoods, but if you get robbed in one where there is no evidence of a severe crime problem, others not immediately signing on for a 400% increase in police spending are not “pro crime”.

        3. Do not tell me I am not helping. You do not know me. You do not know what I do in my day to day life for any of these causes. You know how many theists I have deprogrammed this year? Three. Personally. You know what my primary arguments were? That Christianity devalues womanhood, motherhood and femininity philosophically at its very foundation(a heavenly father who creates life with no mother? Adam’s sin being listening to his wife? etc) The homophobia of Christianity and how it has no rational basis since humans are simply born how they are born. I am also involved in helping battered women, and personally have brought them into contact with shelters and counseling, freeing one woman this year from an emotionally abusive relationship. For you to tell me I am not helping, since I haven’t seen enough evidence of the claims of Jen, and because I disagree with their spiteful approach is disingenuous at best.

        4. Sexism sucks. It hurts us all. Casual racism, littering, buying from companies that pollute suck too and hurt us all. All of that stuff should be eliminated. But casual sexism, bad jokes and things like that are not the worst issue right now facing this planet, or even the USA, thanks to theism. You know what sucks worse? Genocide and war. Right now 1/3rd AT LEAST of the population of America believes that our middle eastern foreign policy is the will of God and part of Biblical prophecy. Atheism should take a stand on that before it does anything else. Dismembered children, record rates of suicide in servicemen and destroyed economies, schools and entire communities result from our theistic supported and enabled foreign policy. A policy which causes reactionary religious extremism in Muslims(which leads to sexism and patriarchal abuses an order of magnitude worse than what western feminist bloggers face 99% of the time from atheist men) THIS is what atheists should be most focused on first. But if you disagree, you’re not a bad person or evil. Morally misguided, unwittingly ethnocentric and selfish maybe, for putting the feelings of white western atheist women above the lives and futures of Arab Muslim women and children. But I still don’t see any reason not to be your friend or engage in further polite discussion on issues important to us all.

        4. You ignored most of my post. I said your motives were good. I said the approach of the opening shots was terrible and did more harm than good. You failed to address that point, and responded to criticisms of others, and generalized me with a “people like you” comment. In fairness, you were not as hostile and jerkistic as the founders of this thing, and that is appreciated. Again, if atheism+ was about creating a serious dialogue, trying to convince people with REAL EVIDENCE of a major problem, and enacting change, it wouldn’t have been about saying “disagree and you’d deserve to burn in hell if it existed”

        1. Besomyka

          1. I did not tell you, elaborately, to be quiet. I told you to stop being irrational and insulting jerks.

          Not explicitly, no, you didn’t. You haven’t given any specifics about what you consider horrible, though, so I’m left applying your opinions to position I know that have been advocated, such as advocating for anti-harassment policies. That may be unfair of me, however, so I’d invite you to be more specific. Perhaps we ultimately agree.

          2. Even if Jen’s experiences were 100% true and she did honestly feel “unsafe”, her experiences do not represent the norm based on evidence.

          I’m not sure what you mean by the norm here. Plenty of women have spoken out stating that they didn’t feel like it was a place that they felt included. Plenty of women have talked about their hostile experiences. This wasn’t conjured out of thin air. This came because participates were discussing thier own bad experiences.

          This is what I mean by dismissing the problems. We seem to jump from not a big problem, to not dealing with the problems at all.

          if you get robbed in one where there is no evidence of a severe crime problem, others not immediately signing on for a 400% increase in police spending are not “pro crime”.

          It’s not one person, and I don’t know of anyone that has advocated for any response that is so out of scale with the problem. It’s been, guy’s don’t do that and hey, if you don’t already have an anti-harassment policy, it’d be a good step for everyone to get one in place. If anything, it’s been the response to those things that’s been out of scale.

          3. Do not tell me I am not helping. You do not know me. You do not know what I do in my day to day life for any of these causes. You know how many theists I have deprogrammed this year? Three.

          I was talking about bringing more diverse active participation up, not specific conversions. Specifically, about getting atheist women and minorities more involved, not theist women and minorities. The internal problems, not the external ones. Converting a few people here and there isn’t going to address the participation problem.

          4. Sexism sucks. It hurts us all. Casual racism, littering, buying from companies that pollute suck too and hurt us all. All of that stuff should be eliminated. But casual sexism, bad jokes and things like that are not the worst issue right now facing this planet

          This is a good example of the ‘elaborate be quiet’ that I tried to get at. You didn’t say the phrase, but you’re telling me not to be concerned about it, that I should stop focus on something more important. That’s the message I see behind all the other complaints. It’s received as asking us to stop talking about what we’re talking about. Asking us to rephrase isn’t how it comes across because it’s tied up with the marginalization of the ideas as well.

          Also, it’s not an exclusive set of priorities. Advocating for anti-harassment policies doesn’t mean I don’t donate and do what I can to help those other causes. Just like you’re converting the people around you – which doesn’t directly address all these other horrible problems either – doesn’t mean you don’t take other actions in these other arenas.

          I said the approach of the opening shots was terrible and did more harm than good.

          I didn’t address that because I didn’t know what you were talking about. The opening shots were advocating for respecting the wishes of others and being empathetic about other people (ie: please don’t ask out women after cornering them), and putting into place very common and widely accepted anti-harassment policies. If you’re not talking about that, then what are you referring to?

          The second shot was, as far as I am aware: all those people that replied with vulgarity and vitriol at those suggestions are acting irrational and are an example of why, even if it’s not widespread, the problems exist. We need to find a way to deal with them, because they create the perception of a hostile environment.

          1. SecularJustice

            Yep. You skirted the issue. No replies to the real issue that should be the focus of atheism. American/UK lead genocide and murder.

            Sexism against militant gender feminists in the atheist movement apparently is a problem, but not the biggest problem. Or a problem that requires this type of recourse and decisiveness. Unpaid parking tickets are a problem in inner cities, but so is urban decay, gang violence and drugs. Unless of course you are a feminist who cares more about the politeness of affluent atheist males when talking to affluent atheist females on the internet than our own religiously motivated actions as a nation which cause true sexism, true patriarchy, true violence and blood shed. Then fuck all that bullshit, lets worry about the feelings of gender feminists who half the time read like anti-male bigots anyway.

            Ivory tower first world problems. Star wars jokes which may or may not be casually sexist and internet trolls who are a minority and hidden in the shadows are bigger issues than the millions of Iraqi kids(literally) that have died due to war and economic sanctions in the last 20 years. Got it.

            Atheism+ is garbage. Someone call me when an atheist movement that cares about the atrocities and genocide start up and not some hurt feelings on blogs.

  28. 28
    bluharmony

    Great rational, reasonable post. I have added you to my growing list of FTB favorites.

  29. 29
    Durga

    The title of this blog post is a stupid question. How can “Atheism” take a stand on issues?

    The real question is, “Should atheists take stands on social issues?” or “Should atheist organizations take stands on social issues?” (Besides the purely atheist social issues, presumably, whatever those may be). The answer is simply that it is up to the individual person or organization. You are free to not associate with them.

    Personally I don’t want anything to do with an organization or individual who is too cowardly, apathetic, or immoral to stand up and say, “People don’t deserve to be treated like this.” This was a large factor in my becoming atheist. Now you’re going to tell me that atheists, atheist organizations, or “Atheism” should be just the same? Then why am I here?

    1. 29.1
      SecularJustice

      “People don’t deserve to be treated like this.”

      I agree.

      This is why atheism+ has been a resounding failure, because people don’t deserve treated like garbage for having a different opinion before a real dialogue or discussion has even been held. Before sufficient convincing evidence has been brought to the table.

      Cultural sensitivity goes both ways. It has to in an egalitarian society. It has to in order for people to communicate and share ideas. If some male bloggers who have never personally engaged or even observed sexism in atheist circles hear that unless you stand up against the epidemic of sexism and abuse that is destroying atheism and take up the new mantle, you are a terrible sub-human scum, it is not rational to believe they would immediately submit to the new paradigm. These are people who believe things based solely on evidence.

      The same is immediately true of female bloggers as well. I have no statistics, but it seems for every female who supports atheism+ there are two who do not, and report that their experience in atheism has not made them feel unsafe. This does not mean sexism doesn’t exist, or that those who claim they’ve been treated unfairly have not, but it is evidence against the argument the idea it is so rampant it destroys atheism. Sexism isn’t right, and should be combated obviously, but not everyone will agree it should be the primary focus of atheist activities.

      Atheism+ would be fine, even awesome if it was about all the same things except it did not dehumanize immediately anyone who did not join the cause after two blog posts.

      (disclaimer – I do not support sexism or defend sexists with this post. If two people disagree on the method of construction while building a tree-house, neither of them have the right to say the other is anti-tree house, both on moral and logical grounds)

  30. 30
    Adriana

    I really cannot understand the “single issue” argument. If I’m an atheist, does it mean I have to ONLY be interested in the separation between church and state and that the rights of atheists are not trampled? Does every organization need to be single issue to be effective? I don’t think so. What’s wrong with a bunch of atheists interested in social justice getting together to advance social justice from an atheistic perspective? What is wrong with a bunch of vegetarian atheists getting together and forming a group promoting vegetarianism, or animal rights, for example? What is wrong with a bunch of atheists getting together to promote environmentalism? Or combat racism? Or whatever other social or health or political causes they would like to promote?
    Also, in the case of opposing W’s re-election, AA had a point: if one wants to guarantee the separation between church and state, and the rights of non-believers, it makes sense to fight against the election of Republicans to office, because at this point in history, the threats to the separation between church and state are coming almost exclusively from that party.

    1. 30.1
      kbonn

      No, it doesn’t mean any of that.

      You, as an individual can fight for whatever causes you want to. It is when you attach names to your fight, or fight for a cause that is not atheism in the name of atheism that upsets many people. The issue I see over at the atheism plus forums is that there is almost no discussion about atheism at all, and it is pretty clear that social justice and feminism are bigger priorities right now(which is totally fine) so why label it an “atheist movement” in the first place? This also results in, (since the group has Atheism in its name), these actions being seen as representing atheism. Some people aren’t cool with that, and they have every right not to be, and that doesn’t make them a bigot. Sometimes just call something what it is. A+ was just a name that kind of popped into someone’s head, is it the best name for the movement? I don’t know, but it is certainly possible that it is not the most accurate.

      1. Dairy

        What? You mean people are going to object to my new (non-divisive) movement Atheism 2.0 : Republicatheism?

        I’m not splitting, and I am certainly not suggesting that Atheism 2.0 is any better than Atheism 1.0 (or Atheism 1-less as I call it *chortle*) it’s just Atheism 1.0 + 1.0 of Republicanism

        Atheism 1.0 + 0.5 Republican Social Policies
        Atheism 1.0 + 0.5 Republican Fiscal Policies

        = Atheism 2.0

        I can’t for the life of me imagine why people think that Atheism+ and Atheism 2.0 in any way imply that Atheism is lesser or worse.

        And I think that people who call us divisive just love their privilege/democratic delusions. If you weren’t so privileged/socialist then you would support our minority-protecting/America-defending beliefs. We can’t judge you on your thoughts, but only on your actions, and when you attack those who are committed to reducing the impact of hatred on minorities/America then you declare that you support for those who attack us and divide *yourself* away from *us*. It’s immoral/unAmerican.

        You are not entitled to our support, nor our time, just because we share a lack of belief in God. There are things more important than the impact of religion on society, and those things are issues of Social Justice/Border Security.

  31. 31
    see_the_galaxy

    @secularjustice. “vitriolic extremism that accompanied its launch”. There was no vitriolic extremism,
    just disagreement with certain conservative positions. A lot of us just don’t
    like conservative ideas. There’s nothing wrong with conservative atheists having
    conservative atheist organizations, and liberal atheists having liberal atheist
    organizations, and the groups working together when we have to. As far as I can tell,
    these accusations of radical feminism, or vitriol, or divisiveness are lying
    distortions, and I’m not impressed in the least by it.

    1. 31.1
      proudmra

      Are you you familiar with biologist PZ Myers’ blog here, called Pharyngula? Browse around it and you’ll see all the vitriol, radical feminism, and irrational attacks you could ask for against anyone who dares stray beyond the approve FTB-feminist dogma, or even question it.

      1. Verity Manumit

        Well, I’ve seen men do that very same thing on other sites. They make irrational statements about how they are the perpetual victims of women and a culture that is attempting to emasculate boys and men…blah, blah, blah. Just saying. There are nuts in every camp, and overreacting seems to be de rigueur these days.

  32. 32
    WithinThisMind

    This is why atheism+ has been a resounding failure, because people don’t deserve treated like garbage for having a different opinion

    If their ‘different opinion’ is that it’s okay to sexually assault women (or ‘less masculine’ men), verbally abuse homosexuals, discriminate against different ethnic groups, and shit on people of different social classes, then yea, it’s perfectly okay to treat them like garbage.

    And if you don’t hold any of the above opinions, then frankly, there is no reason for you to have an issue with Atheism+.

    1. 32.1
      SecularJustice

      0 critics of this nonsense have defended those things. Almost any atheist blogger who bashes this would on any other day likely to attack those issues from religion.

      You’re wantonly intellectually dishonest, or you’ve entered the debate five seconds before you posted this if you think that is the criticism of atheism+.

      It is the assholistic tone and insulting and childish blogs of PZ Myers and others and the fact gender feminism is being disguised as “not being ok with misogyny.”

      Pretty much every atheist chick I know personally hates atheism plus, and pretty much all of them hate sexism too.

      1. Besomyka

        “Atheist chick”, huh? How do those women react to you calling them ‘chicks’? Where are we, Hooters? Have some respect.

        1. Dairy

          Yeah! They’re Atheists. Not Atheist Chicks. Not Woman Atheists. Just An Atheist.

          You’re popping over to Skepchick to post the same thing urgently, right?

          1. Besomyka

            Why would I do that? What sort of conspiracy is in your head in which that comment makes any sort of sense?

        2. SecularJustice

          I confess, I baited you with that to see if you’d duck the real point again and focus on that. You did. Naw, they don’t react weirdly to that. They’re normal, and come from the normal universe where chick and dude are not offensive.

          You’re an ethnocentric islamophobe who doesn’t care what our country does to the middle east.

          1. Besomyka

            Ducking? What you’re talking about is the side issue, I’m trying to stay on topic. The point you’ve avoided is that I can act locally to better my local community while at the same time doing what I can on other issues – including your pet issue of US/UK war and violence overseas. They are not exclusive actions.

            Why are you so fixated on your pet issue to the point that you feel the need to derail other topics and shit on everyone else’s concerns? If you’re really of the opinion that talking on this form about other issues is somehow detracting from your pet issue, then why the hell are you participating here?

            Or is troll trollin’?

        3. SecularJustice

          “Why are you so fixated on your pet issue to the point that you feel the need to derail other topics and shit on everyone else’s concerns? If you’re really of the opinion that talking on this form about other issues is somehow detracting from your pet issue, then why the hell are you participating here?”

          You’re serious?

          When one calls the concerns of militant gender feminism a pet issue derailing mainstream a bad thing, you say they’re a sexist or woman hater or whatever…

          If I even called the concerns of atheism+ pet issues you’d say I was a horrible person. If not you, PZ Myers or Blag Hag or the other militant leaders of this thing. Or any of the people who I have personally talked to involved in this on social networks.

          How can a moral, rational person who is an atheist say ending the G.E.N.O.C.I.D.E of innocents and illegal imperialistic wars that are only tolerated due to the religion of this country is a “pet issue”?

          Your moral compass is broken. The moral compasses of those who share your world views are broken. It is a good thing you have self selected yourselves out of mainstream atheism.

          1. Besomyka

            The point you’ve avoided is that I can act locally to better my local community while at the same time doing what I can on other issues – including your pet issue of US/UK war and violence overseas. They are not exclusive actions.

      2. WithinThisMind

        Pretty much every atheist chick I know personally hates atheism plus, and pretty much all of them hate sexism too.

        And here I thought it took religion to reach that level of dishonesty and cognitive dissonance.

  33. 33
    rapiddominance

    Some worry that the arguments being advanced for both sides of the issue will create a schism in atheism.

    Notice that the blogger isn’t unilaterally assigning blame to one side.

    Afterwards, he goes on to say this:

    Will it? Of course it will. That is why it is a bad idea.

    There is no contradiction.

    The schisms are on their way, regardless. What is worth noting, as you read this and other related articles by various bloggers, is that many of the authors on both sides of the issue are working diligently to make positive collaboration possible in the future.

    There’s a silver lining to this: like minded people, with their various motivations, are going to be filtered together for possibly far more efficient activism that will likely benefit everyone. The key, however, is to not waste your resources fighting eachother.

    Go where you’re going to go, go there quickly, and begin work.

  34. 34
    JanaTheVeganPiranha

    Misogyny is simply NOT going to be tolerated by women any longer, I am not interested in coddling men through this- not here, or anywhere else. I’ve spent enough time arguing this point everywhere I can, and gotten insulted, rape threats, threats of having my ass kicked in real life, and more rape threats.

    Great way to show you’re NOT violent, insane, selfish assholes! I don’t give a fuck how ANYONE feels, your goddamn feelings aren’t as important as my safety in society. Period.

    Atheism can’t survive this???? Are you fucking me in the armpit???

    Grow up men, learn some self-control. Take RESPONSIBILITY for your own sex drive, and how you manage it.

    Conventions are NOT opportunities for you to FUCK STRANGERS AWAY FROM HOME. And THIS and ONLY this is the reason the topic exploded to begin with. MEN pop a boner as soon as a convention is announced, and by the time they get there, the atmosphere is rampantly sexual, with US- the few women atheists, as the main course.

    No.

    Buy a hooker, or a blow up doll- I WILL NOT be creeped out any further by UNWANTED sexual advances. Stop EXPECTING sex everywhere you walk- it is NOT your “right”.

    All of society is dealing with this issue right now, atheists are- to our great credit- leading the march. Jump on or jump off- women are NOT your playthings anymore.

    1. 34.1
      Illyana Volkov

      Who are you to say what people can and cannot do voluntarily at conventions? How dare you try to preside over what I do with my own body, and claim to speak for me? Most women like sex too, you know.

      It seems as though you cannot differentiate between normal sexual advances and sexual harassment, which is a pity. It makes it look as though you deliberately equivocate them to advance a sex-negative agenda. Unwanted sexual attention is not misogyny, unless it’s unrelenting or the person curses you out or threatens you when you’re not interested.

      I’m sorry you have such poor luck at conventions and are stricken by such paranoia. I rarely feel unsafe in society. When I do, it’s not because someone at a convention expressed a sexual interest in me. It’s because someone is presenting me with a real threat of bodily harm.

      I’ve followed this entire “controversy” since “Elevatorgate” and I have to say, if I ever called myself a feminist, Skepchick and the FTB have convinced me to stop doing so. I am all for social justice and equality in society, but I’m not for the insane radical feminism these groups and their hangers on like you, Jana, espouse.

      1. JanaTheVeganPiranha

        We apparently have different perceptions of what an unwanted sexual advance IS, and what it is I’m against. To start off- I’m not against hooking up, and have done so myself whenever I feel like it.

        What I detest is the assumption that the few women who come to THESE conventions are “for sex”. If that’s not a problem for you, Illyana, that’s okay- but if I don’t feel like being meat, then I just don’t. Don’t I have that right? No, I don’t- and if I ask the people running the show to step in on my behalf, shouldn’t I have a reasonable expectation of having that request met with some level of seriousness?

        If that’s not the case, then women won’t come at all. While we’ve been trying to get more women in so it won’t be such a sausage fest, THIS is what they see and hear about- the circling vultures who shriek like hyenas that their right to impose is being restricted.

        Go ahead and take the side of the bully. NO ONE complained about WANTED flirting- we’re just saying take 30 seconds to determine IF there’s any interest, before the leer, the grab, the assumption. You know well enough if someone is into you, and if you don’t, then you’re probably the problem.

        1. Illyana Volkov

          “but if I don’t feel like being meat, then I just don’t. Don’t I have that right?”

          Sure. Whatever happened to saying “No.” Why make the federal case of it?

          “What I detest is the assumption that the few women who come to THESE conventions are “for sex”.”

          Who makes those assumptions? How do you know that they do? Do you read minds? Have men or women at atheist conventions told you that you are for sex? It sounds like maybe you are making some assumptions of your own.

          “Go ahead and take the side of the bully. NO ONE complained about WANTED flirting- we’re just saying take 30 seconds to determine IF there’s any interest,”

          How should they do that, without talking or using body language, which you seem to be against? There is nothing wrong with asking. There is something wrong with not taking “no” for an answer. I do not understand the radical feminist stance against men showing interest in women.

          I have read the rest of your replies here, and it really seems like you do not like men at all Jana. I do not know if that is your intention to project that vibe, but you do exactly that.

          And the common refrain against old white men is sexist, racist and ageist, so I’m not sure where the people using it get off, really.

        2. Illyana Volkov

          “but if I don’t feel like being meat, then I just don’t. Don’t I have that right?”

          Sure, if you don’t feel like being meat you don’t have to feel like meat. Whatever happened to saying “No.” Why make the federal case of it?

          Who makes these assumptions you allege that women are for sex at conventions? How do you know that they do? Do you read minds? Have men or women at atheist conventions told you that you are for sex? It sounds like maybe you are making some assumptions of your own.

          You say no one complained about wanted advances, then say that they should not communicate their feelings unless they know their feelings are returned. How should they do that, without talking or using body language, which you seem to be against? The way normal people find out about mutual attraction is through speech and body language. There is nothing wrong with asking. There is something wrong with not taking “no” for an answer. There is something wrong with demonizing people who politely (or cluelessly) ask. I do not understand the radical feminist stance against men showing interest in women. Asking does not equal demanding or bullying. That’s just ridiculous.

          I have read the rest of your replies here, and it really seems like you do not like men at all Jana. I do not know if that is your intention to project that vibe, but you do exactly that.

          And the common refrain against old white men is sexist, racist and ageist, so I’m not sure where the people using it get off, really.

    2. 34.2
      whatever

      Are you going to say the same thing to women who want a “hook-up” and make “unwanted sexual advances”?

      If you deny this happens, you’re simply delusional.

      It’s your misogyny coming through that says women are not sexual creatures. That they are pure virginal beings that need to put on a pedestal and protected from those evil “boner popping” men. That they never want to have casual sex.

      Sorry you can’t have it both ways. Equality means equality.

      1. JanaTheVeganPiranha

        Wow, that is really a pathetic piece of argument, there whatever. I didn’t bring up misandry because American Atheists has not been plagued thus far with that issue. I also did not bring up all the other issues with which we have not been met. Wow again.

  35. 35
    James

    I keep coming back to that example of Atheists who liked G.W. Bush and … I think them leaving was a step forward. If the goals of American Atheists are to separate church and state, GW was a HUGE bridge between those forces and he only seemed to retain the “Atheists aren’t true Americans” viewpoint of his father. I could understand if American Atheists was just supposed to be a gathering for Atheists to.. I dunno.. talk about their Atheism, but if the organization was meant to combat breaches in the 1st amendment then why the hell wouldn’t you want people to leave if they supported a man directly opposed to that goal?

    But none of this even matters with Atheism+ which is a sub-set of the initial Atheist movement(s). Furthermore, the people who are upset with Atheism+ and feel like they’re being excluded seem to be angry only because members of the new group feel that… well… those who aren’t supportive of its primary goals (whether they actually join the movement or not) are assholes. This carries with it some unfortunate implications and it is an act which attempts to make their character sacred and impervious to attack while shutting up those who, yes, feel the offenders are massive jackasses. That isn’t tyranny. That isn’t even harassment. That’s holding a negative opinion of somebody and holding them accountable for what they say. This is not a horrible crime, even if you are the one whom is regarded poorly. It just isn’t.

    1. 35.1
      Verity Manumit

      Very good point in your first paragraph, James. In the second, I’d suggest that a lot of that effort to “shut people up” is nothing more than attempts to silence unfavorable opinions. People often use all kinds of excuses–from the person being rude or being biased–to just ignore what the other person says simply because it is contrary to their own views.

  36. 36
    Verity Manumit

    First time reader here. Nice post Edwin. Succinct and to the point. From what little I’ve already seen of A+, it seems dogmatic and fanatical. Not seen reason, therefore, to explore their ideas any further.

  37. 37
    NateHevens, resident SOOPER-GENIUS... apparently...

    I need to say this, because this has been bothering me quite a bit.

    I honestly, truly, and completely do NOT understand the opposition to A+. You’re treating it as an “opt-out” group, and it simply isn’t.

    I’m A+ because I want to be A+. If you don’t want to be A+, then… don’t be A+. It really is as simple as that.

    We’ve been hashing this out on the forums for a while now, partly with me as the catalyst, because I do not like “with us or against us” narratives… at all.

    The only person in A+ who advanced that narrative was Richard Carrier. He later apologized for it and walked it back.

    You can only be against A+ if you publicly declare that you are against A+. If you don’t, then you’re not.

    Period.

    A+ is an opt-in thing. Not an opt-out thing. It is a group for like-minded atheists to get together and discuss shit in a safe place, and that really is all it is.

    I really don’t understand what the problem with this is.

Leave a Reply