What’s in a name? Quite a lot, actually.

Every time someone writes something relatively controversial, what interests me the most is the pushback. The Atheism+ name, attached to our current third wave of movement atheism as defined by Jen McCreight and her commenters who crowdsourced the name, has invited certain specific lines of pushback that are every bit as interesting as the third-wave idea itself. Since my usual modus is to find and examine the side-concerns that otherwise are being raised but never adequately dissected and deconstructed, this post.

This new Atheism Plus (A+, Atheism+) movement is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. We’ve all actually been thinking and writing about this for a while around these parts, without ever having given it a name. We’ve long known that the greater atheist and skeptic communities have been fighting amongst themselves and have been developing Deep Rifts over whether or not there’s any room to deal with topics other than challenging creationists and theists, and we’ve all fought against the idea that there’s simply no reason to bring social justice causes into the mix when we’re already having trouble combining skepticism and atheism in a meaningful way. And the conclusion I keep coming to, since at least my essay called Mission Creep, is that we need to deepen the rifts between those of us who care about social justice and those of us who think feminism, anti-racism, anti-homophobia and other social justice causes have no place in the atheist movement — oftentimes because these people have a vested interest in those other sentiments and think they’re fouling up our common ground.

A number of others have already tackled whether atheism+ is just humanism, and I think the case has been made adequately that the factions are allied and overlapping but not identical. What I’d like to tackle specifically is the charge that this is merely a rebranding effort, and thus doomed to fail.
[Read more…]