I did say I would write more on Atheism Plus and feel I should given the various comments I have received. This will be my last post on this for now.
I registered my support for Atheism Plus after reading the FAQs on its official website. I won’t be calling myself an Atheist Plus but I thought it important to support an initiative that is recognising the links between atheism and social justice.
As I said before, I don’t see the creation of Atheism Plus as necessarily divisive.
For example, the establishment of “Muslims for Secular Democracy” doesn’t divide all Muslims. Muslims – like atheists – are not a homogeneous group or community. Moreover, those who don’t join or support “Muslims for Secular Democracy” and even those who may oppose its establishment for various reasons aren’t necessarily anti-secular or anti-democracy. Nonetheless “Muslims for Secular Democracy” is making an important point and contribution. From my perspective, Atheism Plus is similar. It’s a group of atheists who want to assert the importance of social justice. This in and of itself isn’t divisive and isn’t a condemnation of anyone and everyone who isn’t on board.
Having read beyond the FAQs, though, I must now in all honesty add that whilst I still fully support the aims of Atheism Plus, good aims and intentions are not always enough. How the aims are promulgated and carried out matter too.
In the debate that has ensued, the thing that most comes to mind is the bigoted notion that all “old, white men” are privileged and not concerned with social justice. [The opposing notion that all “white women” are “whiners” is similar.] Particularly those concerned with social justice should know that this is not necessarily the case for a number of reasons, especially class. Even so, I would consider as an ally many “privileged old, white, men” who defend secularism and equality and not as an ally many “minority women” who defend sharia.
Building social movements that can improve our lot is not as much about identity, colour, gender, sexuality, and even privilege as it is about politics and choice.
Having said that, I still believe that Atheism Plus is a positive development that will impact well on both atheism and social justice when the dust settles.
Clearly, anything new of this sort will naturally unsettle many, including those whose real interests lie with it.