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I had a vision last night. A vision of a world without gods.

I went on a twitter rampage last night. It was just too much: a day of incessant bland dumb Mormon bleating at me, then the skeptics once again expressed their contempt for atheism (more about that later), followed by a parade of stereotypes about us awful atheists, who are unlike our skeptical brethren in hating our religious family members and coming to our conclusions by irrational means and being just generally dumb and average, they say. It was exceptionally irritating to once again see people who should be allies sweeping atheist concerns aside with an air of smug superiority.

Oh, gosh, so that’s what it feels like for women and minorities…

Anyway, the final straw was DJ Grothe, who, in replying to someone who said they wanted him to pay as much attention to atheist issues as he does gay issues (a point I definitely strongly disagree with: no one gets to dictate what matters to someone else), made the statement that gay concerns are very, very different than atheist concerns, and we shouldn’t conflate the two. Again, a point I agree with 100%.

But then he had to take a step too far and suggest that atheists don’t even have clearly definable goals. He asked, “What would winning look like?”, as if we lacked any kind of vision at all.

You know, all I have to do is look at all the aggravations, great and small, petty and significant, that are caused by the overwhelming privileges given to the religious in this country, and I can see clearly a lot of things that would improve if faith were kicked off its undeserved pedestal.

So I buried poor DJ for about an hour, just riffing on how life would be different if religion weren’t so oppressively dominant. I probably drove off a few twitter followers, but hey, it was so easy…and I could have kept going for a few more hours. You should feel free to add your own to this list.

  • You want a list?

  • Atheists could get elected to high office.

  • Piety wouldn’t be a qualification for high office.

  • Our kids wouldn’t be bullied because they don’t attend church.

  • Idiots wouldn’t be defining public policy by its conformity to the Bible.

  • Our schools wouldn’t be silent on “controversial” topics like evolution.

  • America wouldn’t be launching crusades against the foreign heathen.

  • Women could get abortions when they needed them.

  • There would be rational, evidence-based sex education in the schools, rather than religiously dictated abstinence only.

  • Nor did I say they would be. RT @DJGrothe: Wouldn’t be similar. Atheists not in a struggle for liberation equal to oppressed minorities

  • Huge chunks of every community’s tax base wouldn’t be stolen to support lies.

  • .@DJGrothe You asked what winning would look like for atheists. I’m telling you. I’m not saying it would be the same as gay rights.

  • My car wouldn’t be keyed if I had a darwin fish on the bumper.

  • Environmental policy wouldn’t be shaped by people who believe the world is going to end in their lifetimes.

  • Neither would foreign affairs or military policy.

  • Maybe the arts would be as well funded as religion.

  • I wouldn’t have public chimes installed down the street that blare hymns at me every 15 minutes.

  • And a city council that considers enforcing a noise ordinance sacrilegious.

  • The local high school would stop bringing in anti-gay, anti-drug, up-with-god groups for assemblies.

  • I agree it was false. You’ve said we can have different goals. I’m explaining them. RT @DJGrothe: I just pointed out the false equivalence

  • Women wouldn’t be forced to wear the burqa.

  • Women wouldn’t be executed for “immodesty”. Honor killings would end.

  • Condoms would be distributed in Africa. Everywhere, for that matter.

  • Victims of disease & accident would be seen as victims of chance, not stigmatized as sinners.

  • Churches would close. Not all of them, but enough to be replaced with *real* community services.

  • 46% of the American population wouldn’t believe the earth is less than 6000 years old.

  • No more war on Christmas! Secular holidays that prioritize families and people, not sterile rituals and dogma.

  • Institutions that shelter child rapists would be dismantled.

  • We could have death with dignity.

  • Puritans wouldn’t be dictating our sexual relationships.

  • A Baptist could marry a Lutheran or a Jew a Catholic, and their families wouldn’t freak out.

  • Children wouldn’t be labeled by their parent’s irrational beliefs. They wouldn’t be pigeonholed at birth.

  • The science section in your local bookstore might be as big as the faith and religion section.

  • I would stop getting email that contains litanies of my post-mortem torture.

  • Children wouldn’t die in agony because their parents believe in faith healing.

  • Scoundrels and charlatans would have a harder time fleecing their flocks without god’s imprimatur.

  • We’ll recognize that our fate is in our hands, not some invisible benign being’s.

  • We wouldn’t have to put up with football players claiming the Almighty Lord of the Universe helped them get that goal.

  • The Gideons would be handing out real literature rather than the same dumb book over and over. They’d promote literacy, not faith.

  • No more bible colleges. Liberty University would close. Young people would have to get real educations.

  • We’d see ourselves as one tiny fragile speck in a vast universe, rather than the privileged focus of all creation.

  • Humans would no longer see themselves as the only important organisms on the planet. We’d have to recognize our place in an ecosystem.

  • An end to god-soaked talk radio!

  • Imagine Republicans no longer able to swaddle themselves in God and Country…just Country.

  • We’d expand stem cell research — no more pretense that a blastocyst was a full human being…or had the same rights as a woman bearing it.

  • The God Particle would just be called the Higgs Boson.

  • Priests & other believers wouldn’t be haunting the sick & dying in our hospitals any more.

  • Theology would be as dead as alchemy. It would be replaced with history, anthropology, psychology, sociology…real disciplines.

  • We’d no longer pretend that memorizing the Bible was a fit qualification for counseling unhappy people.

  • Priests would finally be free of the need for pretense. They could be people again, and serve in secular ways.

  • Marriage wouldn’t be a prison, but a partnership that could be dissolved without guilt, or maintained by mutual respect and love.

  • We could question EVERYTHING. End religious shibboleths.

  • Religiosity would no longer be a shortcut to morality. People would actually have to BE good, to be regarded as good.

  • No more consoling the grieving by telling them lies. No more fear-mongering with stories of hell.

  • Donating money to a church would no longer be considered charity. How about donating to a real charity instead?

  • Mormons would have to wake up to the fact that their history is bullshit.

  • Goodbye, missionaries. Hello, secular aid.

  • Televangelists would be scorned as scoundrels.

  • All those poor sad priests would have their vows of celibacy lifted. And there will be rejoicing. By the priests, at least.

  • Pope: fired. Vatican: turned into a really great museum.

  • Islamists would stop killing apostates. Authors and comic artists could live free again.

  • Ultra-orthodox Jews would stop spitting on little girls. Liberal Jews would stop mutilating little boys’ penises (so would everyone else).

  • Religious butchers could stop torturing animals in the name of halal and kosher foods.

  • The ordination of women priests would become a moot point.

  • The ordination of gay priests would become a moot point.

  • The shortage of Catholic priests would no longer be of any concern.

  • We would at last recognize that Timothy Dolan has absolutely no qualifications to be consulted on matters of public policy.

  • Ditto, Rick Warren.

  • We could admire churches for their architecture, rather than deplore them as centers of oppression.

  • No more madrassas. No more replacing knowledge & understanding with rote memorization of dogma.

  • “Tradition” is no longer sufficient reason to keep doing stupid things.

  • No one sensible will try to claim the Ten Commandments are a fit foundation for jurisprudence.

  • Atheist organizations will shut down, their job done.

  • Writing lists of how good life would be without God will be as silly as writing lists of how good life would be without ghosts.

Small things, big things. It’s only when you stop for a moment to think about it that you realize how much faith-based noise we’re drowning in here in the US. I don’t have a god-shaped hole in my heart as much as I do a huge amount of Jesus-shaped deadweight piled on my shoulders.

Comments

  1. azportsider says

    “All those poor sad priests would have their vows of celibacy lifted. And there will be rejoicing. By the priests, at least.”

    Not to mention the altar boys…

  2. says

    A HUGE percentage of valuable property wouldn’t be sequestered from property taxes. More money for education and public services.

  3. says

    No one would be getting a break on their personal income tax (ie, the parsonage allowance) by virtue of being a dealer in mythology.

  4. dianne says

    You have a world without gods. What you want-and don’t have-is a world without irrational belief in gods.

    I know this sounds like a fussy correction, but I suspect that some religious people think that atheists want to/can actually destroy real, existing gods. Um…no. We can only try to help people understand what the true situation is.

  5. says

    Insipid books by liars whose children tell stories about meeting a 9-foot-tall Jesus while under anesthesia would not be on the best seller list.

    Gee. This is fun. Maybe I need to start Twittering.

  6. Wade Copic says

    This is amazing stuff.

    It would be great to see what people say about a blog like this if humanity manages to unburden itself.

  7. raven says

    Hitchens: Religion poisons everything.

    With more atheists, everything would then be better. This is simple logic.

    Noticeable, but not a lot. As we’ve found out, atheism is no panacea. But you do what you can.

    As the percentage of atheists approach the size of the general population, inevitably the number of jerks and loons will approach the percentage of the general population. Simple math. Right now, we are just attracting mostly the best and brightest.

    There is FWIW, data on this point, natural experiments. As Zuckenberg and others have shown, religious societies tend to be poor and dysfunctional, atheistic societies richer and happier.

  8. says

    I make no claim of utopia. Moving religion back into the shadows would just remove ONE cause for human misery, but we’d still have war & racism & sexism & crime. Just, maybe, a tiny bit less, and a lot less stupidity.

  9. optimalcynic says

    raven: Yes, but the atheist jerks and loons can’t tap into thousands of years of prescientific conditioning to get followers.

  10. rrede says

    *standing ovation* I love the list.

    Cannot think of anything to add here, just now, but I look forward to seeing what others do.

    I just have to note (again) my frustration with the lack of awareness of interactionality DJG is showing: when he says, Atheists not in a struggle for liberation equal to oppressed minorities, my immediate response is holyfuckshit!

    As if all ATHEISTS are straight white cis middle-class first world men. As if there is some global category for “atheist” that never includes them being in minority (numerically or socially) and oppressive circumstances (like, outside the major industrialized nations).

    And people who are facing systemic oppression along the axes of race, class, gender orientation, sexuality, etc. who might also be atheists are not all that impressed with the number of fairly privileged people who keep pretending that they’re the only ones who count. (The involvement of this blog, and others, in the atheism plus social justice movement, and the postings I’ve been reading the past year or two, are what finally made me realize/verbalize to myself that I am an atheist, but only an atheist who is not expected to separate social justice issues from atheism).

    And as a white cis gay man (which I assume, may be my error) that DJ is, he’s also PRIVILEGED in a number of social categories (as am I, a white cis queer woman).

    However, as someone living in rural east Texas, with all the work I’m doing on my campus regarding safe spaces and GLBT issues and against sexism and homophobia and some support for anti-racist efforts as an ally, I’m not at all tempted to try to come out as an atheist and add that to the list of reasons for the alums and students to send me nasty emails. So yeah, it may not be oppression on that area, but my life would be substantially better if the goals listed above were met.

  11. raven says

    On a personal basis, more atheists would mean:

    1. Xian terrorists would stop threatening to kill me and people like me.

    2. Xian morons would stop trying to brainwash our kids in schools with creationism and made up history from David Barton.

    3. The wars against women, gays, scientists, science, college students, nonwhites, and nonxians would still exist. Rather than having a significant impact, they would just be lunatic fringers.

    4. Speaking of lunatic fringers, they would still exist. They wouldn’t be so large, almost half the population.

    5. Romney and the rest of the reptilian-human hybrids would just count their millions of dollars and stop trying to run and ruin our society.

    6. My friends would stop dying in pointless foreign wars.

  12. raven says

    I know this sounds like a fussy correction, but I suspect that some religious people think that atheists want to/can actually destroy real, existing gods.

    LOL.

    Gods are easy to destroy. When humans stop believing in them, then they die.

    Seen Marduk, Zeus, Ahura Mazda, or Osiris around lately?

    There are thousands of gods. Almost all of them are sleeping in the graveyard of the gods these days.

  13. dianne says

    Michelle Bachmann would be a housewife. Sarah Palin, too.

    Or maybe, without religion warping them, they’d be reasonable legislators, if still not necessarily the absolute best and brightest. (/overoptimism).

  14. dianne says

    Seen Marduk, Zeus, Ahura Mazda, or Osiris around lately?

    No more than I’ve seen Yaweh, Allah, or Vishna. Nonexistent is nonexistent.

  15. UnknownEric is GrumpyCat in human form says

    Seen Ahura Mazda around lately?

    Yeah, someone was driving a purple late-90s model around the other day.

    /ba-dum-tsss

  16. dianne says

    Victims of disease & accident would be seen as victims of chance, not stigmatized as sinners.

    And maybe we’d get serious about helping them.

  17. erichoug says

    I think it would be an excellent start but one thing I have learned in the last few years is that people absolutely love to be lied to.

    Look at the anti-vax movement which is often populated by progressive non-religious people.

    We should say that the the end of religion is just one step towards the ultimate goal: the end of ignorance and human stupidity. Though religion is a tall enough step on this ladder.

  18. says

    Our kids wouldn’t be bullied because they don’t attend church.

    Having experienced this, that would be great.

    Churches would close. Not all of them, but enough to be replaced with *real* community services.

    Can we at least close the ugly ones? Close the eyesores that are placed 10 feet from the road where you see more roof than building, and arranged so they can herd as many people in to listen to shitty rock bands on a shitty sound system.

    No more war on Christmas! Secular holidays that prioritize families and people, not sterile rituals and dogma.

    I love Christmas. Would be great if totally co-opted into a secular holiday.

    Scoundrels and charlatans would have a harder time fleecing their flocks without god’s imprimatur.

    The Peter Popovs of the world will still be out there.

    We wouldn’t have to put up with football players claiming the Almighty Lord of the Universe helped them get that goal.

    I could get updates on RGIII’s rehab progress from his facebook page without all the religion thown in.
    Pope: fired. Vatican: turned into a really great museum.

    The Vatican is a really great museum. The inside of Saint Peter’s is amazing. So many great works of art. I would recommend anyone, Catholic or not to go see it.

    We could admire churches for their architecture, rather than deplore them as centers of oppression.

    Why is that Europe has so many beautiful churches, almost to the point that most people are bored with all the beauty? We in the US have to deal poorly designed McMansion Churches and Churches in old Wal-Marts. If you have to hang letters on the front of your church, telling everyone that it is a church, your architect has failed. I’m a big fan of Architecture, and the sheer numbers of horribly designed buildings in this country, including churches, drives me crazy.

  19. David Marjanović says

    Hm. Some of the items in your list only presume that there’ll be enough atheists that religion won’t matter in public life anymore, others presume all religions (or at least the mentioned ones) will have died out. I still like all of them, but… :-)

    I dream of a world where “atheist” is a synonym for “sane”.

    Oh no. Even today there are lots of insane atheists.

  20. Anthony K says

    I know this sounds like a fussy correction, but I suspect that some religious people think that atheists want to/can actually destroy real, existing gods. Um…no.

    Speak for yourself.

    Is anybody else seeing some kind of Ghostbusters/Flatliners mashup?

    INT. COSY SUBURBAN HOME. A middle-aged couple is standing outside

    Man: “Ever since my mother returned from the hospital after her stroke, she’s been talking about a white light at the end of a tunnel and a warm feeling of all-encompassing love.”
    Godbuster 1: “Don’t worry, sir. We see this quite often. What your mother is dealing with is a Class 4 Deva. We’ll take care of it.”
    Woman: “Is it dangerous?”
    Godbuster 2: “Uh, gee, I dunno: is the idea of spending eternity in a state of indolent bliss intoxicatingly dangerous?”
    Woman: “Um, what?”
    Godbuster 3 (holding up a Twinkie): “Imagine the multiverse as this Twinkie—”
    Godbuster 1: “Hold up. I told you: Apollo Global Management LLC, Metropoulos & Co., and Columbia Pictures Corporation won’t let us use that analogy anymore. Ma’am, it’s complicated. You can rest assured your mother-in-law won’t suffer any adverse effects.”
    Godbuster 4: “—other than returning to the formless void of nothingness from whence she came when she finally does kick off.
    Man: “Wait, wha?”
    Godbuster 1 (To other members of the GODBUSTER TEAM): “POWER UP YOUR—what are these, Proton accelerator packs?”
    Godbuster 2: “I picked ‘em up at a garage sale. Ghosts, gods…what’s the difference?”
    Godbuster 1: “Just…fine. POWER UP YOUR PACKS, WE’RE GOIN’ IN—”
    Godbuster 4: “Wait, we have to do the heart-stopping thing first.”
    Godbuster 1: “Right. Induce coma, THEN power up the packs, THEN WE’RE GOIN’ IN!”
    Woman: “I thought you were supposed to be professionals.”
    Godbuster 3: “No ma’am. We’re atheists.”

  21. erichoug says

    @ Marshall Sutton

    I am totally with you on the ugly ass churches in this country. I will say though that I was really disappointed by the churches in Europe. I have been to a couple in France including Notre Dame and the Bayeaux cathedral, the one in downtown Frankfurt and a few in St. Petersburg (St. Isaac) which were actually Orthodox not Catholic. None of them even came close to the sheer awesomeness of South American Cathedrals. The two in Cusco being my personal favorite.

    I think the loss of religious buildings in this country would be no big loss, except to struggling strip malls.

  22. David Marjanović says

    If you have to hang letters on the front of your church, telling everyone that it is a church, your architect has failed.

    I think the purpose of those is to explain which kind of church it is, given that there are so, so many denominations.

    Where I come from, even the ugliest churches (yes, we have them, too), are unlabeled apart from the cross on the top: by default, every church is Catholic.

  23. David Marjanović says

    “Don’t worry, sir. We see this quite often. What your mother is dealing with is a Class 4 Deva. We’ll take care of it.”

    I need to watch Ghostbusters at last.

  24. Ulysses says

    But then he [DJ Grothe] had to take a step too far and suggest that atheists don’t even have clearly definable goals. He asked, “What would winning look like?”, as if we lacked any kind of vision at all.

    So along with his misogyny and support of libertarianism, Grothe isn’t concerned about atheism. One more reason why I won’t be going to TAM or otherwise supporting JREF.

  25. Charlie Foxtrot says

    Only joined Twitter a short while ago, and had forgot to follow PZ.
    Rectified.

  26. Claudio Zardon says

    Great blog. In recent days the words Islamophobe, atheist troll, militant atheist and others have been flying about. What gets me is why they should find the vociferous “militant atheist’ so problematic, ok some of those who Dawkins calls “I’m an atheist but…” say that this position is actually hampering the job of spreading reason (which is just a bit too cynical for me). This notwithstanding it doesn’t justify the acrimonious reactions. They need to get their priorities in order; what actual harm does a militant atheist do? But exchange the word “atheist” for “Jew”, “Christian”, “Islamist” or even “Buddhist” and then we do have a real problem.

  27. quarky2 says

    Now it’s time to put the shoe on the other foot. For the faith-based: if your god where to cease all interaction with the universe, what would change?

  28. grumpyoldfart says

    Here’s a list I posted on my blog on April 5th under the heading, “Why Do Atheists Care About Religion?”

    * Missionaries destroying other cultures.
    * Preachers demonizing members of other religions
    * Persecution of Heretics (famously Galileo and Bruno)
    * Children dying because the parents pray instead of calling for a doctor.
    * The destruction of works of art (eg: The Buddhas of Bamiyan)
    * Censorship (even the censorship of science)
    * Persecution of blasphemers (eg: Salman Rushdie)
    * Priests who regard mental illness as demon possession and treat it with exorcisms that are sometimes fatal.
    * Mass suicides (Jonestown, Waco, Heaven’s Gate, Solar temple, etc)
    * Genital mutilation
    * Church leaders causing the spread of AIDS by prohibiting the use of condoms.
    * Believers whipping and crucifying themselves during religious festivals
    * Suicide bombers
    * Women treated as second-class citizens
    * Pentacostal snake-handlers
    * Sexual abuse of children
    * The Crusades.
    * The Inquisitions.
    * Slavery condoned (eg: Ephesians 6:5)
    * Witch trials

  29. says

    @erichoug
    I am totally enamored with Gothic Cathedrals right now. I’ll have to check out the ones in South America.

    @David Marjanović
    I am lamenting the fact that instead of communicating the kind of building through form and style, we get lazy and just hang a sign. This goes for all kinds of buildings, not just churches.

  30. says

    I dream of a world in which critical thinking skills, the principles of skepticism, and common cognitive biases to watch out for are taught to ALL children from a very young age.

  31. says

    PZ — I appreciate that you disagree with the chap who tweeted at me saying that I should “fight as hard for atheists as [I] do for homosexuals.” He went on to tweet that “if people like [me] did, [then atheists] would have won by now.”
     
    I asked him what “winning” would look like. I happen to like your list. I’m not sure it would be his list, because if it was his list, I’m at all sure how my refocusing energy on it rather than on “homosexuals” would have made atheists “win by now.”
     
    Glad you also agree that the plight of atheists in the U.S. shouldn’t be equated with racial and sexual minorities, as some atheists tend to do. I have been arguing that point for a number of years.
     

    Atheists are a cognitive minority (or as Christopher Hitchens more proudly put it in his keynote address at a Council for Secular Humanism conference on April 12, 2003, a “cognitive elite”). By their nature, minority viewpoints are unpopular and held in suspicion by the general public: just ask a Wiccan or deep ecologist. Are atheists misrepresented? Misunderstood? Often. Oppressed? Hardly. The proper remedy is to educate the public about secularism and scientific naturalism. We do have to stand up and fight. However, we are fighting not for our civil rights, but for our intellectual integrity and moral dignity. Incredible analogies with the plight of the truly repressed will further neither cause.

     
    Lastly, don’t worry about “burying me” on Twitter, as you say, “for an hour.” I replied to some tweets directed at me last night, but didn’t actually see your list of tweets above until much later, since I hadn’t been following you on twitter for some time, no offense. Now I’m a bit torn: your feed is entertaining, and regarding this list, quite unobjectionable.
     
    Lastly, a single point of disagreement: I nowhere suggested that atheists don’t have definable goals. As a longtime atheist activist myself (formerly professionally so), I support the many clearly defined goals of effective atheist organizations like the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science, American Atheists, and the like. If your arguing against positions I do not actually hold resulted in a blog post of this laudable list of how much better it’d be “if religion weren’t so oppressively dominant,” I don’t mind much.

  32. says

    As far as churches go, the older wooden ones in the Northeast are quite attractive, and are easily re-purposed as educational and performing arts centers. The acoustics are usually fantastic and there’s enough space for dancing!

  33. screechymonkey says

    PZ@11:

    I make no claim of utopia. Moving religion back into the shadows would just remove ONE cause for human misery, but we’d still have war & racism & sexism & crime. Just, maybe, a tiny bit less, and a lot less stupidity.

    True, and some of the remaining injustices would be easier to deal with.

    Just look at how badly gay marriage opponents have looked in court, where they aren’t allowed to rely on the “God said so” arguments that they normally depend on. Sure, they still manage to trump up some ostensibly secular arguments (“it’s all about the children!” “where will this slippery slope take us?”), but they’re transparently weak. Even Justice Scalia (who, whatever else the Horde may think of him, is still a bright guy) can’t come up with anything better than, hey, the Founders were bigots, too, so bigotry must be constitutional. And even Bill O’Reilly has admitted that without the Bible-thumping, the opponents don’t have anything.

    Imagine if all civil discourse was like that — if citing your imaginary friend’s decrees and a book he/she/it supposedly wrote was greeted with a pitying look or a raised eyebrow instead of a resigned, “well, I respect that.”

  34. says

    However, we are fighting not for our civil rights, but for our intellectual integrity and moral dignity. Incredible analogies with the plight of the truly repressed will further neither cause.

    I am an atheist who is fighting for my civil rights because I happen to be a woman. Statements like this leave me feeling invisible and marginalized. A large part of anti-woman oppression is religiously motivated. If you’re including ALL atheists in the “we” you’re referring to, then “we” certainly are fighting for our civil rights, just not fighting them as atheists per se. I recognize that your intent was probably to make a statement about how the marginalization that people experience for being atheists is very different from the marginalization people experience for being women, being people of color, being LGBT, etc, but it’s precisely that sort of carelessness alienation that I’ve come to expect from the atheist/skeptical “leadership.” If you’d taken one more moment to think about it, you could have clarified what you meant so that you didn’t come across as ignoring the fact that there are plenty of atheists who are women, who are people of color, who are gay, who are trans*, who do face a serious struggle to have their basic civil rights recognized.

    The people who “equate” the fight to marginalize irrational thought, including religion, with the fight for civil rights for racial minorities and similar struggles, tend not to be members of those marginalized groups, in my experience.

  35. rnilsson says

    Small things, big things. It’s only when you stop for a moment to think about it that you realize how much faith-based noise we’re drowning in here in the US. I don’t have a god-shaped hole in my heart as much as I do a huge amount of Jesus-shaped deadweight piled on my shoulders.

    Well, PZ, just do like Atlas, simply shrug. That DJ will also get off your back in a tick, is a bonus. Look at it as a magic trick with a pigeon. Norwegian Blue if you like.

    Great list btw, and many great responses.

  36. says

    My bloated self sense of significance has compelled me to briefly chime in.

    I agree that it’s a logic fart to equate the oppression of Atheists with that of Gays, Women or Minorities.

    I do not agree that Atheists are not oppressed. Not equal or even in the same ballpark as the oppression of Gays, Women or Minorities, but still there.

  37. Sastra says

    d.j.grothe #37 wrote:

    We do have to stand up and fight. However, we are fighting not for our civil rights, but for our intellectual integrity and moral dignity.

    No, I think we are fighting for both because society has placed “atheism” into a hybrid category: it is both a rational conclusion AND a despised identity. And they can do this because of the nature of “faith.”

    Generally speaking, there are two broad categories which human divisions fall into. The first has to do with differences in matters of identity: sex, gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, preferences, and so forth. We’re talking here about the identity of individuals in a Diversity Smorgasbord. People who try to rank groups inside these categories as ‘better’ or ‘worse,’ higher or lower, right or wrong, are guilty of bigotry. Fighting against such bigotry is what civil and human rights are about.

    The second category of human divisions has to do with rational disagreements: politics, science, ethics, economics, math, social sciences, etc. There is no problem with people ranking these IDEAS as better or worse, right or wrong. This is how we debate on the field of intellectual integrity and moral dignity. If you think a conclusion is wrong, this is not bigotry. This is a Diverse Problem-Solving Group and we’re working together.

    As far as atheists are concerned, religion belongs in that second category. The existence of God rises or falls on the merits of the evidence and argument. And religious people clearly want their beliefs about the supernatural to be considered facts about reality. They became convinced because of their own experiences and the experiences of others. God is real, and it’s not just them in disguise. Hello, apologetics.

    BUT the religious do not play fair. They also want religion to be included in the category of identity, as if it was part of the Diversity Smorgasbord and equivalent to race, sex, or nationality. This is where faith comes in: you conclude what you conclude because of the type of person you are. And if you change your mind you become a different type of person. Thus, religion needs protection from criticism. It needs protection from atheist bigotry. Stating or even believing that religion is not true is discrimination against the religious..

    In this framework, atheists are atheists not because they considered the issue rationally, but because they formed their identity around wanting to be the type of people who are atheists. In my experience most theists think atheism is a faith, too. It’s a decision made by people who are narrow, cold, and/or evil. Shun them for who and what they are.

    So this is the dilemma. I can see why DJ Grothe doesn’t want “atheism” included in the Diversity Smorgasbord along with race and sexual identity. Neither do WE. Doing that is playing the “faith” game and treating religion as if it were some specially protected class of people and ideas. Atheism shouldn’t be a civil rights issue any more than evolution is a civil rights issue. Technically.

    But that’s not how our culture frames it. Because religion is seen as similar to race atheists who argue against it get to be thrown into the same pit as bigots and bullies and criminals. This is where the civil rights issue comes in. If people treated a political belief with the same horror and bile and discrimination as they treat atheism, then even a political belief might qualify as deserving protection against THAT.

    I think DJ is focusing too much on the category in which atheism belongs (a rational conclusion) and not paying enough attention to where the public at large prefers to place it (what a person is.) An atheist is now like a criminal, a member of a sub human sect which willfully denies the existence of God and harms people merely by existing .

    THEY shove it into the area of civil rights — and we have no choice but to follow..

  38. R Johnston says

    It sounds to me like DJ Grothe essentially had a “Dear Muslima” moment. When he says “what would winning look like?” it sounds an awful lot like he’s saying “you silly atheists aren’t so terribly oppressed so quit complaining.” The things on PZ’s victory list are all obvious and worthwhile, and it doesn’t even seem to occur to DJ that working towards them doesn’t even get in the way of trying to solve the other problems he claims to care about. Oppression of atheists is just one small aspect of the problems inherent in having a religiously dominated society, and if you wonder why an atheist would possibly think that oppression of atheists makes it worthwhile to end the religious dominance of society then you’re simply not thinking at all.

  39. mythbri says

    I’d just like to say that I really appreciate the comments written by Sally Strange and Sastra in this thread, just like I do in every thread.

  40. Azuma Hazuki says

    I’m not even sure eliminating religion would solve many problems. People like to be lied to and will prostitute their critical thought for a simple answer, even if it’s a wrong answer.

    Even without an actual Godhead to answer to, people can still get themselves completely bollocksed up in thought-structures which in all other respects are a religion. Just look at the Nazis (yes, I know, Hitler was nominally still a Catholic), look at Stalin, look at Mao Tse-tung, look at Pol Pot even. That happened because they instituted a new type of religion, a secular one. “Where your heart is, there your religion is,” and if it happens to be for Dear Leader…

    The problem isn’t surfeit of religion so much as deficit of critical thought.

  41. Emrysmyrddin says

    I don’t play ‘Let’s Go To A Conference’ with people who play Oppression Olympics.

  42. says

    As if all ATHEISTS are straight white cis middle-class first world men. As if there is some global category for “atheist” that never includes them being in minority (numerically or socially) and oppressive circumstances (like, outside the major industrialized nations).

    …no, Grothe was right to say that, because atheists qua atheists don’t. What you’re saying is that it’s okay to, just to make this as clear as possible, say “Men are discriminated against”. Yes, they are… but not for being men – it’s for being poor, or non-white, or…

  43. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Azuma Hazuki ,

    I’m not even sure eliminating religion would solve many problems.

    Did you actually read the OP? Be honest. There were 73 specific claims about how life may be different and better without religion. Many more have followed in this thread so far (have you read that either?).

    Just look at the Nazis (yes, I know, Hitler was nominally still a Catholic), look at Stalin, look at Mao Tse-tung, look at Pol Pot even…

    You have almost a hundred specific claims about how the world may be better without religion, and instead of addressing a single one of them you bring up the tired old canard of Hitler!11!, StaLin11!!, Mao!!11!

    The problem isn’t surfeit of religion so much as deficit of critical thought.

    Religion is one example of the harms caused by a “deficit of critical thought”, so saying it is not a problem* seems to me to be silly. How do you feel about these following claims?

    the problem isn’t pseudo-medicines so much as deficit of critical thought

    the problem isn’t faith healing so much as deficit of critical thought

    the problem isn’t bigotry so much as deficit of critical thought

    the problem isn’t jingoism so much as deficit of critical thought

    *I realize you said “the problem”, but the claim has never been that religion is the ONE and ONLY problem.

  44. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Rutee Katreya,

    …no, Grothe was right to say that, because atheists qua atheists don’t

    Atheists qua atheists do. This thread your commenting in is hosted on a blog that often highlights just such discrimination. And this blog is part of a blog network that hosts many bloggers who also often write about religious discrimination. Do your fucking homework, and no Olympics.

    ***
    Kevin ,

    Michelle Bachmann would be a housewife. Sarah Palin, too. James Inhofe…shoe salesman.

    Or maybe Bachman and Palin would be shoes salespersons and Inhofe would be a househusband? Check your assumptions.

  45. says

    I’d like to add an item to the list:

    There would be one less reason not to think about or deal with the consequences of one’s actions. Religion seriously interferes with self-reflection, compassion and the need to anticipate consequences.

    Ah, hell, let’s make it two items:

    There would be one less way to justify discrimination and the refusal to investigate rape cases or to allow the ‘she was a slut’ defense.

  46. says

    [voice from the past dropping by; special one-time offer!]

    Like rrede (@14), I choked on this:

    @DJGrothe: Wouldn’t be similar. Atheists not in a struggle for liberation equal to oppressed minorities

    PZ, you say (@11)…

    [without religion] we’d still have war & racism & sexism & crime. Just, maybe, a tiny bit less, and a lot less stupidity.

    …but I’m not so sure. Stipulate that atheists qua atheists (i.e., absent being disprivileged in some other important way) may not be at the same risk of truly consequential oppression as women, queer folk, and nonwhites[1], but monotheism, as generally practiced in the so-called First World, is the very model of authoritarianism and patriarchy.

    How much of the very oppression DJ is talking about (and particularly, oppression centered on sex, sexuality, and gender) is deeply rooted in privileged people’s sense — no, certainty — of divine approval?

    Belief in gods… strict, moralistic, disapproving, male gods… is IMHO a very large fraction, not a “tiny” one at all, of what makes this benighted world safe for the kind of oppression DJ is fighting. As a First World, middle class, white, straight, cis male, I admittedly am not at much personal risk for being an atheist… but that doesn’t mean atheism is unrelated to fighting the oppression that faces those less privileged than I.

    What I think atheists winning — a “world without gods” — would look like is, first and foremost, a world with a hell of a lot fewer oppressors for DJ to fight. Not that the weaknesses of human nature would vanish, mind you, but the institutions that deify our worst aspects, and drive them into every crack of public life, surely would.

    Ah, I can dream, can’t I?

    ***
    [1] Although, as an aside, I have lived in Texas, and there are places there where I’d have to think hard about whether I’d feel safer being “outed” as an atheist than I would being “accused” of being a gay man. Or at least there were, back in the day, and the news from Tejas doesn’t suggest it’s gotten any better.

  47. Steve Sirhan says

    As for his list, several of the items are by no means exclusive to atheists, therefore, they’re not (quasi-philosophically speaking) sufficient to atheism. And, because some of them aren’t agreed upon by all atheists (Sam Harris wants to launch something against the foreign Moooslim heathen) they’re also not (quasi-philosophically speaking) necessary to atheism.

    And, half the reader-submitted portions of his list are just nonsense or wannabe stuff.

    Beyond that, per Dan Fincke, I think that some people in the Gnu movement simply can’t accept disagreement.

    Beyond that, I think many a Gnu, and a fair amount of non-Gnus, could stand to learn a bit more philosophy, starting with a basic outline in informal logic. Even non-atheist “scientific skeptics” could often stand a bit more learning in logic, and in Skepticism the philosophical school too.

  48. davros says

    plus plus plus!
    My addition:
    People would figure out their own meaning in life, creating a richer more vibrant world

  49. says

    Atheists qua atheists do. This thread your commenting in is hosted on a blog that often highlights just such discrimination. And this blog is part of a blog network that hosts many bloggers who also often write about religious discrimination.

    The blog network typically focuses on what happens to actually oppressed people.

    and no Olympics.

    My tiny violin will be ready for you as soon as I finish playing a serenade to nerds (whom claim to be oppressed like hispanic or black people).

  50. says

    Without religion we would, for the first time in our ignorant and miserable history, enjoy something other than a snowballs chance in hell of beating the extinction reaper.

  51. lsamaknight says

    raven @ 16

    As a point of order, Zoroastrianism (re: your comment about Ahura Mazda) is actually still an extant religion, practiced by Parsi’s and other groups in India who left for parts eastward when the early Caliphate conquered the Persian Empire. Freddy Mercury was one, though from what I understand he drifted away from it in later life.

  52. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Rutee Katreya, emphasis added.

    The blog network typically focuses on what happens to actually oppressed people.

    First, Fuck off, asshole.
    Second, I never said that FTB focuses on any topic. I merely pointed out that there are multiple bloggers around these parts who regularly provide examples of that which you claim doesn’t exist – discrimination against, and in some cases oppression of, atheists qua atheists.

    My tiny violin will be ready for you as soon as I finish playing a serenade to nerds (whom claim to be oppressed like hispanic or black people).

    I don’t need your sympathies. I have never claimed that my being atheist has caused me any discomfort in my personal life. I do think you are being awfully dismissive of people like Jessica Alquist and Taslima Nasreen, atheist bloggers in Bangladesh, people living in many different parts of the world…etc… (there is plenty more out there* if you care to open your glazzies and have a look).

    *and in fact, right here, at this very blog.

    ***

    I am also mighty sick of the underlying premise to all of these oppression olympics arguments about how various forms of discrimination stack up against each other. It is not atheist VS [insert your preferred disenfranchised olympic gold medal winner ].. Different types of discrimination are bound up and connected with each other. Google “intersectionality”. Do that before you go do your homework about religious privilege and discrimination.

  53. hypatiasdaughter says

    #56 Bill Dauphin, avec fromage

    As a First World, middle class, white, straight, cis male, I admittedly am not at much personal risk for being an atheist…

    Well, not so much THESE days, but peek into religions history and you will find that none of those things would have spared you from imprisonment, torture, exile and/or death – even being a xtian or Jew or Muslim would not have saved you if you were the wrong kind of xtian, Jew or Muslim.
    Check out the wonderful instruments of torture used during the Spanish Inquisition. This cruelty was inflicted on the “average man” (and woman and child) who was suspected of holding no or wrong beliefs.
    Some of the religious today look back on those times with nostalgia and would bring them back if they could.

  54. Ulysses says

    Steve Sirhan @57

    Beyond that, per Dan Fincke, I think that some people in the Gnu movement simply can’t accept disagreement.

    FIFY. This is a general human trait, not restricted to any one group.

    Beyond that, I think many a Gnu, and a fair amount of non-Gnus, could stand to learn a bit more philosophy, starting with a basic outline in informal logic. Even non-atheist “scientific skeptics” could often stand a bit more learning in logic, and in Skepticism the philosophical school too.

    One thing I’ve noticed about philosophers is their attitude that learning philosophy is a universal panacea. Then I see professional philosophers like Alvin Plantinga spouting the most egregious nonsense. Many a philosopher’s philosophizing are not good advertisements for the product.

  55. says

    hypatiasdaughter (@63):

    As a First World, middle class, white, straight, cis male, I admittedly am not at much personal risk for being an atheist…

    Well, not so much THESE days, but peek into religions history and you will find that none of those things would have spared you from imprisonment, torture, exile and/or death

    Oh, of course; I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise! Even today, there are places and situations where atheists qua atheists are in mortal danger, and across the broad sweep of Western history, identifying as an atheist (or even, as you point out, the wrong flavor of believer) has arguably been among the deadliest things one could do.

    I was just acknowledging for the sake of this conversation that mainstream, otherwise privileged atheists in 21st century Europe and (most parts of) America are not generally likely to be burned at the stake (or dragged behind a truck, even). And even so… I believe that religious belief lies at the black heart of much (maybe most) of the sort of oppression DJ Grothe is worried about; thus, I think he’s wrong to imagine any conflict between fighting for “a world without gods” and fighting against “real” oppression.

  56. says

    Some more differences:

    * People wouldn’t fear getting fired from their jobs if people found out they didn’t believe in gods

    * Prejudice against gays would die out much more rapidly.

    * No one would have thrown their drink over my daughter and her wife for walking arm in arm. Every restaurant would serve them.

    * My daughter would be able to visit her wife’s parents without fear of arrest or violence.

    * Women going to reproductive health clinics for any reason–abortion, birth control, gynecological exam–wouldn’t be harassed and spat upon. Graphic images of stillbirths and fake babies wouldn’t be waved in people’s, and even schoolchildren’s faces.

    * Women getting abortions would not have to travel out of their town or region, would not have to stay overnight, or three nights, for a stupid mandatory waiting period.

    * Pregnant women would hear the truth about the health of their fetus.

    * Women would be able to become teachers, philosophers, salaried workers, and leaders without their careers being hindered or aborted by bible-believing bigots. There would be more invention, more care, more education, and more ideas in the public sphere. Countries would stop wasting up to half of their human potential.

    * Men would not think they had a god-given right to punish women and order them around. Mormon women wouldn’t be required to defer to their teenaged sons.

    * There would be no religious excuse for Mormon polygyny because the proposition that the more wives a man has, the higher his status in heaven would be seen for the lie that it is. Young men wouldn’t be ejected by higher-ranking men just to get rid of them.

    * Gay children wouldn’t be kicked out of their homes because gayness wouldn’t be seen as a disgusting sin. Ditto for atheist children–and it happens! The number of homeless teens would drop by 30 – 40%

    * Priests wouldn’t be able to bully parishioners into sex, women into staying in abusive relationships, women into having more children than they want, and so on.

    * In some Latin American countries, women would live instead of dying because they needed an abortion or their doctor wouldn’t treat a medical condition for fear of being accused of doing an abortion. Sexually abused children wouldn’t be coerced into risking their lives by giving birth because “all life is sacred” but would get an abortion and go back to being a child. The vagina inspection police would be disbanded.

    * Children would have a better chance to be raised by loving parents who wanted them to be born.

    * Some politicians would stop trying to cause environmental disaster and nuclear war to bring on Armageddon.

    * The Vatican would stop derailing population control and AIDS treatment efforts.

  57. says

    I don’t need your sympathies. I have never claimed that my being atheist has caused me any discomfort in my personal life.

    Actually, you did. “Atheists are discriminated against”.

    . I do think you are being awfully dismissive of people like Jessica Alquist and Taslima Nasreen, atheist bloggers in Bangladesh,

    Taslima is Bangladeshi, IIRC. I didn’t object to “Bangladeshi Atheists are discriminated against”, also. Given the bullshit that happens to secularists, Jessica would have been treated similarly regardless – although almost certainly magnified at least somewhat for being an atheist. Still makes little difference in the day to day lives of the majority of atheists, especially those in the western world.

    I am also mighty sick of the underlying premise to all of these oppression olympics arguments about how various forms of discrimination stack up against each other.

    ‘all these oppression olympics arguments’ are because atheists are trying to hitch their trailers to an uptick in people who care about wide-ranging systemic oppression.

    Google “intersectionality”. Do that before you go do your homework about religious privilege and discrimination.

    I’m a walking exercise in intersectionality. Atheism has caused me dirty looks in an airport once – everything else has caused obvious and continuing problems over the course of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I’d like to avoid the dirty looks, but…

    I believe that religious belief lies at the black heart of much (maybe most) of the sort of oppression DJ Grothe is worried about;

    You say this while the NHS is getting gutted in Britain, racism against arabic immigrants is experiencing an uptick everywhere (Even far more secular countries than the USA), and trans people’s rights are still trampled in most of the western world? I don’t disagree it would help, but even ‘much’ is rather an overstatement.

  58. DLC says

    Being an “out” or “admitted” Atheist does carry risks penalties, but not so many as being in one of the disadvantaged groups.

  59. John Morales says

    [meta]

    Rutee:

    I don’t need your sympathies. I have never claimed that my being atheist has caused me any discomfort in my personal life.

    Actually, you did. “Atheists are discriminated against”.

    No; that someone belongs to a category that is “discriminated against” doesn’t entail that they thereby suffer discomfort in their personal life (not even when the discrimination is universal to category members).

  60. Cyranothe2nd, ladyporn afficianado says

    @ 56

    How much of the very oppression DJ is talking about (and particularly, oppression centered on sex, sexuality, and gender) is deeply rooted in privileged people’s sense — no, certainty — of divine approval?

    This doesn’t explain the torrent of sexist crap we hear from atheists and so-called skeptics at the mere thought of a loss of their privilege. Unless you’re going to argue that they actually still believe in a Divine Approver, I’d posit that there is some other reason for sexism and agree with PZ that weakening or even discarding religion isn’t going to get rid of sexism, just maybe make it a little less.

  61. says

    No; that someone belongs to a category that is “discriminated against” doesn’t entail that they thereby suffer discomfort in their personal life (not even when the discrimination is universal to category members).

    It does if you want to talk about actually meaningful oppression.

  62. says

    cyranothe2nd (@70):

    How much of the very oppression DJ is talking about (and particularly, oppression centered on sex, sexuality, and gender) is deeply rooted in privileged people’s sense — no, certainty — of divine approval?

    This doesn’t explain the torrent of sexist crap we hear from atheists and so-called skeptics at the mere thought of a loss of their privilege.

    I’m not saying that individuals’ sexism (or homophobia or transphobia or…) is caused by their individual religious beliefs (actually, I’m sure that’s often the case, but obviously not always, and it’s not the point I’m making); instead, I’m suggesting that the cultural norms and structures that support all those isms (along with other forms of authoritarian prejudice) are deeply rooted in religious belief generally. Think of it as the Madge the Manicurist™ theory of patriarchy: “You’re [actually, we're] soaking in it!”

    Of course people defend their privilege — we humans are selfish beasts unless we consciously try hard not to be, and even then we’re imperfect — but where does the privilege come from in the first place? I submit a big part of the answer to that, at least in Western culture, is the belief in a god whose will cannot be questioned, and who approves of only a very narrow set of sexual behaviors, gender roles, and gender presentations, condemning all others. When was the last time you heard a defense of sexism or homophobia (beyond just “I don’ wanna’ chaaaaange!”) that doesn’t reduce to “God hates that” if you push it back far enough?

    Even the most confident, committed atheist isn’t immune to the god-infused culture we’re all soaking in… but if theism went away, so would (eventually) many of the invidious cultural norms it’s been propping up for millennia.

    Which is why “what winning would look like” is not merely a world that’s nicer to atheist individuals, but instead a “world without gods.”

    And none of this, clearly, means that we should promote atheism instead of pursuing more direct fights against sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc.; it just means that promoting atheism is not irrelevant to those other fights.

  63. says

    Small thing: the next time I went to a funeral, I could grieve for my loved one in peace, rather than listening to threats of eternal torture and violence for myself and my family.

  64. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Rutee Katreya,

    It does if you want to talk about actually meaningful oppression.

    [1] And you are the sole arbiter of what constitutes “meaningful oppression”?

    [2] We can’t talk about lesser forms of discrimination if there are more appalling examples out there?

    [3] We shouldn’t denounce all forms of discrimination?

    ‘all these oppression olympics arguments’ are because [1]atheists are trying to hitch their trailers to an uptick in [2]people who care about wide-ranging systemic oppression.

    [1] Which atheists? Are you talking about PZ or the OP here? Link or quote so I can judge it for myself.

    [2] Why are these groups, atheists and people who care about wide-ranging systematic oppression, exclusive groups in your mind? There are certainly a lot of shitheaded bigot atheists out there, but there are also atheists who care deeply about/live your “actually meaningful oppression”.

    It would be helpful if you would quote where you see people doing what you are objecting to. I see people discussing small and large forms of religious privilege and discrimination, in many cases pertaining to how religious discrimination intersects with other harmful forms of discrimination, for example, homophobia. Where is the co-opting?

  65. says

    Rutee Katreya (@67):

    I believe that religious belief lies at the black heart of much (maybe most) of the sort of oppression DJ Grothe is worried about;

    You say this while the NHS is getting gutted in Britain, racism against arabic immigrants is experiencing an uptick everywhere (Even far more secular countries than the USA), and trans people’s rights are still trampled in most of the western world?

    Yes, I do. All the things you cite are happening in cultures historically dominated by theistic belief… by the belief that certain things — certain gender roles and presentations, certain sexual behaviors and relationships, certain kinds of labor, deference to authority, etc. — are not only approved but demanded by God, and all else is abomination. The fact that increasing numbers of current-day individuals disavow those beliefs doesn’t mean they don’t infect every aspect of culture. Even the most secular nations in modern Europe are literally built on the foundations of the better part of two millennia of theism.

    I think the roots of individual bias are to be found in the human tendency to selfishness: our innate leaning toward our own interests rather than those of others. But projecting that self-focused human nature onto an omnipotent “father” is what has converted it from individual weakness to endemic cultural baseline.

    PZ said he had a vision of a “world without gods.” That’s a fundamentally different thing from a (still basically theistic) world with more (and more comfortable) atheists. The former would, IMHO, be a less oppressive world for everyone, not just self-identified atheists, and it’s a world worth working for. I know it seems impossible, but… “a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,/Or what’s a heaven for?”

  66. says

    Yes, I do. All the things you cite are happening in cultures historically dominated by theistic belief… by the belief that certain things — certain gender roles and presentations, certain sexual behaviors and relationships, certain kinds of labor, deference to authority, etc. — are not only approved but demanded by God, and all else is abomination. The fact that increasing numbers of current-day individuals disavow those beliefs doesn’t mean they don’t infect every aspect of culture. Even the most secular nations in modern Europe are literally built on the foundations of the better part of two millennia of theism.

    You know, I really, really, really hate that I have to point this out, but given that religion is ultimately flim-flam that means what the believer wants it to mean, you do realize it has also commanded legitimately praiseworthy things, right? It’s a rare person who tries to be terrible, and at least on accident, some manage to do well. And you’re still dodging the point – I’m aware of the history of these places, but people find perfectly secular reasons to hate. Ya ever heard someone talk about how ubar important chromosomes are to gender? Or ‘I’m attracted to chromosomes’? I guaran-fucking-tee you a trans person has.

    I think the roots of individual bias are to be found in the human tendency to selfishness: our innate leaning toward our own interests rather than those of others. But projecting that self-focused human nature onto an omnipotent “father” is what has converted it from individual weakness to endemic cultural baseline.

    According to this thesis, Asia, classical era Europe, and Africa should have considerably fewer structural -isms than Europe.

    PZ said he had a vision of a “world without gods.” That’s a fundamentally different thing from a (still basically theistic) world with more (and more comfortable) atheists.

    Those of us who read the OP note that he also stated this in fact explicitly meant a world where religion didn’t dominate – not a world where it didn’t exist at all. Hence “Fewer churches”, not “zero churches”.

    ____________

    [1] And you are the sole arbiter of what constitutes “meaningful oppression”?

    More of one than you, if you think atheists in North America or Europe are particular targets of it.

    [2] We can’t talk about lesser forms of discrimination if there are more appalling examples out there?

    [3] We shouldn’t denounce all forms of discrimination?

    Nice equivocation, an onlooker might almost manage to forget this was about how I wasn’t putting up with your shit in claiming atheists are an actually disadvantaged class.

    [1] Which atheists? Are you talking about PZ or the OP here? Link or quote so I can judge it for myself.

    Have you not fucking heard Dawkins and other atheists (including on this very blog) attempt to appropriate the conversations on bullying, or the language of ‘out’ and ‘closeted’? For Madogoddess’ sake, you regularly mock an #FTBullies hashtag that is basically the same thing done by atheists. Are you magically forgetting all of these things so you can play hyperskeptic? No, I’m not talking about PZ – he’s pretty clearly trying to avoid this very thing. But, amongst a list of others, I do mean you.

    [2] Why are these groups, atheists and people who care about wide-ranging systematic oppression, exclusive groups in your mind? There are certainly a lot of shitheaded bigot atheists out there, but there are also atheists who care deeply about/live your “actually meaningful oppression”.

    Because you jackasses keep going well, well out of your way to make them mutually exclusive groups. You are, right here in front of me, playing pretend you have it just as bad, or even remotely equivalently as bad, as an atheist qua atheist.

    It would be helpful if you would quote where you see people doing what you are objecting to.

    Do ya not see me quotin’ ya? But fine, I’ll take a moment and humor you with a pair of obvious examples of atheists clearly appropriating shit.
    http://outcampaign.org/
    http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/03/post_325.html

  67. Woo_Monster, Sniffer of Starfarts says

    Have you not fucking heard Dawkins and other atheists (including on this very blog) attempt to appropriate the conversations on bullying, or the language of ‘out’ and ‘closeted’? For Madogoddess’ sake, you regularly mock an #FTBullies hashtag that is basically the same thing done by atheists. Are you magically forgetting all of these things so you can play hyper skeptic?

    I am not forgetting all of those thing, I just couldn’t tell to whom you were objecting to. Now that you have made it explicit, I can agree with your examples.

    But, amongst a list of others, I do mean you.

    There are varying degrees of anti-atheist discrimination in North America, Europe, and in other parts of the world. I am not co-opting another struggle for social justice by pointing that out. If merely pointing out that there is discrimination against atheists is going to far for you, and is somehow an act of appropriation because other groups* have it worse, then I don’t know what to say. I am tired of playing OO with you.

    *and again, these groups aren’t exclusive.

    You are, right here in front of me, playing pretend [1]you have it [2]just as bad, or even remotely equivalently as bad, as an atheist qua atheist.

    [1] I have already corrected you that I am not saying I have it bad whatsoever. I never made any blanket statement about ALL atheist experiencing terrible oppression equal to that of any other disenfranchised group. There is some anti-atheist discrimination.

    [2] No, you are the only using the “just as bad” language. I am not attempting to equivocate harms, even though you seem to really want me to be.

    Do ya not see me quotin’ ya? But fine, I’ll take a moment and humor you with a pair of obvious examples of atheists clearly appropriating shit.
    http://outcampaign.org/
    http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2012/03/post_325.html

    I do not disagree with you that some atheists are co-opting other social justice issues. Maybe I came off that way, and for that I apologize. I was just arguing with your assertion that atheists do not experience discrimination. Are you equivocating my saying that some* atheists are discriminated against with the claim that atheist oppression is just as bad as all other forms out there?

    *I feel I need to add that “some” in there, so you don’t, again, accuse me of claiming to be oppressed on account of my atheism. I am not. Not everyone is. Some are and you are denying it. Simple point.

    ***

    I don’t feel like I am writing very clearly, so perhaps I will bow out. To sum up my perspective and argument:
    - You claim atheist qua atheist discrimination does not exist.
    - I say, wait, I can think of some examples, especially from around the world.
    - You claim I am now co-opting other SJ fights.
    - The fuck?

  68. says

    - You claim atheist qua atheist discrimination does not exist.

    I’m saying that atheists in the west are essentially not, and that the examples that most clearly would speak for atheists, aren’t for those in the west. It is extraordinarily disingenuous, as a white westerner, to use what happened in Bangladesh to then say ‘atheists are discriminated against in general’.

    - You claim I am now co-opting other SJ fights.

    It’s not just dawkins or Meriken Atheists. Atheism+ and its general supporters will do so as well from time to time (although certainly less than other groups). Trying to use social justice concepts to argue for atheism *is* that very appropriation, also, unless you are strictly arguing for regions where atheists could actually be oppressed seriously.

    I am tired of playing OO with you.

    It is not ‘oppression olympics’ to say that a group that is better off than most minorities, by a wide margin, is not oppressed.

    [1] I have already corrected you that I am not saying I have it bad whatsoever. I never made any blanket statement about ALL atheist experiencing terrible oppression equal to that of any other disenfranchised group. There is some anti-atheist discrimination.
    [2] No, you are the only using the “just as bad” language. I am not attempting to equivocate harms, even though you seem to really want me to be.

    Yes, yes you did. Again, Grothe was trying to say that atheists simply don’t deal with as much bullshit, and you objected to that. There aren’t a lot of readings left from there.

    Are you equivocating my saying that some* atheists are discriminated against with the claim that atheist oppression is just as bad as all other forms out there?

    You did that for me by objecting to Grothe in this case.

  69. PatrickG says

    @ Rutee:

    – You claim atheist qua atheist discrimination does not exist.

    I’m saying that atheists in the west are essentially not, and that the examples that most clearly would speak for atheists, aren’t for those in the west.

    Oh, so this talk given at Skepticon 5 was absolutely pointless then? You should go let Amanda Knief know that she’s wasting her time! If there’s no discrimination, there’s no need to frankly discuss how to avoid discrimination.

    I found that video through a five-second google search, by the way — in fact, I got that link from Hemant Mehta at The Friendly Atheist. You should go let him know that discrimination against atheists in the west doesn’t exist. He’s obviously very clueless! He had the unmitigated audacity to say:

    I know this is a constant source of stress for a lot of people who email me, so her topic couldn’t be more relevant.

    Phew! I’m sure he’d love to be able to write off their concerns and experiences as trivial, the way you seem to be able to do with such ease.

    Given your exchange with Woo_Monster above, I feel it necessary to point out the glaringly obvious here. I’m not ranking discrimination against atheists against other forms of discrimination. I’m not making any claims about relative “worseness” whatsoever. That’s central to your argument. Furthermore, I reject your notion that atheists in the west can’t complain because LOOK OVER THERE IT’S WORSE! Seriously?

    To recap: You say that discrimination against atheists in the west doesn’t exist. That is not true.

    Also, what the fuck?

  70. says

    Rutee:

    I’m not terribly invested in getting you to agree with my thesis (though I admit I’m puzzled as to why it should bug you, since we’re fighting against the same effects whether or not we agree on the root causes), so I’ll just make a couple last (hopefully quick) points, and then leave the field to you.

    I’m aware of the history of these places, but people find perfectly secular reasons to hate.

    Sure they do (though many of the most egregious haters explicitly identify themselves with religion): They fall back on tradition or biology or “natural law” or whatever…. but if you interrogate those secular reasons deeply enough, you’re often likely to find a priest in the woodpile. In Europe and all the places dominated by culture that traces back to Europe (which is to say, essentially all of the Americas and no small portions of Africa and Asia), tradition is generally based on religion (and specifically monotheism), even when it’s ostensibly secular. And the social implications of biology are always seen through a cultural filter, as well.

    You don’t have to be personally religious to be affected or influenced by god-soaked Western culture; in fact, it’s almost impossible not to be.

    Monotheism may not have been the original source of patriarchy — we humans do tend to create gods in our own image, after all — but it invests patriarchy with an assertion of unquestionable moral authority, and that, in turn, gives aid and comfort to those, whether religious or secular, who either actively seek to perpetuate it or complacently fail to oppose it.

    Those of us who read the OP note that he also stated this in fact explicitly meant a world where religion didn’t dominate – not a world where it didn’t exist at all. Hence “Fewer churches”, not “zero churches”.

    Yah, Have you not noticed that I have been, since my first comment in this thread, disagreeing with PZ (albeit somewhat gently and tangentially)? My position is that a still-significantly-religious world that was merely more secular and more tolerant of atheists would make life more comfortable for atheists, but not accomplish much else. A world, OTOH, that was truly “without gods,” per the OP’s title, would, I believe, be fundamentally better for everyone. Not that I expect to see that world in my lifetime, mind you, but I believe it will eventually come.

  71. says

    “….. to pay as much attention to atheist issues as he does gay issues (a point I definitely strongly disagree with: no one gets to dictate what matters to someone else), made the statement that gay concerns are very, very different than atheist concerns, and we shouldn’t conflate the two.”

    Except when it comes to extreme feminism. That’s still right PZ?

  72. says

    Rutee:
    Aren’t you making an assumption about Woo Monsters race (‘white westerner’)?
    I happen to agree with hir.
    Atheists do face discrimination and bigotry, across the world. Some have it bad, while others face significantly milder discrimination (and some face none). People in the queer community can say the same (I have faced relatively little bigotry for being gay). PoC can say the same (again, I have faced little bigotry for being a PoC).
    I just cannot understand your point here. All I see is you saying ‘other minorities have it far worse’, which has the effect of minimizing the suffering that some have gone through (which I find distasteful; I suspect there are atheists in this thread or lurking who have faced discrimination for being non believers; would you honestly tell someone ‘you do not have it that bad’?) And playing Oppression Olympics.
    What is accomplished by ranking discrimination?
    What is accomplished by minimizing the suffering that others have gone through, especially when no one is doing that to you (in this thread)?

  73. says

    (though I admit I’m puzzled as to why it should bug you, since we’re fighting against the same effects whether or not we agree on the root causes),

    Atheists have ea bad habit of overestimating the effect of religion on oppression. They put the cart before the horse, it seems, far too much.

    but if you interrogate those secular reasons deeply enough, you’re often likely to find a priest in the woodpile.

    And it’s just another weapon. Bigots choose bigoted religions – those bigoted religions do have some role in shaping those who follow them, but they’re not magic. That role ultimately falls ont he bigots around them. It doesn’t go back to religion so much as the people following it. And really, as an atheist you should be GLAD it doesn’t – again, a lot of actually decent or mostly decent reformers are and were actually religious. Probably the majority, given that there aren’t THAT many atheists.

    Monotheism may not have been the original source of patriarchy — we humans do tend to create gods in our own image, after all — but it invests patriarchy with an assertion of unquestionable moral authority, and that, in turn, gives aid and comfort to those, whether religious or secular, who either actively seek to perpetuate it or complacently fail to oppose it.

    Do you not see how different ‘religion is a vehicle that drives oppression, and monotheism is no exception’ is from ‘an omnipotent creator god was the single thing (or even just ‘a major thing) that converted bigotry into a systemic issue’?
    —————————-

    Oh, so this talk given at Skepticon 5 was absolutely pointless then? You should go let Amanda Knief know that she’s wasting her time!

    Even if I was inclined to watching people talk on y outube (I’m not), it’s private, so I couldn’t tell you.

    If there’s no discrimination, there’s no need to frankly discuss how to avoid discrimination.

    If it’s not clear, I’ve lived my entire adult and teen life in the bible belt. There really isn’t.

    You should go let him know that discrimination against atheists in the west doesn’t exist.

    Not substantively, no. There’s room to talk about what exists, but that isn’t the context in which “Atheists are discriminated against” was talked up in.

    Phew! I’m sure he’d love to be able to write off their concerns and experiences as trivial, the way you seem to be able to do with such ease.

    Well, if you’re that fucked about it, you could try being poor, gay, latin@, and female for starters.

    I feel it necessary to point out the glaringly obvious here. I’m not ranking discrimination against atheists against other forms of discrimination.

    You know, you’re sitting here and acting like what I said wasn’t a direct response to asshattery isn’t doing you any favors. Context still matters.

    Furthermore, I reject your notion that atheists in the west can’t complain because LOOK OVER THERE IT’S WORSE! Seriously?

    Complain all you want. Change what you care to. Just don’t pretend for 15 seconds that a numerical minority that is, on average, doing about as well as the majority, is totes oppressed yo.

    ——————–

    Aren’t you making an assumption about Woo Monsters race (‘white westerner’)?

    Yeah, I am. If it’s wrong, that’s something I apologize for, but even FTB and Atheism+ are overwhelmingly westerners (And that is the relevant criteria for ‘how likely is atheism to hurt me’).

    eople in the queer community can say the same (I have faced relatively little bigotry for being gay).

    Unlike atheists, queers, PoC, the poor, etc, actually have the data to support serious harm on average – we actually can be safe in assuming someone who faces nothing is a lucky outlier, rather than the norm, because they sort of are.

    All I see is you saying ‘other minorities have it far worse’, which has the effect of minimizing the suffering that some have gone through

    If the worst story suffered by westerners that you got for me involves students being marginally worse to an atheist gal than they would to a secularist religious person, I’ll live with myself. Less flippantly, how can you even pretend this is a problem to you when you’r letting the minimization of serious oppressions that affect millions slide, by comparing it to what atheists go through.

    What is accomplished by ranking discrimination? And playing Oppression Olympics.

    Not cheapening oppression by pretending fairly well off groups are in a neighbourhood anywhere near as bad as the rest of us is not ‘oppression olympics’. Stop appropriating social justice terminology for atheism.

  74. says

    Rutee:

    I’m going to be honest here. I’ve seen many posts by you that I’ve liked at various blogs here at FtB. That makes it all the more disappointing to read what you’ve written in this thread.

    Yeah, I am. If it’s wrong, that’s something I apologize for, but even FTB and Atheism+ are overwhelmingly westerners (And that is the relevant criteria for ‘how likely is atheism to hurt me’).

    The assumption that you make-that Woo_Monster is a white westerner-is no different than assumptions made by people online that those they are responding to are male. You’re making an assumption. Note that when I referred to Woo_Monster, I used the non gendered term “xe”, because I am not familiar with hir (another example), to know the correct gender, and I want to avoid assumptions.
    The other assumption you are making is that people on FtB and A+ are overwhelmingly western. How on *earth* do you know that? Have you done research? Have you consulted them? Have you been told? Or are you letting your biases dictate your responses, whether or not they match up to reality? Why are you making these assumptions? You could make your points without them.

    Unlike atheists, queers, PoC, the poor, etc, actually have the data to support serious harm on average – we actually can be safe in assuming someone who faces nothing is a lucky outlier, rather than the norm, because they sort of are.

    Ok.
    Great.
    PoC, queers, and the poor suffer.
    I grant that, because it is true.
    It is *also* true that atheists are discriminated against. No, I will not limit the discussion to “western atheists”. Atheists, across the planet are discriminated against. Some are killed. Queers across the planet are discriminated against. Some are killed. Women across the planet are discriminated against. Some are killed.

    What purpose is served by arguing that one group of marginalized people is *more* marginalized?

    I note that you say atheists do not have the data to show they suffer “on average”. Why does it have to be on average? Why are you limiting the scope of discrimination? Why does discrimination only “count” if it reaches a certain level?
    I am capable of seeing that people among various marginalized groups are discriminated against. For the people within those groups, what they are going through can often take more importance than what others are going through. Who am I to tell them that they don’t have it that bad? Who are you to tell someone that you’re going through something worse, and they don’t have it that bad?
    That minimizes what others are going through.

    At the same time, I imagine you do not want your struggles (or those you are concerned with) minimized.

    So why are you doing the very same thing?

    Not cheapening oppression by pretending fairly well off groups are in a neighbourhood anywhere near as bad as the rest of us is not ‘oppression olympics’. Stop appropriating social justice terminology for atheism.

    I cannot believe I’m saying this, but you may need to check your privilege.
    Just because YOU do not PERSONALLY see atheists struggling and suffering does not mean it does not happen.
    It is a fact: Atheists suffer discrimination and bigotry.
    It is a fact: PoC suffer discrimination and bigotry.
    It is a fact: Queers suffer discrimination and bigotry.

    Why are you so intent on minimizing the discrimination and bigotry of one group?
    I can see that atheists, PoC, queers, women, and other minorities are suffering discrimination. I can see that such discrimination takes on many forms. I have no interest in ranking them. I have no interest in telling someone they do not have it that bad.

    Why are you so intent on saying that some people do not have it that bad? Especially when no one is minimizing what YOU (or people you know) have gone through?

    Atheists have suffered.
    Atheists have died.
    Atheists have been shunned from their families.
    Atheists have been fired from their jobs.
    Atheists have been treated like the scum of the earth.
    Atheists have been compared to rapists.

    Recognizing all of that does not entail ignoring the plight of other minorities.
    Nor does it assign any hierarchy of discrimination.

    You are the one making the hierarchy. By saying that atheists-on average- do not suffer the way other minorities do (despite presenting no evidence to support this position), you have created a hierarchy of oppression. You are saying that this group A does not have it as bad as this group B.

    What purpose does this serve?

  75. says

    Rutee:

    Less flippantly, how can you even pretend this is a problem to you when you’r letting the minimization of serious oppressions that affect millions slide, by comparing it to what atheists go through.

    Pretending?
    Pretending??
    Now you’re insinuating dishonesty on my part.
    I am *NOT* pretending.
    Atheists *do* suffer.

    I’m not letting ANY oppression slide.
    Nowhere.
    Absolutely NOWHERE have I said or implied that *any* oppression is not a serious problem.
    NOWHERE have I said that oppression of *anyone* should not be confronted.
    NOWHERE have I even implied that those who have experienced things I will never go through are somehow less oppressed than other groups.

    Stop putting words in my mouth.
    I have said virtually the same things that Woo_Monster has said:
    Atheists have been discriminated against.
    So have women.
    So have gays.
    So have lesbians.
    So have trans* people.
    So have the mentally ill.
    So have those with physical disabilities.

    What I am *NOT* doing is ranking those.
    I will not play a game of “who has it worse”.

    Why?
    Because for the people living through the oppressive situations, to do so would be to minimize what they’re going through. To try and determine who has it worse would be to say “one of you really doesn’t have it that bad”. One of you should not feel as bad as you do. One of you should be happy you don’t have it as bad as *that* person over there.

    There are people who think queers don’t have it that bad. I’ve heard people say some shitty things in defense of this statement. Sure, in some areas, people who are queer do not share the same discrimination that others do.
    For a queer teen who is kicked out of the house for professing their love for a member of the same sex, what good does it do to say “well at least you’re not dead like people in South Africa. Stop complaining.”
    For a woman who says “Guys don’t do that”, in response to men who hit on women in inappropriate spaces, what good does it do to say “well at least you didn’t get acid thrown in your face”?
    You are, in effect, saying that what one individual is going through really isn’t that bad. You are minimizing the lived experiences of others.
    I cannot imagine you would want anyone to do that to you.
    Why are you doing it to others?

  76. PatrickG says

    @ Rutee:

    The video I linked doesn’t exist in a vacuum. I missed that particular version being private flagged, but this was easily searchable using “skepticon 5 employment discrimination”. Playable, non-private, and there you go. Now, if you want to simply assert that employment discrimination against atheists doesn’t happen, I suggest you take that up with the Secular Coalition of America.

    Thus, I’m going to say the following: if anyone’s “cheapening oppression” here, I think it’s you. Since you consistently deny that atheists experience any discrimination in the USA or “the west”. Oh, excuse me, you argue that it’s not “substantive”. It happens, but it’s not important? How else am I supposed to read that?

    By the way, I’m in the Bible Belt, too. I’ll see your “I’ve never seen it happen” and raise you multiple anecdotal accounts of atheists denied jobs and housing because they were atheist*. Before you protest that anecdotes aren’t data, note that you’re continuing to assert that substantive discrimination against atheists simply does not exist — or if it does it doesn’t matter.

    And then there’s this:

    Not cheapening oppression by pretending fairly well off groups are in a neighbourhood anywhere near as bad as the rest of us is not ‘oppression olympics’. Stop appropriating social justice terminology for atheism.

    How about you stop cheapening actual lived discrimination because it’s ‘really not that bad and shut up already’? Didn’t you claim to be an intersectionalist up above? Or is social justice now a zero-sum game?

    Is every new movement simply supposed to invent completely new tactics for fear of “misappropriating” social justice? Since the concept “Coming Out” was used successfully to gain acceptance for a marginalized group, no other group can ever use that terminology to describe their actions? You seem to think that’s the case, given your links above to people who are “misusing” social justice. But then, I guess strikes, street protests, sit-ins, teach-ins, letter writing campaigns, and so forth are strictly off-limits too — they’ve all been used before! Don’t appropriate social justice!

    Now, I’m perfectly willing to admit that I might be clueless here. If someone can demonstrate that using the terminology of being “out” as an atheist does harm to the GLTBQ community, I’m all ears. So far, all I’m seeing is “shut up atheists, other people have it worse”, but if I’m wrong, I’m more than happy to apologize and retract.

    But frankly, unless Rutee actually starts reading what I’m saying, I’m going to be very upfront and say that I’d welcome other opinions. After all, we have this little gem:

    Complain all you want. Change what you care to. Just don’t pretend for 15 seconds that a numerical minority that is, on average, doing about as well as the majority, is totes oppressed yo.

    Rutee: did you completely miss my statements that this was not my position? Did you miss me explicitly saying I expected to be misread, and I felt the need to add a disclaimer? Here, I’ll quote it again:

    Given your exchange with Woo_Monster above, I feel it necessary to point out the glaringly obvious here. I’m not ranking discrimination against atheists against other forms of discrimination. I’m not making any claims about relative “worseness” whatsoever. That’s central to your argument. Furthermore, I reject your notion that atheists in the west can’t complain because LOOK OVER THERE IT’S WORSE! Seriously?

    To recap: You say that discrimination against atheists in the west doesn’t exist. That is not true.

    Since you completely ignored it the first time, here’s the disclaimer again: this isn’t about trying to claim atheists are the Most Oppressed Group in America/Canada/The West EVER. It’s about trying to get you to acknowledge that yes, discrimination against atheists in the west does happen — and that it does real harm. That’s it. You seem firmly wedded to the idea that this never ever ever happens, or if it does it doesn’t matter. I just don’t understand your objections to people observing that yes, actually it does happen, and yes, it does matter.

    Have a profoundly baffled headshake, courtesy of me. I’m off to bed.

    * Worth noting that I might not actually be able to back this up, because the people I know really don’t want to be public about it. Can’t imagine why that might be. Obviously they’re just paranoid or something.

  77. PatrickG says

    @ Tony:

    You are minimizing the lived experiences of others.
    I cannot imagine you would want anyone to do that to you.
    Why are you doing it to others?

    Quoted for Fucking Awesomeness. This is the entirety of my position, summed up in three short sentences.

  78. says

    No, I will not limit the discussion to “western atheists”.

    I’m aware that westerners are more than happy to appropriate shit that doesn’t actually belong to them. Why would I not be? Christians have been doing it for decades, with ‘Oh, Copts suffer, JUST LIKE I DO’ or ‘OMG the Chinese don’t live up to the standards of religious freedom I deem important! Christians are persecuted!’ Self awareness – Get some.

    Have you been told?

    Yes, actually. Having paid attention to this community for years (off and on, admittedly), people tend to say where they’re from given sufficient time. Yes, yes they have overwhelmingly said they are from Europe, North America, South America, and Australia. I am not going to assume they are all liars merely because it’s convenient for you now.

    What purpose is served by arguing that one group of marginalized people is *more* marginalized?

    I’m growing rather tired of this bullshit equivocation of ‘atheists’ as ‘marginalized people’. Again, you do just as well as the majority. I don’t rank oppressions – but I don’t pretend that people who aren’t oppressed are. There is a reason I do not tolerate bullshit like anti-feminists saying “Men are the oppressed gender now” or “White people suffer from reverse racism”.

    You are saying that this group A does not have it as bad as this group B.

    This doesn’t bother you at its core. You need Group A and group B to both actually be oppressed for there to be a problem – I know for a fact you have no problem saying men don’t have it as bad as women. Again, I don’t rank oppressed people – it is all bullshit. But Atheists ain’t, in the west. And if you want to fight with those who actually are elsewhere, that’s just fucking great, but it won’t suddenly make western atheists oppressed either.

    Now you’re insinuating dishonesty on my part.

    I’m not ‘insinuating’ shit. That is a statement. And it is a statement that is well supported by the fact that you ain’t said shit to a single person who complained about Grothe. Let’s be clear – my memory is not short. I despise Grothe for his actions in opposing sexual harrassment policies, his nonpologies, etc. But he was entirely correct to say atheists aren’t in anywhere near the same boat, and there has been a lot of complaining about it.

    You are minimizing the lived experiences of others.
    I cannot imagine you would want anyone to do that to you.
    Why are you doing it to others?

    That ship sailed with all the people complaining about DJ Grothe saying that atheists aren’t in a fight anywhere near like that of queer people.

    I’m not letting ANY oppression slide.
    Nowhere.
    Absolutely NOWHERE have I said or implied that *any* oppression is not a serious problem.
    NOWHERE have I said that oppression of *anyone* should not be confronted.
    NOWHERE have I even implied that those who have experienced things I will never go through are somehow less oppressed than other groups.

    Yanno, complaining about me, instead of the atheists who did these various things, isn’t exactly like doing those things, but it isn’t exactly like avoiding them either.

    For a queer teen who is kicked out of the house for professing their love for a member of the same sex, what good does it do to say “well at least you’re not dead like people in South Africa. Stop complaining.”

    You know, every time you pretend this is what’s happening, I’m just gonna keep reminding you of what “Atheists are oppressed – Look at what happened in Bangladesh” actually reminds me of (because it’s what it actually is)

    http://www.christianpersecution.info/
    All of which is then used to say to the Flock “LOOK HOW BADLY OFF WE ARE AS CHRISTIANS”.
    (And just in case it isn’t clear, the people who are actually fighting those things are just fine and dandy in my book)
    ——

    How about you stop cheapening actual lived discrimination because it’s ‘really not that bad and shut up already’? Didn’t you claim to be an intersectionalist up above? Or is social justice now a zero-sum game?

    Are you trying to play word salad with me? ‘Social justice isn’t zero-sum’ has less than zero bearing on the situation (Rather the opposite, as I didn’t tell you to stop being atheist activists because it means you can’t work on other problems – I explicitly said work on what you will). Intersectionality does not mean every group that can be delineated is oppressed. Knock the appropriation the fuck off.

    Rutee: did you completely miss my statements that this was not my position? Did you miss me explicitly saying I expected to be misread, and I felt the need to add a disclaimer? Here, I’ll quote it again:

    Are you illiterate? Did you not see what I quoted? Can you not read for comprehension? You acted as though I said atheists shouldn’t campaign for issues that affect atheists. I did not. I clarified that was fine, and said where the divide was, not that you have crossed it. And now you’re saying that this is proof I didn’t read your little disclaimer (which, as I said to Tony, falls under the exact same problem of ‘Where was this shit when other atheists WERE saying those things’)? Christ.

    It’s about trying to get you to acknowledge that yes, discrimination against atheists in the west does happen — and that it does real harm. That’s it.

    Oh my various made up gods do you think I’d put up with this site at all if I didn’t agree that some things happened to atheists? Again, are you just trying to ignore the context of this whole thing? Recap:

    DJ Grothe: “Wouldn’t be similar. Atheists not in a struggle for liberation equal to oppressed minorities”
    Atheists that aren’t PZ: OMG! How dare you! Atheists are just as oppressed = HOW DARE YOU PLAY OPPRESSION OLYMPICS
    Me: No, seriously, it’s not even close. Grothe was actually right here. Atheists aren’t discriminated against in anywhere near the same way.
    More Jackasses: OPPRESSION OLYMPICS!!

    If all you want is a fucking medal because, in anger, I spoke in hyperbole, fuckin’ have it, but stop fucking pretending this shit is the same. You asshats are only making me angrier.

  79. chigau (please don't let me be misunderstood) says

    If you can’t be arsed to preview your own comments why should I be arsed to read them?

  80. says

    I’m not sure what’s more amusing – the asinine response to a whiffed > in there somewhere (Because of course, a typo is just fucking Satan, BUT WE TOTALLY PARSE TONE FROM CONTENT HERE AT PHARYNGULA), or the fact that the preview button remains gray no matter what I do, thus preventing me from Previewing to begin with.

  81. says

    But you know, do feel free to fuck off if your sense of superiority is satisfied by the presence of typos. I’m sure you’re too awesome to leave any, as are all the people you respect. Christ, this is what I fucking get for not harping on anyone’s typos?

  82. says

    Rutee:

    lI’m growing rather tired of this bullshit equivocation of ‘atheists’ as ‘marginalized people’. Again, you do just as well as the majority. I don’t rank oppressions – but I don’t pretend that people who aren’t oppressed are.

    You know very little about me, yet you feel comfortable making the statement that I “do just as well as the majority”. On what do you base this?
    And yes, you are ranking oppression. You have decided that some forms of discrimination DO NOT MATTER. You continue to minimize *anything* atheists have gone through, anywhere around the world, because in your opinion what they’ve gone through doesn’t match up to your standards of oppression. I’ve seen some of the exact same comments from people who say “oh you gay people don’t have it so bad” or “blacks didn’t have it so bad, why are they complaining?” You are making some massive generalized statements about people you know nothing about all because…what?
    Tell me, what does it take to meet your standard of oppression, and why should *that* be the standard that is followed?

    Richard Dawkins’ “Dear Muslima” minimized the struggles faced by some people within a marginalized group (as compared to others, whom he deemed had it it worse off).

    YOU are minimizing the struggles of an *entire* group because you feel that others have it worse off. Where do you get off determining for others that what they’ve experienced doesn’t count?
    Where do you get off determining for people that what they’ve gone through–be it job termination, loss of child custody, or being murdered–is somehow not “as bad” as this other group of minorities?
    And what is your deal with focusing on “western” societies? Especially when that’s not where I (or others) have limited the scope of our discussion?

    As Woo_Monster did, I’m about to go to sleep, but wanted to recap my position:

    Atheists and other minority groups suffer bigotry and discrimination across the planet. This bigotry and discrimination takes on many forms, and affects people to different degrees.
    I am not attempting to appropriate anything from the struggles of other minority groups. Rather, I can see the overlap of struggles facing people of various minority groups.
    I recognize that while atheists suffer from bigotry, it often takes on a different form than that which is faced by queers or women. Not a “better” or “worse” form. Simply a “different” form.
    I will not judge for others whether or not their lived experiences are better or worse than anyone else’s.

  83. says

    Rutee:

    I’m not ‘insinuating’ shit. That is a statement. And it is a statement that is well supported by the fact that you ain’t said shit to a single person who complained about Grothe. Let’s be clear – my memory is not short. I despise Grothe for his actions in opposing sexual harrassment policies, his nonpologies, etc. But he was entirely correct to say atheists aren’t in anywhere near the same boat, and there has been a lot of complaining about it.

    Saying “atheists are not in the same boat as gay people” (what DJ is saying)
    is NOT the same thing as
    “atheists in the west do not suffer oppression” (which is what you are stating)

    http://atheism.about.com/od/attacksonatheism/p/AtheistBigotry.htm

    Atheists are discriminated against in the workplace, in child custody cases, in schools, in politics and more (as seen in the link). I am not equivocating. I am not, nor will I state that group A has it as bad as group B. But neither will I say that group A doesn’t have it bad at all.

  84. says

    Getting back to the OP,

    Anyway, the final straw was DJ Grothe, who, in replying to someone who said they wanted him to pay as much attention to atheist issues as he does gay issues (a point I definitely strongly disagree with: no one gets to dictate what matters to someone else), made the statement that gay concerns are very, very different than atheist concerns, and we shouldn’t conflate the two. Again, a point I agree with 100%.

    I may be reading this wrong, but given intersectionality, how are atheist concerns different from gay concerns?
    Believers often use religious beliefs to support their discrimination of homosexuals. Removing religion from the equation would eliminate one of the significant arguments that supports anti-gay bigotry. Marriage equality, for instance, is opposed by so many people, on religious grounds. If we eliminate religion, there is one less argument against marriage equality (and a substantial one at that). Eliminating god belief has repercussions, which you’ve mentioned before PZ. So I do not understand why you agree with DJ here. There is significant overlap in the concerns of both groups.

  85. rq says

    What’s interesting is that recently (this past week?), a commenter on this network asked for advice for a friend who was kicked out of her family… for being atheist. In America.
    But I guess that’s not oppression of any kind at all. /snark

  86. John Morales says

    Tony:

    I may be reading this wrong, but given intersectionality, how are atheist concerns different from gay concerns?

    Duh. Atheists face discrimination due to their atheism and that’s the atheist concern, gays face discrimination due to their sexuality and that’s the gay concern — and gay atheists (you, for example) face both — this is the intersection of those two axes of discrimination and to what intersectionality refers.

  87. carlie says

    Oh, it’s Dan Savage doing that book review. Hadn’t noticed that, would have marked it as such.

  88. thumper1990 says

    @rutee

    I don’t rank oppressions

    Funny, that seems to be exactly what you’re doing.

    I have it pretty easy here in the UK, but being an Atheist in certain areas in the US sounds genuinely difficult. They are massively in the minority, their views and concerns are marginalised. I can relate to those bits, but US Atheists seem to face real prejudice against them and can be punished for their views in the form of social ostracism, difficulties at work etc. Sounds marginalised to me.

    Prejudice is prejudice is prejudice. It’s all bad and it all needs to be eradicated. Some forms might be more important to you; maybe because you are on the recieving end of them. But you don’t get to rank them just because some affect you more than others.