Why I identify as an Atheist : Secular Voices of Color

Below is my video contribution for ‘Secular Voices of Colour‘. As the project coordinator, Sincere Karibo stated

Secular Voices of Color is a unique opportunity to spread awareness of and focus on the stories minority representation of nonbelievers.

My video contribution is transcribed below. Happy Viewing!

My name is Yemisi Ilesanmi, I am a Nigerian, grew up in Nigeria and now resident in UK. I was born into a Christian family. Nigeria is the largest black nation on earth and it is one of the most religious in the world. Growing up I decided if I was going to be a Christian, damn right I was going to be the best Christian ever. My parents attended the spiritual church known more as white garment church. It was always about speaking in tongues, prophesy, exorcism and all that crap that comes with believing in a skydaddy and the existence of evil spirits. [Read more…]

No, Atheism is not a leap of faith or a descent into bigotry!

When a friend tagged me in an article in the Guardian titled, ‘My atheism does not make me superior to believers. 396822_165455010225354_100002825693663_217839_1616784218_nIt’s a leap of faith too”, by Ijeoma Oluo, I knew from the second part of the title not to expect much and as predicted, the article turned out to be arrant nonsense.

For one, it reads like a piece someone just figuring out that there is no Santa Claus, Easter bunny, Tooth Fairy or Bogey Man would write. It is quite surprising that the writer, a self-proclaimed atheist, could not differentiate between faith and knowledge.

For this reason, I wouldn’t take seriously anything the writer has to say about atheism, however, i would endeavour to analyse her article.

She wrote-

I didn’t come to this conclusion because the story of a man waking from the dead made no sense – I wasn’t an overly analytical child. I still enthusiastically believed in Santa Claus and the Easter bunny. But when I searched myself for any sense of belief in a higher power, it just wasn’t there. I wanted it to be there – how comforting to have a God. But it wasn’t there, and it isn’t to this day.

This sounds creepily like a gay person wishing they were not gay. Atheism is not a feeling, it is not a sexual orientation or emotional/ sexual attraction, it is not the spooky feeling that some people insist they get that tells them a ghost is in the room. [Read more…]

Chapel Hill Shootings: Condemning religion does not an Islamophobe make, Atheism does not a superior moral being make

The gruesome murders of Deah Barakat, 23, Yusor Abu-Salha, 21, and Razan Abu-Salha, 19, all Muslims, in the gun-toting hand of Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, an atheist, is appalling and a tragedy. I cannot begin to imagine what the families of these victims must be going through.

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CNN reported

According to the law enforcement official briefed on the investigation, Tuesday’s altercation started after Hicks found a car belonging to one of the victims in what he claimed was his parking space. Then Hicks went to the victim’s condo and shot all three people in a confrontation.

Hicks turned himself in to police Tuesday night and is being held in the Durham County Jail without bond. He is cooperating with investigators, police said Wednesday morning.

Mohammad Abu-Salha The father of the female victims feels differently, he believes it is an hate crime.  He stated

We have no doubt that the way they looked and the way they believed had something to do with this

Karen Hicks, the soon to be ex-wife of Craig Stephen Hicks expressed her shock and sympathy, she however stated

This incident had nothing to do with religion or the victims’ faith, but in fact was related to the longstanding parking disputes that my husband had with the neighbors

According to Craig Stephen Hicks’ neighbour, Samantha Maness it was an equal opportunity anger situation.

I have seen and heard him be very unfriendly to a lot of people in this community,” Samantha Maness, another resident of the Finley Forest development, told the Times. She said that Hicks displayed an “equal opportunity anger” and that he made “everyone feel uncomfortable and unsafe.

Why are some atheists blaming ‘Extreme Atheism’ for Chapel Hill shootings? 

I watched in bewilderment as some atheists assume extreme atheism was to blame for the murders. Some have [Read more…]

Calling Out Misogyny or Bullying is Not An Attack; It is a Social Duty!

There is this unfortunate trend in social media where calling out someone for their sexist, misogynist, and/or inhumane remarks is seen more as an invitation for a fight rather than an opportunity to engage in rational discussion. Many, especially women, are discouraged from calling out sexist, misogynist, or stereotype remarks made by friends on social media like Facebook or Twitter, for fear of being tagged as the “type of feminist that gives feminism a bad name”.

There seems to be a renewed effort to tag outspoken,social justice conscious women as aggressive, judgemental, over-sensitive ‘bitches’ who just want to ruin everyone’s fun. It is particularly sad that this type of silencing technique is becoming even more prevalent in the Humanist/Atheist space.

November 17th-24th is  anti-bullying week and I pledged sometime ago not to be a bystander when I witness bullying. Of course, this has somehow earned me a reputation as the “fun ruiner”, especially amongst some of my fb friends.  Whenever i post or comment on such issues, it is at the risk of being referred to as the “type of feminist” they don’t like. Therefore, such discussions tend to irritate some ‘friends’ and many do get aggressively defensive when called out. However, i am sure that those who resort to aggressive behaviour when called out on how they treat others do not deserve the space they occupy on my virtual/real friendship list, simples.

I was shocked when I came across the status update below from a somehow close FB friend who identify as humanist and feminist: [Read more…]

Why I hate some supposedly wise sayings: Paradise points are not a reason to help!

In my part of the world, every advice seems to be followed by some supposedly wise sayings. African societies have rich collections of very good 1000003_10151996190466873_26189186_nproverbs, but those proverbs are being relegated to the background in favour of some suspiciously evangelical ‘wise’ sayings.

These supposedly ‘wise’ sayings do get on my nerves. Some of these sayings are so common that I am beginning to think perhaps people just say those things from force of habit, without actually thinking them through.

In particular, I hate ‘wise’ sayings that attach a reason to why we need to help others. For example:

  • “Be nice to people on your way up, because you might meet them on your way down”
  • “You don’t know what this person would be tomorrow, be nice to them today”
  • “Help someone because that is what God wants good believers to do”

Do we really need a reason before we extend a helping hand to someone in need? [Read more…]

Creeps, creeps, creeps everywhere; Atheist movement sure has more than its fair share of creeps!

An enlightening piece titled Will Misogyny Bring Down The Atheist Movement? was recently published on buzzfeed by Mark Oppenheimer. It is a long read that exposes the sexist, misogynistic behaviour of some well-known male Atheists leaders. I guess they are referred to as Atheist leaders because they are well paid to speak at atheists events, coveted by the media and well, some of them have written popular books, but as an atheist and feminist, I wouldn’t think of many of these creeps as ‘leaders’ in any way.

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The article particularly focused on the many allegations of sexual harassment surrounding Michael Shermer. It also exposes the indefensible thought process of those in power who have protected and shielded him from the consequences of his questionable actions towards women at Atheist conventions.
James Randy was quoted in the article as saying- [Read more…]

Physically attacked at an atheist event by a fellow ‘feminist’ atheist!

I always thought if I were ever to be attacked by someone I only knew from social media especially Facebook, it would be by a homophobe, biphobe, 385838_210204545725456_192116174200960_481213_799145023_ntransphobe or a religious fanatic who didn’t like my LGBT rights advocacy or anti-religion posts. Never in my dreams would I have thought I would experience a physical attack and verbal abuse at an atheist event from a female Facebook friend who identifies as a feminist and an atheist!

Until now, my casual encounters with people who only knew me from Facebook have been positive. From the ones I ran into in London tubes to the ones who excitedly introduced themselves as my fb friends at social events or gave me heartfelt hugs at London pride, it has been positive experience until now. Get ready to hear the full gist, don’t forget to get your popcorn! [Read more…]

Of Rape graders and Hero worship.

Richard Dawkins ill-informed attempt to grade rape triggered discussions and heated debates on the issue of rape. Sure enough, rape apologists and victim blamers used the opportunity to proudly show off their self-inflicted ignorance and bigotry on the issue of Rape. It was also another avenue for hero worship. I did get some very worrisome responses on my Facebook wall to my blogpost RichardDawkins@Confused.Com: No one said you endorsed rape, what you did was grade rape and that is appalling. It also exposes the fact that many are actually happy to blame victims but won’t admit that they are rape apologists.

I plan on making some of these discussions into a blogpost but first I need to get this very misguided, unconscionable comment made by a proudly ignorant person out of the way.

Trigger alert- Contains Trivialisation of Rape. [Read more…]

RichardDawkins@Confused.Com: No one said you endorsed rape, what you did was grade rape and that is appalling!

Watching the downward spiral of Richard Dawkins from a respected scientist and atheist to a cringeworthy tweeter commentator is indeed Richard-Dawkinssaddening.

The latest embarrassing and thoughtless tweets of the Professor has generated yet another media storm and a lot of criticism and not forgetting the usual dose of worship from the “Richard Dawkins can do no wrong” worshippers. What I find amusing and of course saddening is how he refuses to acknowledge the constructive criticisms levelled at his tweets but chose instead to spew bigotry and disdain from his high pedestal at his critiques. To boot, he tries to make himself out as a victim of witch hunts!

The Professor and his apologists are going to ridiculous length to ‘clarify’ the intentions behind his tweets. Richard Dawkins wanted us to know he was not endorsing rape, but who the heck said he was endorsing rape? It is like the man wants to direct our attention away from the major blunder he committed by using an obvious defence, only that no one attacked him with that tool, so using that particular defence is basically pointless. We are no children that can be tempted away from the main issues just because he flashed a candy at us.

Below are the Richard Dawkins’ tweets in question, one can see how the tweets spiralled out of the control of Richard Dawkins.  RD even went on a tantrum when he couldn’t believe that people were even more stupid than he thought. Sighs. [Read more…]

Nigerian atheist Mubarak Bala held hostage in a psychiatric ward for renouncing Islam and non belief in God

FREE MUBARAK Mubarak Bala, a Nigerian and an atheist is being held hostage in a psychiatry ward at Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Kano, Nigeria on the orders of his father Bala Mohammed. Mubarak’s father is a prominent weekly columnist who writes a Saturday column for Daily Trust, a National Newspaper. Bala Mohammed committed his son to a psychiatric unit when his son expressed  non belief in God and renounced Islam.

I gathered from reliable sources, including sources from within the Daily Trust  Newspaper, that the extremism of Mubarak’s father’s was becoming apparent and some staff members were concerned about the appalling way he was treating his son whose public declaration of atheism and renunciation of Islam on social media seems to have attracted attention in Kano.

My source was shocked when a contact that is very close to the Publisher of Daily Trust said they were aware of the case and have been aware of Bala Mohamed’s growing extremism and the appalling way he committed his son to a psychiatry ward for renouncing Islam. However the paper refused to carry the story because of the controversy it would generate and a fear of reprisal. [Read more…]

Nigerian Atheists Group: A story of Bigotry, Sexism and Patriarchy!

It has indeed been enlightening as well as fun anchoring, participating and watching on the Nigerian Atheists group page, the 383946_203577736388137_192116174200960_463961_1674859760_nreality drama triggered by the controversial minutes of the first and only meeting of this group ‘Nigerian Atheists’.

It has provided me with a good story line. This juicy story is not a book full of lies, deceits and a bloodthirsty God character like the Bible or Quran but it has surely been inspired by a minutes of a meeting, with as much credibility as the Bible or Quran, ironically, the group’s name is, wait for it,  Nigerian Atheists!

THE MINUTES OF THIS GROUP MEETING WAS WRITTEN BY PROPHET KUNLE OGUNYEMI AND WITNESSED BY HIS APOSTLES namely, the plagiarizing Apostle GAMBO aka Gambagate, the Lily livered Apostle ANDREW and on the fence sitter, Apostle LEKE!

People wondered why I didn’t just leave the Nigerian Atheists group since they were obviously up to no good. Many of the group members still do not understand that they have been gathered together as evidence for the Nigerian Atheist prophet of scammers, Prophet Kunle, who wanted to show the group to the world as evidence of a congregation he needs to feed. Since he cannot do so through miracles as supposedly done by dear lord Jesus, who allegedly fed a multitude with 5 loaves and 2 fish, Prophet Kunle thought it would be great to appeal to international atheists organisations to help fund  ‘his” organization. [Read more…]

ANALYSIS OF COMMENTS MADE BY TWO FOUNDING MEMBERS OF THE GROUP ‘NIGERIAN ATHEISTS’.

This was first posted in June, 2012 on the Nigerian atheist group Facebook page, my Facebook notes and old blog and now published here for easy reference.

My short stint with the Nigerian Atheists group exposed me and many others to bigotry, sexism, homophobia and a blatant 304914_209227842473067_100001575579815_591821_3991924_ndisregard for facts in the group.  It really was an eye opening experience that brought to fore the characters of its founders and the real intention behind floating the group. It is indeed a pity because they give Atheists a bad name and has unfortunately contributed to the stereotype of Nigerians as yahoo scammers. I believe such experience should be documented for present and future purposes and HERE is a link to my write up on the experience

Below are my analyses of the comments made  by two of the Nigerian Atheists group main founders, Hotem Dajenid and Gamba Joel Sl, on the Nigerian Atheists group Facebook page , following my objection to the minutes of the first ever Nigerian Atheists group meeting, where I was blatantly misquoted and misrepresented.

The analyses of their comments was posted as a document and comments on the group page , not surprisingly and very unethically, the document along with my OBJECTION TO THE MINUTES document and my comments were deleted by Hotem Dajenid and Kunle Ogunyemi, who are both founders and Admin members of  the Nigerian Atheists Facebook group page. The group has also been made a closed group, hmm .. now closeted atheists or just hiding their bigoted, sexist , homophobic group from the prying eyes of the public?  They form a backdrop of interesting characters for a good storyline worth reading about HERE! [Read more…]

Nigerian Atheists Group: Genesis and Revelation of its Patriarchal Tendencies!

How does one begin to address strong issues of great importance delicately?

How does one point out to a fledgling organization that it does not practice what it seeks to preach to others without being termed 430560_3251659296871_1428686839_33367390_235620484_na killer of dreams?

How does one get redress for a wrong done by a minority organization without being termed as malicious and vindictive?

How do we get people to understand that being a minority organization or a member of a minority group does not excuse you from objective criticism?

Bigotry, sexism, censorship, lack of regards for facts, misrepresentation, bullying should not rear its ugly head in a progressive organization, certainly not in an ATHEISTS organization, and if it reared its ugly head, this should not be welcomed or swept under the carpet.

No organization should claim a free pass from objective criticism because it is a minority, fledgling organization. If you want to preach reason and logic to the world as a group, be ready to practice what you preach starting from within your group. [Read more…]

PUBLIC DISCLAIMER AND OBJECTION TO THE UNAPPROVED MINUTES OF NIGERIAN ATHEISTS GROUP MEETING HELD ON FEBRUARY 12, 2012

THIS IS A PUBLIC DISCLAIMER BY YEMISI ILESANMI ON THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF NIGERIAN ATHEISTS GROUP HELD IN ABUJA, NIGERIA ON FEBRUARY 12 2012. THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING CONTAINS INACCURACIES AND YEMISI ILESANMI DOES NOT WISH TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH THE GROUP ‘NIGERIAN ATHEISTS’. THANK YOU. (This was first posted on 24 June, 2012  on the Nigerian atheist group Facebook page, my Facebook notes, my old blog and now posted here for easy reference.)

OBJECTION TO THE WAY I WAS MISREPRESENTED AND MISQUOTED IN THE UNAPPROVED MINUTES OF THE NIGERIAN ATHEISTS MEETING OF FEBRUARY 12, 2012.

Dear Nigerian Atheists members,

I am obliged to make some clarifications pertaining to the minutes of the 1st ever meeting of Nigerian Atheists group posted by the secretary of the group, Kunle Ogunyemi.

The minutes of the meeting should have been sent round to all members present at the meeting and at least to all officials for amendments and approval before being made public, this to the best of my knowledge was not done, if done, it was certainly not sent to me,  I actually just read the minutes of the meeting for the first time on this blog SkepticMoney.  (http://www.skepticmoney.com/the-nigerian-atheists-organization-has-formed-we-are-everywhere/)

The minutes of the meeting was NEVER posted on the Nigerian Atheists group page, but FIRST ended up in a FOREIGN BLOG! BTW, why should the minutes of the meeting be posted in a foreign blog as promotional stuff? [Read more…]

Avoiding Ableist or Sexist Language Won’t Make Us Less Fun!

I found this amazing campaign on a website and decided to share on my facebook wall.  As stated on the website , “The following are images from the “You Don’t Say?” Campaign out of Duke University. The premise of the campaign is to encourage people to think before speaking as the words one delivers can have negative implications that were never intended in the first place, especially to those around us.

These phrases are often said with harmless intent. But how do we really make those around us feel? Perhaps it’s time for us to actually think before we speak?”

 The images show different persons holding different signs  –

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When I posted this wonderful piece as my FB status update, I added-

 And I don’t say “Don’t be a retard” because it is Ableist . [Read more…]