Bi Any Means Podcast #124: Confessions of an Ex-Muslim with Yasmine Mohammed

My guest for today is Yasmine Mohammed, co-host of the Secular Jihadists from the Middle East podcast. She grew up in Canada in an extremely conservative Muslim family, and was in an arranged marriage with an Al-Qaeda agent. She escaped both the marriage and Islam, and her memoir about her journey, “From Al-Qaeda to Atheism,” will be released this December. Today we’re going to talk about her story, plus a little bit about what the Left and Right get wrong about Islam.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #123: Inter-tradition Dialogue with Alex Moreschi

My guest for today is Rev. Alex Moreschi. He’s an ordained Episcopalian minister who currently works in hospice care, and is a co-host of the No Religion Required podcast. One of his biggest passions is reaching across the proverbial aisle to people of different faiths…and no faith at all…to work together for common goals, and today we’re going to talk about that.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #122: The Satanic Temple with Lucien Greaves

My guest for today is Lucien Greaves of the Satanic Temple. Founded in 2013, the Satanic Temple’s mission is “to encourage benevolence and empathy among all people, reject tyrannical authority, advocate practical common sense and justice, and be directed by the human conscience to undertake noble pursuits guided by the individual will.” They run several campaigns including the Satanic Temple Veterans Memorial, the After School Satan Club, and the Protect Children Project among others. So today I’ll be chatting with Lucien about everything they do.

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Beyond the “Atheist Movement”

Happy Halloween!

Sorry I haven’t been blogging much lately here. Money’s tight, so I’m focusing more on paying freelance writing gigs. But I do want to mention something that’s been on my mind lately.

Today’s episode of The Thinking Atheist podcast is about whether or not the “atheist movement” is dying. I haven’t had the chance to listen to it yet, but because I’m part of the Outrage Brigade, I’m gonna tell everybody what I think without hearing what others have to say first.

(Just kidding, Seth.)

But seriously, the pessimist in me thinks the movement is on its last legs. From Elevatorgate to MythCon, it seems like the whole scene’s been on a gradual decline. Maybe it was always like that, but it’s only nowadays that everyone’s showing their true colors. Either way, sometimes I wonder if all the alarmist “The Atheist Movement is Dead, and the Alt-Right Killed It” articles were right all along.

On the other hand, the optimist in me thinks the movement is stronger than ever. In the wake of MythCon, several prominent atheists have spoken out against Sargon of Akkad’s hateful rhetoric, including David Silverman, who promised not to invite any shitlords at next year’s American Atheist con. So maybe we’re finally getting serious about trolls and shitlords? Who knows.

Then there’s the realist in me that, I think, has the perfect middle ground: to go beyond the atheist movement.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not divorcing myself from the atheist movement. Through blogging and podcasting, I’ve met so many amazing activists like Callie Wright, Marissa McCool, Sincere Kirabo, Jessica Xiao, and others that I don’t just consider to be my friends, but also my family. I’ve also met a lot of amazing fans that message me to thank me for doing what I do. In fact, a few months ago a young transman reached out to me and Callie during a crisis. I wouldn’t have been able to be there for him without being part of the atheist podcast community, so I can’t leave now.

What I mean is doing activism outside of the atheist community as well as inside it.  Fighting religious dogma in our society is still important to me, but so is fighting racism, sexism, and anti-queer bigotry. I can only do so much within the atheist movement silo, which is why I write for social justice websites like Ravishly and The Establishment. I want to build a bridge between secularism and social justice.

Which is why I’ve already made a New Year’s Resolution: to extend my activism. I hope to do a workshop with members of the LGBTQ Humanist Alliance about secular humanism at next year’s Creating Change conference (hopefully we’ll hear back from them tomorrow), and I want to schedule talks in my hometown about LGBTQ rights. I’m also pitching workshop ideas to a few atheist conferences about LGBTQ rights and social justice, and getting more of my feminist freelance writer friends on my Bi Any Means podcast.

Basically at this point in my life, it’s no longer about rubbing shoulders with the big names in the atheist movement. Sure, it’s nice to hug Hemant Mehta and smoke cigarettes with Yvette d’Entremont at PASTAHcon, and have Lucien Greaves tell me he loved my “WTF is Genderqueer?” talk from this year’s AHA conference, but that’s not my top priority. What means the most to me is when someone emails me thanking me for my recent article about gender dysphoria and non-binary people, or when someone reaches out to me to talk about trying to figure out their gender identity, or somebody saying, “Thanks for explaining this whole transgender stuff in a way I can understand.” That, to me, makes the most impact, not brownie points from the big names.

Plus, in the age of Trump, the last thing I need is to be part of a self-congratulating circle-jerk while people are scared about losing their jobs, their homes, and even their very lives. While I’m forever grateful for the platform the atheist community has given me, now it’s time for me to do something good with it.

So here’s the going beyond the atheist movement and getting shit done in 2018!

The Biskeptical Podcast #35: #MeToo and President Pence

CN: Sexual harassment and assault

For the first part of today’s episode, we talk about Harvey Weinstein, the hashtags #MeToo and #IHave, and rape culture. It’s a pretty heavy and uncomfortable conversation about sexual assault and harassment just to warn you all, but a much needed conversation none-the-less. In the second half, we talk about the recent New Yorker article about Mike Pence, and why maybe having him as president might be worse than Trump.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #120: PASTAHcon Recap

Today’s episode is another monologue episode. This time I’m sharing my experiences at PASTAHcon this past weekend. I brought my Zoom H4N portable recorder with me just in case I found someone to interview for the show, and while I met a lot of people that I would love to have on the show in the future, it was much easier for me to just listen to the talks and hang out with friends than try to chase someone down to talk to me for five minutes. Also, I was originally planning on inviting a guest for this week, but since I’m recording the Biskeptical Podcast this week with Morgan and I have a few other projects I need to do, I figure just turning on the mic and talking about this past weekend would be less of a hassle.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #119: Latinx Secular Politics with Juhem Navarro-Rivera

My guest for today is Dr. Juhem Navarro-Rivera. According to his official bio, “Dr. Juhem Navarro-Rivera is a political scientist with expertise in Latinx political behavior and in secularism and politics. He writes about the intersection of secularism, race, and politics in his blog The LatiNone and cohosts The Benito Juárez Experience, a podcast on politics, society, and culture from a secular Latinx perspective. He is author or coauthor of many articles on secularism, politics and race in the United States. He works as managing partner and political director at SocioAnalítica Research. Dr. Navarro-Rivera earned his PhD in Political Science from the University of Connecticut.” And today we’re going to find out more about him and what he does.

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Should I Stay Or Should I Go? When Your Activist Community Becomes Toxic — My Latest For Ravishly

I didn’t start out in activist communities, but everything changed in 2013. Up until then, I was — to the best of my knowledge — a straight cis moderately liberal Christian blogger who only had a handful of readers. By the time I was 29, though, I finally figured out I was bisexual (it took me another two years to figure out I was non-binary), and started a Tumblr blog to connect with other bisexuals. What I didn’t expect was following a trail of social justice blogs that taught me about the systemic racism and misogyny that are still operating in the early 21st century.

Around the same time, I was deconstructing my faith to the point that eventually God just disappeared in a puff of logic. I was quickly evolving from a straight cis moderately liberal Christian guy to a queer trans atheist/humanist with a passion for social justice, and so I obviously had opinions. I decided to start a new blog called Bi Any Means and a podcast with the same name, and that, in the words of Robert Frost, has made all the difference.

I hoped that my blog and podcast would connect me with other activists spreading the good news of humanism. I didn’t expect to find family, but that’s what happened. As I interviewed more activists in the movement for the podcast, word about me quickly spread, and before I knew it, prominent atheist activists were sending me friend requests on Facebook. For some reason, people liked what I had to say. Fellow podcasters started inviting me to be a guest on their shows. Friends shared my blog posts. People I admired walked up to me during last year’s Reason Rally to say hello. All my hard work was finally paying off.

As clichéd as it sounds, I felt welcomed into a community for the first time in my life.

The pinnacle of this sense of community was this year’s ReasonCon in Hickory, NC. Not only did I reconnect with everyone I met at Reason Rally, I also made new friends and met more fans of my show. The talks were great, but the highlight of the conference was the amazing sense of community. We were in an environment where we were welcome to take off our masks, to laugh about the good times, mourn the loss of loved ones together, and open ourselves to the possibility of creating a lasting community. I started crying uncontrollably when I got home. I saw so much beauty that weekend — from meeting new people to sharing meals together to even witnessing a wedding proposal — that I couldn’t process it. I finally found a home.

Lately, however, my happy safe place is getting more and more toxic. The atheist movement has always had problems (remember Elevatorgate?), but I was under the impression that we’ve since moved on. Boy, I was wrong! For starters, after finding out one of my friends in the movement had been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior, I wrote on my Facebook wall, “Are there any atheists that aren’t racist or sexist?” A prominent member of the movement, who I generally respect, chimed in to basically say, “Not all atheists.” That led to several friends asking him if he’s doing anything to address racism and sexism within the movement, but he just tip-toed around the issue to my disappointment.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #117: Life in a Pentecostal Cult with Devyn Lennex

My guest for today is my friend Devyn Lennex. They are 20-something non-binary person who grew up in an extremely conservative Pentecostal cult where they had to wear skirts and couldn’t go anywhere that served alcohol. At 17, they were in what was basically an arranged marriage, but got out at 19 and began their journey to self-discovery and self-agency. So today we’re going to hear Devyn’s story.

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Bi Any Means Podcast #116: When Colorblindness Isn’t the Answer with Anthony Pinn

My guest for today is Dr. Anthony Pinn. He is a professor, author, and public intellectual working at the intersections of African-American religion, constructive theology, and humanist thought. Pinn is also the Agnes Cullen Arnold Professor of Humanities and Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University. He has a new book called, “When Colorblindness Isn’t the Answer: Humanism and the Challenge of Race.” Today we’re going to talk about the book and how humanists can be better advocates for racial justice.

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