There is much talk these days about a phenomenon called Atheism+. This is the notion that atheism is not just a definition but a weltanschauung that should and, it is thought, necessarily does, encompass the taking of stands on a variety of social issues. Those who think this are being recruited to the new, and growing, ranks of adherents to the concept of Atheism+. Some worry that the arguments being advanced for both sides of the issue will create a schism in atheism.
Will it? Of course it will. That is why it is a bad idea.
I have seen this happen before. Been there, done that, bought the T shirt, wrote the book, working on the sequel.
Atheism means without a belief in a god. That’s it. Within that shell are many many different points of view. This became clear a few years ago when several life members quit the organization American Atheists because it’s then President was actively working for the defeat of President George Bush. The quitting life members liked Bush and thought the organization had no business being against him, or for or against anyone else for that matter. I know this because they told me.
I could not imagine any atheist being in favor of Bush. But these folks were. I have also met atheists who are members of American Atheists and who oppose a woman’s right to choose. And who are opposed to gay marriage. And all sorts of things like that. The only thing that they all have in common is being atheists. Start taking sides on social issues and learn what chaos is all about.
I am a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA) unless my membership has lapsed. I am also an NRA Certified Handgun Instructor. And I know some of our members don’t like that. Anyhow, a few years ago the NRA went against its own policy of being a single issue organization and took a stand on an abortion issue. In consequence, the NRA immediately lost about half of its members. Members who were in the NRA to protect gun rights, not to legislate women’s health issues, quit the organization.
The NRA changed their policy in a hurry, became a single issue organization again, and got its members back.
American Atheists is a single issue organization dedicated to complete separation of Church and
State and to fighting for the rights of atheists to equal protection of the laws.
That’s quite a bit.
It should stay that way.
Every generation does not have to re-invent the wheel.
© 2012 by Edwin Kagin.