After saying that the atheist movement ought to be politically progressive and inclusive, I got a letter saying I left some people out. I’ll rectify that by simply posting the letter!
I’m a long-time reader and admirer of Pharyngula, and I’ve been especially impressed with your call for atheists and skeptics to take up the banner on progressive causes, including women’s rights and being more inclusive to people of colour. As a progressive woman skeptic, I was overjoyed by your support.
There’s another issue though, that I think has been overlooked by the majority of the skeptical community, and I would be honoured if you would also consider giving it some space on Pharyngula: Disability Rights. As a disabled woman, I have to tell you that skepticism, atheism, and disability rights go together perfectly. Obviously, the most prominent example of this is the way skeptics have tackled the “vaccines cause autism” issue, which has led to a plethora of damaging practices being used to torture autistic people, such as chelation, homeopathic garbage, and other “purification” woo. But there are other examples of the damage religion and lack of scientific literacy can do to disabled people: We’re often the most highly represented victims of practices like faith healing and exorcisms. As someone who works on a pilot project to address violence against disabled people, I can tell you hair-raising stories of the parents, spouses, and caretakers of disabled people using the Bible to justify abuse, humiliation, and deprivation of essential needs and equipment for disabled people, in the name of a “Loving and Merciful God”. And of course, the venomous hatred spewed by the most rotten Christian commentators whenever Stephen Hawking discusses the ridiculous claims of Heaven and Creationism offer a peek into just how little the religious truly respect disabled people.
I think that the skeptical/atheist community would be the perfect allies for disability rights activists, if more is done to include them in the discussion, such as courting disabled speakers to talk about their experiences with religious abuse, discussing what can be done to improve their quality of life when so many social services fail and they have to depend on churches and religious-based charities for handouts in exchange for brianwashing, and other issues.
I hope you’ll consider it. As a disabled skeptic, it would make my day.
I agree. We’re about good minds, and we should accept them no matter what the bodies that house them look like.