There is a private meeting of the people who are ‘running’ the movement side of atheism; it’s called “Heads”, which sort of tells you what it is about. It’s the leaders of the various disparate groups that make up the movement. You might wonder what goes on there (I’m not and never have been part of it). Much of it seems to be about silencing the people who might drive change.
The structure of this year’s meeting changed after women voiced their opinions and concerns at last year’s meeting. Some of those opinions were unpopular and unwelcome, and during the meeting, the Chair of the Advisory Board of the Secular Coalition of America requested that the next meeting be available only to member organizations of SCA. SCA ran this year’s meeting, and the change was made, excluding Secular Woman and other smaller organizations.
People continue to write “where are the women” pieces about the secular movement after years of work to make us more inclusive. Women enter this movement, then leave with stories of being talked over, silenced, and valued for their bodies over their voices. As #MeToo continues to gather momentum, the leaders of this movement have changed the rules to specifically exclude Secular Woman, the only secular organization which focuses on the concerns and voices of women.
That’s right, the powers-that-be took action to exclude innovators and representatives of new ideas. You must be a member of their in-group to participate now. Perhaps you’re wondering who runs the show behind the scenes in the atheist “movement”. Here’s that advisory board.
Woody Kaplan – chair
Robert Boston – writer and spokesperson on the Religious Right and First Amendment issues
Richard Dawkins, D.Sc., FRS – evolutionary biologist and popular science writer who holds the Charles Simonyi Chair in the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University
Daniel Dennett, D.Phil. – philosopher whose research intersects with cognitive science and evolutionary biology
Rebecca Goldstein, Ph.D. – author and philosopher
Sam Harris, Ph.D. – author, neuroscientist, and CEO of Project Reason
Jeff Hawkins – entrepreneur and inventor
Wendy Kaminer – author and social critic on civil liberties, religion and popular culture
Michael Newdow, M.D. – attorney, medical doctor and litigant in Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow which attempted to remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance
Dan Okrent – author, best known for having served as the first public editor of the New York Times.
Steven Pinker, Ph.D. – psychologist, writer and Humanist Laureate
Salman Rushdie – novelist
Hon. Fortney “Pete” Stark – The first openly nontheistic member of the United States House of Representatives (1973 to 2013)
Todd Stiefel – founder and president of the Stiefel Freethought Foundation.
Julia Sweeney – actor best known for her androgynous character Pat on “Saturday Night Live” and her critically acclaimed one-woman monologue, “Letting Go of God.”
Doug White – a long-time leader in the nation’s philanthropic community, is an author, teacher, and an advisor to nonprofit organizations and philanthropists.
Some of them are all right. But way too many of them are, at best, defenders of the status quo, and at worst, representative of the nastier elements of atheism. Old boss, same as the new boss. And we probably will be fooled again, dammit.