I seem to be on this person’s mailing list, and I frequently get sent their diatribes. This one is an open letter sent to American Atheists, and they request input on it. So here, give them input.
I just got another solicitation for money
from American Atheists’ (AA) president Nick Fish
–this time, in a snail mail.
Rather than inspire me to contribute,
Nick’s message left me
more angry and disappointed than ever.
For one thing, Nick lists AA’s “accomplishments” in the
past year in his letter; they are three small-town events
which apparently originated and were worked on by local groups
in the U.S. but not spearheaded or originated by AA.
Nick lists AA’s accomplishments in 2019 as follows:
1) He claims that in Missouri, AA blocked a bill that would have
required public schools to offer “Bible literacy” classes.
This is a good cause, but in none of the 52 news releases that
Nick and others at AA sent out in 2019 (one a week usually)
did he mention that this effort had started,
informed us of its progress
or mentioned what progress was being made.
I suspect this was a mostly totally local effort by
Missouri atheists, which AA headquarters wants to
take credit for, and that’s why we were never
informed that it was happening.
2) Nick claims that in North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee and Utah,
AA “worked to ban” female genital mutilation.
Oy. What does female genital mutilation have to do with
separation of church and state?
I DOUBT THERE ARE MORE THAN
A COUPLE OF CASES OF GENITAL
MUTILATION IN THOSE STATES.
There are a lot of things that are more damaging
to people in North Carolina,
Arkansas, Tennessee and Utah than genital mutilation.
The coal industry, for instance, lung cancer, malnutrition,
unemployment, lack of healthcare.
Moreover, shouldn’t AA tackle MALE genital mutilation first?
Circumcision is much more prevalent in the USA than
female mutilation. And it is clearly a religious practice.
Female genital mutilation is considered a cultural practice.
3) In Nebraska and Colorado, Nick says AA helped ban
I take it that Nick is referring to the issue, prevalent in the LGBTQ
community, that trying to convert a gay person to heterosexuality
is considered a negative thing to do, though he doesn’t define
I think this is a personal decision for the gay person,
who is certainly free to decline this kind of therapy.
While we can certainly sympathize with
any coercion exerted on the gay person to undergo therapy,
I feel this is an issue better handled by the many LGBTQ
organizations out there that are equipped to deal
with the nuances.
By listing these three AA accomplishments
of 2019, Nick has implied here in this fund-raising letter that
apparently one-third of AA’s resources
this past year have been devoted to this issue.
I am also upset by other things in Nick’s
He uses lingo that is foreign to Atheism
and evidently stems from other movements,
such as, for example:
(1) “Christian nationalists” – I have been an activist in the Atheist
movement since 2004 but have not
heard this term used to any wide extent.
What exactly does it mean?
(2) “Religious Equality” –
I have told Nick Fish over and over that this term
is not relevant to Atheists.
Why would atheists want
to be “equal” to Religious people?
I don’t know any atheist what wants to be like a religious person.
It would be going backward, in our minds.
This distinction in our interpretation of this term
is a nuance, I know, but I assure
you that the goal of most atheists is NOT to be
the same as, or equal to, a religious person.
I know equality is something the LGBTQ
community strives for, but they mean legal equality.
Atheists mainly have legal equality in our court system
because we do not have to disclose that we are atheists.
I know equality is something the the LGBTQ community
strives for, but they mean legal equality.
Atheists mainly already have legal equality in our courts
because we do not have to disclose that we atheists.
To Nick, then, I would say: If your constituents tell you
that they don’t know what you mean, or that it
does not apply to us, you really ought
to pay attention.
And what are AA’s goals for the coming year?
Nick says they are:
1) Giving a voice to young people who are kicked out of their homes
for leaving their parents religion.
I’m sorry, but this just doesn’t happen very often, Nick.
It takes some maturity for a child to figure out that they
want to leave their parents’ religion, and by that time
maybe they should be out of the house and independent
of their parents anyway.
2) AA’s second goal for next year is “Opposing arranged or forced marriages in various religions.”
This is, alas, just one aspect of how religion oppresses women.
Some AA members feel it is more important to oppose religion
as a whole, as we have been doing in the past, rather than oppose
individual religious customs that are oppressive–
of which there are many, some much more damaging than forced marriage.
3) The third goal is to help would-be parents that are Atheist adopt children.
I was not aware that would-be adoptive parents were being widely turned down
because they are Atheists. I knew, however, that LGBTQ parents suffered
from this this prejudice. This may be a difficult issue to resolve because it
it appears that many religions sponsor their own adoption agencies. It would appear
to me that setting up an Atheist adoption agency would be the best solution here
but that requires much funding and time. I don’t think it can be accomplished in one year, if at all.
But all these are matters for discussion
and matters for the democratic determination
of the priority of particular issues.
There has been very little listening to members’ input
this year in AA. And there has been no democracy whatsoever
in determining what issues should be financed
and worked on.
Yes, American Atheists, that is what I am accusing
you of: A lack of democracy in AA.
And a concomitant lack of transparency.
Since the new regime began at AA, there has been
little or no input taken seriously from members.
You who run AA ask for our money
but then want to be left alone to do whatever you wish.
Yet it is obvious to Atheist veterans that
the current regime has a lot to learn not only
about Atheism but also about
how to represent us as Atheists.
The AA accomplishments in 2019 cited by Nick Fish
seem to be astonishingly sparse–he mentions only three.
And those three really do not, in my opinion,
touch the hearts and goals
of most Atheists, with the exception of the first one,
the elimination of the requirement of Bible study
in public schools in Missouri.
Surely you must be aware that most AA members
have a limited interest in female mutilation or conversion therapy.
We need to get back to Madalyn’s goals.
I, for one, am interested in eliminating the tax-free
status of churches.
Ken Bronstein has pointed out that if the U.S. taxed churches,
we would gain enough tax revenue to provide free HEALTHCARE
for every man, woman and child in the U.S.
The LGBTQ community surely needs healthcare,
so it seems possible that by fighting to eliminate
religion’s free ride on taxes, we can benefit everyone.
I remain loyal to the Atheist movement,
Well. I have run across this attitude many times — that there are only certain things that are appropriate to concern themselves with, and that human rights aren’t one of them. This person also couples that narrow attitude to a deep seated antipathy to a disregard for issues relevant to LGBTQ+ individuals. So let’s go through their concerns.
1) This one seems rather petty. You would think that opposing religious indoctrination in the schools would be smack dab in the center of traditional atheist concerns, but no…it was a matter handled in Missouri. Why is American Atheists meddling in Missouri? It’s not as if it’s a part of real America, after all.
2) Similarly, why all the fuss about female genital mutilation? There are only a few cases each year (they have no idea how many), and therefore it can be disregarded. Of course, there are about 200 million women in the world that have had their genitals hacked, but they’re not American, so fuck ’em. It’s a problem here in Minnesota (is that part of America?) with increasing numbers of immigrants from regions in Africa where the practice is common. We’ve had a few cases of 100s of girls being mutilated.
Federal prosecutors unveiled charges Thursday against the mothers of two 7-year-old girls from Minnesota whose genitalia were cut during a religious procedure earlier this year.
Seems like something atheists might have legitimate concerns about. We’ve got Muslim communities opposing legislation to end child abuse, shouldn’t atheists have an opinion about that?
3) They don’t like that AA has opposed conversion therapy. I would say that a) conversion therapy is religion-based pseudoscience, and atheists on principle should oppose bad science, and b) I know a lot of gay atheists who are activists and significant members of atheist organizations. Shall we just disregard the goals of our godless constituents? Why?
Then they say they’ve never heard of “Christian Nationalism” or “religious equality”. I’m surprised. They haven’t noticed the takeover of our government by theocrats? Do some research before declaring that your ignorance should define policy. “Religious equality” is the principle that religion, or the lack thereof, should not give one privileges in the law. It’s in the first amendment to the Constition of the USA.
I’m glad they’re in favor of removing the tax-free status of churches. I’m all for that, too. Lots of atheists and atheist organizations want that — but it doesn’t mean we stop caring about all these other issues until we’ve accomplished that.
So this writer wanted honest feedback on their letter. I’ll tell them right now: American Atheists will just dump it in the crank file. They’ll be more polite about it then I am, much more diplomatic, but they’re not going to pay any attention otherwise to their complaints.