Creeps, creeps, creeps everywhere; Atheist movement sure has more than its fair share of creeps!

An enlightening piece titled Will Misogyny Bring Down The Atheist Movement? was recently published on buzzfeed by Mark Oppenheimer. It is a long read that exposes the sexist, misogynistic behaviour of some well-known male Atheists leaders. I guess they are referred to as Atheist leaders because they are well paid to speak at atheists events, coveted by the media and well, some of them have written popular books, but as an atheist and feminist, I wouldn’t think of many of these creeps as ‘leaders’ in any way.


The article particularly focused on the many allegations of sexual harassment surrounding Michael Shermer. It also exposes the indefensible thought process of those in power who have protected and shielded him from the consequences of his questionable actions towards women at Atheist conventions.
James Randy was quoted in the article as saying-

“Shermer has been a bad boy on occasion — I do know that,” Randi told me. “I have told him that if I get many more complaints from people I have reason to believe, that I am going to have to limit his attendance at the conference.

“His reply,” Randi continued, “is he had a bit too much to drink and he doesn’t remember. I don’t know — I’ve never been drunk in my life. It’s an unfortunate thing … I haven’t seen him doing that. But I get the word from people in the organization that he has to be under better control. If he had gotten violent, I’d have him out of there immediately. I’ve just heard that he misbehaved himself with the women, which I guess is what men do when they are drunk.”

For FSM’s sake, could someone please tell this old man Randi that RAPE is also violent behaviour?
“Misbehaved himself with women” in this case refers to allegations of sexually preying on vulnerable women at atheist conventions, allegedly having sex with women who could not give consent because they are drunk and you damn well know they are drunk and making a habit of leading them to your hotel room to have your randy way with them. This is not just mere misbehaving, it is sexual harassment. It is sexual assault. It is rape.

When as a leader, you hear such complaints about someone you pay to speak at your conferences, you don’t just dismiss it as “boys will be boys”. You are expected to take decisive, concrete action. Michael Shermer should be ashamed and so should his defenders.

And James Randi, founder and chair of JREF should hide his head in shame for making such a lousy, sexist, misogyny ridden statement.

Treating women as sexual objects at atheist conventions, using your atheist leadership status to prey on young female atheists, sexually rubbing your crotch while asking a young female atheist personal questions at a convention is damn creepy, but unfortunately not so uncommon. Sickening to say the least! When will those supposed atheists leaders stop excusing misogyny in the Atheist movement?

The write-up is long but it is a must read. It makes me sad because it reminds me of all the harassment atheist feminist bloggers have been subjected to and still subjected to by misogynists who also happens to be atheists. This piece, for me, brings to fore once again why we needed and still need Atheism+.

Related links-

RichardDawkins@Confused.Com: No one said you endorsed rape, what you did was grade rape and that is appalling!
What are Anti-Atheists+ afraid of?
Is the Atheist+ label really confusing?


  1. Meggamat says

    This is something inherent to complex institutional systems. Over time, the system becomes more concerned with self-prolongation than the execution of its original mandate. Just like police officers being more concerned with advocating for their fellow officers than finding a path to justice.

  2. says

    The “Atheist Community” -- if that’s what we call ourselves -- needs to take those extra steps that you imply, and look at the world from an even broader perspective. Atheism is a conclusion that results from applying reason to one proposition about the world. Reason is the foundation. Applying reason to issues of civility, justice and respect, we should be able to say that being creepy is wrong, rape is wrong, unbridled power is wrong, unwarranted privilege is wrong. If we Atheist males can’t get this, then any “movement” that we think we’re a part of is vacuous bullshit -- it’s just another temporary oligarchy. A shared absence of belief in gods doesn’t get us to a better world unless we offer a better world than what currently exists. That starts with reason, respect, vision, and acknowledgement that each of can contribute to our global well being in some way. Not rubbing our crotches in the presence of other community members sure seems like the very very least we can do to get started.

  3. Phillip Hallam-Baker says

    I was very puzzled at the description of Shearer as ‘maybe the leader’ of the atheist movement. I really have not heard of him except in connection with the allegations against him. His biography isn’t particularly notable. I suspect it has something to do with the writer confusing positions and organizations with leadership.

    What I would do is to distinguish the folk who are supporting and encouraging Shearer’s conduct and the folk who are simply in denial. Being in denial can be almost as bad. One of the reasons that segregation continued as long as it did was that too many liberals were in denial about what it really was.

    But the folk wearing the anti-feminist T-shirts at TAM are like the folk who are still writing the articles ‘explaining’ how slavery wasn’t as bad as it was claimed. Its not the ridiculous things they believe that are the problem, it is why they believe them.

  4. says

    I’m appalled by so much of this, but the one bit I’ve not seen get enough attention is this comment by Randi.

    I have told him that if I get many more complaints from people I have reason to believe, that I am going to have to limit his attendance at the conference

    Many more? Really? It takes several incidents of misconduct before you “limit” his attendance? That’s pathetic.


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