Atheism is on the rise in America and yet we are constantly discriminated against and marginalized because of our lack of belief in imaginary friends. For atheists who value reason, logic, and the scientific method, it sometimes seems like the inmates have taken over the asylum. But it shouldn’t have to be like this. Atheists make up a larger percentage of the American population than Jews, Muslims, and every other non-Christian religion in America combines. If we want to be less marginalized, there are things we can and should be doing.
1. Atheists need to be vocal about our atheism. We shouldn’t hide our lack of belief in deities. I know, I know, atheism doesn’t define us as people. Yes, yes, I get it. However, when people bring up religion (and they always do), we shouldn’t have to silently sit there feeling uncomfortable. We should be vocal and point out that not everyone believes in deities and that we do not in fact believe in deities. We can be vocal politely or we can be vocal in a more confrontational manner, but we shouldn’t just sit there silently.
When people begin to realize that they actually know atheists and that we aren’t the Satan worshipping, baby eating, immoral monsters that their church told them we are, then they will be less likely to discriminate against us. Plus, the more atheists that are vocal about their atheism, the more religious believers will have to watch what they say because the person next to them just might be a vocal atheist who just might call them out when they say something religious.
There are more atheists in America than most religious believers realize. We just don’t generally wear our atheism around our necks or knock on people’s doors on Saturday morning, but we are here and we have to make our presence known. So be vocal!
2. Atheists need to support each other’s efforts to spread reason, logic, critical thinking, etc. Just like other minority and marginalized group, we have to support each other. Atheists tend to be creative people. Many atheists have YouTube channels, blogs, podcasts, etc. We do this stuff because we want to spread our memes and make the world a better place. However, while religious believers use fear of eternal torture and bribes of eternal paradise to get followers to pony up lots of cash, atheists tend not to support our interests financially and are even critical of fellow atheists even asking for money.
Religious organizations are not only tax exempt, but they also have a huge money advantage to start out with. They have been around a long time and their followers actually fund their groups and endeavors. Ask a Christian how much money they “donated” to their church last year. Then ask an atheist how much they spent in support of an atheist organization. That is the heart of the problem.
But it isn’t just funding organizations. It is funding each other. Back in the day I met a Christian podcaster who told me that he received $20,000 in donations for his show which had far less listeners than the podcast I was doing at the time. My donations were in the double digits. I don’t even think I received $100. That’s a problem. Atheist need funding! But fortunately, we live in the age of Google Ads and Amazon Affiliate links. You can support your favorite atheists even if you don’t have money to spare. So next time you are on a blog (including this one), YouTube channel, Podcast, etc. don’t forget to help your fellow atheists out by clinking a link or checking out an ad. Donations are also important.
3. We need to rally around fellow atheists politically! Yes, we need to form a voting bloc. The criticism I always get is that not all atheists share the same values. Sure, sure. In theory that is certainly true; Ayn Rand was a Libertarian Republican and Karl Rove is an atheist… but, in practicality, most atheists in America today tend to be liberal. I don’t mean just a little liberal either. We tend to be pretty far left progressive type liberals.
There may be a handful of Libertarians (who are socially liberal) and maybe a few wacky Republicans (who are also probably socially liberal), but for the most part if someone is an open atheist, they will nine times out of ten by a progressive. They will share your main values.
Keep in mind that the only thing gay people have in common with other gay people is that they are attracted to the same gender and yet the gay lobby is incredibly strong and incredibly liberal. Yet, there is no rule that says all gays must be liberal and yet most are because the Republican Party hates them!!! Why do the Republicans hate gays? Because Republicans tend to be religious and the Bible says that gays are an abomination. Guess that the Bible says about atheists?
In theory not all atheists are liberal, but in actually most are. We need to support atheists who run for office (who also share our values). If there are two equally qualified candidates with similar values and one is an atheist, then that is the one we should vote for and strongly support no matter where in the country they may be living.
4. We should keep our internal squabbling internally and politely. I’m not saying we shouldn’t criticize each other or that atheists must always agree with each other on every issue, but what I am saying is that if you meet someone who shares your value of reason, logic, critical thinking, and the scientific method and you disagree with them on some issue, give them the benefit of the doubt and argue with them respectfully using reason, logic, critical thinking, and the scientific method. DON’T insult them, call them names, or write them off with a slur or “ism.”
Before writing a scathing blog post, ranting on YouTube, or on a podcast, it might be better to try to talk to them privately about your point of view first. Decide whether your difference of opinion is major or minor and treat it appropriately. Reasonable people can disagree on the finer points of any particular issue and we should certainly debate those finer points vigorously, but we should recognize that they just might be finer points.
If we can do these four things, we can start to really gain ground and be less marginalized as a group. We will gain more political power to steer this country in a more reason based direction, and we will become better people and a stronger community of people.