• Fellow Atheists:United We Stand

    Lee Moore & I @ the Reason Rally

    Fellow atheist activist, Lee Moore, recently published an open letter to the greater atheist community. In his letter, he has called for an end to the atheist-on-atheist flame wars and has instead called on unity to fight against the Trump administration.

    Moore points out that during the Bush Administration, atheists came together to rise up against the very real threat of Christian Theocracy. When Obama became President, many atheists dwelled on our differences instead of our common cause. Obama, after all, acknowledged atheists and had a Humanist mother. Some even suggested (without evidence) that he was a secret atheist himself. While I don’t think that is true, he certainly was friendlier and more receptive to the atheist community and many of our concerns.

    We were even able to find common ground with the President on many issues. Obama supported robust science education, was concerned about climate change, and supported the Jeffersonian Wall between Church and State… somewhat. He at least played lip service to that one. Thanks to Joe Biden and the growing strength of the gay community, Obama finally “evolved” on the issue of marriage equality too. For atheists, Obama was pretty good. He wasn’t Bernie Sanders good, but still pretty good.

    Now that Trump is President there is some concern. While Trump personally probably doesn’t give a rat’s ass about religion, he has surrounded himself with the Religious Right. His VP, Mike Pence, is even more wacky religious than Bush was. Betsy DeVos, his Education Secretary, want to gut public education in favor of religious schools. The list of wacky religious officials goes on and on.

    Atheists can no longer afford to fight among ourselves. We are a diverse community and we all have issues we care more deeply about than other issues. That’s fair. We should continue to fight for the issues we care about. However, we have to unite and fight together on the issues we have in common. We need to fight together on issues like science education, education in general, climate change, separation of church and state, etc. We need to fight together against those who want to use their holy book to dictate the lives of everyone else.

    Moore pointed out that the last Reason Rally had a fraction of the numbers that the first one had. But that isn’t the only concern. Atheist engagement is down across the board. The last PhillyCoR Unity Picnic ended up losing money and I am guessing that attendance has been down at atheist groups and conferences across the country. The sense of urgency within our community had disappeared.

    Well, now that urgency is here again!!! Trump may just be the best thing to happen to our community. He is our common enemy that we need to light the fire under our collective asses. Is there an atheist personality you have feuded with over the past eight years? Stop the feud! Be the better Humanist. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “We have to hang together or we will most assuredly hang separately.”

    I am adding my name to Lee’s letter. Will you add your name?

     

    Category: AtheismAtheist ActivismAtheist InfightingfeaturedHumanismsecularsecularismSeparation of Church and State

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    Article by: Staks Rosch

    Staks Rosch is a writer for the Skeptic Ink Network & Huffington Post, and is also a freelance writer for Publishers Weekly. Currently he serves as the head of the Philadelphia Coalition of Reason and is a stay-at-home dad.

    32 comments

    1. According to Pew, roughly 26% of “religiously unaffiliated” voters voted for Trump. Obviously, not all religiously unaffiliated voters are atheists, but some probably are. I’m not sure how we can consider him our “common enemy” unless we exclude all the atheists who voted for him from our “community.”

      1. There are atheists who are not in our community. When I worked in a machine shop and was outed as an atheist, I was surprised to learn that there were other atheists in the shop. None of them were part of the greater atheist community and few even used the term “atheist.” There was one guy who was pretty right wing. I could see him voting for Trump. But I wouldn’t call him someone who was part of our community even though he didn’t believe in a god. So yes, If he actually did become active in our community, then he probably would change his thinking on some issues…. hopefully.

        Still, community is a vague term. I am sure there were atheists who voted for Bush too, but that doesn’t mean that the greater community of atheists didn’t unite against him. The same thing goes for the gay community. Sure, there are gay Republicans, but that doesn’t mean that the gay community didn’t unite against Bush.

        1. I guess that raises the question of how much room for viewpoint diversity in the realm of politics the atheist community is willing to tolerate. As long as someone who supported Bush or now supports Trump cannot be part of this community, it seems misleading to label it an “atheist community.” Perhaps it should be thought of as a progressive atheist community or something more along those lines. I’m not sure how we promote unity by excluding anyone who does not share our political beliefs.

          1. I don’t think we are excluding people, just pointing out that people who are active in our community are overwhelmingly progressive. Still, someone can be a conservative and still fight for issues that concern atheists. The problem will be that the fight will be almost entirely against their fellow conservatives. Sure, there are a small minority of Democrats who oppose church/state separation and who support using the Bible as a guide to government, but the vast majority of politicians who hold those views are Republican politicians. So if there are some conservative atheists who want to be part of the greater atheist community and take on those issues, that’s great. The reality is still that they would have to fight almost exclusively against their fellow conservatives.

            Just like in the gay community, there are “Log Cabin Republicans,” and they are still gay and they are still active in their gay community. But they still had to fight against the Bush administration to get equal rights. They still have to fight against their fellow conservatives now for equal rights and to hold on to the rights they achieved through the Obama administration.

            When I say “atheist community,” I mean more than not believing in a deity. I mean that they are actively part of our “community.” Be it an online community, local, or national community. The atheists I met in my machine shop were not part of that community. They could have become part of that community, but they didn’t. It wasn’t that I was excluding them or forbidding them from joining. Quite the opposite. I wanted them to come out to local meetings and events, but they weren’t interested.

            1. I don’t think all conservatives march in lockstep with the Republican party, and I suspect we both know conservative atheists who have been effective proponents of church-state separation, science education, and the like. I do think we need to decide whether what we’re after really is more of a progressive thing than an atheist thing. To the degree that our activism is explicitly oriented toward progressive causes (e.g., climate change, secular public education), I have a difficult time imagining that it will be appealing to conservatives. If we’re okay with that and honest about it, I think that is fine. But if we’re really after unity and want more secular activists, I think it might be advantageous to have a more limited agenda and include as many conservatives as possible as equal partners.

    2. Sure, as long as they drop the identity nonsense, they’re welcome back.

      Otherwise, telling people what their place is, what they oughtta think, what they have to like, and whether they have more or less rights, all according to their skin color is not different than what white supremacists do (funny how the extremes meet, huh?).

      If they keep insisting in doing things the Trump way, then by no means Trump is a common enemy. They share his authoritarian and supremacist means, so how do you make an ally out of a reverse-Trump, such as PZ Myers?

      1. Hear, hear. Myers is the perfect example of someone who left the movement because it didn’t share his authoritarian views.

        Atheism means lack of belief in a god or gods. That’s it. Personally I’m happy to fight for separation of church and state, but there’s no way I’m supporting any Atheism+ nonsense.

    3. It really doesn’t appear to me that this letter of unification has much of anything to do with atheism. It is a manifesto of progressive ideology.
      To say that atheists that are active are all progressive is the height of hubris. Maybe the atheists you know, but I know many athesits that would be labeled as activists that do not subscribe to progressive ideology. In fact, many of the same, mysef included, would say that one reasn atheism has not reached people that are regliously unaffilated but may not be atheists is due to just that.
      Recall the angst from many in the “atheist community” (I laugh at that BTW) when American Atheists dared attend CPAC? You won’t reach half the country with the attitude that “conservatives are evil” or, as Clinton called them, “a basket of deporables”.
      This is no better than an attempt to reconstitue A+, pushing a political /social agenda.

      1. “To say that atheists that are active are all progressive is the height of hubris.”

        Whoever said that? Staks is saying we should “fight together against those who want to use their holy book to dictate the lives of everyone else,” and that does not require any particular left/right orientation. Here in the U.S. at least, a dedication to Jeffersonian/Madisonian secularism is fully compatible with constitutional originalism.

        1. Actually, Staks did, Damion. I was referring to his response to vjacks comment. Read the first couple of paragraphs. It pretty much told me all I needed to know. In fact, read the entire reply, as I did.

            1. I actually don’t care about peoples political ideology. It was the statement that made it seem that if you’re not progressive, you’re probably not an activist. Okay, maybe in your world.
              But then there’s this:

              “Still, someone can be a conservative and still fight for issues that concern atheists. ”

              Please show me the national (international?) survey of the top 5 issues that atheists are concerned about.

            2. C/S covers a lot of ground. That is my point. As a conservative, do you think that Trump has appointed people who believe that church and state should be separated? Does Mike Pence think that way? How about Betsy DeVos? My point is that whether you like it or not, the Trump administration is horrible on C/S issues. They are even worse than Bush Jr. was (and that really says something). Trump personally probably couldn’t give a rats ass about religion, but his actions have been a disaster on these issues. So yes, C/S is just one issue, but it covers a lot of ground. One main reason the GOP are so resistant to climate change science is because of the Bible. Sure there is an economics component to the issue, but the fact is that it is the religious component driving this debate.

              Again, there is a perfect analogy with the gay community and you keep ignoring it. Sure there are gay Republicans, but the fact is that Republicans politicians are the one who are overwhelming pushing anti-gay legislation. Do gay people say, “oh, well since there are gay Republicans, we can’t unite together to stop Republicans from pushing anti-gay legislation?” No, they say, that gay Republicans should work with gay Democrats to stop the rest of the Republicans from pushing anti-gay legislation.

              That is all I am saying, but with atheism. Conservative atheists can join with liberal atheists to stop Republicans from pushing a theocratic agenda. Are you with me on that?

          1. Please, that is silly. I don’t know if there is an survey and I never claimed there was. What I have said is that there are certain issues which affect atheists and therefore tend to be of concern to most active atheists. Separation of Church and State almost certainly tops that list. Sure there might be active atheists that don’t care about that issue even though it directly affects them, but they are a tiny minority. When religious believers attempt to funnel public money into religious schools, that is an issue that affects atheists. When religious believers attempt to use the Bible to justify creating certain laws (i.e. the transgender bathroom bill), atheists should be concerned. Some might not be concerned. Hell, that only affects transgendered people and if you aren’t transgendered, then I guess you might not think you have a horse in that race, but you do. Because these types of laws have a biblical justification and the Bible doesn’t take to kindly to atheists either. I can go on and on about this, but hopefully you get the point.

            Again, people can be gay and conservative, but the reality is that the vast majority of the gay community united against the Bush administration because it was in their self-interest to do so. That is all I am talking about here with atheists. Nothing more. You can be am S.E. Cupp atheist or whatever the atheist version of Log Cabin Republicans would be, but that doesn’t change the fact that the majority of issues that affect atheists are slanted against the Trump administration. This is why we need to unite.

            1. Well Staks, you’ve outlined the single issue that all atheists I know are concerned about: church/state separation.
              Other “issues” may or may not be of concern to atheists and either way, it’s fine with me.
              Listing iitems beyond church /state as issues atheists are concerned with isn’t necessarily true. It may be true for you, and your local group, but maybe not to anyone else.

    4. Rodeo never stops. New hijack of atheism. Zero consideration of atheist majority that have no interest in your progressive crap. For the sake of sealing old divisions, you are happy to make bigger craters. Screw you. You destroy all progress made in half a decade.

    5. Atheist communities may be found on spectrum ranging from “all we have in common is unbelief” to the rigid totalizing conformity of Atheism Plus Social Justice, which requires vigorous agreement on all points, on pain of excommunication. The former approach is useless with respect to activism—won’t even march together in a Pride Parade—whereas the latter approach tends towards ever-tighter groups enforcing ever-stricter ideological litmus tests. We have to strike a balance, picking a spot on the spectrum that works for us (whomever we happen to be, however we happen to gather) where we can work together “on issues like science education, education in general, climate change, separation of church and state,” without demanding the purest political progressivism on all possible points.

      1. Snurk. Damo – you are the clown that offered the slymepit doxing info you were too cowardly to use yourself. The Pit showed its integrity by showing you the door. You are a repugnant human being. Rotten to the core. Do not lecture us.

      2. Nice statement but that doesn’t explain what any of the socio/political ideology has to do with being an atheist? Well, none actually. Atheism has nothing to do with any social or political ideology whether you are a progressive or a conservative. Attempting to conflate the two doesn’t add any legitimacy to atheism.
        I recall a few years ago when you I debated (friendly) the idea of atheists being a community. I said at the time, and I still believe, that we aren’t. You disagreed. If we are a community already, what do we need some new organ to represent atheist views?
        And by the way, what exactly are Atheist Views? You see where I’m going? Atheists are no different than any other people: we have diversity in political and social views.
        What we have in common is atheism. That’s all.
        Why do we need to work on “issues” at all? What do any of those (other than church/state separation) have to do with atheism? None. If, as an individual, or maybe you and your friends want to work on “climate change” or “science education”, or whatever, great! go for it but please. don’t pretend to represent all atheists.

      3. I think you are correct, Damion, that the “all we have in common is unbelief” approach does not lend itself to activism of any sort. At the same time, I think you’d agree that issues like education (especially secular public education) and climate change tend to be rather political in the sense that liberals and conservatives may be expected to disagree. If I decide my “atheist community” is going to focus on climate change, it seems like I’m seeking something a bit narrower than unity. I’m probably not particularly worried about attracting conservatives to such a community.

        1. vjack. Many conservatives I know are concerned about climate change. You can’t always believe what you see on TV or read on the Internet. It’s just that it has nothing whatsoever to do with me being an atheist.
          On school choice: I’m for it but I am NOT in favor of handing over taxpayer $$ to religously affiliated schools. There are plenty of non-religous private schools around (2 within 3 miles of where I live).
          If we really want to “unite” we could unite around the scourge of religous interference in our general society. What does that mean? Go to your city council meetings, lobby your state legislature. Make some noise in both places. Do the same at the federal level. Go to yur representatives towhal meetings when they’re in town and force them to take a stand one way or another about church/state separation.
          That’s real activisim that I believe could unite most, if not all atheists.

          1. Right, I was trying to suggest that liberals and conservatives were likely to have different solutions in mind for climate change and not that conservatives don’t consider it a problem. That wasn’t clear. But yes, it doesn’t strike me as having much to do with atheism either.

            1. Well, my point is we CAN come together. We can make a difference on one issue everyone I know agree. Beyond that?

    6. Like I have been saying, that one issue encompasses a lot of other issues. Climate change, school vouchers, equality toward gays and women, etc. All of that fit under C/S Separation mainly because the Bible is the main source used by the other side on those issues. Separate the Bible (church) from them and we are having a completely different conversation… Or no conversation at all.

    7. Whoa. You gotta back up a bit. How does “climate change” fall under “church/state” issues? Well, you’re reaching. It doesn’t. Who’s being silly now?
      You haven’t thought this out, have you. It’s called “critical thinking”.
      You want to heal the schism that was created by a few (I’m thinking FTB and Skepchick), and fail to realize that those people have never mattered to the greater number of atheists.

      1. I couldn’t care less where you stand on vouchers. I care about where Betsy DeVos stands and the fact that Trump appointed her. If you supported Trump, then that is what you got and it is absolutely a c/s issue.

        Gays now have equality in most areas of life, but it is because they had to fight the religious right. The religious right still keeps trying to reverse those rights because the Bible. That is why that is a c/s issue.

        On abortion, the religious right keep fighting to overturn Roe v Wade. Trump has promised that all his Scotus nominations will be prolife… Because the Bible. That is a c/s issue. Access to controcepives… C/s issue.

        Climate change is being denied largely by the religious right because the Bible. Again that makes it a c/s issue.

        When the main justification for a law is religious, then it becomes a c/s issue.

        1. Staks: I’m done with you. Clearly, for anyone that uses reason and logic, you’re an idiot and have no idea of what you speak. You’re simply another ideological puppet that will say whatever anyone tells you to say.
          Have fun with your new A+ group. It’ll fail because none of you are really athesits. You’re social justice warriors masquerading as atheists.

          Take care. And have a nice weekend.

          1. A+ group. LMFAO! I have pointed out how those particular issues fall under c/s separation and you have ignored that and opted for a poorly thought-out insult. Try addressing what I actually said instead of strawmaning and pigeon holing me.

            1. I am actually responding to you. Please go and Google ” strawman”. What you’ve said, if I understand correctly places all “issues” under the banner of “church/state”. That’s dishonest. They’re not.
              Your arguments are all about social justice and have little to do with atheism. You are a “hater” simply because you dislike the outcome of an election. That’s juvenile.
              But again, have a wonderful weekend. I know I will.

    8. Just to finish up, gays by law cannot be discriminated against for employment, housing, and as of last year, SCOTUS ruled they have the right to marry. Next?
      On women, I’m not sure what you’re referring to. Pay? There’s a 50 yr old statute that’s explicit that employers cannot discriminate against women on pay.
      I already addressed school choice in that I’m against giving money to religiously affilated schools. That, and that alone of what you mentioned is a C/S issue.
      What you’re pouring out to me is why , when Damion and I were tweeting this morning. makes me believe this is no more than “A+ Lite”

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