Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Lead, Follow, or Shut the Hell Up!
I don’t know how I get embroiled in bizarre conversations with people I all too often assume are reasoned by virtue of their professed atheism. I guess I’m just lucky that way.
I was bemoaning the establishment of another “atheist church” as reported in the Huffington post last week, mentioning that it confuses theists by using religious terminology for a patently non-religious concept, thus sets the movement back by reinforcing theist misconception of atheism as a religion. They are easily confused, why make it worse for them?
It drew this response [paraphrased]:
”What atheist movement? Atheism means no belief in God or gods. How can no belief have a movement? It’s like an anti-Loch Ness Monster movement. It’s absurd. I’m an atheist. Period. I don’t have to do anything to be an atheist or to not have belief. And I don’t benefit from the loud mouth anti-theists like you who proclaim an atheist movement. There’s no such thing as an atheist movement and you’re full of crap.”
There was much more including his professing Hitchens wasn’t part of any such movement.
What follows is my reply, revised and extended. Feel free to use it if you meet similarly uninformed, or intellectually dishonest freeloading Uncle Tom atheists who have reaped the benefits of atheist activism and then spit on us.
"Much as religious fundies refuse to accept overwhelming evidence, so too might those calling themselves freethinkers reject fact.
Threatened religionists refer to atheist activists as “The New Atheists,” a pejorative term for those of us who actively defend the rights of non-believers and ensure compliance to the constitution and refuse to kowtow to their majority demands. They seem to have no problem seeing the “atheist movement,” it’s one of the few things they get right.
The FFRF, Secular Student Alliance, Americans for the Separation of Church and State, The Military Religious Freedom Foundation, The Military Association of Agnostics and Freethinkers, American Atheists, and many many more organizations, bloggers and authors are all part of this movement that you deny exists and claim does not benefit you.
But I see the problem. You perceive the atheist movement as a non-sequiter as it implies the active spread of atheism and destruction of religion. As though the gay movement was intended to spread homosexuality and destroy heterosexuality. This speaks to your limited understanding of “movement,” and your even more stunted recognition of its affect on our society in general and you as an atheist.
You seem not to grasp that the atheist movement in the United States is responsible for the elimination of organized prayer in school; for enforcing the separation of church and state in the face of manifold violations across the country and even within our military. It ensures the rights of the few are not trampled by the power and religio-centrism of the many; that atheists are not consigned to 2nd class citizenship, in spite of the Xtian perspective that we are less worthy to hold public office than "a gay or a Muslim" (Pew survey) . If religion continues to decline as a by product of atheist visibility and activism against religiously inspired insults to our intelligence and freedoms, so be it. Call it warranted collateral damage.
Richard Dawkins in an Oct 11, 2011 speech to the Atheist Alliance said this [extract]:
"But of course [Christopher Hitchens] has a special place in our affections here as the leading intellect and scholar of our atheist / secular movement. A formidable adversary to the pretentious, the woolly-minded or the intellectually dishonest, he is a gently encouraging friend to the young, to the diffident, to those tentatively feeling their way into the life of the freethinker and not certain where it will take them." http://atheistallianceamerica.org/
If there is no atheist movement how then do the most outspoken freethinkers proclaim it as such and honor their fellow activists' contributions to it?
Equating the atheist movement to a “Non-Belief in Loch Ness Monster” movement, is patently absurd. Those who believe in "Nessie" represent no threat to our freedoms, seek no advantage, violate no laws, don’t impose their belief on government or in schools, nor obstruct scientific / medical advancement. The atheist movement only exists and succeeds because social inequities, persecutions, or violations of law and rights do exist and are a threat to us and our secular government.
You may continue to rail against the concept of the atheist movement and deny its existence and value. Feel free to enjoy (or bemoan) your right to proclaim your atheism without fear and your future children’s right to not be forced to pray in school, or be singled out and condemned for their non-belief. If you miss the crucifixes on court house walls, nativity scenes on your municipal building’s lawn, the appeals to Jesus at your town hall meetings, or decry the fact that West Point and Air Force academy cadets aren't punished for refusing to attend Christian services and accepting Jesus as their savior … then you have no one to blame except the atheist movement you claim doesn't exist.
But what you can’t do is make it go away or impede its progress; only lead, follow, or shut the hell up."