Repost: Green Fields


[Author's Note: I'm reposting some old favorites while I'm away on vacation this week. This post was originally from June 2009.]For those who are grieving, for those who mourn, and for all those who are burdened with the weary weight of sorrow, I have a prescription.Find a quiet, peaceful place, a green field of grass where great trees grow and gift the world with their shade. Let it be just before sunset, at that golden hour when the heat of the afternoon is past, when the sky is blue … [Read more...]

When Will We Have an Atheist President?


So far this year, a rightward-leaning Supreme Court has issued two major rulings granting sweeping new privileges to religious belief. Atheists and secularists in America are angry and frustrated, and it's natural to wonder when we'll have a government that heeds our wishes. Is there any prospect of an atheist president any time soon, or a nonbeliever in some other high political office?My message, to atheists and friends of secularism, is that there's reason to hope. It won't be next … [Read more...]

Grief Beyond Belief

I've been writing about atheism for some years now, and one of my great joys has been watching the secular community grow and thrive. Once, our main pastimes were debating philosophy on the internet and filing church-state lawsuits. Now we have political lobbying arms, atheist parenting guides, secular student clubs and summer camps, humanist communities and celebrants, and more. We're getting closer and closer to the ideal of a true secular community whose members offer tangible support to each … [Read more...]

Religious Violence Isn’t a Mental Illness, and Neither Is Misogyny


In the wake of the mass shooting in California last month, committed by a killer who left a long, misogynist manifesto vowing to punish women for not dating him, many pundits and commenters have strained to blame something other than sexism for his rampage. The most common claim is that the shooter, Elliot Rodger, was mentally ill, that the illness was the real cause of his killing, and the misogyny is just what his disturbed mind happened to latch onto as an excuse; if not for that, it would … [Read more...]

On Paying Your Atheist Speakers


I was at Women in Secularism 3 this last weekend, a fantastic and nearly flawless conference put on by the Center for Inquiry. I greatly enjoyed every part of it (including Ron Lindsay's opening speech). I intend to write a longer report later, but first: On a Sunday panel, there was a question from an audience member about how to start up a conference of their own, and one of the panelists' suggestions was to look for people who'll come speak for free. This drew some dissent from people … [Read more...]

Facing Up to Atheism’s MRA Problem


We've known for a while that there's an ugly strain of aggressive anti-feminism within the larger atheist community. Now it appears that we know where they congregate: the "men's rights activist" subgroup on Reddit ran a survey of their members, which found that the vast majority (94%) identify as atheist or religiously indifferent.That came as a surprise to me, although the other numbers were more or less what I'd have expected. MRAs are overwhelmingly white (98%), between the ages of 17 … [Read more...]

#AAcon14 Wrapup


I've just gotten home from Salt Lake City, where I was at the 2014 annual convention of American Atheists. AA always has their convention on Easter weekend (and after all, what better weekend would there be for an atheist not to have other plans?), and this year gave us a double dose of cheekiness by putting it on in the heart of Mormon country.AA's president Dave Silverman took some heat (rightfully so, in my opinion) for his ill-judged comments at CPAC about abortion last month. I didn't … [Read more...]

A Lesson in the Premature Counting of Chickens


Several months ago, I reported on an article by Dr. Karen Stollznow that laid out her experience of sexism within the skeptical community, alleging years of on-the-job sexual harassment by a colleague. Soon after her article was published, CFI's Benjamin Radford was accused, though not by Stollznow, of being that colleague.I'd heard rumblings that Radford was threatening to sue Stollznow for libel, but those were just rumors until a few days ago. The first I heard of this was over the … [Read more...]

What Is #UpForDebate in the Secular Community?

As I mentioned in an earlier post, David Silverman of American Atheists incited a firestorm when he said at CPAC this year that there was a secular argument against abortion rights. He's not the only one: Disappointingly, my Patheos colleague Friendly Atheist gave a platform to an anti-choice atheist earlier this month and then declined to post a rebuttal by the group Secular Woman. In response, SW started a hashtag, #UpForDebate, sarcastically asking what else we should consider negotiable … [Read more...]

Should We Reach Out to Conservative Atheists?


Last month, American Atheists sought to rent a booth at this year's Conservative Political Action Conference. Surprisingly, CPAC accepted their money at first, only to change their mind at the last minute.That entirely foreseeable outcome would have been more than sufficient as free publicity, but American Atheists president Dave Silverman decided to attend as an individual. While he was there, he gave several interviews asserting that atheism should have a bigger place among conservatives. … [Read more...]