Book Review: Nonbeliever Nation

Summary: A solid, informative history of the rise of the American secular movement. Books like Jennifer Michael Hecht's Doubt: A History or Susan Jacoby's Freethinkers show how brave nonbelievers have always existed, even in theocratic societies that were implacably hostile to their views. In most cases, persecution prevented those isolated sparks from joining together into a brighter light. But what happens when they do join together? In the past two decades, observers of American politics … [Read more...]

Growing the Secular Community

While attending the 2012 SSA convention, I had some thoughts about the future of the secular movement and what shape it will likely take in the coming years. As atheism expands and becomes organized, it's acquiring a political affiliation and a corona of associated beliefs - generally left-leaning, socially progressive, and increasingly identifying as pro-social justice and pro-feminist - and this is a development that we should definitely encourage. Some people assert that atheism means … [Read more...]

Can a Republican Lobbyist Represent Secular Americans?

The Secular Coalition for America has hired a new executive director, and their choice is going to raise some eyebrows: Edwina Rogers, a Republican lobbyist and attorney with a long history of supporting conservative causes. Among other things, she's worked as an advisor to George W. Bush's National Economic Council, served as a general counsel to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and donated to Rick Perry's presidential campaign. I'm not trying to be harsh here: I'm pretty sure I … [Read more...]

Why Do Atheists Gather?

In the first of my posts summing up the Reason Rally, there was a commenter who said that gathering on the National Mall was "sink[ing] to the level of the religious". At the time, I considered this too self-evidently absurd to merit refutation - but then I heard it again, in an NPR interview featuring Hemant Mehta and James Randi, where a caller charged that that we were "turning atheism into a religion" by gathering in this way. Since this confusion seems to be more widespread than I thought, … [Read more...]

Support African Americans for Humanism

As NPR recently reported, there's a high price to pay for being a black atheist in America. African Americans who come out of the closet as nonreligious may be cut off by their own families, may be labeled a "race traitor" or an "apostate", or accused of lacking morals or having "holes in their souls" - this despite the fact that atheism, humanism and freethought have a strong and lively tradition within the African-American community. That's why I was glad to hear about African Americans for … [Read more...]

On Skeptical Sexism and Comfort Levels

Earlier this week, Penn Jillette posted a link to this essay by Mallorie Nasrallah on his Twitter account, concerning her experience as a woman in the skeptical community. To sum it up, she's never felt mistreated because of her gender, and she doesn't see what all the fuss over sexism is about. So, let me say one thing right away: If she hasn't experienced sexism, that's great! We need more women who can say the same. And if she'd left it at that, I'd have no complaint. Unfortunately, she … [Read more...]

Do We Need More Humanist Chaplains?

I wanted to highlight this excellent post on JT's blog about the rewards of activism: Joe was sick in the hospital, and asked a friend of his to go down to Philadelphia to collect the award for him. Friend went to see him in hospital, said "Joe, what do you want me to tell these folks when I pick up the award?" He's looking at Joe lying there sick as a dog, and thinking about his life, all the struggles, all the hard times, you know, trying to fight for social justice, and racial justice, and … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: The Rise of Young Atheists

My latest article has been posted on AlterNet, Goodbye Religion? How Godlessness Is Increasing With Each New Generation. It surveys the demographic transformation that's been taking place in American society, with rates of godlessness steadily increasing in each generation since World War II, highlights the work of some outstanding young activists who are part of this trend, and points out the panicked warnings from religious authorities who recognize that their influence is fading away. Read … [Read more...]

A Not At All Relevant to Elevatorgate Post

I first saw this on Google+ and, given the flame wars that have roiled atheism lately, I thought it was worth sharing. Who knows but that it may help some people to see these issues presented in a different context.You may have heard of Wil Wheaton (and if you don't, and you consider yourself a geek, you have some explaining to do). Well, the other day, he posted this:When I was a Teen Idol, and I traveled to New York for publicity all the time, it was fairly common for a handful of super … [Read more...]

New on AlterNet: What Atheists Actually Agree About

I'm pleased to announce that my second column for AlterNet, 6 Ways Atheists Can Band Together to Fight Religious Fundamentalism, has now been posted. My first column, asking why nonbelievers haven't become a political force, drew rejoinders from a lot of people saying that it's impossible for atheists to organize because we don't agree about anything other than the existence of gods. Well, I decided to answer that criticism by listing the things that most atheists actually do agree about. Read … [Read more...]


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