FFRF Responds to UU World Advertising Controversy

Yesterday, I mentioned that the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s ad in the Unitarian Universalists’ magazine UU World garnered several complaints.

Business manager Scott Ullrich even issued an apology to the magazine’s readers.

I have come to the conclusion that it was a mistake to run this particular ad. While the stated mission of the Freedom From Religion Foundation is entirely consistent with UU values, this ad seems hostile to all religion. To be more specific, I believe that I failed to help the advertiser match their message to our readers. An ad spotlighting FFRF’s purpose of “working for the separation of state and church” would have been more appropriate than one that for many appears to be condemning religion in general.

Guess how many complaints they received about the ads?

Eight.

Total.

Ullrich said as much when he informed FFRF that he had written an apology to readers because of the swift reaction from the UU blogosphere.

So how is the FFRF responding?

Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor sent the following email to Ullrich:

Dear Scott,

I guess my reaction is: 8 emails doth not a crisis make! (At FFRF we pay no attention to the nonbonafide blogosphere–I mean personal bloggers who so often engage in personal polemics, as opposed to bonafide news and opinion bloggers, such as Salon.com).

I hope you will let these e-mailers know that we are getting very good reaction from the ad. It’s too early to see whether the ad will pay for itself (always our object) but the response is healthy and we have had no nasty responses to date. We were aware of one blogger going after the ad only because a UU member (who wanted info on FFRF but is not a member) e-mailed to tell us he was responding in our favor.

My reaction is that if UU World or the UU officialdom take any further action to criticize, apologize for or officially distance itself from our ad, that we be refunded our advertising money. It simply does not seem professional to take our money, then diss our ad, however politely you are putting it.

But what truly concerns me is the lack of open-mindedness reflected. The thoughtful words of great thinkers and artists are too much for your readership? Emily Dickinson’s and Mark Twain’s genius summations about faith can’t be tolerated? The words of actresses Katharine Hepburn — “I’m an atheist, and that’s it. I believe that there’s nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people” — are too hot for the UU? Being kind is controversial if someone also identifies themselves as an atheist?

You know and we know that the UUA is creedless. That means you have theists, deists — and many agnostics & atheists in your membership, including among your ministers. Two of our founding members, Jo and Charline Kotula, also founded, funded and co-directed one of the UU’s New Jersey chapters for many years; likewise our officer Blanche Fearn in the Daytona area in the 1980s, and those are but 2 examples of many. Countless FFRF members are active UUA members and vice versa. For 30 years we have received invitations to speak at UU congregations or societies around the country by people, and it has always been an amicable relationship.

While we might have been glad to work with you on a different ad, FFRF in fact has 2 joint purposes: it acts as a national membership organization for freethinkers (atheists and agnostics) AND it works to keep religion out of government. If we were not upfront about our other purpose, we could rightly be criticized by someone who joined us and felt it was false advertising not to state our clear nontheistic purpose as well.

There cannot simply be open-minded discussion of everything except atheism if UU is to consider to advise its members to “keep open minds.”

With best wishes,

Annie Laurie Gaylor

Well said.

I look forward to hearing Ullrich’s response.

  • http://deleted Siamang

    Sorry, NOT well said.

    Totally tone deaf, Gaylor.

    At FFRF we pay no attention to the nonbonafide blogosphere

    Well, aren’t we SPECIAL.

    Gaylor, it’s the nonbonafide blogosphere that is the grass-roots of atheism. An argument can be clearly made that the rise in atheism is directly related to the anonimity and ability for far-flung individuals to congregate on the “nonbonafide blogosphere.”

    Hemant, if I were you, I’d call this blog “A member of the nonbonafide blogosphere.” We matter so little to the hoity-toity and powerful FFRF.

    Sorry, FFRF seems totally socially inept. I love how she lectures the UU guy on the makeup of the UU church.

    I think “UU World” should have a policy of not running ads that make their advertisers look like total dicks.

  • Neon Genesis

    I also love how she tries to make it seem like the ads only said atheists can be kind people and ignores that they were doing more than simply saying someone was an atheist. Yes, I agree Mark Twain’s line was genius but just because it’s genuis does not mean it can also be offensive to religious believers as there is such a thing as offensive genius. George Carlin was a genius too, but if they were printing George Carlin ads in a UU magazine, could you really fault the UU for being closed minded by being offended by something that’s intended to offend? I just don’t get why Annie can’t see that Mark Twain’s statement is intended to be offensive and that something can’t be both genius and be intended to offend at the same time. And why would someone pay for an ad from a company who didn’t know they were an atheist organization? Yes, it’s important to educate the public about non-believers, but Annie acts like the UU is incapable of finding out what the FFRF is about themselves (never mind that they’ve been working together for years now) unless they insult them in their ads. And how does “informing people that you’re a non-theistic organization” translate to “let’s insult our customers!”? Maybe they over-reacted if they only got eight complaints, but I think the FFRF is also over-reacting at the thought that somebody might not like all their ads, oh the horrors.

  • http://keenabean.blogspot.com Kaleena

    I was curious how many is “several” complaints. Now I’m curious to know how many total readers they have. Uggh. sounds like a lot of hoopla over nothing.

  • llewelly

    Although I think most of Annie Laurie Gaylor’s letter is well-said, this parenthetical remark:

    (At FFRF we pay no attention to the nonbonafide blogosphere–I mean personal bloggers who so often engage in personal polemics, as opposed to bonafide news and opinion bloggers, such as Salon.com).

    is ignorant, provincial, and, as Siamang said, tone-deaf. Atheist bloggers such as PZ, Greta Christina, Larry Moran, that Indian guy whose name I can’t recall, and many others, have been very successful in raising awareness and spreading the positive message of atheism. It seems likely to me that the FFRF owes as much of its recent growth to these bloggers as it does to its own advertising efforts. (I discovered the FFRF through PZ’s blog, and I know other atheists who did as well.)

    As for Salon – for a long time I found them entertaining, but in my experience, Salon is not notably more reliable than the average atheist blogger, and is no less prone to personal polemics.

  • Laura Lou

    I’m tired of this “well, it’s offensive” excuse. When you’re dealing with deep, important issues like religion or politics or any other relevant philosophy, how can you make a statement without offending anyone? I’ve seen ads promoting vegetarianism that offended me because of a “we’re higher class” attitude.
    I don’t think that solely should be the threshold, especially when some religious folk gratuitously abuse that excuse like we saw with the Iowa Atheist bus ads. (Just watch the Fox News interview, it’s disgusting.)

  • EatenBuChutulu

    I agree with Siamang and Neon Genesis. While it’s true that the UU’s include theists, deists and nonbelievers, I think that it’s precisely that mix that calls for a gentler tone in a magazine that targets UU members specifically. I think the Katherine Hepburn quote was about the only one that was really appropriate for the context of the advertisement.

    Is it not disingenious to claim that the FFRF (and other atheists) are simply letting people know there are atheists when the quotes that they use imply religion is at best a silly and childish compulsion and at worst toxic to society? Let’s admit when we’re simply raising awareness about our movement and when we’re actively trying to change society’s attitude from a largely theistic stance to a secular outlook. It’s neccessary to do the latter; I’d even say snark and passion and anger are very useful tools in that regard, but let’s be honest about when we’re doing what and about the tone we use in any given context.

    If the magazine targeted a more general -and therefore more public- audience, the FFRF would have been more in the right to critisize UU World’s apology; for that matter, it would have made more sense to place an ad with such an anti-religious tone in a magazine with a wider audience.

    That said, I do think that the UU World managers did a strange thing to accept the ad as-is in the first place, given their very specific audience. And the FFRF should get a refund if UU World is going to diss the ad and pull it.

    All in all, I think this whole episode was a strange brain fart on the part of both groups.

  • Sackbut

    I have to say, this is the second time in recent weeks that I’ve read official communication from Annie Laurie Gaylor where she said things I thought were ill-advised and not in support of her message.

    While she is correct that there are atheists in the UU church, that’s not really relevant. By analogy, statements about how women are superior to men would be excused in an organization’s magazine by pointing out that there are women who belong to the organization.

    Also, while it is certainly correct that eight email messages don’t constitute an overwhelming amount of complaint, the statement about the “nonbonafide blogosphere” was irrelevant and silly. The magazine editor is acting based on what he thought was the right thing to do, not based on the volume of complaints.

    The ad did contain quotes that were anti-religion. I assume UU is thought of by its membership as a religion without a creed. The ad also contained quotes that were anti-faith, which puts it at odds with a substantial fraction of the UU membership. I can understand the editor thinking it was excessive.

    On the other hand, UU, as I understand it, encourages debate and airing of disagreement. Members should at the least be open to the idea that some within their ranks would think poorly of concept of faith, equating belief in gods with other supernatural beliefs. I would be shocked if the sentiments expressed in the ads are not held by a good fraction of the UU membership. If the FFRF is appealing to these people, I don’t see why the editors should reject the ad, offensive as it may be to a different portion of the membership.

    But perhaps the UU magazine also rejects ads from organizations that promote faith, I don’t know.

  • TXatheist

    As a UU and FFRF member I was not bothered in the slightest. Most UU’s I know realize it’s more of a social group than religion but we have to play by tax law to get the exemption.

  • llewelly

    I should also add that I think the FFRF has done the right thing in keeping their message strong – some seem to want the atheist message to softened – so much so that it goes unheard. It can be important to minimize offenses to others, but the fact is that many religious people find the very idea that atheists exist offensive – thus, there is no avoiding offending some portion of religious people, whatever their religion.
    Furthermore – when reality offends, it can be dangerous to try avoiding that offense. There are many people in this world who believe that certain medical interventions, such as blood transfusions, are immoral – and these people are frequently offended by arguments in favor of those medical interventions. Yet failing to argue for those medical interventions can lead to people dying. (Thus the importance of the FFRF’s use of the Emily Dickinson quote.) Many Catholics (notably that guy Ratzinger) are greatly offended by the use of condoms. But failure to use condoms is the primary cause of millions of AIDS deaths. Many religious people are offended by women choosing not to have children, or choosing to work outside the home. Yet pregnancy represents a substantial risk to a woman’s life and health, and a dramatic alteration of her opportunities in almost any career.

  • Aj

    Hear ye, hear ye, well said. So what if it’s offensive or percieved as an insult? Religious babies and religion coddlers need to grow up, stop demanding special place in society, and learn to live with dissent. Religious faith is akin to believing in fairytales but we can’t say it? Screw that. So what if it’s offensive? Stop whining. So what if it’s anti-religion? That’s not a valid opinion? Well screw you all.

  • http://miketheinfidel.blogspot.com/ MikeTheInfidel

    My reaction is that if UU World or the UU officialdom take any further action to criticize, apologize for or officially distance itself from our ad, that we be refunded our advertising money. It simply does not seem professional to take our money, then diss our ad, however politely you are putting it.

    … What? No. That’s not how business works. You bought ad space, your ad was published, its message was seen. You don’t get a refund just because it wasn’t well-received. Maybe you should’ve targeted your audience a little better.

  • Miko

    Yeah, pay no attention to those “nonbonafides”! Who cares about voices outside of the establishment media, right?

  • Miko

    “Maybe you should’ve targeted your audience a little better.”

    Their problem is not with the audience response but with the response from those who printed the ad. And while they almost certainly won’t get a refund, they are correct that it isn’t professional of UU World.

    If I ran a TV ad and then the host of the show commented “Euw, I’d never buy that product” when the show came back from commercial, I think I’d have legitimate reason to be upset. And I certainly would reconsider placing future ads with that company. Same thing holds in print form.

  • Lambert

    @ Siamang

    “Gaylor, it’s the nonbonafide blogosphere that is the grass-roots of atheism.”

    “An argument can be clearly made that the rise in atheism is directly related to the anonimity and ability for far-flung individuals to congregate on the “nonbonafide blogosphere.””

    What a comprehensive load of drivel. I, like many readers of the nonbonafide blogosphere, came to the conclusion that religion was nothing but a huge con several decades ago. The internet had nothing to do with it, did not even exist at the time.

    You might put forth your argument that it takes the veil of (pseudo) anonymity provided by the internet for some people to make the break and become atheist, but you’d be hard pressed to come up with evidence of that assertion. If the internet vanished in a puff of smoke today there would still be atheist out there, and there would be more new atheists tomorrow.

    The blogosphere has its small place in modern life, but the fact is that any crank can blog. So just because you have a web presence does not automatically endow you with respect and influence.

    If I want an informed opinion about something I might see what the New York Times, or the Guardian has to say about it, but rest assured I will ignore the New York Post, the London Sun, and a host of other tabloids. Does that make me “SPECIAL” too?

  • Erik

    But Miko, I don’t think that’s what UU World did. They didn’t say “I’d never buy that product,” but rather “Well, the ad for that product could be offensive to some of our members, but we still like the product itself.” The FFRF ad was more akin to a Coke ad that might say “Pepsi drinkers are stupid and slaves, you should really drink Coke instead” and publishing it in a soft drink trade mag. Some Coke drinkers would probably agree, but the Pepsi drinkers would rightly be a little pissed.

    I think it’s perfectly valid for UU World to say they should have helped tailor the message to the audience. They did, after all, continue to say that FFRF is consistent with UU values, so they didn’t disparage the group at all, just the ad.

    Then again, all of this just gets FFRF more free press and makes people more likely to research them, so I have a feeling this whole controversy is not too far beyond what FFRF hoped to do with their ad, and Annie Laurie Gaylor’s response rings a little hollow as such.

  • Rieux

    Again, several commenters here seem to be terribly unfamiliar with what Unitarian Universalism claims to be. Allegedly atheists–even ones who openly dissent from religion–are welcome within Unitarian Universalism. One of the organization’s foundational principles is “affirm[ing] and promot[ing] the free and responsible search for truth and meaning,” even when those “search[es]” bring people to conclusions like McQueen’s, Darrow’s, and Twain’s.

    This makes UU World‘s smearing of the FFRF ad much different than the same treatment from a Catholic or Methodist or Greek Orthodox (or…) magazine would be: those denominations make no bones about excluding atheists.

    UUism, supposedly, is fundamentally different than Christian denominations, or for that matter theistic-Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, etc., organizations. The commenters here who think it’s perfectly normal for the magazine to diss the FFRF ad are missing the fact that UUism has always claimed that religious skepticism and doubt are welcome members of the UU coalition. Gaylor’s response reflects that; she understands the UU party line better than several commenters here do.

    It isn’t even unanimously agreed that Unitarian Universalism–which supposedly has no agreed-upon beliefs or creeds–is a religion! (Though at the same time they’ve been shoving atheists out, the Unitarian Universalist Association administration has been loudly playing up the “we are a religion” message as well; that’s another way they marginalize and exclude nonbelievers.)

    What this incident shows, yet again, is that the party-line UU claim–that atheists and our ideas and expression are as welcome in UUism as religious believers and their ideas and expression are–is a lie.

  • http://cycleninja.blogspot.com Paul Lundgren

    I can confidently state that I will not be joining any UU congregation OR the FFRF because of this. I was ambivalent about the UU before, and the commentary of former members has confirmed my suspicions that their outlook does not comport with mine. And the way they caved to eight complaints is just plain weak.

    But Gaylor’s utter cluelessness is gob-smacking. She thinks that a series of quotes meant to directly challenge religion should be accepted without question? And she’s shocked–shocked, I tell you–that they might be taken out?

    This is like the Iowa bus controversy of atheist ads being directed at our fellow godless Iowans. But unlike the buses, which are a public resource, those ads are intended to go after atheists, but they’re being run in a private publication that does NOT cater to them exclusively. And thus, as other posters have pointed out, the UU had every right to pull them (better choice: tell the FFRF to modify them in the first place).

    And Hemant, why are you making this out to be a clear-cut case of censorship, as you seem to be? This should have been presented as an opportunity for discussion, not a cut-and-dried case of “FFRF good, UU bad.”

    Sorry, I’m not getting on board that bus.

  • Rieux

    Paul wrote:

    [Gaylor] thinks that a series of quotes meant to directly challenge religion should be accepted without question? And she’s shocked–shocked, I tell you–that they might be taken out?

    It seems clear to me that she’s arguing that if the Unitarian Universalist Association holds the principles it claims to hold, there can be no grounds to refuse the ad. She’s pointing out (as am I) that this incident shows that the UUA’s claim to welcome atheists and our ideas is dishonest garbage.

    Gaylor’s entire response is intended to point out the UUA’s absurd hypocrisy, not to assert that the ad “should be accepted without question.”

    Sure, an organization committed to a particular religious belief system would reject an FFRF ad like this one, and that would be totally unsurprising. But the UUA claims that they aren’t such an organization. Gaylor is just pointing out the dishonesty at the core of their position.

  • Eskomo

    While I agree with the FFRF on their stand of separation of church and state, and encouraging awareness of atheists and agnostics, I disagree with their cutting down of religion and people who follow it.

    I have been an atheist for quite awhile (OK, two score,) and I have gotten a thick skin when I hear comments about atheists. I am sure the FFRF receives many negative comments every day. Maybe they just brush these off. Maybe they don’t know they are being offensive to others because they no longer take offense to comments they receive.

    “Imagine No Religion” is mildly offensive. Similar to “Imagine No Atheism” someone else had stated a few months ago. It is implying a plan to get rid of religion. I disagree.

    Now “Don’t believe in god? You’re not alone” is not offensive. It is just a question.

  • Aj

    …a policy of not running ads that make their advertisers look like total dicks

    …not mean it can also be offensive to religious believers…

    unless they insult them in their ads

    …“let’s insult our customers…

    …calls for a gentler tone

    …such an anti-religious tone

    …they are being offensive to others…

    Aw poor babies. Did we huuurt your feeeeeelings? Perhaps if religious people weren’t kowtowed then they wouldn’t over react like overly emotional, slow-witted, infantile complainers. Lets get some perspective here, these are extremely mild forms of criticism. Apparently any criticism of the truthfulness and utility of religion is off the table. Fuck that, fuck off, that is a clear cut censorship issue. To be fair to the religious among the UUW readers, apparantly only 8 complained, which suggests that there’s more sense there than there is here. What’s worse than the eight are the atheists defending them and the spineless business manager.

  • Neon Genesis

    I have to wonder if a skeptic magazine ran an ad by a Christian group accusing anyone who supported Dawkins and the Four Horsemen as being militant, stupid, and slaves to anti-theism, then tried to justify it by saying they have Christian subscribers, how many atheists would be outraged and would you not see this being reported all over the atheist blogosphere as to how evil they are and demand an apology from the magazine and for the ads to be removed?

  • Rieux

    Hear, hear, Aj.

    Neon, the FFRF ad did not “accuse anyone … as being militant, stupid, and slaves to” anything. It certainly didn’t accuse UUs of anything (though those who have been offended obviously don’t care enough about what McQueen, Twain, etc., were actually saying to bother considering whether it was actually an attack on them. What most UUs consider “religion” and what McQueen considered “religion” are fundamentally different things, but the eight whiners and those who agree with them can’t see through their atheophobia for long enough to care).

    And the reason the ad should have been run is not because UU World “has [atheist] subscribers,” but because UUism is supposedly a welcoming place for atheist people and ideas, even if those people and ideas are critical of religion.

    In point of fact, UU World is, like most of UU (and indeed American) society, fundamentally prejudiced against religious dissent and criticism–and that’s what this episode has displayed.

  • Neon Genesis

    This is a double standard. Rieux, you say that the UUs are refusing to accept criticism of religion yet in the same post you say that the FFRF are meaning something different from religion than what the UU does. If the UU means something different from the FFRF’s meaning of religion, why did the FFRF use an ad to criticize the UUs of being a religion they know is different than what they’re meaning by religion? It’d be like if I said “All Americans are brainwashed by the extreme right-wingers” and then I tried to excuse myself by saying I meant something different from Americans than what an American not brainwashed by extreme right wingers means by the word. But then turned around and complained you were prejudiced against me if you disagreed with me that you as an American were brainwashed by the extreme right-wingers.

    Furthermore, the UU World magazine did not say they did not want any ads from the FFRF. They specifically said they wanted a different one, so that disproves your claim they do not want any dissent against religion, so I don’t know where you get this idea that the UU magazine wants nothing to do with atheists when they specifically requested a different ad that was pro-atheist from the FFRF. This is not about specifically atheists, it is specifically about anti-theists. Since when are anti-theists and atheists the same thing? I wasn’t aware you weren’t a true atheist unless you were an anti-theist and agreed with everything every atheist ever said about religion. And how is it prejudiced for a private magazine to decide they don’t agree with everything every atheist ever said and to not want to run an ad in their private magazine? No one makes you subscribe to it but you’re acting like the UUs should be forced to run ads they don’t like in a magazine that they privately own if they dare disagree with you on anti-theism. What’s the word they use to describe that?

  • Rieux

    This is a double standard.

    No, it’s just your confusion. (Which is of course amply aided by religious liberals’ constant equivocation about what “religion” means.)

    Rieux, you say that the UUs are refusing to accept criticism of religion….

    Yes. Mr. Ullrich has made that extremely clear, despite your amusing attempts to change what he wrote.

    …yet in the same post you say that the FFRF are meaning something different from religion than what the UU does.

    Actually, I said that Butterfly McQueen–who died in 1995–obviously understood the word “religion” differently than most UUs do. Here’s the definition of “religion” stated in A Chosen Faith, the (disgusting) book the UUA calls the “classic introduction to Unitarian Universalism”:

    Religion is our human response to the dual reality of being alive and having to die.

    That is blatantly not what McQueen meant by “religion”–she was clearly not claiming her parents were enslaved because they “respon[ded] to the dual reality of being alive and having to die.” Instead, she had in mind the far more common and broadly understood conception of “religion”–a belief system that includes supernatural ideas.

    But the thoughtless UU atheophobes who complained about the FFRF ad didn’t bother to spend a moment considering the difference between their idiosyncratic notion of “religion” and McQueen’s conception; instead, they just acted on garden-variety atheist-bashing religious privilege and whined that the FFRF was attacking “all religion.” (The fact that the FFRF said no such thing–at best, McQueen did–also escaped their attention.)

    It’s perfectly ordinary liberal-religious dishonesty: radically redefine religious terminology and then pretend you get to reevaluate anything anyone has ever said using that terminology in light of your arbitrary redefinition. So even though McQueen never said anything about the propriety of “the human response to the dual reality of being alive and having to die,” a handful of UU liars pretend she did. It’s dishonest, bigoted, and stupid.

    It’d be like if I said “All Americans are brainwashed by the extreme right-wingers” and then I tried to excuse myself by saying I meant something different from Americans than what an American not brainwashed by extreme right wingers means by the word.

    No, you’re confused. Under the ordinary conception of “religion,” the vast majority of UUs are not religious, because they don’t believe in supernatural anything. The many UUs who consider themselves religious do so only by invoking a tiny-minority conception of the word. Meanwhile, the vast majority of atheists who attack “religion” have no intention of attacking what most UUs think “religion” is–because by that conception, every single human being has a religion.

    Furthermore, the UU World magazine did not say they did not want any ads from the FFRF. They specifically said they wanted a different one, so that disproves your claim they do not want any dissent against religion….

    The hell it does. Ullrich said he would only accept an FFRF ad that played up the separation of church and state angle, rather than the opposition to religion angle. Earth to Neon: that’s censorship of dissent. “Sure you can write in our magazine, but you’re not allowed to write that you think religion is bad” is not actually acceptance of dissent against religion.

    they specifically requested a different ad that was pro-atheist from the FFRF.

    That’s a lie. Their “request” had nothing to do with “a different ad that was pro-atheist.” You’re making up nonsense.

    This is not about specifically atheists, it is specifically about anti-theists. Since when are anti-theists and atheists the same thing?

    And since when did I say they were?

    Earth to Neon again: a whole lot of atheists think that religion is a bad thing. (That’s even true for a whole lot of UU atheists–though obviously those folks aren’t within the UU majority that sees the word “religion” in an extremely broad light.) And your evident bigotry aside, there’s not actually anything evil about thinking that religion is a bad thing.

    I said (and you ignored) that the UUA refuses to “welcome atheists and our ideas,” despite dishonestly claiming to “affirm and promote a free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” And that’s true, regardless of your attempts to garble it.

    You clearly don’t know much about UUism, and you’ve bought into some very ugly forms of prejudice against atheists (and religious dissenters) yourself. Sorry, but a silly smear like “anti-theist” just isn’t going to do the work of scaring your enemies that you think it will.

  • llewelly

    Me, in an earlier comment:

    Although I think most of Annie Laurie Gaylor’s letter is well-said, this parenthetical remark:

    (At FFRF we pay no attention to the nonbonafide blogosphere–I mean personal bloggers who so often engage in personal polemics, as opposed to bonafide news and opinion bloggers, such as Salon.com).

    is ignorant, provincial, and, as Siamang said, tone-deaf. Atheist bloggers such as PZ, Greta Christina, Larry Moran, that Indian guy whose name I can’t recall, and many others, have been very successful in raising awareness and spreading the positive message of atheism. It seems likely to me that the FFRF owes as much of its recent growth to these bloggers as it does to its own advertising efforts. (I discovered the FFRF through PZ’s blog, and I know other atheists who did as well.)

    I sent an email to Annie Laurie Gaylor about this remark. She replied quickly, and said she viewed bloggers such as Hemant, PZ as professionals, and when she wrote “nonbonafide” she was thinking of blogs that were “pretty silly on this issue”. I think it’s clear from her email that she did not intend to imply that all non-mainstream media bloggers were “nonbonafide”.

  • Neon Genesis

    You clearly don’t know much about UUism, and you’ve bought into some very ugly forms of prejudice against atheists (and religious dissenters) yourself. Sorry, but a silly smear like “anti-theist” just isn’t going to do the work of scaring your enemies that you think it will.

    How am I a bigot to atheists? I’m an atheist myself and how is anti-theist a smear? It’s a word the Four Horsemen have proudly adopted themselves. Hitchens himself says in God Is Not Great that he isn’t even so much as an atheist as he is an anti-theist. Perhaps you should learn more about anti-theism before you claim the word is a smear or that I’m being a bigot. And I fail to see how I’m a bigot for disagreeing with the view point that anyone who believes in a supernatural god is automatically delusional or enslaving others. But I don’t see the point in continuing a discussion with someone who apparently thinks anyone who disagrees with them and doesn’t treat all famous atheists as demigods is a bigot. This only reinforces what I brought up earlier that apparently only true atheists are anti-theists or else you’re a bigot.

  • Aj

    On “anti-theism”. Christopher Hitchens has made it clear in his book “God is not Great” and other articles what he means by “anti-theist”:

    A small number when compared to the Egyptian infants already massacred by god in order for things to have proceeded even this far, but it helps to make the case for “antitheism.” By this I mean the view that we ought to be glad that none of the religious myths has any truth to it, or in it. The Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic leansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre, but we are not bound by any of it because it was put together by crude, uncultured human mammals.

    One quote from Richard Dawkins calling the God of the Old Testament unpleasant can be considered anti-theist in the sense Hitchens means it. A quote might I add that was not complained about, probably because there would be very very few members of the UUA that would defend the God of the Old Testament. So this isn’t about anti-theism as Hitchens means it at all.

    As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion.

    Not belief in God, gods. Not theism, deism. Religion. So cut the shit, anyone with a modicum of sense knows what Butterfly McQueen is talking about, and it’s not what the complainers keep saying it is. Stop the lies. Stop the lies. Stop the lies. Read a fucking history book, the woman knew her own religious experience for fucks sake. Grow a brain.

    Rieux,

    Notice how most of your pertinent response to the bullshit and lies have been ignored. After false accusations and clear misrepresentation you will not get an apology. There is no point conversing with people who ignore what you mean, deliberately misrepresent the words of everyone they disagree with, and are not interested in an honest discussion, just another chance to backhandedly insult you and atheists they don’t like.

    llewelly,

    I sent an email to Annie Laurie Gaylor about this remark. She replied quickly, and said she viewed bloggers such as Hemant, PZ as professionals, and when she wrote “nonbonafide” she was thinking of blogs that were “pretty silly on this issue”. I think it’s clear from her email that she did not intend to imply that all non-mainstream media bloggers were “nonbonafide”.

    I read it as such. It was good of you to clarify this from the source and honestly clear up the misunderstanding.

  • TXatheist

    My wife is more religious than I so I showed her the ad while remaining silent. She said “so”. I said anything else? “No”. So I pushed “do you find it wrong for UU to publish an ad insulting religion?” She said “we UU embrace all” and that’s all I had to hear.

  • Rieux

    Aj wrote:

    Rieux,

    Notice how most of your pertinent response to the bullshit and lies have been ignored.

    Oh, I noticed. I noticed. :-)

    It’s a common experience for despised minorities of many kinds. When bigotry–whether it’s racist, homophobic, sexist, atheophobic or whatever–is widely accepted in society, plenty of members of the marginalized minority themselves incorporate elements of that bigotry. And so, here, we see people who are themselves atheists reacting with horror (or snotty, superior distaste) at the fact that a fellow nonbeliever has violated our society’s suffocating religious privilege by publicly saying unkind things about religion. In a bigoted culture there are, obviously, significant incentives for minority individuals to side with the bigoted majority at the expense of the fellow members of their own minority.

    In feminist circles, this kind of tendency is occasionally called “falling in love with your own oppression.” In civil-rights history, the name for the general phenomenon is Uncle Tom, or sometimes collaborationism.

    Regardless, the notion that the FFRF is in the wrong for publishing that ad, or that the skeptics quoted in the ad were wrong to say the things they did, can be based on nothing but thoroughgoing atheophobic bigotry. That some of the people carrying that bigotry are themselves atheists is supremely sad, but to anyone who’s studied the history of marginalized minorities, it’s not all that surprising.

  • Alex

    I’ve been a UU for over 15 years and also a supporter of FFRF. It seems the UU World fails to understand that blasphemy is a our right and that our UU founders have been burned at the stake for their blasphemy. Michael Servetus and Edward Wrightman come to mind. Also we have to remember that the Boston Unitarians threw out Theodore Parker one of our best and courageous heretic leaders. Finally in a sermon our new UUA president wrote “We are a congregations of heretics. I think that’s wonderful. I wouldn’t have it any other way. How about you? Take my hand. Let us be happy heretics together.” Peter Morales. Link to his Burn the Heretic sermon is: http://www.jeffersonunitarian.org/sermons/morales/pm_burn_the_heretic.html


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