There’s a nice article making the rounds by Kimberly Winston of the Religion News Service about the “We Are Atheism” campaign:
“It’s time for us to all stand up, speak out and be counted,” said Amanda Brown, 25, one of the co-founders. “It is time for us to put up our videos and change the face of atheism. We want people to see we are normal people who have children and lives and do good in the community.”
Brown was inspired to start the campaign with her husband and a friend when she attended a talk by Jessica Ahlquist, a teenage atheist who was taunted and bullied after she objected to a “school prayer” banner hung in her Rhode Island high school.
I posted about the campaign when it launched and even contributed a video for it. I know what this campaign is about.
It’s about letting other atheists know that they’re not alone, that they have support from the larger secular community, that we know what they’re going through, that it gets better.
Bobby Ross Jr. at Get Religion misses that point completely. He’s upset because this article about “evangelical atheists” (his words) doesn’t fact check the stories of the atheists or feature any religion scholars:
… while the heroes in the story are quoted by name, the villains — those God-believers out there allegedly persecuting atheists — are left vague and nameless. No one who believes in a higher power get to react to the atheists. No one gets to debate the facts in any of these clashes. No one engages in dialogue. No traditional theologians are enlisted to discuss whether, in fact, the atheists are becoming a religious group. Minus the F-word (faith), that is.
Maybe I’m alone, but I read this type of story and want to scream: Wait a minute! I believe in God, and I think atheists are wrong, but this is a free country and they have every right not to believe. Is it asking too much to want to see that point of view reflected?
My point is this: If we’re going to keep reading evangelical atheist stories, wouldn’t it be nice to see journalists approach this topic from a wider, more diverse, perspective? Wouldn’t it be nice to see some believers and scholars quoted? Wouldn’t it be nice to see some actual journalistic skepticism brought to the atheists’ publicity campaigns?
As I wrote on his site, this story doesn’t deserve a Christian reaction. It’s not about them. It’s about the atheists who have been treated badly as a result of things that are said by Christians/pastors/etc. It about letting other atheists know that we can be out and proud and it doesn’t always hurt us — even in conservative areas.
There’s no need for a Christian perspective. There’s no argument being made where we need to hear a dissenting view. There’s nothing they can offer to shine more light on this piece. You want to know more about the Jessica Ahlquist case? Read the dozens of articles that have already been written about her. Those articles name names and point out exactly who the ignorant bigots are. Ditto with Damon Fowler and everybody else who has suffered at the hands of some Christians.
We also don’t need a Christian to tell us that not all Christians are bad people. We know that. We know many Christians are good, kind people who would never condone bullying. The “We Are Atheism” videos don’t suggest otherwise.
Ross says he wants a “scholar” quoted in the piece. Why? To point out that atheists are a growing demographic? It wouldn’t matter even if we weren’t.
He also asks for “journalistic skepticism” without pointing out what we ought to be skeptical of… I didn’t see any glaring errors, but feel free to point out the dubious facts to me, and I’ll get answers.
This is the kind of response one would expect from a Christian who gets defensive because he read an article portraying atheists in a positive light.
Can’t have that happening now, can we?