Is There An Atheism ‘Schism’?

Peter McGrath of The Guardian says American atheism is headed for a schism because of the handling of Atheism+:

The founders of Atheism+ say clearly that “divisiveness” is not their aim, but looking through the blogs and voluminous comments in the two weeks since A+ was mooted, trenches have been dug, beliefs stated, positions staked out and abuse thrown. A dissenting tweeter is “full of shit”, while, according to one supporter, daring to disagree with Atheism+’s definition of progressive issues and not picking their side makes you an “asshole and a douchebag”.

One of the joys of atheism’s outlets on the internet was that they were clever, deft, funny, tolerant and irreverent. It was certainly robust and not for the faint-hearted.

Those of us who do not wish to extend our atheism into someone else’s definition of progressive politics may take rather unkindly to being described as immoral scum, useful but unsavoury body parts, and outdated contraceptive devices. In the week when American atheism made its appearance in the Economist’s editorial pages, it seems to have been sowing the seeds of that most religious of events — a schism.

He’s overstating it at the end. I don’t see a schism happening over A+ because 1) It’s not like we were ever all that united in the first place (a schism from *what* exactly?) and 2) No one’s arguing over atheism/God/fighting religion/etc.

But McGrath’s also falling into the same trap as other people: He’s paying attention more to the rhetoric and blog drama instead of the issue of whether or not atheists should care about social justice issues.

I think if those were the discussions — should atheists care about all social justice issues even if religion has nothing to do with them? Should atheists care about women’s rights and LGBT rights because religion is part of the problem in those cases? — we would be having more productive discussions.

Instead, way too many people are complaining about the people who are vocal advocates of it and how they’re acting and a bunch of other things that no one else besides us ever care about.

For what it’s worth, I fully support the ideas behind A+, but the way its promoters talk about it online makes me want nothing to do with that label. It’s kind of like how I’m a lifelong vegetarian… but I have no desire to join PETA. They’re not wrong; I’m just turned off by how they handle the issue.

Obviously, no one’s condoning threats against anyone and it’s disturbing how many really awful statements have been hurled in the way of some of the vocal people (mostly women) in our movement whether you agree with them or not. It’s sad that I know the comment thread for this post will probably be derailed by people who want to use the forum as an opportunity to bitch and moan about what some individuals said or how they acted instead of discussing whether there’s any substance to A+.

I’m sure there’s a separate discussion to be had about what makes someone an Internet troll worth ignoring and what makes someone a legitimate threat we need to take seriously.

Maybe it’s a better conversation to just have in person, because it’s not working online. In person, these topics are handled with more civility. Online, it’s just a cesspool of YouTube commenters, whether it’s on YouTube or not. It’s just too easy to be anonymous and evil on the Internet.

Here’s what I think will happen: There won’t be a schism. A+ will have it’s supporters and they’ll do some really cool things. Other people won’t want anything to do with them and they’ll still promote social justice in their own unique way — more power to them. And then some people won’t give a shit about any of this (“Atheism means just one thing!”) and… well… they’re irrelevant in this discussion.

Like I said before, if A+ helps get more people involved in the movement, I think that’s a net positive for all of us. I honestly don’t understand how people can get so worked up over this stuff. If you think people arguing in favor of feminism is some huge problem, consider yourself lucky for having so few worries in your life.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • LesterBallard

    What’s Atheism+?

    • Glasofruix

      Nothing important apparently.

    • onamission5

      A set of people who are atheists, and who also want to focus their energies on social justice as a cohesive group, rather than as lonely individuals. So, atheism plus social justice. It’s opt-in and still in its early formation. Like, really early. The whole idea just came to fruition a couple weeks ago. There’s a lot still left to work out, but also some cool projects which have come from it, like the A+ Scribe group, whose goal is to prepare transcripts of secular media for hearing impared.

      • AndyTK

        It’s much more than that.  It a group that is primarily concerned with women empowerment (feminists) that want to impose their will on the Atheist movement while calling anybody that thinks their focus on feminist issues is a distraction to real Atheist issues is an MRA.  The name A+ says it all, a group of people that think they are, or should be, the moral dictators of the Atheist movement.

        • onamission5

          Yeah…. no.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

          And no, the A+ doesn’t say it all. It’s more along the lines of Google+ or Hulu Plus.

          • AndyTK

            Both of those are examples of enhancements over base services.  Especially Hulu Plus, the + means better than.

            • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

              As in, in addition to, not necessarily better than. It’s atheism, plus caring about social issues. That doesn’t make atheism not important all of a sudden.

  • Thorny264

    So I guessed I missed this so could someone give me a quick run-down of who atheism+ are? I heard a lot of terms thrown about and something about stealing their logo from a shirt off Richard dawkins site so if anyone can clear this up cheers

    • onamission5

      It’s not a who so much as it’s a who and a what–  the who being some socially conscious atheists who want to work together on social justice, and the what being social justice projects.

      • Thorny264

        So what’s all the fuss about?

        • onamission5

          I think it’s from people who feel excluded because they don’t want to do social justice, or because they don’t want to do social justice in the way that A+ says they would like to do it. I don’t know, really, it’s hard to flesh out what the valid complaints are amongst a vast field of misinformation and misrepresentation.

        • http://www.atheistrev.com/ vjack
        • AndyTK

          Some of us feel that feminism is outside the scope of Atheism and that there is more than enough work in the US that has to do with Atheism that we don’t need any distractions.  We believe that most of the online harassment is done by trolls and that changing the stated goal of Atheism is going to do nothing to stop that.  (BTW – one can be a well-known troll, like Rush Limbaugh, but even in that case A+ will do nothing to change them).  We believe that the Atheist movement should try to create a safe environment for women at Atheist events, but that a safe environment for women does not necessarily mean an environment that accepts all feminist points of view (men are evil, a tall man that enters an elevator with a woman is threatening that woman, any time women are not dominating it’s because of a secret cabal of men that are keeping them down, or that all men that don’t agree with them are MRA’s (a new acronym that I learned because of this brouhaha)).  We don’t believe in quotas.  We find the name A+ to be purposefully insulting because it claims that they are better than everybody else.

          Personally I’d be perfectly happy if they created a safe (i.e. moderated in some form) web site/forum/IRL group called Atheists for Social Justice (or some such name).  Trying to redefine Atheism and setting themselves up as the ultimate arbitrators of what is moral and right just seems to be the worse of religious thinking.

          • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

            “Some of us feel that feminism is outside the scope of Atheism…”
            And some of us feel that it isn’t.  If you don’t like it, don’t join. 

          • Rory

             Do you have any idea how full of shit you sound when you suggest that feminist women in atheism want an environment where “men are evil, a tall man that enters an elevator with a woman is
            threatening that woman, any time women are not dominating it’s because
            of a secret cabal of men that are keeping them down?”

            Here’s the thing, Andy–you don’t have to look too hard at the atheist movement in the past year to see that there’s some seriously nasty misogyny in it. Women shouldn’t have to deal with that–and men shouldn’t want women to have to deal with it. So if trying to eliminate some of that nastiness from our movement comes in the form of feminism, so be it. But don’t pretend this is some kind of anti-male purge.

            • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

              What’s really frustrating is that these guys say that they’re being shouted down for respectfully disagreeing and they seem to actually think that they’re respectfully disagreeing. But they deny harassment (Anyone who harasses you magically turns into an internet troll) and misrepresent feminism and then bash feminism because of their straw feminists.
              And then when we get angry, they think they’re being punished for respectfully disagreeing and they refuse to see how insulting what they say is.

              • AndyTK

                BTW – saying that we should stay focused on church and state separation isn’t sexist, it’s just disagreeing with your set of priorities.  A+ should continue that attack if it wants to drive men that don’t call women names out of the Atheist movement.

                We will have to agree to disagree that you have a chip on your shoulder and lots of us don’t share that chip.

                • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

                  No one is being called sexist for saying we should focus on separation of church and state. They’re being called sexist because of sexist things they say, but since they also happen to think we should focus on church/state issues, they insist that that’s the real reason they’re being called sexist and don’t bother to actually look at what they’re saying and how it’s coming across.

            • AndyTK

              I was told, in this debate, that if I didn’t understand how threatening it was for a woman to be alone in an elevator with a tall man that I’m an a**hole and I should learn to be f**king sensitive to how other people feel.  So don’t blame me for that example, blame A+.  Look, I’m all for setting up a sane anti-harassment policy (tall men not allowed to be in an elevator with a woman wouldn’t be part of such a policy).  I’m all for having conference organizers help women buddy up for protection if they feel they need it, and if necessary provide escorts for women that request it between the conference center and their hotel.  The advocate of A+ seem to be going well beyond simply providing a safe environment for women atheists. 

              • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

                And do you really not understand how that’s intimidating?
                And no, the rule wouldn’t be that tall men couldn’t get into an elevator with a woman. It probably wouldn’t even be a rule that he can’t ask her out while they’re in there. It’s just a *suggestion* which was what her original video on the topic was all about: suggesting that men approach women in a more comfortable setting.

                • AndyTK

                  Even
                  if I was taller I should be able to enter an elevator without apologizing for
                  it.  The issue is with the woman in this
                  case, not the man.  What would you think
                  if I said “some people are intimidated by black people when they cross the road
                  to my side of the road.  I think black
                  people should consider that before crossing the road.”  You’d probably call them racist.  Now if I invaded somebody’s personal space,
                  made crude or threatening jesters that would be different.  But being guilty before actually doing
                  something to warrant the conviction? 
                  That’s just as bad as a guy thinking that all women are sluts.

                • Paulo Pinheiro

                  If a woman doesn’t want to be in an elevator with a guy, well, let in take the elevator first and she can go on the next ride. If I were afraid of someone riding with me on an elevator, I wouldn’t turn to that person and say “hey, I’m afraid of you, don’t take this one, wait for the next!”. No, I would let the person get the elevator first.

        • AndyTK

          “A+ was born when Freethought blogger Jen McCreight (the mind behind Boobquake) made a passionate call for a “third wave” of atheism, one that extends atheist activism into progressive politics and calls for a part of the movement to be one where women can exist free from the harassment that has plagued women publicly involved in the atheist movement.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2012/sep/02/american-atheism-schism-spit-venom)

  • Thalfon

    I think at this point I get what A+’s ideals are, and what they want to change, but I can’t figure out who/what their target is. Are they trying to improve all these social issues in the general public? If so, the atheism in their name does seem a bit tacked on (and might even backfire on them, because people are more willing to listen to humanists than to atheists if we go by labels alone). Also, they’ve argued that they’re not the same as humanism, and this would be the same as humanism, so I guess that’s not it?

    Is it trying to target the non-humanist atheists? I know there’s a lot of negative rhetoric that gets thrown around in atheist fora (even here) whenever something seen as “off topic” gets brought up, like feminist issues, and so is that perhaps the target? If so, I wholeheartedly embrace the idea… but they do need to make that more clear. Also, while making enemies and getting haters is inevitable in that fight, and not worth stressing over too much, one will never win that fight with the level of negative rhetoric that is going about right now. That needs to be a discussion, not a mud-slinging match. (I feel like maybe the louder A+’ers are making the rest of their group seem a little more vehement than perhaps the whole is, but this too is something that the group would have to deal with.)

    Or am I off the mark completely? I think I get *what* they’re trying to change. I just can’t figure out *where* they’re trying to change it. (Or at least, where they’re trying to change it *first*, because you really need that foothold, at least in my opinion.) Or have they even got a plan of that sort? Will this be the next Occupy movement with a lot of motivated people milling about in a disorganized fashion, then slowly dropping off the radar? I hope not, because it seems good *could* come from this if it has that needed direction.

    I think part of my problem is that from their opponents I hear nothing but negative rhetoric, and then from the A+ side I hear only counters to said rhetoric… and I just can’t find the initial standpoint to it all.

    • onamission5

      The concept was brewing for a long time, but was essentially born out of the comment thread of this post on BlagHag: http://freethoughtblogs.com/blaghag/2012/08/how-i-unwittingly-infiltrated-the-boys-club-why-its-time-for-a-new-wave-of-atheism/

      The idea behind it is thus; if we’re going to, as public atheists, make the claim that we’re “good without gods,” then let’s go ahead and live that claim through our actions.

      • MoriyaMug

         And those of us who do that already fail to see the point.

        • 1000 Needles

          See my reply to Thalfon.

          Women (primarily) were getting disenfranchised about organized atheism due to the levels of harassment and sexism they were experiencing. A+ is a decentralized way of trying to combat that problem.

          It’s nothing at all like a hierarchical organization, but it is people with shared goals and ideals uniting to solve what they see as an immediate problem within organized atheism and skepticism.

          • http://www.facebook.com/d3st88 Morva Ádám

            Now that’s something I do not see, women getting disenfranchised and harassed, I mean.

            I always felt that the atheist online community is very inclusive, open minded and I just can’t see the homophobia or misogyny some of you are hollering about.

            And I’d like to stress that I have a very sensitive radar for these things. For example, I’m the kind of person who had plenty of lengthy arguments with her female acquittances over them using mascara or wearing high heels because of social expectations. I was disliked and handicapped in the office at my last workplace for speaking out against homophobia or when some guys shared their bigoted wisdoms about the female gender.

            My experience is that the atheist online community is much, much better in these regards than the general population.

            Does it mean we don’t have people who create injustice or hold bigoted views? No. We do have sexists and racists and such, but I fear that if you want to jettison them you’ll miss out on the chance to reason their flawed views away.
            Plus, it seems to me that an awful lot of people supporting Rebecca and Jen are sexist towards men.

            • Joe_Buddha

              Not a gnu, but I gotta say: Can you be any more clueless? I’m a MAN(tm), but I don’t feel excluded. And, by the way, if you don’t see the misoginists, you’re more into woo than I am, and I’m a Buddhist. And, if your bro’s can’t hang, they don’t belong. Jettison them all, and good riddance.

            • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

              It is incredibly frustrating to have a man come around and say, “Well I don’t see any of this sexism, so it doesn’t seem like it exists.”
              How lovely for you. But did you ever consider that you can’t see it because it doesn’t affect you the same way? You don’t notice subtle comments because you haven’t been hearing them all your life and they don’t hit you with any particular feeling. You can easily dismiss other comments as internet trolls and tell us to stop freaking out over every little thing. That takes care of most of it, and then every now and then, you can say, “Well yeah, *that* was sexist, but that doesn’t mean sexism is a big problem.”

              Here’s a few things to look for that happen all the time:
              - “Sweety,” “Honey,” “Dear,” followed by an explanation why we’re wrong. Not only are we wrong, but we’re extra wrong since we’re women.
              - “This has nothing to do with atheism!!” every time anything involving feminism is brought up, but they *only* protest if it’s feminist, not for anything else off-topic.
              - [Article about a woman] [comments rating her attractiveness]
              - Misrepresenting feminism so they can bash us for being feminists.
              - Denying any claims of sexism to make us sound irrational and paranoid.
              - Bringing up “elevator guy” over and over again, acting like all he wanted was an elevator ride and acting like she screamed rape and publicly shamed him, also to make us sound irrational and paranoid.

              What’s wrong with wanting to get away from that??

        • onamission5

          I don’t understand what you fail to see the point of. If you are someone who already does social justice in hir own way, if you’re someone who already does good, then why would you be opposed to a group whose goal is more social justice and more good? Nobody’s going to make you join up, just do your thing.

          • http://www.atheistrev.com/ vjack

             I think the problem is that some of those promoting A+ (e.g., Richard Carrier, PZ Myers) have adopted a very different approach in which they attempt to demonize those who want to do social justice outside their group.

            • 1000 Needles

              That’s a valid criticism. But I doubt you’ll find many people that identify with A+ that 100% agree with everything that the vocal proponents of A+ have said.

              Richard Carrier is an excellent example, as he received a lot of criticism for his take on A+.

              A fledging, nebulous movement like A+ is going to have disagreements about how it should progress. The important thing, and the thing that I like about it, is that rather than a lockstep, dogmatic approach to issues, the discussions are being had openly and honestly (with the exception of trolls butting in).

            • onamission5

              I haven’t seen that, at least, not the way you’re putting it. I have seen no condemnation of social justice which takes place outside of A+. What I have seen, which I believe is being misconstrued, is people making the point that if someone claims to be “neutral” on social justice, the result of that “neutral” stance is the enabling of bigotry, in the same way that one cannot be neutral about the separation of church and state in the US. One either cares about and supports secularism, or one– whether passively or actively– enables religionists to trod upon the US constitution.

              I am not going to speak for other people at this juncture, because the whole package of A+ is still being constructed, and conflicting views are bound to arise during that process. I will speak up for A+, though, because I have hope for it to succeed.

    • 1000 Needles

      While the goals of A+ are nebulous, the main purpose behind its formation is to create a safe space where women, minorities, and other marginalized groups can discuss the issues important to them without fear of harassment. Until now, there had been no organized effort to create such a space.

      Of course, anytime a statement like this is made it gets met with dismissal, denial, or hyper-skeptical demands for evidence of harassment. So I hope you won’t mind me preempting those comments with a few links:

      (Trigger warning: examples of harassment)

      Mom, Don’t Read This by Rebecca Watson

      The campaign against Amy Davis Roth by Jason Thibeault

      • Greta Christina: #MenCallMeThings – 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

      How I Unwittingly Infiltrated the Boy’s Club by Jen McCreight

      Little skeptic twit Rhys not so hot at science, a cruel post on the Elevatorgate blog

      Reddit Makes Me Hate Atheists by Rebecca Watson

      • Thalfon

        So basically, every time an attempt to have an intelligent discussion about a topic devolves into hate (or just gets brushed aside as unimportant, which happens a lot) there’s A+ to move it to? Because I like the idea of it. One thing that bugs me about the whole deal is that *everywhere* really ought to be that place, but I guess that’s asking too much. I did mention needing a foothold before tackling the larger picture though. Perhaps that will be this after the mudslinging settles a bit. I’d like to see such a thing succeed, but then also spread that influence out a bit.

        • 1000 Needles

          Yeah, Thalfon, that’s pretty much what we’re dealing with. See Morva’s reply for the kind of mischaracterizations that get slung about as soon as the topic of harassment enters the conversation.

          For example, they wrote:

           My love, you (and your A+) movement makes it sound like as if atheists were some bunch of rabid, white supremacist rapists.

          The thing is, it doesn’t take a majority of skeptics/atheists being assholes to make women feel unwelcome. A small, vocal minority (which is what I think we’re dealing with) is all that it takes. But for some reason, trying to address that problem makes other atheists get very defensive.

          Admitting that a problem exists and dealing with it, rather than ignoring it, is how we demonstrate the strength of our morality.

      • http://www.facebook.com/d3st88 Morva Ádám

         My love, you (and your A+) movement makes it sound like as if atheists were some bunch of rabid, white supremacist rapists.
        By defining the goals of A+ you declare the outgroup as such and guess what? “Laypeople” are getting a wind of that and you are doing an outstanding job at reinforcing the christian right’s notion of us being.. you know.. morally repugnant people.

        I’d love to take some time to address why Rebecca is horribly wrong and neurotic in her Reddit Makes Me Hate Atheists and Mom, Don’t Read This blogposts, but you know what? I already did post lengthy responses to those, they were just deleted (after I got demonized, called names and whatnot – the usual stuff one gets for criticizing the Skepchick Team, or FTB).

        I really like the idea of people standing up against social injustice and whatnot, but I really hate it when they do it by declaring the outgroup guilty and filthy by default, committing social injustice themselves. And it’s business as usual for Watson and PZ and many others figureheading A+, so thanks but no thanks.

        • The Captain

          1000 Needles uses the word “safe” on here every day in every post. I don’t think the word means what they think it means.

        • 1000 Needles

          First let me say that I appreciate that you’re also concerned with social justice. But I want to address some of the mischaracterizations that you are propagating about A+.

           you (and your A+) movement makes it sound like as if atheists were some bunch of rabid, white supremacist rapists.

          Nowhere do I (or any other A+ers) claim that a majority of atheists behave this way.  However, a vocal minority is all it takes to make women in the community feel unwelcome. Compound that with others (see The Captain for example) who outright dismiss the problem, and this minority of atheists can potential affect a majority of the movement.

          By defining the goals of A+ you declare the outgroup

          I specifically said that the goals of A+ were nebulous.  Besides, none of the A+ advocates are calling for the heads of Hemant, or Natalie Reed, or any of the other prominent figures that have chosen not to adopt the label but also aren’t denigrating the movement.

          I’d love to take some time to address why Rebecca is horribly wrong and neurotic in her Reddit Makes Me Hate Atheists and Mom, Don’t Read This blogposts

          Wow. Honestly, I’m stunned by your reaction. These are very cut and dry examples of systemic harassment. To call Rebecca Watson “neurotic” for addressing them is utterly shocking.

          • AndyTK

            “none of the A+ advocates are calling for the heads of Hemant, or Natalie Reed, or any of the other prominent figures that have chosen not to adopt the label but also aren’t denigrating the movement.”

            I think you just reveal too much about the A+ mindset that people love so much.  So people that silently accept your movement are okay, only those that dare speak against it for any reason will be burned at the stake.  Oh, that’s a freedom loving tolerant movement

            • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

              And it keeps going over your heads that no, you are not being “burned at the stake” for speaking up for any reason. You are being rejected for denying sexism, even when clear evidence is presented and then exhibiting the sexist behavior that you deny is happening.

      • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

         why do you write “trigger warning” before posting links?

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6OE7LEYELE4MZTVXGZUSVTBFUI julie

          For people who have experienced some sort of trauma. The last one especially could be difficult to read if someone had experienced those things that the guys so casually fling at a 15-year-old girl.

          • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

             isn’t the psychologically healthy thing to do to move past that experience, learning how to prevent the memory of it from causing significant trauma when triggered? Living with it by just avoiding any chance of triggering the memory isn’t healthy at all.

  • No Labels

    Everything you’ve written here is perfectly applicable to why I don’t align myself with skeptics as a whole. From David Silverman demanding that if I am a skeptic then I must accept to label “atheist” (I therefore reject both), to this blog supporting lawsuits and divisive actions when no harm has been done, to billboards that are deliberately and stupidly offensive. 

    You’re not wrong. You’re just doing it wrong. 

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      So how should we do it? Say that being a skeptic allows for being a theist somehow? Let all of these Constitutional violations slide? Not be offensive in any way in billboard form?

      For what? To look better to certain people? To not offend?

      Fuck that.

    • RobMcCune

      Many of the opponents in these lawsuits and ‘divisive actions’ explicitly state that they desire state support or acknowledgement for their religion. Opposing that will necessarily be divisive. Your proposal for how we do it right is to do little to nothing at all.

  • bettsoff

    Wow, a man claiming “faint-hearted”  feminists suck the fun out of everything.  How original.

    • onamission5

      I don’t see where he said that. Can you explain?

      • bettsoff

        “One of the joys of atheism’s outlets on the internet was that they were
        clever, deft, funny, tolerant and irreverent. It was certainly robust
        and not for the faint-hearted.”

        There are literally thousands of comments made in the past few weeks saying essentially the same thing: women (and other minorities) need to grow a thicker skin, b/c their complaining is ruining all the clever, irreverent awesomeness of all the other atheists. (edit for spelling)

    • jdm8

       Context, please. You seem to be responding to a linked article, not this article.

      • bettsoff

        I thought it was obvious I was criticizing McGrath; obviously not.

    • 1000 Needles

      Please allow me to link my reply to Thalfon here, so that people can see examples of what these “faint-hearted feminists” were dealing with.

      • The Captain

        Yes we get it. Someone said something mean on the internet so you get to play victim all day long.

        • 1000 Needles

          Thanks, once again, for serving as my example that deniers like you aren’t actually bothering to examine the evidence.

          Now ask yourself: why might a woman feel unwelcome in a community where people like you dismiss the harassment they experience as “something mean on the internet” and “playing the victim”?

          • The Captain

            Your ” evidence” is all internet trolls. Sorry if a very small number of passing comments on message boards makes you feel “unwelcome” in a community then you are probably just too sensitive for society in general. There are usably many many women at the skeptic events I go to, yet somehow they all feel welcome. Ever think perhaps the problem is just you?

            • The Captain

              oops *ussally

            • 1000 Needles

              Your ” evidence” is all internet trolls. 

              Once again you demonstrate that you are wrong and haven’t looked into the evidence. These “trolls” are proud skeptics and atheists. 

              a very small number of passing comments

              Really, at this point it should be obvious that you haven’t read one single report of the harassment that women are experiencing. 

              Ever think perhaps the problem is just you?

              Funny, of all the harassment reports I linked you to, not one of them was written by me.

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

    I suggest detractors visit the Atheism Plus website, http://www.atheismplus.com and view its forums. That’s where the heart of the discussion will be surrounding what Atheism+ is, what its goals are, what it’s all about, etc.

    Instead of, you know, assuming that if they don’t apply the Atheism+ label to themselves, that people will somehow immediately label them evil scum or something.

    • AndyTK

      That web site would be useful it if stated the goals of A+ on the main page or had a big bold link to the goals on the front page.  The FAQ is still “under construction”.  I’m having trouble following the A+ debate here let alone have the time to read through several other forums.  As of now it is of no value to somebody that wants to see the official A+ constitution and bill of rights.

    • John

      Not to mention that any other sort of criticism labelled against these people on FtB, SkepChick and other sites has met glib dismissal, as well as censorship and banning.  It even states that trolling of any sort will be met with extreme measures.  You are either with them or against them.  

      Do we really need to go to their echo chamber of propaganda to discuss the problems we perceive with Atheism+, just to get silenced and they can display our carcasses and further evidence of their persecution? 

    • Bruce Lindman

       There’s nothing on that website so far that isn’t just a continuation of the misandry and gender-bias that is rampant on FTB.  I don’t understand why they FTB crowd felt a need for a separate website.

    • Paul_Robertson

      Instead of, you know, assuming that if they don’t apply the Atheism+
      label to themselves, that people will somehow immediately label them
      evil scum or something.

      Assuming? They’ve outright said it. Let’s take Carrier, who seems to be one of the leaders of the new movement. Here’s a tidy quote for you (emphasis added):

      In short, if you reject this value statement, you are simply my ideological enemy, and I will give you no quarter. I’ll respect your legal and human rights, because I believe in that. But don’t be shocked if I am not friendly. This includes if you mock or make fun of Atheism+ or belittle it with stupid dumb-ass shit like calling it Stalinism. That makes you an asshole. Point blank. Plain and simple.

      Yep, I’d say that makes their position on people who don’t agree with A+ pretty clear.

      • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

        Thank you for quoting somebody who has nothing to do with the founding of the group, and who later took back most of what he said.

        Dishonest tactics abound. *sigh*

        • Paul_Robertson

          I find you lot a very slippery group to deal with. If someone says something inconvenient then either that person is not yours or they shouldn’t be held to what they said. Perhaps you could provide a list of who we are allowed to quote from? As for the take backs, please. At best I’ll allow you to amend your orignal quote to acknowledge that while some aplustheists will in fact immediately label non-adherents as evil scum or something, they’ll later “take back” those words, while leaving the orignal offense on their blog for posterity.

          • SadandAngry

            Adam Lee, of Daylight Atheism, a few posts down on this thread basically gives a great example of this shining hypocrisy within the A+ fellowship. A gentleman got banned/booted of an athesist blog for having the gall to say he “doesn’t give a shit about social causes”. That was it. He was banned for that, yet on this blog, the man stated that he does care about social justice issues but does not want them tied to atheist. Adam Lee said he didn’t care about the man’s stance because he had said that he doesn’t care and basically, anything said from that point on did not matter to him (or basically, any of his A+ cronies). 

            Now, we here we have an A+ member who is trying to excuse the nasty post from Currie saying well, “he later took back most of what he said” and then claimed OUR tactics were dishonest in quoting him and his very telling quip.

            The dogma seeping out of A+ is just like Catholic dogma or worse. And sooner or later we are going to get an apologist from A+ trying to disavow members saying that they “are not true A+ fellowshipers” …..Just like “they are not true christians.

            The A+ movement is just bad in all directions, with one exception, some of the issues they espouse are worthwhile and noble, but with friends like them….well, you know how the rest of the saying goes.

        • liam

          I read his retraction post, it was not a retraction really at all.

    • Torrid

      I did. Opened up a discussion of whether a teacher was racist for referring to a PB&J sandwich because some students might come from cultures where such sandwiches are not well known.

      Yeah, thats the sort of thought police horses*** I need infecting my life. Bye bye.

      What will A+ do when they have labeled all 7 billion people in the world racist, sexist, whateverist and its just a dozen of them sitting alone in a room somewhere on the internet. Yeah, thats how to affect social change.

  • http://profiles.google.com/trinioler Tyler Laing

    Hey Hemant, thanks for linking to us! I’m the founder of A+scribe. If you have any questions, you can reach me at a.plus.scribe {at} gmail.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tscottbrown T Scott Brown

    “Some animals are more equal than others” – GO

  • http://aeternum-somnium.blogspot.ca/ Tim Rosenfeldt

    My take is that atheists not in favor of Atheist+ have a problem with the prominence of “atheist” in the name, doing nothing more than adding a plus sign immediately after a word that millions already take pride in. Silly? Maybe yes, maybe no. Many seem to take that as an insinuation that there is something wrong with simply not believing in god or gods. At least in the way it is being promoted, adding a statement of beliefs and a inclusive-yet-exclusive vision really does makes it seem like a cult based on atheist values (which is really difficult to wrap the mind around). Perhaps if it was instead promoted as an organization like Lions Club International, it wouldn’t be such an issue…?

    • http://www.facebook.com/d3st88 Morva Ádám

      Atheists not in favor of Atheism+ have a lot of other problems with the whole thing besides the one you mentioned.
      For example.. A+ being figureheaded by a bunch of internet-bullies is one of those problems.

      • http://aeternum-somnium.blogspot.ca/ Tim Rosenfeldt

        …but the initial reaction usually stems from the name itself, prior to delving into the statement of beliefs and vision. Calling their movement “Atheist+” comes across as elitist, seemingly stating they are better than other atheists. I’ve read their own descriptions/explanations and it is difficult to believe that this *not* was part of the intent, despite objections to the contrary.

      • 1000 Needles

        Those bullies, with their equality and progressive ideals!

        • http://www.facebook.com/d3st88 Morva Ádám

          I’m sure that you and many others wish to further equality and progressive ideals. I’m certain that the parents of faith healing murder case victims also have best intentions in mind.

          I do remember how Watson went batshit crazy after Richard Dawkins made his notorious comment on Elevatorgate. He declared him a misogynic, privileged, old white male, and much worse things. “I look forward to watching your legacy crash and burn.”
          Her courtiers followed her shining example.
          This was not Watson’s first and only case of bullying and Watson is not the sole bully of the crew.

          I also happen to remember watching a video, “Gender Differences” from the “SkepchickCON/CONvergence panel” in which the members of male gender are called a “damaged females”, a broken X chromosome and whatever. How equal and progressive.You know, I could go on for hours about the flaws of some of the figureheads behind A+, also I’m certain that an awful lot of people behind A+ really want to make the world a better place and don’t deserve much, if any flak, but I’m not convinced that aligning themselves with some of these guys is the way to go.

          • SadandAngry

            Very well said Morva, and thank you.

        • http://www.SketchSepahi.com/ SketchSepahi

          Being for equality and progressive ideals doesn’t preclude you from being a bully. You’ve been watching too many cartoons.

          • Drew M.

            This. Richard Carrier is a textbook example of a bully in this situation.

            The fact that he’s on the correct side of social issues is probably incidental.

        • Patterrssonn

          Don’t bother it really is a waste of time. This has become the grumpy old atheist appalled that women want access to the table forum, all we’re going to get from now on is endless “there goes the neighborhood” posts.

  • http://profiles.google.com/adamrsweet Adam Sweet

    Atheism = non belief in a god or gods.

    These other labels help define the priorities of the atheist: Brights, Secular Humanists, A+ers, etc

    One day we won’t need the term atheism to describe people who have no belief in the supernatural.

    I am a follower of the Brights Movement because it coincides more closely to my own personal goals, for example, those of science.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000473841166 Paul Paulus

    My take on the A+ issue is that it is an entirely American solution for a wholly American problem.

    Across the Atlantic we don’t really need new labels or new movements to get our job done with respect to social justice. And we also don’t feel the need to shout and scream as much as they do over in ‘murca. 

    But, then again, our opponents are easier prey too.

  • GOPagan

    At least now the non-liberal Atheists (and yes, there are quite a few) won’t have to distinguish themselves from the liberals. The liberals have done it for them by creating a new more specific label. All in all, a net plus (irony intentional) for the conservatives and libertarians. 

    • The Captain

      Don’t associate A+ with liberal atheist. I’m probably far more liberal than most of the little A+ clique and I want nothing to do wit them.

      • GOPagan

        Fair enough. It’s probably analogous to squares and rectangles. Not all liberal Atheists are A+’ers, but all A+’ers are liberal Atheists. ;-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mallorie-Nasrallah/597085881 Mallorie Nasrallah

    The people I have seen “get worked up” do so because the promoters of A+ do so with the sometimes stated, sometimes implicit statement “if you aren’t with us you’re racist, sexist, irrational, etc”

    It is quite possible to care about these issues and want nothing to do with A+.

    I volunteer lots of my time to causes I care deeply about that fall in to the category of  “social justice”. However because I am not in agreement with the founder/promoters of A+ about what constitutes “social justice” or how to resolve social justice issues I am defined by them as at best not giving a shit, or at worst being in opposition to basic human decency.

    This is obviously absurd. As you said, vegetarian but not “with” peta. This is great and rational, but it does not seem to be what the founders/promoters are saying.

    Its taken on the same tone as our juvenile political election system, which is the last thing any group needs.

    • http://www.fb.me/bronzmash Arnab Chakraborty

      Kindly separate the definition of A+, from its activities.

      In its definition, A+ is just a new label on the can of Humanism, as many have pointed out. For that, there is nothing problematic in it.
      Now activity:
      The people who self-identify with A+ are active mostly in blogs and forums. In blogs, people of caliber, such as Greta Christina, Richard Carrier, have shown incredibly exclusionary and sectarian views when forming A+ ..with statements like “..this is Atheism without assholes.”, or “..if you’re not with us, you’re against us and we will take you down.”. It has become a matter of ego. Recently, Al Stefanelli wrote about the problems with some of the core concepts of the A+ movement, especially in how it handles the concept of sexism – i.e. with reverse sexism (Schrödinger’s Rapist). At the level of newer participants, at the A+ forum, Matt Dillahunty was banned and asked to apologize for raising a query.. the allegation is, that by attempting to gauge the moderation-policy and see how inclusive the A+ community is (using a secondary a/c) – he was sockpuppeting and showed privilege. Later, one of the moderators for the forum told a rape victim that i would be better to be dead, than be raped and stay alive – because at least the pain and suffering would end with the death – this farce ended up with loads of editing of all posts, by Mods (and Admins). This was similar to how Watson and McCreight had called a rape victim – a ‘gender-traitor’ (in comments), after Watson’s elevator incident gained limelight, given Dawkins’s ‘dear Muslima’ comment. Such absurdity and rationalization via victim mindset led SMBC & Jesus and Mo to satirize the form of feminism that was being promoted then – the same form that has now been crystallized in A+.
      The downside of all these lil’ things, is that A+ is left with people leaving the forums and discarding the label – due to the echo-chamber within. Dissenters are almost immediately silenced with noise, or with a ban. Opposition is met with the unfalsifiable claim that the opponent is a rape-apologist, and that they perpetuate/reinforce misogyny. The need to be accurate, or even skeptical – is merrily suspended.
      It is an engine kept running by a handful of people, mostly housed at FtB. As Mallorie states above, it is becoming political.

      An Example:
      (..with link on the image.)
      > http://i.imgur.com/p9KvV.png <

  • SadandAngry

    Hemant, you helped create this schism that is happening. I predicted it; posted about it and was summarily told to shut up. Now you have the stones to make this post, in what one can only presume to be done so as to provoke and “poke the bear”. 

    Shame on you Hemant – you are the worst kind of hypocrite. You have fallen in line with the media whoring attention seekers like PZ and Greta.

    I once had respect for you, but over the last several months, that has gone to the wayside. I only hope you can channel that intelligence you once showed to see the folly of what you have done. You have made things worse. And that Hemant, is nothing to be proud of.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      Citation please.

      • RobMcCune

        Well you supported the ideals of Atheism+ while expressing concern about the way it’s advocated(which is one of the most common criticisms). Now to ‘reasonable’ people like SadandAngry that is an intolerable betrayal, because for all the complaints about how certain bloggers conduct themselves it’s really been about suppressing ideas.

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

          Ah yes. I’m all about the suppression of ideas. Hence, the open comment thread.

          • SadandAngry

            No Hemant, an open comment thread does not make you a bastion of free-flowing ideals. That is a simple and tiny allowance that does not help support the fact you helped create this “schism”. And Hemant you in fact banned a poster in a thread that was all about not supporting censorship! H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-T-E, thy name is YOU.

            Hemant, you jumped on the “woe to the women” attending the atheist seminars/conferences with what appears to be no real fact behind your actions. Your ACTIONS were to begin crafting “code of conduct” rules for future events without seeing or investigating what really happened with any of the accusations from actions that may or may not have happened as retold.

            Then you went on this recruitment campaign because you feel there are not enough women or minorities in the atheist movement. This may be so, but what are the REASONS behind this fact? Based on your blog posts and your media interviews I have seen it does not look like you really took anytime to investigate them. 

            I have watched this blog go steadily down in a trend of low quality and suppression of ideas. I have watched you, where I once respected you, decide to align with folks that really are lightweights and nothing more than attention seekers who are ready to take away civil liberties or tell people how to behave socially according to nothing more than their opinions.

            As for “citation please”, Hemant, really? Physician, heal thyself. If you cannot see your contribution to this whole tumult then you have got to go back and examine your behavior and how it has helped cause the fray.

            I sincerely hope you come around and get back on track. I sincerely hope you get this blog back up to what it once was – a great resource for church/state separation and information of issues around the country/globe that we should be aware of vis-a-vis religion and its evils.

            • http://twitter.com/BdrLen Len

               The whole thing is redundant and misleading. One group trying to co-opt a successful movement created by others has been common throughout history. The problem is that atheism isn’t a conventional movement. Atheist move. Sometimes they will have a common destination and decide to car pool there.

              I personally think that secular education should be a bigger issue for atheists than fighting misogyny . But I’m not going to demand everyone support my position and claim anyone who doesn’t adopt my position is anti-education. I will even gladly support anyone who feels that fighting misogyny is most important. But we all have our own hobby horses to ride.

              As for discussing the issue giving atheists bad publicity. Do we want all the discussion of it to come from mainstream or Christian media? Obviously not. Some in the A+ movement  are very concerned about presenting a unified message to the public/media. They do not seem to take well to dissent over goals or methods for achieving them. Stifling discussion isn’t in anyone’s interests except those who want to take control.

              I for one wish them luck herding their cats.

            • SadandAngry

              *crickets* nothing from Hemant. Nothing. Clearly Hemant is not concerned with truth or fairness. Hemant, your actions show so much more than your words.

  • rg57

    ” If you think feminism is some huge problem, consider yourself lucky for having so few worries in your life.”

    This is a misrepresentation.  There is not just one feminism.  It’s a spectrum of ideas, and A+’s founders’ version is in the infrared.

    A+’s new “wave” of atheism as discussed on the blogs of the people who came up with it, is basically their version of feminism + atheism.  There are multiple objections to A+’s feminism component.  One valid objection is that the unusual feminism, as practised and promoted by those behind A+, is essentially bigotry, authoritarianism, censorship, and prudery… the sort of problems we usually associate with religion.  Literally, if a man expresses an interest in an unknown woman by asking her name in public, he’s committed a grave offence by their standards.  You shouldn’t need me to tell you this is absurd and dangerous, and has nothing to do with atheism.  If this attracts people “to atheism”, no, it’s not a good thing.

    • Eli Tripps

      out of curiosity if they named themselves +atheism such as feminism+atheism would that have been better . i really cant understand the hatred that has been spewing across the blogs from people logical and brave enough to stand infront of 5billion believers and denounce them. 
      I am having a hard time even finding original information on A+ due to all the hateful posts and blogs vlogs.
      I agree with them and am fully aware what goes on at any large group of men away from home with no prying eyes. its not my style but i’ve seen it.

      is it really so bad to say we are against harrassment and oh by the way we are atheists too?   

      so lets try +atheism …think that would be ok

      • John

        Here’s the situation as far as I have been able to discern from researching the matter.  Initially, it might be a good idea to say “Hey, I’m not only an atheist, but I’m also for social justice, women’s rights, against racism… yeah, this sounds like a good idea.”  However, it’s born from the radical feminist mentality of FreeThoughtBlogs (FtB) & SkepChicks and various people from the blogosphere have drawn a line in the sand by creating this Atheist+ movement. It has nothing to do with atheism.  They just want to say that the New Atheism movement is dead, imply that they are sexist and capitalize on their popularity to give themselves immediate credibility.

        It is divisiveness because they have even said, ‘If you aren’t with us, you are against us.’  This sort of mentality has gone back all the way to ElevatorGate and TAMgate, as well as the collateral damage that occurred when FtB had their little skirmish with Thunderf00t. All of which have had an underlying theme of a feminist witchhunt. 

        Instead of meeting arguments and concerns against them with logic, reason and communication.  Anyone who disagrees with the extreme feminism of these people is labelled a misogynist, an asshole, and just doesn’t understand the situation, period.  Any arguments against them, especially well constructed and thought-out are met with glib dismissal at best, as well their blogs are edited and censored to remove critical arguments against them, and the people who speak out against repeatedly them are banned.  

        Even if you say, “I don’t see a huge problem with sexism anymore than outside the community.” and raise any sort of doubt to their claims you are automatically treated with all the spite and vitriol as those who speak out against Scientology and are labelled ‘Suppressive Person’.  I’m sure only with time will the Atheism+ people perfect their methodology to meet the level in which Scientology means with their dissenters. 

        It is very much like how the Fundementalist Christians infiltrated the Tea Party and later the Republican party.  However, their cognitive dissonance is over issues of perceived sexism and radical feminist issues instead of being religious dogma. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/d3st88 Morva Ádám

       Very well said.

    • Kristi

       Yeah…no. Everything you are saying here is either a blatant lie or a gross exaggeration of what’s been discussed lately among the atheism plus crowd. Care to cite exactly where someone has been saying that “if a man expresses an interest in an unknown woman by asking her name in public, he’s committed a grave offence”?  Save your time, I already know you can’t, and I think you know that, too.  And I can guarantee that none of the big names behind A+ are prudes, authoritarians, censors, or bigots, as you would fucking know if you bothered to read, oh, ANYTHING they wrote without your self-serving preconceptions in your head.  And I can understand a lot of the anger that’s being thrown around when assholes like you willfully misinterpret everything folks are saying, or even outright lie about them.

      • John

        Okay, blatant lies.  What has been stated that was a lie?  Because this is the rhetoric we keep hearing from the Atheism+ crowd.  Any criticism labelled at them are lies and gross exaggeration.  Anyone is disagrees with them are automatically wrong, misogynistic, misguided/hopeless and should be ostracized. If this were your blog, you probably would have banned rg57 and deleted his post by now.  

        If you were intellectually honest, listened and considered the criticisms against atheism+, you might see that.  This cognitive dissonance is the same sort of thing that atheists see in theists. Perhaps that why you don’t see it yourself.  You refuse to acknowledge it.

        How many people have been banned off the blogs and blocked from twitter accounts accused of being trolls, yet all they’ve done is raised a question or concern that was met with glib dismissal?  Some of us have ‘fucking’ bothered to read, oh, ALMOST EVERYTHING, they could get their hands on in regards to this issue, and have come to exactly the opposite position you have. — Here’s where your brain divisively dismisses anyone who doesn’t agree with you, without you stepping back and rationally critically looking at their point of view. 

        The only anger I suspect you can understand is your own, and those that agree with your views, as you throw out the baby with the bathwater and label anyone who disagrees with you an asshole. Thank you for proving everyone else’s point for us.  

        • liam

          Lies? more like “if i didn’t see it, it never happened.”

          http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2012/06/squicked-again/
          heres one from greg in the comments “Unwanted sexual attention is a subcategory of sexual harassment. ”

          What it came down to in that discussion, was that cold(or even warm) propositioning, even if it completely stopped after a rejection, constituted a form of sexual harassment.

  • Joolz

    Something about the A+ issue made me uncomfortable but I couldn’t understand or articulate what it was until you made the A+ and PETA reference – that’s what it is. 

    And the first comment on this post “My take on the A+ issue is that it is an entirely American solution for a wholly American problem.” is also making my own discomfort with the A+ idea clearer.

    I’m a lifelong atheist, feminist, humanist, and many other ists (and many I’m not such as racist or sexist), and don’t need or want one label.  I am waiting for A++ to come along because no-one can agree what A+ actually means.  Or maybe +A+. 

    I’ll stick with being a human, who happens to be atheist, and … and …. and …. rather than having one label. 

    • Russell

      This.

      Way too much effort spent on defining the team rather than on winning the game. I am surprised when I meet an atheist who isn’t also generally politically liberal in outlook, but then again I am also surprised by the persistence of Log Cabin Republicans and pro-choice Catholics too. Humans are really good at holding all kinds of dissonant beliefs.

  • jose

    I see this as putting a name to an attempt to apply skepticism to social claims. For instance many people think the pay gap doesn’t exist, or it exists BUT it’s because women work less hours or they work less risky jobs or some other justification. So this can be approached using Sagan’s famous baloney detector.

    I think I’ve seen Rebecca Watson on youtube making fun of the idea that skeptics should restrict themselves to UFOs and Bigfoot. To be honest I think it should be called skepticism+, I’m not really seeing the link to the God issue.

    • hotshoe

      Yep, but the apply-skepticism-to-social-claims folks are the ones who were pushed out of officially skeptic organizations and events (like TAM) by the haters.   No longer wanting to associated with bigoted skeptics, we certainly weren’t going to proclaim Skepticism+.  
      Atheism+ was a spur of the moment suggestion for a positive identity which would signal to theists that we can indeed be good without god, by being atheists plus being advocates for social justice.
      Anyone who doesn’t like the name is free to not so identify.  Doesn’t mean you’re a bad person if you don’t want to join up.  Do your social work your own way, that’s fine.  

      • jose

         Pushed out? Literally?

        • jose

           Just to clarify: I’m not being intentionally obtuse, I mean I’m not saying “you weren’t pushed out literally so you left because you wanted to because you’re too sensitive blah blah blah”. I’m not the enemy, don’t respond defensively.

    • https://sites.google.com/site/ferulebezelssite/ Ferule Bezel
      • Lewin

        The pay  difference remains even when you control for those factors. And often we’re talking women doing the same jobs, working the same hours, and still getting paid 70 or 80% of the men.

  • DrewHardies

    But McGrath’s also falling into the same trap as other people: He’s paying attention more to the rhetoric and blog drama instead of the issue of whether or not atheists should care about social justice issues.

    Is this really an inaccurate take?  When I see articles posted about the need for A+,  vast majority of examples seem to be about past blog drama or objectionable messages sent online from atheists to atheists.  (eg. http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/08/30/atheism-plus-and-some-thoughts-on-divisiveness/ )  

    That emphasis is fine if the substance of the movement is a response to trolling or blog drama.  But, if the goal were the creation of fledgling social justice movement, I’d expect much more discussion of the sort of issue that might be found on the front page of Foundation Beyond Belief.

  • DougI

    How about Brights +, or is B+ just an inferior grade to A+?

  • C Peterson

    While I think the whole A+ thing is unfortunate, and overall is harmful to the one goal that most atheists share- acceptance by the broader society- I don’t really see any sort of “schism” as likely. I don’t think there’s enough a a movement as it is that the idea of a schism really has any significant meaning.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      How is associating atheism with effecting positive change for social issues, a bad thing? I’d like someone to explain this for me. Is it bad because it excludes the specific subset of atheists that are against these? Then they need not join, nor apply the label to themselves.

      I’m really sick of people badmouthing Atheism+ before it’s even gotten off the ground. It’s a group where atheists care about more than just atheism, and all anybody can do is shout it down and accuse its founders of name-calling and other baseless accusations.

      • C Peterson

        I’m not calling anybody names. I have a problem with any organization that uses “atheism” in its name. I think all or most are hurting atheism in doing so. I think this is especially so for A+, because atheism is not a belief, and we should never be doing anything that suggests that any sort of beliefs follow naturally from it. The issues A+ is addressing are political, and as such, are only positive to some. They certainly do not follow from atheism: atheists may legitimately believe quite different things. That’s why we see so many atheists having a serious problem with A+.

        The very idea that atheists should support any of the political or social goals of the A+ movement is false. Atheism should not be associated with anything! Atheism will not gain wider acceptance if it gets tied to political causes.

        • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

          Then you stay in your circle of atheism and don’t join in. That’s fine. But let the rest of us associate ourselves with Atheism+. Let the rest of us have our group and our label and let us care about these issues. You may not associate atheism with social issues, but others — like us — do.

          Again, nobody is forcing you to join. This is not re-defining atheism. But why would it be a terrible thing if outsiders started mentally associating atheism with caring about social issues?

          Non-Atheism+ers can continue to not be a part of this. Nobody is trying to take that away from you.

          • C Peterson

            I think you miss my point. It has nothing to do with my views, or my atheism. I largely support the causes that the A+ people support.

            I don’t like it because I think associating atheism with any political cause hurts all atheists. Because atheism is not a belief system and atheists have no common political goals, an association is illogical (it would be like one of my professional astronomical societies decided to create “Astronomy+” to fight for social issues. Nonsense, and polarizing on top of that.)

            There is one, and only one common goal that atheists share, and that is acceptance by society. If non-atheists start thinking that atheism is somehow associated with political views- any political views- that will further slow such acceptance.

            Yes, it would be a bad thing if outsiders associated atheism with caring about social issues. That association can only hurt us. It would be bad for anybody to think that atheism leads to any sort of world view at all. Certainly, none of the causes of A+ derive in any way from atheism. They should call themselves Humanism+. That might make sense. But not Atheism+.

            • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

              Yes, it would be a bad thing if outsiders associated atheism with caring about social issues.

              You have yet to demonstrate why this is the case.

              • C Peterson

                I don’t know how to demonstrate such a thing. My opinion is that tying a non-belief like atheism to any sort of political movement will turn some non-theists away from what we represent, and will alienate some atheists. I oppose any sort of association between atheism and assertive beliefs, not just the A+ example.

                • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

                  Well, luckily for you, you don’t have to associate yourself with such beliefs and causes. Feel free to avoid using “Atheist+” to describe yourself. Meanwhile, many of the rest of us will continue to do so, happily and cheerfully.

                • C Peterson

                  I most certainly will not associate with A+. And I will continue to speak out against its name, as well as any other non sequiturish attempts to link atheism to anything at all.

                  Again, this has nothing at all to do with what I choose to associate myself with, but rather the harm I see such associations doing to atheists.

                • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

                  I’m going to do the same with the Atheism Knitting Club. I will continue to speak out against its name, as well as attempts to link atheism to knitting.

                  Or maybe… I just don’t join the Atheism Knitting Club, leave them be, let them organize and do whatever they want, and realize that they’re NOT trying to define atheism or associate atheism in general with knitting.

                  They’re just atheists who want to unite under a specific category, or set of categories, and aren’t telling others to fall in line.

                • C Peterson

                  I might be okay with an atheist knitting club. In fact, the only legitimate reason for any atheist organization I can get behind (thanks to some excellent discussions in this forum) is local clubs where atheists can get together for mutual support. Not to present a public face.

                  I’m definitely not in favor of large atheist organizations like American Atheists.

                • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

                  OK, so you’re not in favor of organizations like American Atheists. It’s one thing to not be a part of it, but to argue that it shouldn’t exist? Why do you get to decide that?

                • C Peterson

                  I don’t get to decide. I get to have an opinion, though. And my opinion is that organizations trying to present a public face of atheism harm atheists. Not only do I get to have that opinion, I even get to voice my arguments in an effort to sway other people towards that opinion. (I’ve certainly had my opinion about things changed precisely that way.) Isn’t open discussion great? :)

                • http://www.facebook.com/yitzhak.mandelbaum Yitzhak Mandelbaum

                  TerranRich, good example from yourself, why the name “Atheism+” is BS and “atheism knitting club” not. 

                  An Atheist KNITTING club says clearly WHICH community it is addressing/representing. A name like “Atheism+” NOT – it tries to use the “good name” of atheism for itself instead of calling them maybe something more exact like “feminist atheists” or “atheists against sexism/discrimination” (so on).

                  And THAT’S what argues everybody, who doesn’t want to join. It’s like me establishing something YOU don’t support and calling it “TerranRich+”.

      • Daniel Schiff

        I think the concern is that Atheism+ implies that “regular” atheists *lack* morals, social concerns, and so on. This is potentially problematic. For example, I identify as both an agnostic atheist and a humanist. Humanism has been around for a long time (read the Humanist Manifesto of the AHA from 1933 even) and you will see the same sorts of social and ethical concerns.

        • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

          Often, what seem to be implications are merely mistaken perceptions. It’s hard to defend an accusation of implying something, when all we can do is say that we’re not implying anything of the sort. Nobody has ever said that if you are not a part of Atheism+, then you are obviously a horrible human being.

          I don’t identify as a Humanist, although I probably fit the goals and ideals nearly perfectly. But you don’t see me going around accusing Humanists of implying that I, as a… not-Humanist… somehow lack the morals and concerns that Humanists hold.

      • Pangalactic

        The hypocracy here is epic scale. Tired of name calling? Then stop calling names!

        The problem is squarely in the A+ court. They want to tie atheism to ideological movements where people with a common goal can have radically different ideas on how to achieve those goals, so a lot of people are balking, wondering how deep into the details this “agree or GTFO” goes.

        When someone who simply pauses at giving endorsement is instantly labeled a douchebag and sewer scum, what sort of response do you expect? Go read Richard Carrier’s blog post that started a lot of the furor. It comes across like any religious fanatic you care to name. Are you this addled by your own ideology that you cannot grasp why folks took offense?

        And the defense is always “but we represent justice and equality!” but that is worthless, because it is just words. Like the old saying says, actions speak louder, and the actions of A+ so far is that of a small cadre of hate-filled people with enormous personality disorders. At this point, i cannot distinguish A+ from a group that honestly cares about justice and equality (putting aside what that even means) and a group of sociopathic politicians using the right buzzwords to gain some sort of power or page hits or notoriety or whatever.

      • Steve Ridge

        That was my thinking. It’s not what it appears… seriously. Just go to Amanda Marcotte’s forum Pendagon and issue the most minor of sensible opinions… for instance that not all men are potential rapists.

        Try it.

        It’s incredible what has happened to the fringes of feminism. They’re totalitarian Gender Warriors.

        As of yesterday I will no longer call myself a “feminist” after my experiences with Amanda Marcotte. I’ve always mocked the rightwing’s use of the phrase “feminazi” until recently.

        They seem determined to condemn, undermine and destroy the movement recently launched by Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens, and others because they feel excluded.

        This revelation is new to me as well. When I first heard of progressive politics merging with the Bright movement I was a bit excited.

        Instead I was hit face first with totalitarianism and I do not use this term lightly.

  • http://bunnystuff.wordpress.com/ Jaimie

    I care deeply about social issues, especially helping the poor and vulnerable in society. That is what kept me in church for longer than I should, but there it is. I care nothing about putting others down or getting into heated debates. Again, I was in the church for much too long and have had enough of that for a lifetime.
    Maybe I’m just tired from work but I can’t figure out what the outdated contraceptive device is referring to.

    • Jim Gggl1 Anon

      Near as I can figure, it seems that one Freethought Blogger – mostly Lousy Canuck [Jason Thibeault], I think – has been using the word “douchenozzle” – apparently used at one time as part of a “contraceptive device” – as the epithet par excellence to convey the proper amount of opprobrium to those targeted … seems a little juvenile to me, but de gustibus ….

  • anon101

    Hundreds of people are
    dying in Syria every day because they are fighting for freedom and
    democracy and the atheist blogsphere has been completely silent about
    it. To take a different example the fight for marriage equality is,
    if you put it in perspective, a first world luxury problem. A society
    that can afford to pour millions of dollars into the fight for and
    against it has made. It has no serious problems left.

    I’m not saying
    this fight should not be fought but at the very minimum you should
    show some humility from time to time. Atheism plus is the ultimate
    symbolic representation that these people while pretending to care
    about “social justice” are just a bunch of self-centered and
    selfish narcissistic bastards. Right now I feel dirty calling myself
    an atheist.

    • Anon102

      Watch out anon101 or you’ll be labeled a MRA, misogynist and rape enabler if you keep up with the idea that there are more important things than A+theism and their brand of “Social Justice”..

      Just look what happend to Dr. Dawkins.

      Just sayin.

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/KIDZFDXNIVYSUSZBZDUJIQD3II Exploerer

        You really weren’t replying to Anon101 were you?
        I hate that.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-Hickey/30117548 Patrick Hickey

       In a bizarre way, this gets at exactly what bugs me about the A+ crowd.

      Your argument is kinda stupid.  People can care about genocide and not feel that they can or should personally take on the issue in a blog.  People can care about Syria and also care about social justice issues in first world countries, and that’s OK.  Its not fair to go up to someone who’s worried about a legitimate problem and say, “Hey, there are way worse things in the world, and unless you’re fighting those things you don’t get to talk!”  They may not have any meaningful way to affect those issues, and they’re not being hypocritical if they focus on what they can understand and address.

      But by the same token, when someone says something critical of the FTB feminism crowd and Ophelia Benson responds by demanding to know whether and how often they’ve denounced 4chan, that’s ALSO a stupid argument.  The existence of Syria doesn’t make being concerned about women’s rights invalid; the existence of Men’s Rights Advocates doesn’t make being concerned about FTB’s toxic atmosphere invalid.

  • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

    I added a rather long post to this link on my G+ post:

    https://plus.google.com/105398101580254540818/posts/5Eg5N6mx6eW

    I’d post it here but it’s very lengthy and I don’t want to bother people with it who don’t know me here.

  • Alex Hawkins

    I think I am going to nitpick something.  The statement “If you think feminism is some huge problem, consider yourself lucky for having so few worries in your life.” just rubs me the wrong way. I am giving Hemant the benefit of the doubt that he doesn’t consider some issues as feminism issues here and that’s all there is – a mislabeling – because there are a lot of life and death problems under feminism for me: abortion right, FGM, sati practice, to name a few.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      That came off the wrong way. I meant people fighting in favor of feminism, not feminism itself. I’ve corrected that in the post.

      • Twistinglily

        Oh, that’s what you mean :) I got a reply from Hemant. Yay!

  • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

    I said I wanted nothing to do with this discussion of A+, but I do still read the Friendly Atheist. The reason is because +Hemant Mehta is one of the nicest people who writes about atheism, always has reasonable and calm arguments and listens to many sides. I’ve disagreed a few times with him, but not overly so – just minor differences. He promotes tolerance and calm and doesn’t go in for the drama and rhetoric. I respect that.

    So when a calm guy like that, who writes about social justice all the time as relating to atheism, comes out against the label and calmly cites his reasons why he doesn’t want to be involved, I can only agree – because those are my reasons as well.

    The other reason is: I still don’t trust or like Rebecca Watson, or her friends. I really don’t. There are many viewpoints at Freethought Blogs, and the big names are only a few of them, so I can’t say that all FTB is the same. They aren’t. But Rebecca Watson has always struck me as way out of her league on atheism and skepticism, which is why I think she made a big deal about feminism – because she has nothing much to contribute to the atheist argument. In fact, I mostly think of PZ Myers in the same way. I used to like some of the things they said, but there are other things which I do not like – and they aren’t mild disagreements either. Skepchick always felt like a high school “clique” to me, which is why I actually never got involved. I tacitly supported them, made a few comments there, but never went beyond that. The same applies to PZ’s blog. I much preferred reading the thoughts of Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, and others who actually wrote real books and made real contributions. I much preferred reading people like Hemant who actually goes out of his way to present reasonable and calm arguments and statements. I have respect for those people. I respected Hitchens the most – even when I passionately disagreed with him on certain issues.

    That’s the thing: Many people actually completely disagreed with Hitchens on _many_ subjects, even vehemently so. But they respected him, and they listened to him and wanted to hear what he had to say. The way you present things, and speak about them, and the reading you do beforehand about it, makes all the difference in the world. That’s why I can’t like or support PZ or Rebecca Watson and their friends in their A+ goals. They are no heavy hitters such as Hitchens. Please excuse me for saying this, but they are no better than shrill right-wing bloggers screaming about Obama and oppression of their rights under his term.

    I completely realize that all the heavy hitters which I named are actually men. I’m fully aware that they are “The Four Horse*men* of Atheism”. I completely understand that this may appear like a patriarchy to some. But it isn’t. Those _men_ didn’t select who is and is not to be a “heavy hitter” in the field. It was simply a _natural selection_ based on ability, desires, and need. It had nothing whatsoever to do with sexism in “the atheist community” – a term which really shouldn’t exist. I dare say that perhaps it may take some more time before we see some really popular and deep thinking atheist _women_ pick up the mantle. Why? Not because of sexism in the community, but simply because of the natural evolution of the role of women in society.

    Men have been writing about these topics for generations, and women haven’t. Maybe it will just take some time for the right kind of woman to find her voice – another Susan B. Anthony, for example (who was an atheist). After all, it took generations for a Susan B. Anthony to come around and become a heavy hitter for women’s rights. Maybe it’ll be a while before the same happens for women in Atheism, even though those situations and causes are completely dissimilar in many ways. Of course, society is evolving faster and faster, and I believe that it will not take nearly as long for such a person to emerge. In fact, I do believe that there already is one: Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I’m a fan – a big fan. And there may be more on the way.

    But you can’t force the issue. You can’t look to bloggers who have no really deep thoughts on these matters and simply prop them up to become the face of women in the “atheist movement”. That won’t work. It will, and does, feel fake. It makes unprepared lightweights, such as Rebecca Watson, into some sort of glorified _Marianne_, which I simply am not buying. Out of all of them, Greta Christina would be the only one who even nearly approaches that level, and I don’t think she’s even anywhere close to really being that amazing.

    So no, I am not going to support A+. According to some in the A+ community, that makes me a bad person. Then again, I really couldn’t care less. Will I stop supporting social change? Of course not. Have I not written and supported social causes over and over again? Even more so than atheism, in fact, I have publicly supported social causes. I’m not going to let an immature clique tell me what is and isn’t right in a cause which has been around far longer than they have.

    Then again, am I going to join the Thunderf00t crowd? No. I’ve seen far too much “MRA” anti-women crap amongst his commenters to really want to side with them either. I think that Thunderf00t acted very badly and kept beating a dead horse. I still like some of his videos, but I don’t really want to get involved in the crowd of many of his supporters. And after reading his writing, I can safely say that he’s no Hitchens either.

    So please count me out of A+. I don’t think it’ll last, or revolutionize atheism anyway. I think that they are deluding themselves when they think that they are going to be the equivalent of the new Karl Marx of atheism. It won’t work out that way. We atheists have been having a hard enough time getting people to change their views on what is a millennia old idea, so I don’t think that these lightweights are going to do anything but make a lot of noise for a while and slowly die out. Perhaps I’m wrong, and perhaps they’ll do some good for social change and open people’s eyes in the long term.

    But not with my help.

    • http://twitter.com/WowbaggerOM Mr Wowbagger

      I’m pretty sure no-one at A+ has claimed they’re going to be the ‘new Karl Marx’ – that’s one of the many slurs thrown at them by those offended at the very idea that something exists that they’re not invited to or wanted at.

      Even if A+ fades away, it’s at the very least prompted some discussion.

      • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

        I don’t exactly see how being called a “new Karl Marx” could necessarily be construed as a slur. It seems to me that this is a slur thrown at people who might use that term without actually intending it to be insulting in any way.

    • Drew M.

      You knocked this one out of the park. Thanks for sharing!

      • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

        Thank you very much. =)

    • The Captain

      I wrote up a long response to this with my own thoughts, but they all just agreed with you and you did a much better job of it. Thanks.

      • http://www.summerseale.com/ Summer Seale

        Thank you very much. =) I had much more to say, actually, but I just moved to my new apartment two days ago and I was a little busy doing other things, so I left it at that and hoped I could summarize the salient points which stuck out for me at the time.

  • http://www.facebook.com/julia.stahl.hernandez Julia Stahl Hernandez

    I do the kind of outloud musing that this article represents. She was perplexed by her own ambivalence, needed to work it out on paper, and decided to share her thoughts on the subject. There’s no evidence she abused or neglected her spouse, abandoned her family, or did anything more extreme than perform some introspection regarding why she had these unexpected feelings when she thought she was more rock solid than that. Nothing to get terribly excited about here, just an agnostic (self proclaimed) examining her reaction to the world around her.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    For some, atheism is a pure an noble thing and these people simply don’t want atheism coupled with the messy politics of other issues even if they agree with those other issues.  They don’t mind leveraging those other issues to bring some more people over to atheism, they just don’t want to see atheism leveraged to bring people over to those other issues. 

    In other words, the following statement would be OK since it can be selectively spoken to certain people.

    See how bad the patriarchy is for society? Then you should consider atheism.

    But the following statement rubs some the wrong way.

    If you are an atheist, you should agree that a patriarchy is bad for society.

    • Xeon2000

       This.

  • AndyTK

    There
    very much the chance that we are heading to a schism.  “No one’s arguing over atheism/God/fighting
    religion / etc.” is probably what Luther was thinking when he nailed his
    demands on the Catholic Church door.  He
    wasn’t arguing the validity of the trinity, nobody was arguing over which god
    was real.  He was just saying that those
    other people were scum and were not doing things right, that’s all.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

    I don’t plan to take part in any exclusively atheist charity projects, in part because I don’t have a local support group.  I enjoy being the smiling fly-in-the-ointment open atheist who takes part in any good work that appeals to me.  Ghetto-izing ourselves is not a good idea.

  • Xeon2000

    I think that Atheism+ will simply be a footnote in atheism internet culture.  It’s something for bloggers to ping back and forth.  A lot of atheists won’t even know what it is.  In the wider world you won’t see much, if any, impact.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dario.impini Dario Impini

    I got booted off an atheist page merely for saying I don’t give a shit about those causes.

    And in fact, I DO care about those causes, but I think they belong in a political mindset, not under the realm of  “atheism”.

    But the point I’m making is, its divisive enough I literally got banned off an atheist website for stating my opinion, EVEN THOUGH I’M AN ATHEIST.

    Absurd.  Maybe I’m an a-humanist.  People are just f’ing a’holes regardless of the banner they group under.

    • DougI

       Kinda reminds you of high school doesn’t it?  If you don’t fit into the clique then you’re kicked out and shunned.  Well…high school or cults.  Either way….

    • http://bigthink.com/blogs/daylight-atheism Adam Lee

      But the point I’m making is, its divisive enough I literally got banned off an atheist website for stating my opinion, EVEN THOUGH I’M AN ATHEIST.

      If you think this is a valid reason for complaint, then you clearly haven’t understood the first principle of the A+ movement, which is that merely being an atheist isn’t enough.

      People who are atheists have been involved in atrocious behavior, either committing it themselves or condoning those who do. Even if those people are real atheists, they’re harming our movement and we need to get rid of them. 

      • SadandAngry

        Adam, you are better than that. You made a large leap here and it is based on an assumption; You assume this man was committing harmful effects via his message, yet his message may not have been over the top or rude. If his message is that “I don’t give a crap about these issues” is real or not, merely expressing that does no harm. Kicking him off a website does in fact cause more harm to the atheist community than the man expressing his opinion.

        This “movement” is frightening because it is Orwellian and it is absolutely childish in its ways – “You are with us 100 percent or you are against us”. This is not the way of grown-ups and the world is simply not that black and white….Oh, excuse me, color is not politically correct, let me rephrase that so you delicate flowers don’t fall over from the vapors….the world is not cut and dry as you would have us believe. And asking for blind allegiance and following is exactly what religious clerics/shamans/medicine men demand.

        Not cool sir. Not cool at all.

        • http://bigthink.com/blogs/daylight-atheism Adam Lee

          You assume this man was committing harmful effects via his message, yet his message may not have been over the top or rude.

          And you assume that bigotry is acceptable if it’s expressed politely. He said he “didn’t give a shit” about social justice, which in normal parlance means you don’t care about racism, sexism or other such issues of systemic prejudice. Given that sentiment, I’d say he was treated precisely as I’d have expected. If that’s not really what he meant, it’s not other people’s fault that he expressed himself poorly.

          This “movement” is frightening because it is Orwellian and it is absolutely childish in its ways – “You are with us 100 percent or you are against us”.

          False. I continue to consider myself a friend and ally of many people who don’t choose to associate themselves with A+. I do not, however, consider myself an ally of anyone who condones prejudice or injustice. Given your language (including the sneering reference to “political correctness”, or your gross and vile dismissal of people who argue for social justice as “media whoring attention seekers”), I’d guess you fall into that group, and if so, you are one of the people the atheist movement is better off without.

          • SadandAngry

            You are frightening and do not see how horrid your stance.

            You wish to have everyone fall into line according to you and your cronies ideas of social acceptance and conduct. No where has it been established that any of you have any credibility or right to make these definitions you demand we all live by.

            It is beyond arrogant and is a very dangerous path you are taking. And yes, PZ and Greta are media whoring attention seekers. Not only that, they are intellectual lightweights sorely out of their league and depth. In short, they are no Dawkins, Hitchens or Harris.

            You and the A+ movement represent a very dangerous turn and one that stands to harm more than help. I for one will not stand beside it because it shits on the first amendment, seeks to remove liberty and does so based on no clear evidence, merely hearsay and conjecture. This is not becoming of a civilized or erudite society.

            Shame on you Adam. Shame on you.

            • http://bigthink.com/blogs/daylight-atheism Adam Lee

              So, to recap: you reject the idea that I, or anyone else, has the right to set standards of behavior and expect you to live up to them, while at the same time you apparently think I should care whether I meet your standard. I’d say that’s a bit of a contradiction in your thinking.

              Given that your comment consists almost entirely of misunderstandings of what A+ is about and what our goals are, I’d normally try to reassure you, except it’s obvious your confusion is self-willed. I can help ignorance, but not deliberate ignorance. Good day to you.

              • SadandAngry

                Adam,

                You and the A+ fellowship are much akin to the tea party. The tea party yells and screams when they get told they are racists, yet they then go and do about eight racist things.

                The A+ fellowship screams and yells that it is all about free thought, social justice and liberty yet they then go and do about eight different things counter to that.

                There is very little difference between the A+ fellowship and the repugnant tea-baggers in regards to actions.

                Go through and look at the typical A+ supporter’s responses to any dissent or questioning of the movement. Spittle flies, names and threats are made and no questions actually get answered. Any questions of dissent are handled with “fuck you” or “fuck you you privileged white asshole”. Be honest. You know this to be the case. Even if, best case scenario, the dissenters are doing the same thing it does not excuse the A+ bad behavior. 

                It comes down to the A+ movement being oppressive, self-entitled (thinking you have the right to dictate social behaviors according to your world view) and downright hostile.

                You are dangerous, pure and simple. If it walks like a duck…..if it talks like a duck….Well Donald, guess what…Quack Quack.

              • John

                So, let’s recap again Adam Lee.  Dario says he was booted off an atheist page for merely saying he doesn’t give a shit about those causes.  He of course reiterates himself here by saying he does care, but that doesn’t matter.  Especially to you.  He can always slip back into that mindset where he disagreed with you in the first place right?  Better to censor him and ostracize him.

                You state that being an atheist isn’t merely enough.  Well, a lot of people are saying “okay, so why are you doing this under the banner of atheism, and not say human secularism?”.  What does not believing in god have to do with (extreme) feminism, and other humanist issues? – When you claim that atheists have been involved in atrocious behaviour and that you need to get rid of them automatically makes you divisive.

                Sad&Angry here points out some issues and the assumptions you’re making.  You dismiss them and accuse him of his own assumptions and build a strawman of his own ideology.  You of course mention’s Dario’s comment about not giving a shit about social issues, but you also conveniently ignored his statement where he said he does care. So, it’s no fault but author’s if they express themselves poorly, and they deserve to be censored because you assume they aren’t in league with your ideology.  Then you immediately try to refute the idea if you aren’t 100% with you, then you’re against us.  

                So, as long as we get past your anger filter so we aren’t misunderstood, we’re fine?  You of course get to decide who is condoning prejudice or injustice, but the person better express themselves correctly the first time out, right? Is that how it works?

              • SadandAngry

                Adam, do you agree or disagree with this statement by own of your A+ fellowship, I believe the last name is Crane:

                “In short, if you reject this value statement, you are simply my ideological enemy, and I will give you no quarter. I’ll respect your legal and human rights, because I believe in that. But don’t be shocked if I am not friendly. This includes if you mock or make fun of Atheism+ or belittle it with stupid dumb-ass shit like calling it Stalinism. That makes you an asshole. Point blank. Plain and simple.”

                This is a yes or no question Adam. Do you support this A+ fellowship members statement vis-a-vis the A+ movement?

        • http://www.facebook.com/dario.impini Dario Impini


          This “movement” is frightening because it is Orwellian and it is absolutely childish in its ways – “You are with us 100 percent or you are against us”.”

          I agree with you 100% Adam.  This is an outrageous hijacking of atheist thought, with EXACTLY those Orwellian group-think elements.  It IS absolutely frightening and disturbing, and gives one pause to wonder what *would* happen if they ran rampant and in the direction that theists have claimed atheists would go given the chance.  I thought we were beyond this — the rise of human intellectualism that was beyond group-think and cults and demands for allegiance; that was FOR individualism and freedom.

          I’m shocked and dismayed about where this has gone.  I thought it shocking that I was banned for stating my opinion.  And I did make it perfectly clear that I of course AM for social justice and stand AGAINST oppression and prejudice, but I’m not an atheist to be part of those groups.  Atheism is its own thing and has nothing to do with political and social causes any more than being Jewish has anything to do with Indy rock music.  Yet I was banned for saying so.

          This is patently absurd and disturbing, and I am dismayed by it.  And that’s why I said ultimately, people are just jerks regardless of what banner they wear or the face they put on.  Whether Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or Atheist, ultimately people are a sad disappointment to what we claim is our human potential.  

          I neither have faith in “god”, nor do I have faith in man.  

  • Antinomian

    I would like to invite y’all over to my blog, AAA+++, otherwise known as “The He-Man Woman Not So Much Haters, But More of Sexytime Objectifiers and Teaching Womenfolk How to Be Betterer Sammich Makers Club”.

    With the name AAA+++ we’ll be first in the phone book and if an “A” and a “+” signifies that something is betterer, just think how much betterer-tastic three A’s and three “pluses” makes us. Four of each would be overdoing it and we don’t want to escalate the war of “A’s” do we?

    A list of some of the social, sexual, gender and sammich issues we hope to discuss and solve would be:
    -Horseradish or Hot Mustard?
    -Really? Ketchup on a hotdog?
    -Why women should be in sexy lingere almost all the time.
    -Why the Monster Truck races are a legitimate first date.
    -How women really want to have sex with us all the time unless they don’t.
    -How to eliminate your creep factor with hygiene and lodging other than your mother’s basement.
    -Is a social life other than non-stop internet porn surfing necessary?
    -Is tipping a stripper the same as charitable college scholorship giving.

    I’ll be back soon to give you the URL… 

    • Antinomian

      …But seriously…
      I hadn’t heard of the A+ blow-up until the last week or so and only faint echos of the socalled ‘Elevatorgate’ hulabaloo. After going back and reading alot of the links provided I’m a little ashamed to associate myself with some in the atheist movement and some of those of my gender.. “Really Dude, you think calling a woman a cunt is productive and doesn’t make you look like a whiney little boy?”…. Fucking.Face.Fucking. Palm… However, I’m not sure how to feel about the young woman’s point of veiw of the incident. It seems that Mr. Dawkins thought that she was making a mountain out of a molehill instead of personally addressing her concerns directly. Most men may not think of themselves as intimidating or someone to fear, but I don’t think we truly understand the issue that women have when they are alone in an uncomfortable situation. I have a hard time saying a woman’s fear is unjustified in the situation of ‘Elevatorgate’.
      A pass at 4:00 AM in an elevator is not smooth and it is most definately not flirting. It is putting someone in a position they are not prepared to address and,
      and well, I could go on as to how little game or consideration this man had for others. To qualify this; I wasn’t there and I’m not sure if the man or woman even knew each other in any way. I can only go by what I’ve read and try to eliminate any bias.

      That brings me to the issue of anti-harrasment policies at events: It makes me sad that this would even be needed. Sad because we are supposed to be the reasonable and logical ones in society. Appearently not. On the other hand it seems to me that these policies will only stifle the free exchange of ideas and will keep conflicts of thought from being brought to light and thouroughly discussed.

      As to the issue of A+: It seems that some mistakes were made. Leveraging the ‘atheist movement’ in the pursuit of social justice is not by any stretch of the imagination one of them. In fact it is that atheism is a product of reason, logic and evidence that social justice issues such as gay rights, womens rights, the end of racism world hunger and any human rights should follow simply because it make logical sense.There is no evidence or reason that the evils of denial of rights to anyone is good or useful except to those exerting those powers of denial. So I’m happy that someone especially those that  identify as atheists are taking the lead. Those who are deluded by dogma and superstition have had the whole history of humankind and failed. Those that say that social issues aren’t an ateist issue are missing the point. But, the exclusion and name calling of those that are saying this isn’t an atheist issue is a mistake in that it shuts down the open discussion we should pride ourselves for. To err is human, to do it for a cause is how you really fuck it up.

  • http://twitter.com/biblioteq_tress la bibliotequetress

    “Like I said before, if A+ helps get more people involved in the movement, I think that’s a net positive for all of us. I honestly don’t understand how people can get so worked up over this stuff.”

    Merci beaucoup. Exactly. Let’s save our energy being spent in this squabble for better uses. Even if I personally don’t participate in A+, I agree with their goals, and if it motivates more people to do good in the greater, non-atheist community as well as within the secularist family, well, yay. Anyone who doesn’t agree with the A+ goals should feel free to not participate, or to form their own group. We are all atheists, we can all still call ourselves atheists, no one is denying anyone else the right to do so.

  • MichaelD

    Honestly I wish everyone not directly taking part in constructing atheist + would just shut up about it for a few months. We can just let them do their thing what ever that is going to be and then look back on it say early January and see what if anything has gone on and work has been worked on etc etc. I see very little point in arguing about a group so young its exact mission goal and method of operation hasn’t even been hammered out. Let them figure out exactly what they are doing and then we can actually discuss it instead of just carrying over our personal feelings about bloggers x,y, or Z.

  • HughInAz

    At this point the whole shitstorm has moved far beyond issues and is all about tribalism. Myers, Watson, Christina, McReight and their toadies are the Kool Kidz Klub and everyone else is a cootie-laden poopie-head/misogynistic rapist. Sorry, but I outgrew this sort of drama many decades ago. I was never a joiner anyway. I will go on being an atheist, caring about social, political and environmental issues, and doing my best to fight for equality for all people, but I am even less – far less – interested in attending conferences and labeling myself as one clique or another, than I was before. If Myers thinks that makes me an asshole, fuck him – it only reflects negatively on him.

  • Bruce Lindman

    The sorry truth is that Atheism Plus is not “Atheism Plus Social Awareness”, it’s “Atheism Plus Feminism” and is just the latest attempt be feminists to co-opt the atheist movement for their own purposes.
    Well, most of as are wise enough not to let Jen, and Rebecca, and PZ, and Richard, etc, define what our social mores should be, because thankfully most of us recognize that feminism is itself a gender-biased movement that is focused on women’s advocacy rather than gender equality.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      Evidence for this? Something you read on the official forums, perhaps? That can’t be the case. I’m on there and have seen nothing of the sort. But you go ahead and badmouth a movement before it’s gotten off the ground because of the bad, evil feminists. Give me a break.

  • Timelessapologist

    You can’t hide behind your definitions forever, actions speak louder than words.   Atheism is a cult that writes books about Atheism and how stupid Christians are, atheist conventions, Atheist merchandise.  It is what it is, you can only hide behind your precious definition for so long. 

    Now

    There is definitely disarray happening here, and I am absolutely enjoying this.  In fact I get quite the satisfaction watching atheists take shots at each other.

    Now notice how us Christians have dealt with this for I don’t know almost 2,000 years and that we are still here.  Now let’s see how you all take it when the cage is rattled a bit.  So far you athiests have just been running your mouths constantly at how much you hate Christians.  Well that’s easy, but now let’s see what happens when a little dissention comes your way.

    I notice alot of you cower away and are afraid of debate, so I can see many cowards in the cult of atheism just ‘wearing the name’ only because they good about going to the atheist conventions in which they rip on Young Earth Creationists, because they are afraid to take on anyone else.

    Well good luck guys, I’m going to enjoy this.  If you need any advice on how to deal with some actually ‘problems’ with your worldview then let me know.   The Christians that are still around are thick-skinned, because we can deal with this.  Let’s see how you all do now :)

    • AndyTK

      You apparently don’t know much about Christian history, or even the makeup of modern Christianity.  There were many radically different versions of Christianity before Constantine decided to make Christianity the official religion of the Empire and demanded that there be only one version of Christianity.  After that it has split many times.  Today you have Mormons, prosperity Christians, Southern Baptists, Christian Scientists (an oxymoron there), Unitarians and many, many different versions of Christianity.  Atheists are in the middle of a schism, how it splits has yet to be determined, but this in some sense is a sign of growth within the movement.  I look forward to the day when we have a schism between those that want to build IRL communities that look like Unitarian churches without the woo and the online world.

    • Thegoodman

       I smell a rat. Nothing will bring us atheists together faster than a Christian making false claims.

  • Paul_Robertson

    Like I said before, if A+ helps get more people involved in the movement, I think that’s a net positive for all of us.
    The problem with that statement is that A+ is premised on a lie. It’s not actually about bringing more people in; there is no sea of people saying, “Gee, I’d love to stop believing in God, but how will I pursue my feminism if I leave the Catholic Church?” The A+ definition of inclusive is actually about excluding all those who fail to meet their standard of doctrinal purity. Yes, there are some unpleasant trolls in atheist forums – welcome to the internet. But a plus sign won’t get rid of these undesirables, if anything it will be a red flag to the bull.
    On the other had, it will gid rid of people who, while assets to the atheist movement, lack the enthusiasm for taking on additional causes, however worthy. Is it worth it? Are you A+ people so unable to abide the company of fellow atheists who will not swear fealty to your other causes? Will excluding them really make your diminished organisation better and more enjoyable? What good will this bring that can’t be done better or more efficiently through separate organisations?

  • Jfigdor

    If there is a real “schism” in the movement, it certainly isn’t new. 

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

    Everybody who has a problem with Atheism+… don’t join in. Don’t apply the label to yourselves. But DO NOT claim that you will therefore be labeled a sexist/misogynist/whatever else you think you’ll be called. It’s a label, a group, a subset of atheists with a set of common goals and interests.

    Don’t like it? Nobody’s forcing you to join. FTB et al do not have the magical ability to relabel what and who YOU are. Only YOU can do that. You can stay out of the whole Atheism+ thing and still care about the social issues.

    But, please, stop spreading misinformation and lies about the group. At least make some attempt at backing up  your claims and accusations with some kind of evidence — quotes, links, forum posts, what-have-you.

    All I see is, “It’s going to be divisive!” Perhaps so, but mainly because of its detractors spreading rumors and falsehoods about the movement. YOU are the one dividing atheists.

    It’s quite simple, and I’ll say it again… if you feel that you agree with the common goals of Atheism+, then feel free to apply the label to yourself and consider yourself a part of it. If not, then that’s fine, too. But don’t pretend like the rest of us are going to magically take away the word “atheist” from you and affect you in any way whatsoever.

    • Thegoodman

      “It’s a label, a group, a subset of with a set of common goals and interests.” – Martin Luther

      Catholics and Protestants get along well enough, surely we can too.

      • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

        And your point is…? So some sects of a certain religion can’t get along, therefore one atheist group won’t be able to get along with the rest of atheists? If that ends up being true, it will be on the fault of the detractors, not the people supporting Atheism+. I have seen nothing but misinformation and lies from detractors. It’s pathetic.

  • TheAmazingAgnostic

    Yes, there is a schism in atheism right now.

    As I have said before, two camps (the advocates and the contrarians) are going to keep this fight going.

    The advocates are somewhat misguided. They want to combine atheism with social justice in the hopes of broadening the focus of the skeptical movement and improving the public’s view of us all. The only problem with this is that it will inevitably lead to more infighting over politics, “safe spaces” (think of Reddit’s SRS on anabolic steroids), and breakaway/offshoot groups that nobody wants to see (i.e. true “radical” feminist A+ groups).

    The contrarians are equally wrong. They believe that they own the atheist movement simply because they have been in it a long time. When anybody tries to have a frank discussion on the treatment of women in the atheist movement, the contrarians hold a stance that has been best described as “hyper skepticism.” They refuse to believe that there is any sexism and refuse to care about fixing these problems. The contrarians also throw their support behind the men’s rights movement, completely forgetting that /r/ men’s rights is labelled as a hate group by the SPLC (for good reasons).

    I have warned people in our movement not to pick sides because it only fuels the ongoing crises. Neither of the camps deserve to be at the helm of the atheist movement; both are too devoted to ideological warfare.

    • Paul_Robertson

      They refuse to believe that there is any sexism and refuse to care about fixing these problems.
      I don’t think that’s a fair characterisation. Speaking for myself, I acknowledge that sexism exists, and I join you in condemning it, but I have seen nothing to suggest that the problem is any worse inside the atheist movement than in population at large. That being the case, why is this a problem for atheism to solve? Let’s take another example: fraud. I’m sure that I could find examples of atheists who have been defrauded by other atheists. Does this make fraud an atheist issue? Should we create a new sub-set of atheism to deal with fraud? And are atheists who are opposed to the creation of this new group guilty of “refusing to believe that there is any fraud and refusing to care about fixing the problem”?
      The distinction between not caring about an issue and wanting the issue kept separate from atheism is an important one that is frequently ignored by partisans. Not every “contrarian” is a member of the MRA crowd; in fact by my observation they are the minority. You’ve attempted (I think) to paint a fair portrait of the opposing side, but ended up calling everyone opposed to atheism+ a hate group. You may want to reconsider your overgeneralisation.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sandy-Kokch/100000074576649 Sandy Kokch

    This whole bunfight is rapidly turning the satirical episodes of South Park (Cartman and the Atheism Wars) into reality. If I didnt know there were no such things Id suspect Matt and Trey had some sort of crystal ball. Me….Im with the Otters. I like Otters….they are triple cool.

    The other reminder is, as is posted on the Guardian article, the scene from Life Of Brian. This is all starting to sound like one long round of “Bloody Peoples Front Of Judea!”

    What I will say is that it is also serving to erode my respect for a couple of names in the “biz” like PZ and Carrier, who until now I regarded as sane reasoned voices and witty. Their dropping the level down to the same one Im at – mouthy firebomb rhetoric – is something I find highly disappointing. Leave the ad hominems and snark to people like me chaps…..people who dont get looked up to as spokespeople. Take off the asshats and calm the hell down.

    I prefer, in any case, the argument of Hemant and my friend and fellow traveler Al Stefanelli over at FTB (go read his thoughts on this).

    I wont be drawn in, I wont be branded as this or that.

    Have fun lobbing mud pies ye battlers, and if in the meantime the cause looses ground then the reason will be staring back at you when you in the mirror have a wash in the aftermath.

  • Alan Christensen

    This is one reason I tend not to be a joiner of movements. Too much drama.

  • Thegoodman

    I thought we were all here to fight “the establishment”. Now some of us want to create our own establishment? With a capital letter AND a catchy math symbol?

    I don’t see the point. Unless the point is to have a badge of differentiation that clearly puts a line in the sand, with the good wholesome !Yay! Atheist+ !Yay! on one side, and the demonic sexist !Boo! atheists !Boo! on the other.

    I am an atheist for many reasons, one of them is because I do not wish to be defined by a silly marketing label created for reasons I do not understand. No thank you. I will gladly stick to lower case titles for now; atheist, feminist, libertarian (borderline anarchist), vegan, and appreciator of nature.

  • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

    PZ Myers’ latest post addresses much of the criticism very well: 
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/09/04/the-anti-atheist-boobs-on-twitter/

    Apparently, these people cannot relate unless there is a boss to talk to somewhere. They cannot comprehend an organization without a dictator, therefore atheism+ has a secret dictator somewhere. They cannot understand how an idea could be advanced without being treated as dogma, therefore atheism+ is dogma.

    …some people have stepped up and said, “We’re people who think social justice is important, and that secular thought has much to say about it. So we’re creating a space where like-minded people can talk freely about it.”

    That’s it.

    • PZisPeePee

      Yes, but in that same post, PZ admits to being one of the leaders of the movement, along with “a very progressive, middle-class bisexual woman named Greta Christina”. PZ contradicts himself, falls over his own tongue (metaphor) and pretty much pulls a Paul Ryan.

      His entire rant is angry, mean spirited, full of name calling, bad logic and lies. But then again, what more could be expected of a man who claims to be a high fallutin’ professor at a JV squad Minnesota State College?

      • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

        Nice ‘nym. You’re not biased at all I’m sure.

        Give me the exact quote where PZ admits to being one of its leaders. I must be missing it. All I see is:

         I am not a leader of this movement; I have no position in it at all. I like the idea and I’m happy to encourage people to explore it, and I’ve long been pushing ideas similar to what has coalesced as the atheism+ movement, but I’m not even remotely “in charge”.

        And if  all you have is tone-trolling (he’s angry, mean-spirited, name-calling), you have nothing. As for “bad logic” and “lies”, those are claims that require evidence. Insulting the place where he works is not evidence.

        • SadandAngry

          I’ll let you go through and find the quote. It is in there, and I tire of your fanaticism. And yes, where he works is a good indicator of the quality of his words. His state college is not a bastion of intellectual giants, and you get what you sow.

          Of course I am biased, just like you are biased. We are all biased, be honest enough to admit it when you know you have it. PZ represents a terrible direction and after having the misfortune of having met and interacted with him, it is readily apparent he has deep seeded insecurity issues, an ego that could fill Dodger Stadium and has a quality that suggests he wishes to control people and things in his presence. I would not say these things unless I had met him, spoken with him, and seen him in action.

          There is no doubt in my mind that he is a media whore, and the pattern of behavior on his part truly bears this out. Add in the Center for Free Inquiry bringing him because of Carrier who works for the center and has come right out and said “you are with us or you are our enemy -paraphrasing-” and how PZ’s writing is nowhere near the quality of Dawkins, Harris etc and we see another pattern of declining quality as well as thought control and policing. 

          I will never allow any group to usurp power like this because it is dangerous and flies against liberty and freedom. In short, you are dangerous.

  • Gus Snarp

    Pretty impressive how much press Atheism+ is getting so early on. Here we atheists usually have to fight to get mentioned at all, and when we do we are usually treated simply as a bunch of weirdos who don’t like prayer banners or Ten Commandments monuments. Who knew all we needed to get people talking about atheism and the actual ideas behind it were some Deep Rifts.

  • http://twitter.com/BdrLen Len

    I don’t know that transcribing people’s work without permission is a good thing. Many are seeing it as an attempt to co-opt and “manage” other peoples work and ideas to their own ends.

    http://isgodasquirrel.blogspot.co.uk/

  • Tobias 27

    Just because someone in any forum resorts to emotional name calling rather than rational discussion of ideas doesn’t mean that I have to be emotionally offended.  I am going to stick with my attachment to rational thinking processes and allow them to be wrong without any skin off of my nose.  And we can still talk again later if they want to return to rationality.  but you can’t shake me up or undermine my rationality with a few off-color words.

    As long as we keep talking, we both have the chance to learn something of value.

  • kaydenpat

    What is “extreme feminism”?  Keep reading comments that atheism + is just atheism plus extreme feminism. 

    Also, how is anti-racism, anti-sexism, anti-homophia political?

    I gather a lot of the opposition to atheism + is based on a personal dislike of PZ, Greta, Rachel, etc.

  • Sarah

    So… These issues really aren’t handled better in person. I stopped going to my university’s atheist group after being told by the (male) leader that there weren’t many prominent women in atheism because women are less intelligent and reasonable than men are. Yeah. For real. Right to my face. I really think you’re underestimating how incredibly bigoted some people in the atheist movement are.

  • Sarah

    Also, it wasn’t a one off conversation, or a problem with just that one person. It was just the last straw. Other fun conversations with other (all White, male) members: “Wow, a girl at our atheist group!” “Hey, you are the one atheist girl here. Want to go out with me? Oh. You’re a lesbian. Can I watch?” “What does having breasts feel like?” “Why don’t girls like me?” “Can you introduce me to your friend? Oh. She’s a lesbian. Threesome?” And so on. I really doubt most of the people online are better in person.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/P76OAMZWKTFY6SMOLNVKH7COLU TruthSayer

    This whole (non)issue (?) is the reason  I am usually not a joiner although i have tried to be over the past few years, in the mistaken belief  that numbers matter.  Well,  I guess numbers actually do matter but it is just too offensive to me to be used to support, i.e. ‘counted’ as beingin support of a position on some matter the leadership decided to pursue, naturally without consultation.  The opposing position, of course, is that is how organizations work.  I agree, and it is a very good reason not to belong in the first place.  I will continue to support social justice and other issues without someone else deciding for me what that means and without caring a hoot whether it is agreeable to them.

  • jlee

    I’m an atheist and certainly not a liberal. In fact most liberal “atheists” feel more like they embrace atheism only because it’s trendy and rebelling against the norm, that’s why the liberal atheist usually only talks about Christianity.


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