Atheists excluded from Boston interfaith initiative.

Today there will be an interfaith event to mourn the victims of the Boston bombing.  The President himself will be in attendance.  But when they say interfaith, they really mean interfaith.

According to the program (PDF) for today’s “Interfaith Service” at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, which will be attended by the President and the Governor of Massachusetts, atheists will have no representation there.

Speakers include representatives from the Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim faiths. But no Mormons and no Humanists, surprising given the religious makeup of Boston.

Do they imagine that out of 180 victims that somehow none of the grievers would be atheists?  Do they just not care if they are?

And part of the atheist response bugged me even more.  This is part of the press release from Zach Bos and the SCA of Massachusetts:

“It won’t be for lack of trying that we aren’t represented in the collective response to this tragedy,” said Zachary Bos, co-chair of the Secular Coalition for Massachusetts, and State Director for American Atheists. “We know that historically it’s been a easier to engage with people who are religiously-identifying and more likely to be organized. That is why we’ve been pro-active in calling elected officials and reaching out to religious colleagues, to find a way to be involved. If anything, the events of the past week tell us that we should be cultivating these relationships anyway, so that when tragedy does strike we are ready to respond immediately, a community of different philosophies united in common cause.

“We’re telling them we’re here and available to stand beside religious leaders at any interfaith event, so that these public responses can be representative of Bostonians of all ethical traditions. We seek to stand with our neighbors in showing compassion and resolve in the face of terrorism.

“This bombing has affected people of many different faiths and none. We’re doing all we can to give civic leaders the chance to make sure any interfaith event is truly inclusive.”

You’ve given them the chance to involve atheists and they haven’t.  I know the Harvard Humanists won’t quit begging for entry into the faith club, but at this point why should other atheists follow suit?  Set up a vigil just to fucking mourn, not to exclude others, and welcome anybody who wants to come.  Yeah, you won’t have the President, but you’ll at least have some integrity.  Here we have a group that has clearly discriminated against us for the crime of believing human beings, not magical beings who rise from the dead and who watched the bombers conceive and execute their scheme while not even calling the police, are the only source of relief and justice on this planet (funny how the medics, charity workers, and investigators who are all acting like this is the case aren’t similarly shunned).  What does it say about you that you’re so eager to join the ranks of people who clearly think less of you?

You’ve established you’re willing to work with people of faith.  Good on ya.  I support that.  But if the interfaith lot has decided, again, that turning their nose up at atheists and the needs of the atheist community is more important than working together, fuck ‘em.  They clearly have different priorities than we.

And if they want to splash “faith” over everything we do even when they do deign to allow us a place at the table, ditto.  Compassion for the grieving and charity belong to humanity, and shouldn’t be leeched to make the faithful feel more special than any other person.


Read this on the CNN article and thought it was relevant:

The city will make a formal effort of that Thursday with the planned 11 a.m. interfaith prayer service featuring Obama, Patrick and Cardinal Sean O’Malley, among others.

It’s time to “make room for love, said Lisa Conti, a graduate student in Boston.

“Imagine how much deeper the wound would be if we filled the empty spaces with hate instead of love.”

Yeah, make room for love…but not atheists.  Sorry if there’s not room for both.

I just…we’re the ones saying that sympathy must be extended to everybody regardless of their religious beliefs.  Why whine and beg to be a part of their club as if you think they’re better than us?  Your argument is that the mourning process should include everyone.  Why do you want to be all chummy with the people who clearly don’t think that’s the case?

I won’t beg to be included among people I don’t admire.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • KirikaSena

    Damn straight.

  • http://irenist.blogspot.com/ Irenist

    Disgraceful. As a religious person myself, I’m disgusted by this. Atheists and agnostics and humanists obviously need to be included in events like this. Especially in a place like Boston!

  • http://atheists.org Charles Miller

    We have fought similar battles here in Alabama, where we atheists expect to be ignored and deliberately excluded. “Interfaith” usually excludes everyone but the Abrahamic faiths and that is what they have done in Boston. Interfaith is for bigots who want to claim they are “liberal” because they included Jews and Muslims. They are not interested in true equality.

    Charles Miller – Regional Director American Atheists.

  • Glodson

    It is sad to say that I’m not surprised. And then it will be turned into “reasons” why atheism is bad. “Hey, they don’t take part in the community or mourn with us, nevermind we excluded them.”

  • Nate Frein

    This is one where I think we need to keep fighting.

    Because this meeting isn’t about faith. It’s about a community coming together to show solidarity after a tragedy. And I think that we, as atheists that are part of that community, need to stand up and say “We should be counted, too. We were hurt, too. We pitched in, too. We are your next door neighbors. We are faces in your crowd. We are at the tables of the same restaurants and we drink at the same bars. And we were there when the tragedy happened.”

    And I think we need to hammer this home. We were excluded. We were told that we were not worth having. And the people that organized that gathering need to made to own up to that.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/2013/04/atheists-excluded-from-boston-interfaith-initiative/ Donald L. Koelling

      I especially liked this response

  • http://www.aramink.com Anne

    Seeing as how two of the survivors, one of whom had to have both her legs amputated, were closely associated with the Harvard Humanists, this is disgraceful.

  • http://www.aramink.com Anne

    About Sydney and Celeste Corcoran: http://parentingbeyondbelief.com/blog/?p=8770

  • Madelyn Reiter

    I’m not really affiliated with any group – faith-based or faith-less – mainly because I just don’t like groups. I mention this just to prevent anyone from concluding what my philosophy is as I pose this question:

    I’d very much like to see Zachary Bos’ exchange with the event organizers, in which Bos offers to participate and the organizers decline. Certainly a quote from the organizers saying something ala “thanks but no thanks” would add a bit of weight to the claims in this article. However, no exchange appears to have taken place.

    Pardon the critical thinking.

    • Glodson

      The Secular Coalition for Massachusetts and the Boston Atheists have reached out to the Governor’s Office of Community Affairs, the Massachusetts Council of Churches, and the Mayor’s Office, but as yet have no word on how or whether nontheist members of the community will be represented at this morning’s interfaith service in memory of the Boston Marathon bombing victims, where President Obama will be speaking.

      Hmm, unless they lied here and made that whole thing up, then they did reach out.

      And no reply. In an event like this, the no reply means they don’t want them in, for whatever reason. At least half of the exchange, based on the current evidence, took place. The organizers didn’t reply.

      Since that was directly linked in the original article, you aren’t displaying any critical thinking as the issue was addressed.

  • William

    I’m torn. But I must say that I do not expect ( or want?) to be included in a FAITH service. I thought we were always bitching about atheism NOT be a religion. It is a religious event. What is it that we don’t get about that? Religion will always be around. I will fight it at every chance; I do not want to join it.

    • Nate Frein

      The problem is this isn’t really a faith service. It’s a memorial service, with government officials attending in their official capacities.

      And we’re not going to shift the idea that it must be faith based if we’re not standing up and challenging our exclusion but simply turning away and saying “man, it’s some faith shindig so I don’t wanna go.”

  • William

    I’m torn. But I must say that I do not expect ( or want?) to be included in a FAITH service. I thought we were always bitching about atheism NOT being a religion. It is a religious event. What is it that we don’t get about that? Religion will always be around. I will fight it at every chance; I do not want to join it.

  • Jeff

    So the “inter-faith” meeting is just a few different flavors of Abrahamic religion. How wonderfully diverse.

    • Glodson

      Yes, it isn’t just the Humanists and Atheists excluded. The Mormons as well. I guess you have to be the right kind of people to join in an inter-faith meeting.

  • Pingback: Atheists Left Out of Boston Interfaith Memorial | Reasonable Conversation

  • vini

    Atheists complaining that they haven’t been included in an interfaith service is like non-stamp collectors complaining they haven’t been invited to a stamp collectors party. WE DON’T HAVE FAITH. WE’RE NOT IN THEIR CLUB. Sign me up for a secular remembrance event, but I care about sitting with them and the pink elephants in their little interfaith gathering, thankyouverymuch.

    • Nate Frein

      So if you’re not a stamp collector, but your neighbor is, and a bomb kills your neighbor’s son…

      You won’t go to the memorial? Because you’re not a stamp collector?

      Way to miss the point.

    • Glodson

      Yes, this isn’t about the lack of faith, or the problems with religion, or anything else. This is about being acknowledged as a part of the community, and taking part in the social action of grieving for lost lives and people harmed as a community.

      The exclusion sends the message that the atheists, and even the other religious groups excluded, aren’t apart of the community.

      • http://smingleigh.wordpress.com Zinc Avenger (Sarcasm Tags 3.0 Compliant)

        Atheists! Your grief is invalid. Only members of the stamp-collecting community may grieve collectively for this tragedy.

  • http://blog.nikhilkrishnaswamy.com nkrishna

    Funny how “interfaith” is just a synonym for “Abrahamic.”

  • Observer

    Did the government organize this? Did our taxpayer funds pay for this? Is there a copyright on Interfaith? Is a President or any official restricted as to the legal gatherings they choose to attend? Were atheists excluded from attending the memorial service? If the answers to these questions are no, then it appears to me we have here a group of lazy whiners who are too lazy to organize a memorial service and want to whine “Look at me I am not included on the podium.” Thank God some had the selflessness to show compassion, the willingness to offer of themselves, and the drive to see that things happen. And then there are the sit back complainers. They complain about what other are doing. These lazy whiners, even in the face of tragedy, “It’s all about me.”

    • Glodson

      You are an idiot. Any group that is apart of the community can be upset for being excluded by the community. Atheists and humanists and Mormons are among those who have suffered. We know one group, at least, reached out to take part, to do their part to help and to be allowed the chance to grieve.

      No one said it was illegal. No one brought in the government. It is not surprising that in light of this tragedy that the Boston area humanists and atheists want to be included?

      Thank God some had the selflessness to show compassion, the willingness to offer of themselves, and the drive to see that things happen.

      You mean like the atheists who donated money? And those of us that donated blood? Those of us who do what we can and when we can for our community?

      This isn’t an isolated incident. Your Christian privilege is showing.

      • ChristianWings

        Bitch, bitch, bitch…

        • Glodson

          Look, a dismissive statement made by a Christian because an religious group was treated differently by the Christian Majority for no reason. How quaint.

        • Loqi

          Quite insightful. I think you should take your witticisms and rhetorical prowess to the comments section on YouTube so you can be with other thinkers of your caliber.

          • sqlrob

            You want to bring the intelligence of youtube comments down? Why?


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