If you are reading this post (or the posts of my fellow bloggers at this channel on Patheos), then I’m certain you have noticed that the Patheos Atheist channel has rebranded itself as the Patheos NonReligious channel. The change was suggested by our channel manager, Dale McGowan, author of Atheists for Dummies , and you can read his take on the change here.
I am an atheist. I also hold secular, humanist, freethinking, and skeptical values but I am above all an atheist and I’m one of the bloggers who was opposed to the change. Like my fellow blogger at Danthropology, I do not see the term nonreligious as being equivalent to atheist. When we were the Atheist Channel, we happily embraced our bloggers who expanded our offerings from purely atheist to include those social justice causes that partner well with an atheist world view and those who use other terminology but there was no doubt who we are at our core. We are (or were) atheists and I’m hoping our blog roster will remain primarily atheists and that this won’t open up the door for woo and nonsense on our channel.
I agree with Dale that there is a certain amount of privilege involved in being able to use the term atheist as a self reference without consequences but I also posit the only way to remove the stigma from the word atheist is for us to use it. I also agree with David Silverman, the President of American Atheists, who correctly states that atheist is the proper word for those of us who don’t believe in gods, regardless of whatever labels we choose to use in addition to atheist. But when it comes to reading our channel, there is a different kind of privilege involved and that’s the privilege that allows for access to technology and the internet and having such access is not something I take for granted since I currently reside in an area that has no broadband internet options at all other than expensive, harshly data-capped, and slow satellite service. I’m assuming our readers have internet access in some capacity and that they can read our channel with very little risk of exposure. Since there is minimal risk, I think they need to be reading articles by atheists that are for atheists, the larger nonreligious community, and our allies.
Basically, the people who can’t or won’t call themselves atheists need to see us freely and publicly being atheists.
I understand I may not have articulated my objections very well and I am really interested in your opinions. Feel free to post in the comments section or to email me.
Photo credit: atheists.org