In the Huffington Post: Why Pluralism Should Matter to Atheists

In the Huffington Post: Why Pluralism Should Matter to Atheists November 13, 2012

A friend of mine who was involved with the Humanists at Rutgers asked me to write a short piece about NonProphet Status and atheist involvement in pluralism more generally. A short excerpt is below, but you can read it on the Humanist Chaplaincy at Rutgers Blog, or on the Huffington Post.

Three years ago, Chris Stedman, my good friend and author of “Faitheist,” started the blog NonProphet Status. There was no venue for atheists to join in interreligious dialogue, so Chris created a space where believers and atheists alike could share their stories, humanize one another, and promote pluralism among conflicting voices.

I write this as someone relatively new to the idea; when I first met Chris I thought he was completely wrong. Now I write for his blog.

So allow me to briefly make a case for why atheists should engage in cooperative dialogue and action with liberal believers. You can read some of Chris’s thoughts here (and in his book), but while Chris’ roots are in outreach and service work, mine are in arguing on the Internet, so I think I can provide a subtly different perspective.

Religion isn’t going away any time soon.

Despite the rise of the “nones” — about 1 in 5 adults is now religiously unaffiliated — most are basically still religious. Even in the arch-liberal utopia, Sweden, only about 1 in 5 people actually believe that God or spiritual forces don’t exists. Even with the massive increase in nonreligious blogs, books and organizations, the last five years has seen only 2 percent more of the population identifying as an atheist and agnostic. We can do everything right, it seems, and not even come close to matching the number of believers. So even the staunchest antitheist aiming to destroy religion is left with something of a Faustian bargain on social issues; leading me to my next point:

Like it or not, we need believers.

Secularism can’t be limited to atheists. It’s not something we like to admit, but progress on any important social issue requires the help of religious believers; we just don’t have the numbers. When it comes to the separation of Church and State, equal marriage rights for gays and lesbians, access to abortion and contraceptives for women, liberal believers are our necessary allies and friends. Six out of 10 Catholics support gay marriage. Believers, like pro-life Joe Biden, still value secular policies that can even contradict their religious belief.

Read more.

Vlad Chituc is a lab manager and research assistant in a social neuroscience lab at Duke University. As an undergraduate at Yale, he was the president of the campus branch of the Secular Student Alliance, where he tried to be smarter about religion and drink PBR, only occasionally at the same time. He cares about morality and thinks philosophy is important. He is also someone that you can follow on twitter.


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