Why would Christians support the Secular Student Alliance?

Why would Christians support the Secular Student Alliance? June 10, 2012

Tomorrow, I’m going to be participating in the Blogathon for Secular Student Alliance Week. This means that you’re going to get twelve posts from me -one every hour from 9am to 9pm. (Yikes).

They’re all going to be short responses or reflections prompted by your comments in the “Go Ahead, Tell Me What’s Wrong with Homosexuality” thread, which has reached a terrifying one hundred and fifty comments. I really appreciated everyone offering their thoughts/reading recommendations, but the thread got so long that, but for the Blogathon, I don’t know if I would have had the fortitude to wade in and comment back.

But Blogathon doesn’t exist just to hold my feet to the fire; it’s a fundraising drive for the Secular Student Alliance. (You’ll see a donate button at the bottom of every post tomorrow). I assume all my atheist readers have already seen SSA pitches from other people in the atheist blogosphere (if not, try Jen — she started this tradition), but since I’ve got a crossover audience, I wanted to make a quick pitch for the SSA to my Christian readers.  And I’ll start by borrowing Jen’s words.  She wrote:

But most importantly to me personally, our affiliates create a community that many non-theistic students lack – especially if they’re from religious households or areas. My group at Purdue kept me sane when faced with pervasive religious privilege and anti-atheist discrimination, and many members are now my closest friends.

I know I’ve got plenty of Christian readers who think the facts are on their side.  Well, if you want to win your case on its merits, you support at least this facet of the SSA’s work.  You can’t have a productive debate with atheists who are in hiding. When atheists are isolated and harassed, they may appear to go along with the beliefs of their families, but all you’ve achieved is adding hypocrisy to heresy.  Think of it as kind of a philosophical version of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. People need to be reasonably safe and stable to be able to do a risky thing like think hard about their philosophy.

I find some of the metaphysics espoused by people in the secular humanist movement to be pretty unsatisfying. But, in fairness, it’s hard to stay focused on fights over abstract principles when every couple of weeks, far right evangelicals are trying to throw empiricism out of science class, and you’re the first line of defense. Luckily, I think the less that atheists need to play frantic defense, the more likely they are to have some useful internal fights about what exactly they’re defending.

Consider the precedent of the LGBT movement. The gay rights movement and the increased visibility of queer folk freed people from bathhouse culture. When homosexuality didn’t only happen in secret, when activists didn’t just have to focus on survival and safety, queer people got to have a debate over what they wanted to live for. And, for the most part, they picked relationships of mutual self sacrifice and charity. Many of the most fervent defenses of marriage as an ideal come from queer families.

So donate to the Secular Student Alliance! They’re making the world safe for riskier fights! And don’t you want to see what’s left standing when the dust clears?

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