Last weekend, David Silverman, President of American Atheists, had a discussion on Twitter that revolved around some of the harassers and all-around terrible people in the atheist movement. He said this:
And later, he said this:
I cannot disagree with this more strongly. To me, this position runs counter to everything I try to do within the secular movement, and it’s extremely depressing that David said this.
Here’s an interesting question: Why do you advocate for atheism and secularism? The reason I do it is because I want to make a better world, where people are kind to each other and act ethically, and atheism is a part of that. I believe that the more accurate the information a person has, the better they can make ethical decisions. Hence, atheism is necessary for a just and ethical society.
However, as clearly shown by all the MRA’s and other terrible people who happen to be atheists, not believing in a god is not enough to guarantee that you are an ethical person. In other words, atheism is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for an ethical society. In fact, I would argue that it’s not even the most important condition, and that possessing a strong sense of empathy, or understanding intersectionality, are far more important.
If, ultimately, our goal is to make a better world (and that absolutely should be our goal) then we need more than just atheist activism. We need feminist activism, we need LGBT activism, we need race activism, we need class and economic activism, we need youth activism, we need activism for physical, mental, and emotional disabilities and illnesses, we need immigrant activism, and we need so much more.
And the people who oppose those things? They are not my allies. Even if they’re also atheists, if they oppose activism in other arenas, they do not share my goal. They’re working to prevent my goal from ever succeeding, so not only are they not my allies, they’re my enemies. I will never stand alongside those people.
Atheism, to me, means so much more than not believing in gods. It means viewing everyone as an equal, it means taking personal responsibility for my actions, it means valuing others just as much (if not more) than I value myself. This is my atheism. This is what drives me to social justice. And if you oppose me, then you are not part of my atheism.
The title of this post, as well as the ideas behind it, are heavily influenced by this post.