Wednesday, 12 September 2012

The cancer called Religion!

There is a cancer in town; it is not a new disease, in fact it has been around ever since humans started creating Gods. It has always been dangerous; however with inducements and profits to be made, it gets more dangerous! Its most potent strategy of invasion is through indoctrination. Infected persons indoctrinate children and are commanded to infect others. People who are not infected or already cured are still affected by this cancer.  Distance is not a barrier as this cancer takes control of its victims and influences them to act in ways that have far reaching consequences.
As an infected child grows, the cancer also grows and it suppresses normal brain activity. When left untreated, the cancer grows larger than the brain and keeps the brain in a state of mental slavery, thereby rendering the brain useless.

 Religion is indeed a cancer; it is a cancer that is implanted in the brain of almost every child. Children get infected through already infected family members and guardians. Infected authority figures like school teachers and State agents also transfer the malignant disease.

Religion is the main cancer; however this cancer also comes in different shapes and sizes. The type of cancer most often depends on where a child was born and how deeply infected the child’s parents/guardians are. Geographical location also plays a key part in determining the severity of the cancer.

The cure for this cancer lies in liberating the brain; a sharp dose of reason, followed by daily therapy of logical thinking would shrink the cancer. Unfortunately the victims are prevented from using their brain by the well connected cancer.

 Infected children learn to accept the cancer as normal.  The cancer penetrates the brain and eats out the thinking part of the brain.  Adults embrace and accept the cancer as a necessary part of life.  People who suffer from belligerent ‘Religion Cancer’ display some of the following symptoms:-
  • A willingness to fly into buildings and kill non sufferers who they call infidels
  • Hearing  voices and seeing demons
  • Slapping young girls in church, attempting to cast out evil spirits from women, old people and the mentally ill.
  • Speaking in tongues and rolling on the floor in a state of holy ghost frenzy
  •  Murdering albinos and hunchbacks for  money making rituals
  •  Offering animals as sacrifice to Gods
  • Quoting Sodom and Gomorrah as a reason to stone gays to death and deny sexual minorities equal rights
  • Screaming from mountain tops that sky daddy must strike down perceived enemies by fire by force.  
  •  Demanding that everyone be forcefully infected with 'Religion cancer'.
  •   Yelling at non sufferers that they will burn in hell for eternity.


 Do you know anyone who exhibits one or more of the symptoms above? Does any of your family member or friend display some of these symptoms? 
ARE YOU INFECTED? Stay Calm, Be Calm, although ‘Religion Cancer’ is a very powerful cancer it can still be defeated.
Well, all hope is not lost; act fast, save your brain from the grip of the deadly ‘Religion Cancer’. Start your medication now, take doses of reason and logic, engage in rational thinking , search for facts , demand evidence, this would surely scare the cancer away and with time it would shrink considerably and in some cases, full recovery is made.
 Act now and start thinking rationally. Surround yourself with people who still have their brains intact and do not to infect others. 


Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Is the Atheist+ Label really confusing?

 Would people object to an atheist group showing up at pride with a banner “Atheist for LGBT rights”? Would this confuse onlookers and make them assume that all atheists are for LGBT rights? I was at the 2012 World Pride in London and right behind my group ‘Nigerian LGBTIs in Diaspora Against Anti Same Sex Laws’ was another group with the banner Lawyers for Equality. I am a lawyer and I also happen to know many lawyers who are against equality rights for LGT people. Should the anti-LGBT equality lawyers protest the use of the name Lawyers in such context?  Well, that would be silly!

Just like Lawyers, Socialists and Humanists, I can also use my Atheist self-identity to complement other causes I identify with. No other atheist get to tell me, “hey do not add plus to Atheism, you are redefining it”. I am not redefining it, I am only using what I already am to promote other causes I believe in, if you don’t like it, sue me for copyright infringement, if you can’t, just learn to live with it!

I do not necessarily discuss socialism in an atheists forum but if the issue came up, I won’t shy away from engaging in critical debates. In the case of racism, sexism or homophobia, I do not jump into atheists forum and scream, "hey everyone; I wanna lecture you about sexism, racism, or homophobia"! In most instances, the words used by group members trigger the need to engage on ‘rights based’ discussion. You might be perfectly happy to make posts bashing religion but when you use words like cunts, slut, and faggots in your group forum, it becomes incumbent upon me as a group member to bring to your attention the logical implication of your language use. When you further dismiss my concerns as “girls talk” or “rants”, then it becomes necessary for me to call you out on your irrational behavior.  When you   come on social network sites to call out religious believers on their lack of thinking capacity in the area of religion; it is only fair that same be applied to you in areas where you have also displayed a lack of thinking capacity, no exceptions.

 I appreciate that not all atheists are concerned about social justice issues, and I probably wouldn’t start a social justice debate with a random atheist I met in a bar who just want to have a drink. However atheists who come on social network sites and spend time bashing religions are basically saying, “I do not belief in your religion, your Jesus story is fraught with irrationalities, your God sounds like a bigot”, well you are basically telling the world that you are someone who lacks a belief in a deity because you are a rational thinker, as the slogan says, “I think, therefore I am an Atheist”.

When you present yourself not just as an atheist but claim your atheism is as a result of rational thinking, don’t be surprised when people engage you in rational debates because they think you are a rational thinker , who by definition, should be open to rational debates and ready to succumb  to superior facts.

This is the reason I bother to engage in rational discussions with atheists and expect same from them. This is why the way I would engage with a random atheist I met in a private space would be different from the way I engage an atheist I met on an atheist social network group. Therefore when rape jokes, gay or racial slurs are made on an atheists' forum, it is only logical to engage in rational discussions about the genesis of such slurs that have led to irrational conclusions about a group of people.  

When some atheists cringe away from such discussions and instead chose to label me or other dissenters as divisive, feminazis or confrontational, well, what they are simply signaling is that they are rational only around the issue of religion, that they lack the capacity to be rational about other issues that demands rationality or just that they do not wish or have chosen not to engage in rational discussion or reach a rational conclusion about certain issues. In most cases, these certain issues just happened to be issues feminists, lgbts advocate and human rights activists are concerned about.

 I do understand that it could be difficult for someone with power or privilege to relinquish or even admit that they have power and privilege. Engaging in Rights discussion with some atheists is basically like trying to take away their prized toys, it is not easy to pry away old toys from some adults, it is not easy breezy to let go of privileges, but you can’t eat your cake and have it.

If you want to come online and laugh at religious believers for their irrational belief in a god, well everyone has also got the right to laugh at  your irrational belief or in most cases attitudes that reinforce the irrational beliefs that women are inferior and can be called sluts, that gays, lesbians, bisexuals, trans are somehow fit only to be called faggots, that blacks are subhuman and therefore should be tactically silenced in a group, that persons with physical disability or mental health issues can be ignored in a forum.

When you use words and act in ways that support these irrational beliefs,   you are not any better than the irrational religious believers you are so eager to laugh at!

If you do not want people to laugh at your funny beliefs, do not hold funny beliefs, if you do not want me to be called out on your bigotry, do not display bigotry, if you do not want me to get angry at your irrational thoughts, do not express such thoughts towards me. Being an atheist does not give you a free pass from scrutiny, being a member of an atheist group does not give you a license to be an asshole. It really is that simple.

BTW, you still have a right not to identify with Atheism+, it does not automatically make you an asshole, just same way identifying as an atheist does not automatically make you a decent person.  We can still hang out on atheist forums but I’ll surely be an irritating fly buzzing around parochial atheists who use atheists’ forums to perpetrate misogyny, homophobia and racism. Atheists who aren’t assholes need not find me irritating for standing up for equal rights for all, anywhere and everywhere I can. So I guess we should get along very well on Atheist minus the Plus forum.

However, it is great to know that when I need a break from all the misogynist fights and ism schisms bullshits, I can always have an Atheists+ forum to retreat to. A safe place is always welcome, even the toughest of activists needs a sanctuary.    

 Related links-

 What are the Anti-Atheists+ Afraid of? Blog post

What are Anti-Atheists+ afraid of? Video 

Is the Atheist+ Label really confusing? Video

Nigerian Atheists Group: A story of Bigotry, Sexism and Patriarchy!

What are Anti-Atheists+ afraid of?

I do not know what the hullabaloo is about Atheism+, why all the hate and tantrums? I understand that people fear change, people with power fear anything that would or could threaten their power base, and because atheists are people, they are not exempted from this fear of change.

People who enjoy power hardly want their privileged positions questioned. They fight the change makers, they cast aspersion on the oppositions’ characters, they fight tooth and nail to discredit the change and this is mostly what the fight against Atheism+ is all about. The sad thing is, many of those fighting the Atheism+ concept would hardly agree that they fight because they are afraid of change, nope; they would hide under so many notions to justify their stance against atheism+.

People love to have power over others; the insignificant minorities are always the victims. Many so called progressives still use their residual patriarchal power, sometimes unconsciously, to lord it over others and they loathe it when they are confronted with this fact.

Why am I in support of Atheism+? I am a black African woman who also identify as atheist, bisexual, feminist, socialist and humanist.  Sometimes I join groups that promote all my identities or at least acknowledge some of the things I identify as and with. For example, I identify with Black feminists groups, African labour groups, Labor women organizations, LGBT Atheists, African bisexuals, Black Atheists groups, Working class Atheists, Secular humanists and female workers groups. When attached to my birth identity, these self identity tags afford me the opportunity to understand at a glance, the demography of the groups.

 I am conscious that not every organization that I identify with shares my values or identities, however when joining or identifying with a group, I consider it important that I network with groups and persons who do not only share a birth or self identity with me but also share  core values.   

While I might not think it is important to bring up my socialist notions in a black bisexual group or an African atheist group, I would definitely think it is important that whenever a discrimination is made in a group I identify with, it would be my duty and responsibility to point this out and if the group failed to change, those of us with same values can organize to change the group or form a better one. And yes, any group can be improved upon including Atheist groups. It is not about changing the meaning of Atheism, it is about using my Atheist identity to promote rational values.

 For example, I identify as a member of many Nigerian progressive groups and some of these groups are unfortunately not in support of sexual minority rights. The homophobia, biphobia and transphobia in Nigerian and African human rights communities would not stop me from identifying as a Nigerian or African human right activist, but it sure could stop me from identifying with a group that is continuously homophobic, it could also cause me to organise a revolution within the group to force it to acknowledge its defects and yes, also mobilize a subgroup to signal that we stand for much more than the default group.

 I have identified as a freethinker and atheist for more than a decade and it is only natural that I seek out people who also identify as same. Of course, I am also eager to find people who not only share birth identities with me but who also share self identities with me. I would eagerly join an African Atheist group, a black women’s group, a women atheist group, LGBT atheist group, Nigerian atheists/ freethinkers groups, Nigerian LGBT groups and LGBT Nigerian Atheist groups.  It is only natural that I try to bond along and across boundaries, however , experience have shown that while we might share birth identity and a few self identities, our self identities and values are not always all the same.

For example, I eagerly joined an African Atheists group on facebook and was happy to network with other Africans who share my disbelief in theism and are also ready to speak out about the reasons for their disbelief. In the process of networking, other issues common to our shared human race came up, especially in the mode of communication; language.  Some of the group members’ posts were homophobic, racist and demeaning to women and of course when there are conscious feminists, lgbt advocates and humanists in the group, there is a sense of duty to call out such posts and comments and explain to the group at large why such language should not be encouraged.

However, as my experience in some Atheists groups have shown, most people, no matter how rational they claim to be, do not like to be called out . The African atheist group I joined on facebook was very homophobic and racist. There were posts and comments deriding mixed blood members as not African enough and slur words like ‘mulattos’ were often used. When I made a post on the group page about the role of religion in the persecution of sexual minorities in Africa, the homophobes, who happened to be in the majority in the group, let out the most horrible homophobic rants I ever encountered in a self identified rationalist group! Of course when the admin failed to bring the situation under control through tacit silence, I left the group, so did a few others.

 My experience with the Nigerian Atheist group was worse, bigotry, sexism, and irrationality was the order of the day in the group. It got so bad that female members were threatened with rape and told that dicks would be rammed down their mothers’ throats. A gay group member who live in the sharia part of Nigeria had his home address posted online therefore seriously endangering his life since he could be killed not just for his sexual orientation but also for being an Atheist.  All these irrational actions came from dear Atheists who love bashing religious believers for their lack of rationality.  Would it be any wonder if I decided not to hang out online or wherever with such people under whatever label they come under?
Should I stop identifying as an African or Nigerian atheist because some members of a group with the name is homophobic, sexist and racist?  Nope, I could very well organize  another group named African Atheist+ and/or Nigerian Atheists, with the + tag signifying that this is an Atheist group of Africans / Nigerians whom along with their non belief in theism also share some rational  values like equality for all, are anti- racism, pro-sexual minorities , gender positive and non-abliest. 

Having a clear tag would aid my decision on which group to join and network with. It would save precious time I use online arguing with bigoted, racist homophobic atheists on why they have no rational reason to be racist, homophobic or a chauvinist. It would save me and many others the agony of joining atheists groups that do not care that some of their members are being subjected to degrading attitudes from other group members.

Atheism+ appeals to me because it promises a place to hang out with atheists, who just like me, believe that bigotry, racism or homophobia is irrational and are willing to critically examine social justice issues alongside our non belief in the existence of God.  We want to network, talk about our atheism, social justice issues or just hang out in an environment free of isms schisms.  Is it really that difficult to understand?

Some of the antagonist of atheists+ have asked, “We already have secular humanism, why Atheist+? Well, I could also ask, “Why LGBT humanists, African Humanists, Socialist humanists, Secular humanists, Female humanists or Nigerian Humanists? Is Atheism+ Label confusing? Why so many tags?

Well, it is because people can self identify and are free to self identify and create tags just same way people are free to create gods. So far they are not forcing their tags down other peoples’ throats and touting their tags as the only real thing or the truth, it is OK to self identify.  

Why should I be required to identify as a secular humanist or be confined to secular humanist groups because I am an atheist who actively advocate for human rights? I should have the right to identify as a secular humanist and /or as an Atheist+, it is about choice. Secular Humanists have chosen not to prominently use the word Atheist, it is their choice. I am a member of a few secular humanists groups, it is my choice. I have chosen to use my Atheist tag to identify with the social justice causes I care about, it is my prerogative. 

 Why can’t I use my self identified atheist tag to also represent other things I stand for? Is the Atheist tag restricted? If yes, who made the restriction? When did we agree it should be restricted? Why is it OK to have Black Atheist, Eastern Atheist, American Atheist, LGBT Atheist but not OK to have Atheist+? Why and how is it  OK to have Secular humanism, another tag over humanism but not OK to have Atheist+ or humanist atheists?  

 I think those fighting the Atheist+ tag should examine their real motive to understand what they are scared of.  Are they scared that Atheism would be overrun by feminists, human rights activists,  Atheists women demanding not to be called sluts in atheists groups, Africans demanding not to be given the second class treatment in international  Atheist groups, atheists living with disabilities demanding not to be ignored in an atheist gathering  or young atheists demanding that their voice be heard? What exactly are the anti-Atheist+ afraid of?
I care about social justice issues , my activist cap is not one I wear  when I feel like it, it is an integral part of me, it is me. Even though I care so much about social justice issues, I do appreciate that going on and on about the abuse of social justice through language use in an atheist group, might just tick off some atheists. Yes, I understand that some atheists just wanna bash baby Jesus and have fun without caring about sexism, bigotry, racism or homophobia in their language used, I dampen the fun of those atheists by pointing out their parochial attitudes. I was actually told in a Nigerian atheist forum that I should go form a women atheist group and leave the group so that they can have their misogynist fun without any guilt.

I do not apologize for my social justice consciousness and cannot make excuses for anyone who wants to hide under whatever label, including an atheist label to spew parochial views. I do not even want to hang out with such persons, irrespective of our shared disbelief in God, It does not mean I am leaving the label Atheism for you, it only means I am also seeking cooler friends to hang out with, friends who happen to share same social justice consciousness with me, not too difficult to understand, is it?

I am not a Feminist with a BUT and I am certainly not an Atheist with a BUT, I am simply an Atheist with a PLUS and for me, the plus is the icing on the cake. Some like icing, some don’t, whatever float your boat. If you still do not understand why I want my Atheism to be with a plus, well it is not my problem, it is your problem, hope you get it solved soon. I am responsible for what I say, not what you understand. Cheers!

Related links