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!


  1. For the life of me, I don't see this as a threat. But then again I have been a feminist since Ms. Magazine was first founded, when I was 12. And I'm married to a strong feminist.

    Atheism Plus just seems so comfortable to me--one stop shopping for everything I believe in.

    1. "Atheism Plus just seems so comfortable to me--one stop shopping for everything I believe in." Thanks, Flyswatter, you just put into a single sentence everything that sums up Atheism+ for me...a one stop shopping for everything I believe in, I mean what is wrong with having everything dear to me in one single shop? Great!