Sunday, November 19, 2017

Defending the atheist community

So, I spend a lot of time criticizing the atheist and skeptic community. I know that a lot of people consider it to be multiple communities but usually when I discuss it I talk about it as one group. I've done shows discussing sexual harassment and the apologists for it in atheist and skeptic circles. I've posted about racism and sexism in our community and I've criticized the vehement anti-Muslim bigotry that goes on in atheist circles. These are all very big problems and they need to be addressed and dealt with in the same way that any community might deal with them. ...but that we can't lose sight of the good that comes from atheist and skeptic activism around the world.

I'm hoping that this doesn't come across as a #notallatheists type rant. I want to ignore the bullshit skepticism toward social movements that seems to be taking hold in North American skepticism and on Youtube and focus on the social activism that is being done in the name of secularism.

Here are a few groups that are doing positive work.

Love or hate Richard Dawkins, he is not the only person who works for the Richard Dawkins foundation. The Dawkins foundation is an organization that's mission is to spread scientific literacy and secularism. They head up movements like the Openly Secular campaign, The Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science, and The Subtitles project. Openly Secular intends to eliminate discrimination and increase acceptance by getting secular people – including atheists, freethinkers, agnostics, humanists and nonreligious people – to be open about their beliefs. The Teacher Institute for Evolutionary Science is a resource for middle school teachers to get the tools they need to teach evolution and answer its critics. The Subtitles Project is a project meant to add subtitles to science videos on the internet in different languages so that people from all over the world can learn from them.

Then there's The Clergy Project. I recently interviewed Leslie Mair regarding her documentary film on this organization. The Clergy project helps leaders of religious organizations who no longer believe to cope with the conflicts that come from being a non believer who's well being and income rely on being a religious leader. They also help people who have chosen to leave their jobs as religious leaders and find their way as secular people.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation in the US is an organization that promotes the separation of church and state and actively fights battles in court on that front. They also provide educational content and support for people who are facing discrimination based on religious privilege

American Atheists is very similar and is effective in other ways. The head of American Atheists is David Silverman who has been on Fox news a number of times defending atheist and atheism against the views of the religious right.

The Canadian Secular Alliance does some similar work here in Canada and is working towards changing our current school systems from a Catholic system and Public system in to one school system for all students.

There are great support groups too. Recovering from Religion is a group that is solely dedicated to supporting people who have left religion or who have doubts about their religion. There's Grief Beyond Belief, whose whole purpose is to support people who have lost loved ones but don't have religious faith to help them through the grieving process. There's the Secular Therapy Project that is meant to connect people who need therapy or counselling with secular therapists who won't push religion onto clients.

That's just a few of the organizations that are doing positive work.

There are also a whole host of atheist and skeptic podcasts and Youtubers that are doing positive work and provide supportive content to help skeptics and atheists deal with in a world that is overwhelmingly religious and unskeptical. Just to list a few that are doing great content, The Scathing Atheist (the crew on that do multiple shows), Cognitive Dissonance, Serious Inquiries Only, The Utah Outcasts, No Religion Required, The Thinking Atheist. for Youtubers there's Kristi Winters, Aron Ra, Matt Dillahunty, Darkmatter2525, Steve Shives, Solder of Science and a ton more.

There are great blogs too. The Friendly Atheist by Hemant Mehta, The Graffiti Wall by Alix Jules, pretty much anything written by Jessica Xiao, Sincere Kirabo, Trav Mamone, or Stephanie Zvan.

My point is that there are great people and great organizations doing great things in the atheist community and as a whole we pretty much have the separation of church and state thing figured out. We don't always agree on other stuff but those are the growing pains of any group and I think that there is still hope that we can do some great stuff in ours.

Sorry to everyone I didn't list. I value you all and the work that you do but I just wrote the names that popped into my head at the time of this writing.

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