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Friday, March 21, 2008

American Atheists Reminder: You are a Civil Rights Organization

My experiences today at the American Atheists Conference confirmed my observation that many atheists are oblivious that they are part of the greater civil rights movements.

This afternoon a panel gathered to discuss wether or not American Atheists should partner with other "liberal" civil rights groups on causes like abortion, gay rights, and other women's rights. There was a strong opposition to associating with "liberals" and a passionate cry that the organization should only focus on "atheist issues" in order to avoid alienating "conservative" atheists.

Poppycock! There is no such thing as an exclusively atheist issue, all issues are atheist issues, all issues are women's issues, all issues are gay rights issues, all issues are race issues; all civil rights movements are connected. The desire to separate them is a symptom of the privileged demographics of American Atheists. The mostly white, wealthy, and male members have the luxury of only experiencing discrimination on one plane - they don't have have to worry about discrimination because they are non-white, female, or gay. Those other planes of discrimination are not immediate and therefore invisible.

That said, a large chunk of today's conference was inspired and presented by leaders in other areas of the civil rights movements. A feminist speaker gave an excellent talk explaining the frightening power religious organizations have over our health care. Also, the last talk was an enlightening and moving look into the African American civil rights movement. There were also many attendees who spoke out to encourage American Atheists to embrace their position as part of the greater civil rights culture. So, I don't mean to imply that the entire organization and everyone involved is being dense - but there was enough ridiculous talk of "atheist issues" to raise a red flag.

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Anonymous Operaotor-C said...

I agree!

Politics be damned (heh), discrimination is discrimination and it should be shunned by all! I should think atheists, of all people, would be more than willing to embrace civil rights on all levels, no matter how liberal or conservative they may be.

23 April, 2008  

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