Ellen Johnson, president of American Atheists, has a slightly different opinion.
In the recent Humanist Network News, she writes this:
… We give ourselves a name because we are proud of who we are. A group needs to be identified in some way. And we want to be a “group.” We aren’t just against something. We are something.
Is the American Cancer Society just “against” something because they fight against cancer? Are they a “negative” organization? Is Greenpeace a negative organization because they are against pollution? Sounds silly doesn’t it? Yet we buy into this nonsense when it is said about us.
I’m not quite seeing the parallels there…
But I do agree with the general sentiment expressed in this next statement:
In the end, the Theist doesn’t give a damn what we call ourselves. You can call yourselves “sugar” and they will still hate you and lie about you if you are an activist or if you don’t accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior.
And you have to love any reference to Mr. T:
Our own approval is enough. Our history is one to be proud of and American Atheists will never back down on wearing our name proudly. You cannot lead the way by looking back and we aren’t going back. I invite Atheists to stand proud and use the name Atheist proudly and when you want people to refer to you remember the words of Mr. “T” who said, “Let them call me Mr. ‘T.'”
It’s too early to abandon the “atheist” label. There will come a day when we can start to shed it, but that time hasn’t come yet. People are finally beginning to understand what it actually means to be an atheist. It simply means you don’t believe in a god. No more, no less. It doesn’t mean you’re evil or immoral, as many Christians have been taught. People are finally starting to accept atheism (PDF) — why abandon the term now?
I’m afraid people would be lost by the obscurity of simply advocating for reason and evidence (which most religions would say they advocate, anyway).
No, we shouldn’t need the term “atheist.” But since we’re fighting an uphill battle, we need to band like-minded people together in some way. For now, atheist is the most well-known term we have for that.
[tags]atheist, atheism, Christian[/tags]