Greta Christina has an excellent piece on what the atheist movement can learn from the gay movement.
There’s another lesson that I think atheists can learn from the LGBT movement; one that the LGBT movement took a little while to learn. And that’s to let firebrands be firebrands, and to let diplomats be diplomats. We need to recognize that not all activists pursue activism in the same say; we need to recognize that using both more confrontational and more diplomatic approaches makes us a stronger movement, and that both these approaches used together, synergistically, are more powerful than either approach alone.
I’m not saying we shouldn’t debate our tactical differences. On any given issue, it’s sometimes worth debating whether diplomacy or confrontation (or a combination) will be a more effective tactic in that particular case. But I’d like to us stop treating these debates as if they were larger questions of morality or character that have to be resolved in one direction or the other once and for all…
You would think we’d have an advantage here, being able to learn from any of the GLBT movement’s mistakes… but we continue to argue over petty things like language and don’t do enough to work together on bigger issues.
There’s some progress on that front, but not enough.
What would be ideal is to have a grassroots movement arise where atheists everywhere just begin to come out to their friends and families in droves.
If every adult in America personally knew an “out” atheist, I think most of the issues we have with regards to discrimination and social opposition would begin to disappear.
To make that happen, we have to reach out to them. That takes a variety of tactics and manpower. National organizations can’t spearhead things like that. It takes all of us, encouraging other atheists to be more vocal about their beliefs.
(via Greta Christina’s Blog)