Are Atheists Hiding Behind the Scarlet A? May 5, 2010

Are Atheists Hiding Behind the Scarlet A?

A month ago, there was a push to get atheists to change their Facebook profile picture to the atheist A symbol.

I liked the idea. It was a way to show your atheist pride — that there are indeed a whole bunch of us out there and that we’re not afraid to admit it.

It’s been weeks since that ended, but people still have the symbol in their picture. Is it because they like the idea of atheist pride? Are they just too lazy to remove it? Or do they just feel comfortable being part of a larger group?

Kate at Cuddly Atheism says it seems like we’re just falling into a herd mentality instead of relying on the free inquiry and uniqueness that made so many of us atheists in the first place:

It just seems cliquey and exclusionary. You’re with us or you’re against us… What I wonder, however, is how many potential atheists are being turned off or away by this herd mentality. Where’s the focus on the beauty and wonder of the universe, a la Carl Sagan, that brought so many of us where we are today? Where’s the unique humor, a la Douglas Adams, used to expose so many obvious and fantastic truths that, yes, made us laugh, but also made us see the world from a bizarrely right-side-up perspective?

There is some truth to that. It’s easy to get caught up in “organized atheism” and that has the potential to hurt us in the long run.

But as someone who works with several groups that try to get atheists to network with each other, I don’t see all of this as bad. There are certain aspects of a group mentality that serve us well — knowing that others have gone through what we went through in abandoning our faith, the joy in being able to talk to like-minded people without having to censor ourselves, and the ability to share in common interests, to name a few. (Not to mention the more of us who band together, the easier it becomes to get our message to the masses.)

Especially when you’re first coming into atheism, or starting college and exploring it for the first time, these things are more vital than ever.

Kate makes a point about how the first thing people know about us shouldn’t be that we’re atheists. That’s a fair point. I’d say it’s better to have a conversation, let someone get to know you, and then let them discover that you’re an atheist. They’re much more likely to be persuaded to look at things from our point of view if they know us and like us first.

In that sense, the “A” badge can be a conversation-killer.

But I think promoting groups and organizations for atheists is a positive thing, overall. We need to continue that without forgetting why we became atheists in the first place.

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  • dmmaxwell

    No more exclusionary or ‘in-your-face’ than some of my friends on FB who never forget to update their status with the latest verbose version of, “PRAISE JESUS!”

    Personally, I don’t advertise my Atheism. If I did, though, I tend to think the people worth talking to wouldn’t be turned off at the beginning. And those who would be, would hardly be worth talking to.

  • Charles

    I have seen quite a few people change there scalet A to a custom A in the last few weeks. Could that be a good thing that they are finding their own indivdual A to express.

  • Eliza

    Who cares? Some people don’t like their faces plastered on the internet, especially with Facebook’s dicey privacy rights. Why not hide behind the A like Christians hide behind crosses in their profiles? I think of atheism much like homosexuality in terms of coming out and being approachable – people are much less likely to favor the extension of civil rights to people they know. Atheists don’t have a great reputation because many theists believe we must be inherently evil for “rejecting” the morality (of slavery, genocide, rape, subjugation, etc.) of the Bible. I tire of my mother telling me how disappointed she is I left the Catholic Church because I’m the nicest of her children. Why not use my dedication to charity and human rights as positive advertisement for atheism?

  • I tend not to use the Scarlet A at all. I just don’t like the design.

  • Kiera

    I’m not sure how well her “it shouldn’t be the first thing they know about us” argument stands up, since it was on Facebook and for most people the people they are friends with on facebook are people that they have known for quite some time. So no, it’s not the first thing they know.

    No, I’m not going to say “nice to meet you I’m an atheist” to new friends or coworkers or strangers, but that wasn’t the point of this exercise.

    My religious affiliation (or lack thereof) is posted on my FB page 24/7 under my information– it’s just not my profile picture. If people care enough about it to have A Week turn them off from me, they would have already done something about it. If they get mad about me being open about it, that’s a whole different problem.

    I don’t look down on atheists who didn’t post the “A” like some “with us or against us” mentality. Some people don’t want to be that open because they choose not to be and that’s perfectly valid. Part of the point of the campaign though, was to let atheists who aren’t open because they CANNOT be open know that there are more of us out there.

    I also don’t see this campaign as “organized atheism”. I don’t think that sharing a similar profile picture for a week comprises “organized atheism”. It’s not like we meet every week and subscribe to the same canonical doctrine and tell others “DO THIS OR GET OUT”.

    Honestly I though her post, not the “A Week” campaign, was alienating.

  • Shayna

    I don’t think any of my facebook friends even knew what the ‘A’ meant, well except for the Atheists anyway.

  • Claudia

    If we’re talking purely about a numbers game, my money is in there being a lot more people who will more readily come out as atheist if they know there’s a big community that they can blend into than there are people who would be turned off by that fact.

    There’s a reason all communities have symbols, all have catchphrases and heroes and inside jokes and well worn talking points. Most people don’t WANT to figure stuff out on their own. Most people are perfectly happy being given a playbook and following it, bumper-stickers and all.

    The only reason atheists (in the US) are more herd-wary than non-atheists on the whole is because being an atheist is hard and isolating for many folks in the US, which means you’re going to get an enriched population of people who don’t mind casting off the symbols and talking points and herd-mentality. In Europe I know plenty of atheists and there is no such issue with most of them because there is no rejection here for holding that belief, making it “safe” for most people.

    So I say lets not fret over the scarlet A. You’ll never please everyone, but at this point I think its early enough in the process that visibility is a higher priority than ensuring that people aren’t being intellectually lazy.

  • King Awesomeson

    I guess I’m proud to say that I never wore an A and am very unorganized. I’ve never participated in any atheist events or even know any other atheists in person.

  • When I feel like ‘hiding’ on facebook, I put up a picture of my cat or a mountain. I didn’t do the A thing. Never will–not on facebook. I don’t make statements like that. I would on twitter, but it’s not like I have any followers there.

    Ironically, I keep my facebook “private”.

  • Charles – The individualistic take on the A might not be a bad thing. I haven’t made up my mind on it yet, but I see your point.

    Eliza- What I’m reading is a blatant reverse ad hominem tu quoque. “Since Christians can do it, then atheists can do it, as well.” Why not rise the bar above the Christians? And for the record, I don’t note the moderate Christians posting religious symbols for their profile pictures. It’s generally the fundies, so when I see an ‘A’ long after A-week, I think, ‘Wow. Angry internet atheist.’ This may or may not be true, but it’s my knee-jerk reaction.

    I’m glad you’ve left the church and are using your atheism for the greater good of the world. Since that’s the case, my missive wasn’t directed at you so much as the internet atheists who do no more than sit around and browse forums waiting to debate people they don’t agree with which accomplishes nothing. In my personal experience, the internet atheists far surpass the true atheists in numbers. They tend to be far angrier and less tolerant of those who hold different belief systems. I’d give anything to get away from that because I believe it’s extremely counter-productive.

  • Bob

    The only self-identifying I do is through my writing/words … and that’s led to evangelicals tell me ‘you have a calling,’ as well as ‘you’re not a REAL Christian’ to someone on a forum observing that I’m anti-God and anti-Christian (maybe because I feel comfortable throwing stones* at my own faith).

    *And, of course, if I don’t take a position on issues of faith like abortion or child molestation in the Catholic Church, I get called names that way, too.

  • Alan E.

    I think it was great because I saw so many other people with the scarlet A posting all over facebook on many different fan pages and the like. Whenever I saw someone with the A that wasn’t on my friends list, I would send them a quick message saying hi, where I am from, where I saw them post, and leave it at that. I got so many great responses back from all over the world. I wasn’t out to make friends I just wanted to wave from the other side of the map and acknowledge their presence. A nice, random message would be better received than some hate message from a christianist (or group) any day.

  • I think the problem with her argument is that I’ve never met or heard of an atheist getting pissy about someone not posting the ‘A’ on their facebook page. If we really had a “herd mentality” or “with us or against us” attitude about it, you’d think there would be some backlash toward those who didn’t do it. But there wasn’t any (at least to my knowledge).

    There’s a big difference between group solidarity and exclusionism. There’s no reason we can’t, or shouldn’t, share both our similarities and our uniqueness with others. And suggesting that posting an A is somehow antithetical to seeing beauty and wonder in the universe is a complete non-sequitur.

  • I feel I should add I had no problem with ‘A’ week. A little solidarity here and there does a community good. But when it extends this far, it becomes cliquey, exclusionary and what I fear is that those who are fence-sitters and don’t want to jump in feet-first will feel put off by feeling they have to promote their Atheism so freely.

  • “There’s a big difference between group solidarity and exclusionism. There’s no reason we can’t, or shouldn’t, share both our similarities and our uniqueness with others. And suggesting that posting an A is somehow antithetical to seeing beauty and wonder in the universe is a complete non-sequitur.”

    I think either you misunderstood me or I didn’t make myself clear. There are many atheists and would-be atheists who don’t feel comfortable either coming out in public or committing to full-blown atheism just yet. My fear is that, for someone joining Facebook and befriending people in the skeptical/freethinking realms, the plethoras of A’s would be intimdating for them. I’d also like to add that I’m not making this up out of thin air. I’ve spoken with people (fence-sitters) who have told me this is true.

    As for for the beauty of the universe, that had much less to do with ‘A’ week than it had to do with internet atheists, which I do not automatically associate with ‘A’ week, which I may not have made clear. When I wrote that I was thinking of certain online forums and chatrooms where rational discourse on these topics is all but impossible thanks to angry atheists (and angry Christians, not to leave out the opposition). I do hope that clears a bit up.

  • If they are on your friend’s list than they already know you. They may however not know that you are an atheist. This campaign seems to me to be to let people know that they already know an atheist and that we are not some evil, faceless, enemy of God. The fact is that atheists were called to post the exact same image of the Scarlet A and most atheist used their individual creativity to post their personalize A instead. We tend to be a united group of individual thinkers and that is really awesome.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Where’s the unique humor, a la Douglas Adams,

    Sorry that Kate didn’t get the memo, but Douglas Adams is dead. He will still be dead after Kate finds a dictionary and learns the true definition of “unique.”

  • J. Allen

    I think the bigger problem is people ashamed to be atheists, not atheists losing their uniqueness because they use a symbol to represent that status.

    There is no atheist creed or president or pope or loyalty pledge.

    The rainbow and equals sign have been great symbols for the gay movement, which also has no creed.

    So the fear that one is losing his individuality to some amorphous institution is ridiculous. I have hazel eyes, and I’m an atheist. Society doesn’t care about the former, but thinks I’m immoral because of the latter. Showing unity is a logical step towards freedom, not imprisonment.

  • Jay

    “Why not hide behind the A like Christians hide behind crosses in their profiles?”

    Yes, let’s be just like the Christians. That is an awesome idea.

  • vivian

    I agree with Jeff Satterley. There is no requirement to anything as part of this “herd”. I like knowing there are other non-believers. There always seems to be more to learn and to know about one another. I’ve met other atheist at events who I do not agree with and it makes me feel good to be able to say so.

    The mentality I don’t like is purposely not doing something as to not draw attention to “organized atheism”. Its just the same as religious people calling atheism a religion. We shouldn’t NOT do something we want to do just to not seem like organized religion. Who gives a flying flip? Certainly not this atheist.

  • Reginald:

    “Where’s the unique humor, a la Douglas Adams,

    Sorry that Kate didn’t get the memo, but Douglas Adams is dead. He will still be dead after Kate finds a dictionary and learns the true definition of “unique.”

    Sorry you didn’t get the other memo, but Carl Sagan is also dead. It doesn’t mean we can’t imitate their styles and fashions by using wisdom, humor and a unique take on childlike wonder to inspire others to walk in our paths. I have no idea where you were going with this. Just because someone is dead doesn’t mean we can’t imitate their style.

  • Aj

    Around three years ago, when the idea was first posted I switched all of my avatars to the Scarlet A, I added flowers and moths around it before I did it. I was sold on the idea that atheism isn’t visible because you can’t tell by looking at us, or where we live, and that means that atheists think they’re a much smaller minority than they actually are. It wasn’t to exclude anybody or to join anyone else, it was completely about me and what I wanted to show people about me. I didn’t do it because other people were, I was persuaded before I saw anyone use the symbol.

    According to Kate, using the symbol is exclusionary or against others, that would also mean that stating anything about yourself is also exclusionary or against others (unless it’s universal), including being a fan of Sagan or HHGTTG. I’m sure she’s right about it putting off people who aren’t atheists, but persuading people to become atheists is not my sole mission in life. I think it’s as important to give atheists the impression they’re not alone, especially when they’re being told atheists are only 2% of the population.

  • Where Jeff is right is that it does not, in fact, alienate other atheists. It does, however, alienate the fence-sitters which worries me. This is where the cliquey-ness comes in. Are we in this to stick together as a team or do we want to draw in those who are contemplating giving up religion altogether? I know if I was considering hopping the fence and noticed how cliquey all my atheist Facebook friends were, it would definitely put me off. In my opinion, we need to work with the people who are struggling with losing their faith and not those who have already lost it.

  • Dan

    I can’t find a photo of myself that best represents me, and I hate when people keep changing their pictures all the time.

    So this is the best of both worlds for me. It represents who I am in this moment in time the best, and the bright red simple A is easy to spot in my list of friends who use obscure photos of themselves.

    I tell everyone I’ll change it once I find a picture that better represents where I am in life – until then, if they want to see photos of me, the “See Photos” button is still right there, and I’m not stopping them from viewing those other photos.

    Also, I had the A as my profile picture long before anyone came up with a mission for people to do it as a group/

  • AJ,

    I don’t believe the Scarlet A on Facebook is necessarely ‘against’ anyone. I just believe it is off-putting towards a certain demographic and may be the opposite of helpful to those who are considering losing their faith in religion altogether. It’s up to you. You can always list ‘atheist’ as your ‘religious preference’ in your profile’. I just worry that someone who defines themselves as a skeptic or agnognostic-but-not-yet-atheist may be put off by seeing so many A’s in their friend’s list. Just my opinion.

  • Roxane

    I like the idea of changing my profile to the A, especially during Holy Week. Just one little tiny atheist communal ceremony. It’s not like we’re lousy with them.

  • Ah, but AJ, we make up a larger percentage than that here in the US! We’re up to 16% I think!

  • john locke

    I completely disagree. People love having symbols and traditions. Its one of the reasons they remain religious. If atheism doesn’t have any of that, some people will be turned off.

  • Tak

    I think getting hung up on symbols is exactly what Kate’s doing.

    Let me get this straight…If I keep my flashy red A, I’m part of the herd mentality and if I don’t keep it I’m a unique individual? Reminds me of the Life of Brian when the multitude shouts in unison, “Yes! We’re all different!”

    The A represents something about me that I consider important and it’s no revelation to anyone who’s ever bothered to look at my profile info. I don’t think most of my religious friends in this community even know what it means. One mom of a friend thought it was some college kid push to get good grades!

    As for potential atheists being turned off, who cares? I was originally turned off by some of the Dawkins/Harris/Hitchens rhetoric a few years ago when my atheism was budding but that didn’t make religion true and it didn’t keep me from identifying myself as atheist.

  • littlejohn

    I think the idea is as silly as every Christian replacing her FB picture with a Jesus fish.
    Your facebook profile specifically asks what your religious affiliation is. I fill mine out honestly, although a sometimes have a little fun and list “Zeus” or “Flying Spaghetti Monster.” People get the idea.
    We run the risk of looking like an army of brainwashed zombies. PZ Myers or Richard Dawkins will be called our “pope,” and so forth.

  • Richard P.

    One minute were cats because we can not be herded, the next thing were zombies with lost individualism.

    Seems to me to be a call to schizophrenia.

    I am alone, I am not alone… I am alone, I am not alone.. any one got a daisy…

  • Nonsense. Most of us replaced them with pictures of boobs!

  • Revyloution

    All the talk about herd mentality irks me.

    Humans are a social animal, we live in groups. We get projects done in groups. We create mating groups (families). Humans are a herd animal, why is it so surprising that we think with herd mentality.

    Often, the first reaction to someone leaving the herd is to seek out a group of like minded individuals. In other words, they look for a different herd. People that live outside of the herd are classified with a mental disease, it’s called sociopathy.

    Deal with it, you are a herd animal. The question is; can you rise above it to help the herd move in a good direction?

  • She’s got the Out Campaign’s ‘A’ on her blog, right next to the post. For some people, Facebook is their blog…it’s their chance to express themselves.

    She’s myopically focusing on one of many acts taken by many atheists and waving a warning flag that it might not be well received by fence-sitters.

    She’s a little bit like the suit-and-tie homosexuals who complained about the bare-chested, leather-clad pride festival gays. It took both types to promote real change.

    She also adopts the insulting position that a simple ‘A’ on your Facebook picture is the sum total of who somebody is…that they’re now part of the herd.

    “The big question is, how do we get rid of the Internet Atheist meme and get back to a world where the norm is atheists, agnostics and freethinkers having rational (if heated) discourse over important topics?”

    When, prior to the internet, did we have that world? In the 19th century, when Ingersoll championed freethought? We lost that…and we lost it, in part, because of people who decided that it was better to remain silent than to risk offending people.

    “Do I want the first thing people associate with me to be ‘Atheist’ or ‘Oh, hey, that’s John. We had fun skiing that time together.’”

    Is there some reason it can’t be both?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    It doesn’t mean we can’t imitate their styles and fashions by using wisdom, humor and a unique take on childlike wonder…

    OK, Kate, you go ahead and imitate someone in a unique way. I don’t think I have anything further to communicate with you.

  • RavynSkyes

    I don’t agree that understanding the benefit of a developing a sense of community is a “herd mentality”. I felt that “A Week” was a good, non-confrontational way of letting the world know that we’re here in greater numbers than a lot of people would have you think.

    That being said, what was the thinking behind using the scarlet A as a symbol for Atheists? I got more comments about adultery (including one from my husband) than Atheism. 😉

  • Reginald, I feel like I misrepresented myself here. There were two points I was making and I feel like I merged them into one. The first is that, yes, the extended ‘A’ week irks me. I don’t want to alienate fence-sitters.

    The second point I’m trying to make is that on blogs, forums and chatrooms, I see a lot of angry internet atheists who do nothing to further the cause of positive atheism but instead alienate rational atheists, fence-sitters and agnostics alikes, not to mention Christians. When I meet a Christian, I don’t think, “Hmm, here is an enemy.” I don’t even try to ‘convert’ them. I only try to explain my viewpoints and hope they see where I’m coming from.

    The fact that there is so much animosity and anger coming from these comments seems to illustrate my point. I wish you luck in all your endeavors.

  • Jay


    Don’t worry about Reginald. He’s just being a dick about the denotation of “unique”. Most, though not all, internet denizens usually grow out of the grammar nazi phase.

  • Tokorona

    .. sorry, hit the enter key early when hitting the tab key <.<

    RE: Wearing the scarlet A
    TO: Those who wear it
    CC: Everyone else

    Way to copy the Catholic Church. Good jorb.

  • Lisa S.

    You’d think a website called “Friendly Atheist” would have fewer haters. The Facebook thing was silly as is all Facebook things. I have a Scarlet A shirt, so I’m opposed to the idea itself. I am opposed to jerkish behaviour which only plays into the bad opinions others hold of Atheists.

  • Justin

    Please, atheist friends, don’t do anything, ever, as it may be anecdotally off-putting to hypothetical fence-sitters.

    Assuming that a facebooker still sporting the scarlet “A” is an angry atheist is an error committed entirely by the observer, as it is based on extremely flimsy evidence. I know that in my case, my A was up past the end of the event because I simply didn’t think to take it down. I do the same thing with out-of-office auto-replies on a regular basis.

  • J. Allen

    If we are more concerned about pleasing fence-sitters than expressing ourselves honestly, then we truly will lose our individuality. If we are angry let there be anger. If we are positive let there be positivity. It is the open-minded exchange of ideas that led most of us to atheism, and I think it is arrogant to say that someone else is doing atheism wrong.

    Well behaved women rarely make history, and the same can be said for atheists. When you try to tailor a message you weaken it.

    We should stand on the correctness of our ideas, and not feel like we have to stoop to the level of used car salesmen to make atheism appealing to others.

    I think it is a discredit to ‘fence-sitters’ to think that their real objection which sends them back to the church for good is going to be a facebook profile pic.

    If there are many flavors of atheism, then there will be many options for the fence-sitters to listen to. If we start trying to cut off heads we disapprove of, we may alienate fence-sitters that are below our radar. It is folly to assume that fence-sitters prefer this or like that, because confirmation bias will blind you. Not every fence sitter will ignore an angry rant. Those who have learned to be objective may actually realize there are valid points being made. Or did Carlin do nothing for the cause of atheism?

    And I haven’t even started on the therapeutic benefits that anger can have for an atheist who needs to be able to understand his pain before he can heal from it.

    The quote Tristan Loo “Anger is one of our most primitive defense mechanisms that protects and motivates us from being dominated or manipulated by others. It gives us the added strength, courage, and motivation needed to combat injustice done against us or to others that we love.”

    I love the positive atheism movement, not because it sounds nice, but because it’s a sound argument. But I think it hurts itself when it casually dismisses atheists who are still struggling with the emotional pain caused by religion.

  • Organizing atheists is still like herding cats. Consequently, of the concerns I have for my fellow atheists, our falling into a herd mentality is not one of them.

  • Curious Atheist

    People that live outside of the herd are classified with a mental disease, it’s called sociopathy.

    Bullshit Revyloution. It’s called introversion, and it’s not a disease, but a way of being. 1/4 of the world’s population is introverted, including some of it’s greatest thinkers.

    Some people find it wasteful to whittle their time away shooting the breeze with other people in bars and clubs. Without them there would have been no Thomas Edison and no light bulb. Thank God (pun intended!) 1/4 of the world prefers to do more constructive things with their time.

    Maybe it’s time for the Scarlet I? (Not!)

    If you want to be a lemming have at it. I’ll take being a lone wolf over telling people what to do – or being told what to do – any day.

    The herd can move in it’s direction, and I’ll move in mine.

  • muggle

    Wow, your timing! I finally got sick of my scarlet A in flames and changed it to a baby pic of myself yesterday.

    I also got sick of that cat and changed my gravatar just now — this one is of me when I was 10 with our cat Snoopy (nothing to do with the dog, he was a nosy little kitten). Just for giggles, does anyone recognize the book I’m reading to the poor thing? That’s right! “A Children’s Illustrated Bible” Snoopy, I’m sorry. I know you loved me anyway.

    I’ve no time to read the blog tonight so I came here just to check out how the new gravatar looked (so tiny no way in hell is anyone gonna recognize the book; that’s why I had to tell you). And I get sucked into this thread. Hemant, you’re too good.

    My take. I was wary at first but then I started getting psyched for it. Then I found an A made out of fire and said cool and put that up. Then I saw all A’s everywhere and put up a wall post about who says you can’t herd cats? Remarking on the many varied and beautiful A’s of all sorts. I just love Atheists. I was impressed at all the variety and personal style displayed. Nothing — let me repeat nothing — conforming about this group.

    I was lazy at first and said well my A’s cool, I’ll just leave it up. Then I got sick of looking at it and dug out the old pics and here I am annoyingly changing not just my FB profile pic but my gravatar.

    Not all my friends are Atheist. I’ve looked up old friends from school and have friended a couple of women who run local blogs because they’re terrific; one has a blog on living simply and another on her hobby farm that my grandson and I follow loyally and are going to an open barn she holds annually next month. She is spiritual and believes in some kind of god but not particularly religious. She and I openly joke about how much we learn from each other but usually it’s about other things besides religion.

    I am even in a Christian (gasp!) support group for a medical condition that is way cool because despite it’s name it ain’t preachy with the Jebus stuff. In fact, everyone there has been very warm and super and respectful. The woman who started it is just about the sweetest person ever and wouldn’t tolerate anyone bashing anyone over religion on her site. All are truly welcome with her and she does not try to convert or allow anyone else to. A lot of my FB friends are from chats there.

    Not one person took offense to my A (well, maybe one, see below). I don’t see why they should. I’m sure my mother would be horrified and convinced I’m going directly to hell in a handbasket but then she already was and I disowned her because she was too extreme and abusive.

    I would really hope not to receive that kind of treatment from fellow disbelievers and it’s really sad to see some being so damned judgmental of it. If you don’t want to display the A, don’t; who really gives a flying fuck if you do? But what the fuck is the bug up your ass if other nonbelievers do?

    As for being social, even us loners are. I’m a loner much of the time. Am way more social on the internet than I am in real life. But I gained lots of cool friends on FB who liked my flaming A.

    I’ve only been unfriended by a religious cousin but, as far as I know, it wasn’t the A that did it. I doubt he even knew what it meant. But I post a lot on my wall about disbelief and have a lot of Atheist friends. Apparently, despite the label beneath the pic saying Atheist not anti-theist, he took offense at my unbelief. He was an ass to do so and I’m better off without. I told him he was being a hypocrite and suggested he reread the prodigal son. The hilarious, ironic thing is I found another close high school friend who was friends with him and who said he didn’t much believe in god either.

    Now, hell, I do have to go. I’m running late now. See y’all tomorrow.

  • There are too many of you to name specifically and I simply don’t have the time, but instead of making snap judgments based on snippets of what you’ve read in Hemant’s post above, it would be nice if you actually read my blog. Secondly, it would be doubly nice if you remained civil and stayed away from vitriolic banter.


  • Revyloution

    I call bullshit on the introvert, Curious Atheist. I’m quite comfortable on my own, and know many introverts. All of them have friends, and all of them have to work in groups to get anything done. The idea of the ‘lone wolf’ is a complete misnomer.

    Even your best example, Thomas Edison, had numerous colleagues and employees to help him finish all his projects.

    And you, as a self described introvert, are here among the herd disseminating opinion and information. Your mere presence denies your claim.

    We are a social animal.

  • @Kate
    you wrote:

    “…the internet atheists who do no more than sit around and browse forums waiting to debate people they don’t agree with which accomplishes nothing. In my personal experience, the internet atheists far surpass the true atheists in numbers. They tend to be far angrier and less tolerant of those who hold different belief systems.”

    I would agree with your observations in regards to angry internet atheists and would offer the following explanation for this behavior; perhaps many of these internet atheists are zealous in the same way that former smokers who have just quit are zealous. As far as the first point you make of debating accomplishing nothing, I’m not sure I understand why anything anybody does has to accomplish something. At the very least, I am not sure what standards are being used to determine what is or isn’t useful. You are coming from the viewpoint of someone who wishes to gently convert others to atheism, or at least, not to drive fence sitters away. Obviously, you are a kind, considerate and caring individual…and I do not say that sarcastically. Not everyone is kind or caring to the same degree, however. Some of your fellow travelers are, in fact, downright nasty and like it or not, their approaches are just as valid as yours. Perhaps not logical,constructive or effective by your standards or mine, but valid, nonetheless. Trying to get freethinkers to agree on anything is damn near impossible. 🙂

  • Aj


    I think labelling some people as “true” atheists is rather disturbing and surprising coming from someone who seems preoccupied in not alienating people. If this isn’t behaviour that’s exclusionary I don’t know what is.

    I also noticed you have decided to adopt a “you’re either with us or against us” stance on atheists that don’t agree with you. There is no attempt at persuasion or reasoned argument for your position, not surprisingly since in one comment you seem to suggest debating people “accomplishes nothing”. If atheists formed a group and acted like that, they would be accurately called a clique.

    Finally, I found it ignorant and arrogant, that you would describe people participating in the Out Campaign as following herd mentality. A campaign your blog post doesn’t seem to mention, and no comment is made on the goals or effectiveness of said campaign. It’s possible that people were supporting that goal, after being persuaded by reasoned argument.

  • Bob

    Facebook? Whatever – it’s a cesspit.

    I put a Scarlet A on my blog. It’s there for branding, not to offend, not to show some herd mentaliy. I don’t care about fence-sitters. My guess is that 3% of Americans even know what the Scarlet A means. Contrast that with the pink triangle, Jesus fish, rainbow, or the masonic square and divider. Shriners have better branding than atheists (plus they’ve got those little cars!)

    To me, the point is to not be invisible. If that bugs somebody or sets off an “OMG! ATHEISM – YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG!!!11!BBQ!” bomb, well, whatever. Show me more than speculative harm, otherwise there’s not much to discuss.

  • I don’t think it’s all bad, either. I like that they have these types of events for people who want to participate. You don’t fall into herd mentality by deciding whether or not it’s something you want to do. I didn’t participate in the fb thing because I didn’t want to. Pure and simple. But I have no problem with people who did, and I don’t think it hurts anything at all.

  • muggle

    Kate, if there are too many of us to name, perhaps it’s because we simply don’t agree with you? You seem very rigid and unaccepting of people who merely disagree with you. Shrug.

    But, honey, that doesn’t exactly make me inclined to check out your blog. No thank you. I think I’ll pass because it sounds none too cuddly. Others may enjoy. Not my cup of tea. And, somehow, I doubt you’re heartbroken. Given that I’m one of those who disagreed with you and it’s perfectly clear what you meant by there’s too many of you to call out by name…

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