Diversity in the Freethought Community August 13, 2010

Diversity in the Freethought Community

At the Secular Student Alliance conference a few weeks ago, the Center for Inquiry’s Debbie Goddard spoke about diversity in the Freethought Movement — how it’s not always there and how we can take steps to fix it.

Debbie has a great sense of humor about all this but that doesn’t detract from her important message. We can pride ourselves for being more inclusive and accepting than a lot of religious groups but, as Debbie points out, we have a long way to go.

The whole thing is worth watching, but the bit at the 6:56 mark stood out to me the most.

Also, the whole Lego analogy amuses me greatly 🙂

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  • LawnBoy

    Ack! When she’s showing data-driven slides, please keep the focus on the slide for more than a few seconds. I didn’t finish reading the slides before the image changed to showing her talk about the slide.

    I don’t need to see her talk about the slide – I can hear her.

  • It really was a great talk – I wonder if the slides are available somewhere?

  • “the brown one”. Hemant is doing his part!

  • Hitch

    I love the humor and the practical advice. Really nice talk there.

    BTW, there is a history of african-american atheism that is way under-appreciated. For example when we see pictures of old-school free thinkers we should see W.E.B. DuBois and Philip Randolph for example.

    The fact that we do not show them with the others is making it look less welcome!

    There are also numerous indian and persian free thinkers to cite. Perhaps a nice senior thesis is a historic international cross-section of free thought and make a broader picture collection for a slide.

  • Debbie Goddard is the bee’s knees!


  • Aj

    So what? It’s a good question left unanswered. The example of listening to an imam shows that you don’t need diversity to expose yourself to new ideas, you only need to look outward. Diversity might breed diversity but the case has not been made for why we’d want that, hence the “so what”. Humanism is universal, it’s not “euro-centric” or hegemonic, because… because… look at the tenets, name a single one that doesn’t equally apply to everyone. That doesn’t mean people are equally attracted, because not everyone is equally attacted to what’s good. So we have three points, a) self-refuted, b) circular reasoning, and c) non sequitur.

    A lot of subjects are avoided because they’re poison. In an attempt to be more inclusive to secularists with different values, thoughts, and philosophies (diversity, the important stuff, unlike age/sex/”race”), groups tend to look to topics of agreement. People wanting to set up secular groups don’t want to alienate people over issues unrelated to the group’s purpose.

    People should talk about what they’re interested in or what’s important to them. A group shouldn’t be catering to the interests of others just in case they might slightly change the consistency of the group. A reason for the success of certain people in the movement is their passion on particularly topics. I hate talking about UFOs, Bigfoot, and ghosts, getting people to talk about different things they’re not interested in is one way to kill their drive to be involved.

  • VXbinaca

    Another point is diversity of not just skin color but types of people in freethought.

    We all know Hitchens (who I like for the most part) and Penn Jillette are atheists, but Randy Weaver (yes of Ruby Ridge infamy) is an atheist.

    I think free-thought is thankfully moving towards looking less like white, male, fit, liberal, collegiate meetups and more like everyone else. I’m not college educated for example (this does not mean I’m stupid). I know other non-college educated free-thinkers.

    The fact we’re mostly white does bother me as well. Also mostly men. I’d LOVE to get to know some atheist women (strictly friends). Or see teenage atheist. Or old atheists who have interesting sage advice for those later years. Different non-believers will speak to their respective groups better.

    What turns people off is dismissive and rudeness, though since I don’t know other atheists in real life really, I’ll chalk that one up to just Internet.

    Yeah we need more everyday people, like really badly. I was about to write Richard about this actually later today.

    And she really hits some of the best points half way, and at the end of this video. Especially about having our presence known, debating, inviting others to speak to us. Sadly I think that within the movers and shakers of our movement, her presentation will fall of deaf ears.

  • Speaking of diversity, did Jimmy Cliff come out as an atheist on The Colbert Report?


  • A Portlander

    Don’t try to force diversity for its own sake; concentrate on inclusiveness and diversity will happen.

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