Big Step for Media about Atheists October 7, 2010

Big Step for Media about Atheists

by Jesse Galef –

We nontheists are becoming part of the media’s collective consciousness. If you ever talk about, write about, or have any interest in atheism in America, you should seriously consider checking this out: the news service Religion Link just released an incredible and extensive resource about the movement: Freethinkers: A source guide to atheists, humanists and other nontheists. They put it together primarily to help journalists write stories about nontheism, but it can be valuable for anyone interested.

Why is this important? It’s a sign of the times – nontheism is gaining prominence. We’re expecting our public presence to grow and we were all delighted to help develop the resource. I’m in favor of anything that makes it easier for reporters to write accurate stories about us. ReligionLink puts it well right near the beginning:

Why it matters

As America grapples with competing notions about its identity — Christian nation, pluralistic melting pot, secular society — an understanding of the country’s nontheists is vital. The concerns and influence of this segment of society seem destined to touch all Americans’ lives.

If I were a reporter, I would be salivating. We’re a hot topic and this source guide gives movement history, story ideas, media contacts, survey data, past news articles about the movement, online communities, books published, and on and on… The Secular Student Alliance (my organization) and the Secular Coalition for America sent out a joint press release praising the guide and remarking on its significance:

“Secular Americans will play an increasingly prominent role in the national discourse, and so this new resource is both welcome and necessary. In the media and in Washington we will increasingly speak out for human rights when they are infringed upon by the commingling of church and state,” said Sean Faircloth, Executive Director of Secular Coalition for America. “There are at least 30 million nontheistic Americans. That number is growing and the media wants to know more about us.”

The project was initiated by the Stiefel Freethought Foundation, the same organization that just gave the SSA a big grant to help us support more atheist teens.

Said Foundation president Todd Stiefel, “The American public deserves the chance to get to know their nontheistic neighbors – their fellow Americans – and find that we are a community of loving, moral and joyful people. This resource can give journalists the tools they need to tell our story in full.”

RAmen and so say we all.

Hemant and Friendly Atheist itself are both included in the guide (as am I). Go check it out!

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  • No mention of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, Greg Epstein, or John Figdor though… I guess there’s always the second draft.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    The ‘Angry Atheist of Champaign’
    TV documentary examines local case that successfully challenged the First Amendment

    (The subtitle is nonsensical, the case ended up with the successful upholding of the first amendment)

  • littlejohn

    I’m a journalist with a long resume, and I can assure you newspaper newsrooms are full of atheists. But like politicians, they can’t publicly admit it.
    We allow weekly, or even daily, “faith” columns, but are scared to death of allowing an open atheist to express her opinion.
    Newspapers are dying, and they don’t need a bunch of angry bible-bangers to cancel their subscriptions.
    The media will cover us only in the sense that they write stories about two-headed babies.

  • I write as the L.A. Atheism Examiner at and I can tell you this resource is the answer to a prayer (so to speak!). It’s a one-stop shop for all kinds of information on freethought, groups, authorities, literature and even ideas for articles. It’s going to save me a lot of time hunting around the Internet for info and sources. Great idea!

  • Kamaka

    Yikes!! It’s all too much!

    This source guide will keep me busy reading for the longest!

    We allow weekly, or even daily, “faith” columns, but are scared to death of allowing an open atheist to express her opinion.
    Newspapers are dying, and they don’t need a bunch of angry bible-bangers to cancel their subscriptions.

    This is quite true, I’m sure. But how sad. Freethought is anything but free. The religionist bullies have claimed far too much power and control in a nation founded upon secular ideals.

    They abuse their religious freedoms to shriek the dispicable lie “This is a christian nation.”

  • Richard Wade

    The link to Friendly Atheist does not work, but all the other links to atheist blogs and sites do.

    Go to the Religion Link “Freethinkers” site, click on “Online communities and blogs, then click on “Friendly Atheist.” does it work for anyone else?

  • Stephen P

    No, they’ve got the link as ‘ blog ‘ which won’t work for anyone. Just a typo which needs to be fixed.

  • Does that legitimise the usage of ‘New Atheist’ as a term?

  • muggle

    Woo hoo, we’re on the radar!

    I don’t know littlejohn, our local paper has actually included stories on Atheism on its religion paper and it’s doing quite well. I think.

    Of course, they have the sense to not rely just on the paper. They have a concert/sports arena (where I’m betting they make more than they do on the paper itself) and a website whose strong point is hosting dozens of local blogs. The paper itself is so bad, I don’t read it any more but I do read and comment on several of the blogs. (Well, I used to. Since I retired somehow it seems I have less time to. !? Guess I’m just doing other things now that I’m free to.)

  • Reginald Selkirk
  • stogoe

    Is there anyone besides me who thinks the “Stifle Freethought Foundation” has an unfortunate name?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    No, because the rest of us know how to spell Stiefel.

    And I in particular have studied German, so I know the first syllable has a long ‘e’ sound, not a long ‘i’ sound.

  • mordacious1

    At a glance it looks pretty good. I don’t like their definition of atheist though,

    atheist – someone who doesn’t believe in God or other supernatural forces. Some people make a distinction between “weak atheism” (the idea that evidence doesn’t support a belief in God) and “strong atheism” (being convinced that God does not exist).

    Change that to “gods or other supernatual forces”. Saying “God” implies that their is a god to believe in and we just don’t.

  • Richard Wade

    I brought the non-working link for Friendly Atheist to the attention of editor David Gibson, and he immediately fixed it.

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