Alabama Atheists Get Positive Press October 11, 2010

Alabama Atheists Get Positive Press

As American Atheists shuffles around its personnel, new faces are emerging.

Dave Silverman went from being National Communications Director to AA’s President.

Blair Scott went from being AA’s state director of Alabama to being National Communications Director.

And now, Scott Savage has become the AA’s state director of Alabama.

When Scott Savage was a kid, he took the advice of his Sunday School teachers seriously, and read the Bible.

It destroyed his faith.

“It scared me first,” Savage said, recalling his impression as a 12-year-old boy. “I remember sitting in church, reading Job and thinking, ‘Gosh, God is such a monster,’ and then being fearful of getting struck by lightning.”

“American Atheists basically work to prevent one religion from overpowering any other point of view,” Savage said. “Consequently, we protect atheists, but we indirectly also protect every other religion. I see my own role as being beneficial for everybody.”

Sounds like someone who will do good work in the position.

On a side note, I just mentioned three white guys.

While it would be nice to see a female or minority in the bunch, I think it’s tough for anyone of any background to be as outspoken as guys like Blair and Scott are when they’re coming from Alabama. For that reason, the white-guy thing doesn’t bother me at all. We need more people like them willing to come out, period. If they can lead the way, more power to them.

(Thanks to Jim for the link!)

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  • Elijah Heartsong

    completely understandable. when i was a kid, i went to church with a friend of mine. felt like i was from another planet. never understood what they were really doing, but as a kid and viewing his household rules like not being able to have a drink before eating all my dinner was crazy! i just thought that was a religious rule at the time. but now that i am older, i just view a lot of religious rules and just too limiting. there is no freedom in religion

  • Cheryl

    I currently live in the Birmingham, AL area and know it is hard to come out as an Atheist. I have been out of work for over a year due to being bullied out of my job for being a non-believer. The last straw being physical attacks – my chair being shoved and things thrown at me. I’ve not been able to get another job as reference checks turn up this information.

    Blacks have the problem of cultural and social isolation. The tyranny of religion is very strong in that community.

  • Aaron

    @Cheryl.
    Did you contact the department of labor? That sounds like a harassment lawsuit waiting to happen.
    Get your evidence in order.

  • Anonymous

    Wow. Excellent. Kudos to the Huntsville Times, too.

    I think it’s tough for anyone of any background to be as outspoken as guys like Blair and Scott are when they’re coming from Alabama.

    True. Patience, my dear.

  • Cheryl

    @Aaron
    I did file complaints. A lawsuit wouldn’t have done much good and would likely have cost me more in the long run. Also, with the strong religious influence of the courts around here, it would have only invited more harassment. They did not challenge my claims for unemployment because of the evidence I had.

  • I live in Mobile, AL (and I am a white guy), and I know exactly what you’re talking about, Hemant (unfortunately). A lot of people around here (especially the more “traditionally” religious black communities, oddly enough) seem to assume that just because I’m white and a man, I must be some “upstanding good Christian” type. And they seem really offended that I’m not Christian.

    Down here, when you say, “I’m an atheist,” people look at you like they’re waiting for the punchline. They’re like, “no, really, what church do you go to?” Then, once it hits them that you’re serious, they start looking for what is “wrong” with you, what’s the “catch” (I mean, I *must* be a secret pedophile or something), or what happened to make me “turn away from god.” They try pretty much everything except actually listening to my real reasons (which seems appropriate, considering, you know, THEY asked).

  • Maliknant

    @Cheryl

    You must feel truly blessed to be surrounded by so many christians filled with god’s love.
    Praise his holy name!

    [churchy jazz hands]

  • Don Rose

    Hemant, I would be willing to bet that the minority issue will be correcting itself very soon.

    Atheism is on the rise, and becoming more vocal. As the public learns more about us, and how we think, people from every background will gravitate toward us. Unlike christianity, and other brands of insanity, we accept everyone.

    Yeah, I’m a middle-aged white guy atheist. Since I don’t have an imaginary dictator-friend, I’m allowed to like everyone, without the need to judge them.

  • Fundie Troll

    @ Elijah Heartsong:

    there is no freedom in religion

    You are absolutely right – religion enslaves. However, Christ came to set us free. Those who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ are free from the guilt of sin, free from the punishment of sin, and free from the requirements of the law which Christ himself fulfilled.

    John 8:36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

    Galatians 5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

    1Corinthians 6:12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything.

  • I pretty much agree with Don, that this is going to rectify as we grow. It’s already happening.

    I do have one quibble though: why does everyone act like women have been excluded. Hell, who did more to get talk of Atheism into the American consciousness than Madalyn Murray O’Hair? You can’t seriously dismiss Anne and Annie Laurie Gaylor. They started FFRF together and have both made a difference. What about Vashti McCollum? Elizabeth Cady Stanton? And Butterfly McQueen was an outspoken freethinker since she was a child.

    No, stop acting like women are not playing a major role in the Atheist movement. We have, if anything, paved the way and we are a force to be reckoned with.

    This bugs me almost as much as the claim that there are no women rockers. Every time I hear that ridiculous claim, I think of a long list of influential women rockers. Likewise with freethinkers.

    Maybe anyone who thinks this should read Annie Laurie Gaylor’s “Women Without Superstition” — it’s a thick volume.

  • Anonymous

    To that end, muggle, this note.

    Claire Rayner OBE has just died.
    http://www.humanism.org.uk/about/people/distinguished-supporters/Claire-Rayner-OBE

  • stogoe

    why does everyone act like women have been excluded.

    Look at the current leadership of most atheist groups. Look at the speaker list of any freethought/skeptic/atheist conference of the past decade. There are awesome skeptical women out there, but they’re being sidelined, consciously or not.

    When we say that women and minorities have been excluded, it’s not because they aren’t contributing as much or more than white men or because white male atheists are actively excluding women and minorities. It’s the way that privilege works, that the list of white male atheist men gets looked at first for leadership positions and speaking gigs and and and, and everyone else after that or not at all. This is system-wide, of course, and not just an ‘atheist’ problem. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t struggle against it everywhere we find it.

  • Jenn

    There are atheists here?! Almost makes me want to stick around, but alas, I still hate it here. At least it puts a more positive spin on Alabama, in my mind. Hopefully I can hear some articles or news about them sometime soon. :]

  • OMG!! This is my ex-husband, my baby girl’s daddy, and my current very, very good friend.

    I’m so proud of you, Scott. Way to bring a positive light to atheism in the South. Hemant’s right; you are going to do a fantastic job.

    !!!

  • inmyhead

    I am not from Alabama, but I currently live an hour south of Birmingham, not to far from the famous ” go to church or devil will get ya” sign. It is a completely different world down here. People don’t ask where you live, they ask you where do you go to church. I am very cautious about coming out down here BC I have small children. I fear for them. It’s nice knowing that they’re more atheists down here.

  • Jim

    Hell yeah! Scott’s awesome. I met him through NAFA (North AL Freethought Association) with him. He will be great in this position.

  • AnonyMouse

    Actually, the non-presence of PoC and women in prominent positions is a problem.

    White men are useful, there’s no doubt about that. The atheist movement needs all the help it can get. But they are only one side of atheism. They have no idea what it is like to be a woman atheist, or a PoC atheist – perspectives which must be heard and responded to if we are to claim that we act for the good of all atheists. I know this probably sounds like a ca-RAAAAYZEE idea, but if the majority of speakers, people in power, etc., in the atheist movement are white middle-class men, then it will become, by and large, a white male middle-class movement.

    Comments about “that community” do no good, and are nothing more than an excuse to avoid trying to include the black religious. Instead of making “isn’t it unfortunate” commentary, maybe we should make an effort to make it safer for people who aren’t middle-class white males to be vocal about their atheism. I don’t know how we’d go about doing that, but I bet if you dig around on the Internet you’ll find people who belong to these groups who have some good ideas.

    No unification movement can be successful if it is built on exclusion. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what you guys are getting into.

  • Nick

    If Alabama has atheists, there is hope yet. As a Norse pagan, I wish all the atheists down there (and everywhere else) best of luck.

  • Scott Savage.

    Thanks for the support.

  • Bryan

    I am an atheist, and I am glad to hear any news of this nature, because I have been oppressed for my beliefs all my life. I don’t have a problem with anyone believing whatever they want to, but I DO have a problem with people telling me that I shouldn’t believe the way I do. I hate that Christians can go around spreading their word, but if I tell someone that there’s no scientific evidence of a God, then I should be insulted, humiliated, shunned? I consider myself a good person, with good moral values, but when people hear that you are atheist you are immediately judged as immoral or untrustworthy. My own mom can’t stand the sight of me knowing how I believe.

  • Kathie Bothma

    Just came across this site. The only person that knows I am an atheist is my spouse. It appears to be almost impossible to be an open freethinker/atheist here. Anyone else here in Shelby County?

  • Kathie

    Oh well, did not want my full name posted.