I Owe an Apology to the Freedom From Atheism Foundation, Though They’re Not Completely Off the Hook October 31, 2014

I Owe an Apology to the Freedom From Atheism Foundation, Though They’re Not Completely Off the Hook

The other day, I posted a video that tore apart a group called the “Freedom From Atheism Foundation.” I’ve had issues with some of the things they’d done in the past, so when I saw the video, it just seemed to fall in line with the thoughts I already had about the group. Because of that, I didn’t bother to check out the claims for myself… which is especially careless since I often tell other atheists to do the same thing.

The main charge in the video is that FFAF claims to have the support of several legal organizations, yet when the video’s creator Philip Rose contacted those groups, they were unaware that they supported such a group. Hell, they weren’t even aware of FFAF’s existence.

I never bothered to look at the page for myself… until after I made my post. When I saw it, I realized FFAF never actually says those legal groups support them; they’re merely linking to them as resources:

By Rose’s logic, having a blogroll means every website you link to endorses what you do… which would be crazy to suggest. FFAF isn’t doing anything wrong here. It doesn’t need the approval of those groups to link to them.

I also referred to the group as “Christian trolls.” I still believe they’re trolls, in a sense, trying to stir up shit when there’s nothing there at all… but it turns out they’re not all Christians. In fact, their admins include a Muslim and a Buddhist.

But it doesn’t mean they’re completely off the hook.

Earlier this month, Terry Firma noted an article that linked trolling and sadism called “Sadist Behind the Screen.”

When FFAF posted a link to that on Facebook, it looked like this:

Atheists who spend their time trolling religious facebook pages, comments sections, etc. were found to have personality traits related to sadism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism. Perhaps its time for these atheists to realize that they have a problem that needs to be fixed.

Basically, “sadist” was replaced by “atheist,” even in the headline — when the actual article didn’t mention religion or non-religious at all. Totally not okay to do.

I asked FFAF how they responded to that and an admin quickly apologized:

we 100% disagree with the changes one of our admins. made to that post. It never should have been done and FFAF apologizes to you and all atheists for that. As someone with atheist family members whom I love and who love me, I am particularly sensitive to stereotyping atheists. We regret that it was posted and wish it never had been.

Part of the problem, the admin explained, was that there are multiple people who have posting privileges and this particular post got through without any editorial oversight. The admin added that we should judge them on their overall content and not just one or two low-quality posts.

As someone whose site posts multiple articles a day, I somewhat sympathize with that… but I still oversee everything on here before it goes up. I edit everything, partly because I’m ultimately responsible for everything on here, even if I disagree with the opinions of my contributors. I’m not sure why someone can’t do the same thing over there.

Here’s another problem: Rose also mentioned in his video that, in correspondence with FFAF, they told him PZ Myers supported their group. If you read PZ’s post about them, though, he also calls them hypocritical and confused. He supports their right to exist and the idea that atheism, like religion, should be kept out of the public square… but not what they stand for. FFAF took his headline out of context.

All that said, it’s my mistake for mishandling the first issues I mentioned. My apologies for that. In cases like this, I don’t believe in deleting my previous post, but I will add an update so anyone who comes across it will come to this post instead. FFAF hasn’t convinced me to take them seriously yet, but I was wrong to use the endorsement issue against them and assume they were all Christians.

Yesterday, I asked Philip Rose for a response to that endorsement claim he made. I haven’t heard back yet.

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