In a weird piece for the Guardian, Jaya Saxena writes about how she’s an atheist, but how she absolutely, positively doesn’t want to be part of any organized atheist group:
But as defensive as I’ve gotten with believers, I’ve never actually been tempted to join an atheist group. Partly, that’s because it’s hard to avoid the white men ruining it for the rest of us by using atheism as just another platform for a macho power struggle. Atheism offers no guarantee of other shared ideas or philosophies — and when white male atheist leaders and communities act racist, Islamophobic and misogynistic, I find myself wishing that there were another way to describe my non-beliefs.
More to the point, though, I cannot personally see the point in aligning myself with people based on what you don’t believe — and I’ve almost always not-believed this way…
To which I say… yeah, okay, fine.
No one said you have to join a group. Most atheists have no connection whatsoever to any of the national organizations that work on behalf of atheists or advocate for church/state separation. They’ve never picked up a book by the New Atheists. They’re not reading sites like this one. They may not believe in God, but it’s just not a major part of their identity.
Join the club. (Ha.)
If Richard Dawkins turns you off, don’t read him.
If, for some reason, you (wrongly) think that joining a group means you have to agree with everything the group does, don’t become a member.
And if you are unhappy with the leadership within the broader atheist community, then go make a difference in your own way.
(I will say the whole message about being wanting to fight against racism and misogyny — a fight any decent person should get on board with — would be more persuasive if it weren’t preceded by a broad slam on white men.)
The point is this: No one’s pushing you to join anything. The reason I belong to a few different atheist organizations is because they’re more effective at doing certain things than I would be on my own.
They can give more support to student groups, put pressure on government officials who overstep their bounds, promote certain values that I share, counter anti-atheist stereotypes, and so much more. I can do some of that myself, but I’m lucky enough that my voice is amplified through this site. And I know the beliefs I have reach a wider audience when certain groups work full-time to advance them.
I’m not part of a group because atheism is a religion or because I desire some ritualistic personal connection that religious people usually find in church. I’m part of atheist groups because those in power pay more attention when they believe a group represents lots of other people. There’s a reason lobbyists are effective; politicians know they represent huge swaths of the voting public.
You would think someone writing for the Guardian would understand the importance of a signal boost…
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