Let’s Embrace the AFHSQ October 13, 2015

Let’s Embrace the AFHSQ

This is a guest post by Veronica Chenik Gilmore.

AFHSQ is an acronym that stands for Atheist, Freethinker, Humanist, Secularist, and Questioning.

Even in my household, where we can all agree on most things and find acceptance, we still differ on our label to express a version of our “non-belief.” For us, “atheism” seems to attract the strong renegade type while “Humanist” applies to the more amiable thoughtful one.

Many articles have expressed the same frustration, within the scope of atheism itself. Valerie Tarico raised the issue a few years ago:

For those who have lost their religion or never had one, finding a label can feel important. It can be part of a healing process or, alternately, a way of declaring resistance to a dominant and oppressive paradigm. Finding the right combination of words can be a challenge though. For a label to fit it needs to resonate personally and also communicate what you want to say to the world. Words have definitions, connotations and history, and how people respond to your label will be affected by all three. What does it mean? What emotions does it evoke? Who are you identifying as your intellectual and spiritual forebears and your community? The differences may be subtle but they are important.

The acronym AFHSQ would be helpful to soften the exposure for everyone and introduce another umbrella to identity those of us who don’t believe in the supernatural. I know plenty of atheists who are hesitant to use that word, or any label for that matter, so perhaps an acronym could do the trick.

That said, one “None” I know told me that acronyms can be hard to decode or remember:

“I think the learning curve for getting the public onboard with something like AFHSQ would be big — it’s a mouthful, and I think it would be one of those acronyms that would not be a time saver, because after saying it you’d have to explain it. Also, it would lend itself to what I see happen when newscasters or politicians try using LGBTQ — it can be awkward many times because they always seem hesitant halfway through saying it, like they’re thinking, “Wait, did I mention all the letters I’m supposed to? Have more letters been added to it that I’m not aware of?”

So to readers out there, do you think an acronym could be helpful in writing about who we are? Would it be an accurate way of describing this group’s lack of religious beliefs? Or would it just cause more confusion?

(Image via Shutterstock)


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