And Then This Happened

[Content Note: Privilege; oppression; appropriation; misogyny; homophobia; racism.]

Oh good grief: "Atheists Don't Owe Your Social Justice Agenda a Damn Thing."
There's a weird trend that's been slinking its way through the social justice community, whereby so-called New Atheists are being denounced for supposedly failing to embrace liberal causes such as diversity and equality. Apparently, atheism has a "race problem," or maybe it should be called a "white male problem." Whichever the case, it appears atheism also has a "shocking woman problem."

...Did I sleep through some radical redefining of the word 'atheist'? It's always been my understanding that an 'atheist' is someone who simply lacks belief in deities. That's it. Somehow, though, it's suddenly incumbent on atheists to take up certain social and political causes, and that's just silly.

It's silly not because equality and diversity aren't worthy causes, but because there's no inherent connection between not believing in god and liberal politics.
1. It's neat how Michael Luciano casually elides the difference between "atheism" and "movement atheism," which are absolutely not the same thing. One is indeed merely the lack of a belief in deities. The other is an ideology, which extends beyond that basic belief. It's cool how movement atheism wants to be a movement when it's convenient, and only wants to be a group of people who share a belief when it's convenient.

2. Here's the thing: Movement atheists—especially but not exclusively straight white male movement atheists—routinely invoke the lives of marginalized people in defense of their anti-religionism.

I cannot count the number of times I've seen womanhood, and hostility toward it in many religious traditions, invoked by male atheists, even at the expense of the reported lived experiences of religious women. I cannot count the number of times I've seen women, or gay/bi men, told outright by straight male movement atheists that they're stupid or self-loathing or deserving of harm for being religious. I cannot count the number of times I've seen a black US Christian told they're practicing the religion imposed on them by slavery.

Movement atheists can't continually invoke our identities and lives (as they see them, viewed through the filter of their Validity Prisms) in order to condemn religion and then reject criticisms on the basis that they don't have a social justice agenda.

It's evidently true that people who are, for example, willing to shame a Muslim woman for wearing a headscarf without listening to that woman about why she might find safety and identity and profound personal meaning in wearing a headscarf, don't actually give a fuck about her. We're all familiar with men who will use the ostensible concern for women to advance agendas that have fuck-all to do with real women's needs and lives.

But as long as movement atheists are going to use marginalized people as justification for their crusade against religion, then they don't get to claim they have nothing to do with social justice. After all, they're pretending to be interested in social justice.

As long as they want to be cultural colonialists and straight white male saviors, then they had better expect there are going to be people—including atheists from marginalized communities—who tell them in no uncertain terms that we don't want to be "saved."

Who call them on their compassion bluff and demand meaningful inclusion instead of rescue.

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