“Atheism in America” by Julian Baggini

And while we’re on the topic of secularism…

This writeup of the United Atheist Alliance (or the United Atheist League, or the Allied Atheist Alliance, or whatever I guess we’re all supposed to be calling ourselves now) profiles atheists in America and how they keep their non-religious ideals to themselves in fear of being shunned within their communities.

This bit stuck out to me:

Elder says with a smile that when he goes out wearing his black T-shirt with its large scarlet A – the symbol of the atheist Out Campaign inspired by Richard Dawkins – “you’ll see mothers bring their children a little closer and step a little quickly away”.

Really? That’s why they bring their children closer? It couldn’t be that you’re some stranger? Must it be because of the logo on your t-shirt that’s difficult to read from a distance?

I’m non-religious and I didn’t know what that logo meant until after reading this. I wonder if this mother even knew what that A stood for. It could stand for Anarchy, like a punk rock t-shirt. Like we’re all supposed to know that’s the symbol atheism has rallied behind.

This is what I dislike about secular organization. When we/they do organize there’s always this sense of self-satisfaction about it. Isn’t the whole point of atheism to not have any particular agenda? Isn’t that why it’s so difficult to organize?

(Sam) Harris argues “it’s a losing game to trumpet the cause of atheism and try to rally around this variable politically. I’ve supported that in the past, I support those organisations, I understand why they do that. But, in the end, the victim group identity around atheism is the wrong strategy. It’s like calling yourself a non-astrologer. We simply don’t need the term.”

I’m not an “out” atheist/secularist/humanist because it isn’t necessary to be “out”. On my Facebook profile I don’t put “atheist” in the religion box. I just leave that box blank. I don’t want to talk about my lack of religion and how the other side is wrong. That’s what churches are for.

If you’re going to organize, why not do something constructive, like participating or forming organizations around common interests that aren’t united solely by lack of religion? Some of these organizations may already exist in your town.

Atheism isn’t a religion, but I get the feeling that these atheists, who have taken it upon themselves to speak for the entire secular population in America, think about religion in the same way that Rick Santorum thinks about homosexuality.

No wonder people think it’s a religion.