Atheism Plus is a term used to designate spaces, persons, and groups dedicated to promoting social justice and countering misogyny, racism, homo/bi/transphobia, ableism and other such bigotry inside and outside of the atheist community. The idea for the name came from a comment on a blog entry by Jen McCreight wherein she discussed the need for a new wave of atheism. Jen introduced a number of logos for the project shortly thereafter. Although it was only recently given a name, Atheism Plus has been percolating for a while. (http://atheismplus.com/faq.php Last accessed: August 26, 2013)
I highly suggest anyone reading this post read through the FAQ thoroughly so as not to misinterpret my views on the organization.
So, as the title of this article suggests, I am no supporter of Atheism Plus. Although I do support many of the social justice aspects that Atheism Plus also supports, such as gender, marriage and racial equality, I do not support the linking of social justice to Atheism. The FAQ page clearly states that Atheism Plus does not represent the official stance of atheism or atheists, but I strongly disagree with any organization who promotes any agenda from a partisan viewpoint.
I do not support Atheism Plus because:
1) Atheism is not a group of people or a collective. It is not an ideology. Atheism and atheist are simply terms that define a person who does not believe in god or gods. Many view atheism through the eyes of a religious context. As if one must be confirmed or proclaim themselves an atheist to be one. Whether someone wants to associate themselves with ‘atheism’ or not, if they do not believe in a god or gods, they are an atheist. If someone is born, never taught what a god or gods are, never hears or learns of the concept of god, and never comes up with the concept of god, they are by default, an atheist. There is no further qualification for atheism. No introspection into one’s belief, no fact gathering or any thought of whether to be an atheist or not is required, although many atheists do engage in such things which ultimately have lead to their becoming an atheist. Atheism and atheist are merely semantic designators.
As a result, I do not believe that atheists should congregate under a banner of atheism. Aside from our non-belief in god or gods, we share many different beliefs about epistemology, ethics and general life principles. We can agree with each other and disagree. Other than Atheism, I do not believe it is beneficial to unite for a common cause under the banner of atheism. Many atheists believe in evolution, and we congregate to promote evolution. We do not do this a atheists promoting evolution. We do it as evolutionists promoting evolution.
So, although it might seem like a good idea for atheists to come together to promote social justice, it is not. One might say, “Well isn’t better since we’re all atheists and we all believe in marriage/gender/racial equality, we should come together as a united front?” The answer is “no, it is not.” It actually limits our ability to promote social justice. By flying the flag of atheism while we fight for social justice, we alienate those who do not wish to be a part of a partisan group but also wish to promote social justice. Any christian, for example, who wishes to promote marriage/gender/racial equality (they are out there) will feel an immediate hostility (be it perceived or real) if he shows up to a rally that is dominated by ‘Atheist Social Justice’ protesters.
2) By becoming a partisan group of “Atheists for Social Justice” we take away from the actual matter at hand. We make gender/marriage/racial equality an ‘atheist’ cause (or at the very least, we make it appear as such) and this detracts from the cause itself. We, in effect, usurp the cause and threaten to undermine it. Atheism, in itself, has nothing to do with a gay man being able to marry. If we support this cause, we should do so because we believe this man has the right to marry his love and not fly the banner of atheism while we do it.
For those two main reasons, I do not support Atheism Plus, though I do support many of the social justice causes it supports. I do not support social justice as an atheist. I support it as a human being who cares for the rights and freedoms of others regardless of my partisan beliefs.