What Is Organized Atheism?
Parties? Parades? What!?
To: "Positive Atheism" <email@example.com>
Sent: May 25, 2002 12:18 AM
Subject: Are Atheist Groups Rightly Seen As Hate Groups?
The only question I have is -- Is there actually organized atheism?
What is organized atheism? Do people get together for parties or something. I am an atheist, but by its very nature it is more of a solitary thing isn't it? Since atheism is the absence of a belief in a God or supreme being then it is a negative. (I don't mean negative as in bad) The term Organized Atheism sounds like atheists have a "Church" to go to every Sunday where they all meet and do something together. Or maybe they get together and have a parade like the Gay Pride Parade. Or maybe they join a group of like minded individuals and have events. Wouldn't people only join a group if it was for something not the absence of something? Hate groups are against a group of individuals because of their colour or beliefs or something else. As a atheist I am against an idea or premise. I am also against communism and fascism and socialism and altruism. I don't think that makes me part of any "hate group". It is the idea or concept or premise that is hated and needs to be changed. (not that I have an answer for that). I actually thought organized religion was dying out, but it sounds like it is growing, especially in the southern United States. Is that true?
I did have one person flip out on me one time and tell me that because I was an atheist that I therefore am into devil worship and child molestation. I am not sure where that leap in logic comes from but it wasn't pleasant.
From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Are Atheist Groups Rightly Seen As Hate Groups?
Date: June 05, 2002 6:19 AM
As a atheist I am against an idea or premise. I am also against communism and fascism and socialism and altruism. I don't think that makes me part of any "hate group". It is the idea or concept or premise that is hated and needs to be changed.
This, I think, holds the key to what (I think) is your objection, here: The question I find myself asking after reading this segment is, How would organizing into a group turn hatred of an idea or concept or premise into hatred of people?
The only question I have is -- -Is there actually organized atheism? What is organized atheism? Do people get together for parties or something.
From what I can tell, the desire to meet in groups seems, for the most part, to be a leftover from going to church. In the groups I did not meet many who were raised atheists, most had simply transferred affiliation from religion to atheism as adults. Thus much of the thinking habits of a life of religion remained: this ranged from a tendency to apply religious logic to atheistic topics to thinking of atheism as the denomination of a positive outlook rather than as the absence of an entire way of thinking. I came to these conclusions because most of the people I did meet spoke of how much better atheism is than religion.
I went to one group for several years, but mainly (only) to be an activist. At one point i had hoped to use it for social outreach, but have since decided that affiliation in an organization because of mutually held ideology is the wrong context for social outlet. The fact that this group had its own building was quite a plus for me, as I was allowed to pursue my own projects in the building while it was not being used, which projects were related to Separationism. However, my use of the atheists' building ended up being quite an impairment for that project. People can divorce affiliation with a church from simply using their building: that is easy to see; however, to use the atheists' equivalent of a church building, though it ought to be the same, was not in the minds of many. Perhaps as many as one-quarter to one-third could not get it through their minds that I was only renting space in a damn building!
Our piece, "Why Advocate For Individual Activists?" with Juan De Gennaro, formatted as a simple Q&A but really the results of a much longer and more intricate discussion with Juan and a few others, explains the questions that I have raised regarding the validity of organized atheism. In fact, it is an extension of the question to which you are responding, "Are Atheist Groups Rightly Seen As Hate Groups?" Indeed, the question of whether atheist groups are rightly seen as hate groups, also the subject of my December, 1996, column, "How Do Others See Us?" which I wrote while I was still with the group.
Ah, now we have the trail of thinking and change of mind that I have undergone since I first began to ask myself (and, on occasion, the others) just what is our point, here? Why are we atheists gathering together into groups?
I still ask this question, and still don't know the answer, but others disagree. For example, I keep hearing about this group in Idaho. Everything I've heard speaks against my viewpoint about groups, to the point where I might even drive out to Idaho to check it out some day!
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