As submitted to but never published by The Oregonian
Your coverage of the Secular Symposium missed four jokes.
Describing Michael Shermer’s best joke, the article left out the punch line. He pours water into a cup: “Do you want rosť or port?” When he pours the “wine” back out, it disappears! “Oops,” shrugs Shermer, “wrong trick!”
Another joke, as the coverage went, seemed to be those in attendance. The reporter might as well have been speaking to Martians or Klingons, given the light-hearted, almost amused sense she gave to her subject. Their point, buried deep in the article, is, “We can be moral†without religion.”
Lost on the reporter was a common slam against Cliff Walker, publisher of Positive Atheism and advocate of individual activism. Following group leaders, the article paints Cliff’s work as a group that can muster only Cliff as its “sole member.” Those who appreciate his work understand their role as readers, not members.
Most atheists don’t even think about atheism. You won’t know even if you ask. Admitting one’s atheism is risky, compelling many to become activists. Organized atheism seems oxymoronic to most.
If religious people didn’t force the issue, you wouldn’t hear from atheists. Active atheism merely responds to intrusive religion — and that’s no joke!