I was dieheartend at atheistcon in Melbourne this year by a number of things: Hirsti Ali suggested that Islam was 'our' biggest concern, as did Harris; Mr Deity referenced our government before retracting in recognition of the fact he was speaking in Australia; Eugene Scott was introduced as representing the 'National Centre for Science Education (NCSE), we, in Australia don't have such a thing; Lesile Canold suggested that ' this is a numbers game' and that we, the atheists, should be good worker bees and jump when told; the FFRF echoed those sentiments. Forgoing the (rude) incursion into the Australian community of the 'american empire' there is more. I was appalled to see the United States FFRF, on a poster announce that believers should 'get off their knees' and 'get to work'. I was appalled when Jason Ball suggested we should work with the religious in the pursuit of 'our' goals. Now, a republican strategist, you know the ones who have worked silently to mock and degrade non belief and all it's baby eating adherents, has been appointed to a senior role to lobby on 'our behalf. Little own Alain De Botton's atheism 2.0.
Since then I have read this article http://newhumanist.org.uk/2788/the-death-of-american-secularism and listened to this interview http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/files/2012/05/Edwina-Rogers-inter... .
Here's the thing, and it's about time that 'we' in the atheist movement acknowledged it. There are idealogical divides within this community! And, until such time as that is 'put on the table' we remain vulnerable to co-option.
Political atheism rests upon the secular divide, with atheists, all atheists holding veto power on both the definition and adjudication on the matter. No buts! I have listened to a catholic priest tell me how fortunate it is that Australia is a secular nation...it is not! Moreover, since when do we allow a representative of the catholic, or any other sect, to define secularism on our behalf?
More frightening, alluded to above, how do the libertarian right gain precedence in the atheist discourse when, in my limited research, the vast majority of atheists identify within the collectivist left?
Because I am an atheist the only legitimate political position I will accept is that of the secularist. The complete. impenetrable, separation of church and state, no ifs, buts or 'faith based initiatives'. If a priest spends an hour in the Presidents (or prime ministers, or...) office, so should an atheist.
Atheists are the backbone of the secular movement. Divisive...hell yeah.
We need to recognise these divisions, and embrace them. Secularist, yes/no. Libertarian, with the implicit distinction between the charity model of individual support for chosen causes and the collectivist model of impartial state welfare through taxation,
This does not represent a full dichotomous list on things which may divide us, not meant to. But if we continue to disregard the implications of these idealogical divides it will only serve to weaken our position further.
Me, I'm a atheist. A secularist. Absolute. I am a collectivist, that is I support state provision of essential welfare through taxation rather than charitable distribution. Regardless, libertarianism, sneaking through the back door of the atheist community, is a disgrace. Until such time as 'we', regardless of existing institutions...and players, decide amongst ourselves where these divides exist, and how we manage them publicly, amongst ourselves, remain vulnerable and strategically disadvantaged.
I was going to stop there. If, as atheists, we accept a definition of secularism as 'the absolute separation of church and state', we can move on to separate those among us who are libertarian and those who are (scientifically supported) communitarians and work within those bounds.