This post is about making a tough decision. But I’m going to start with a short rant. Since we here in the Atheosphere love occasional tirades, our own or other people’s, I trust you’ll bear with me until I get to my point.
It’s amazing to me that so many blogging atheists are eager to claim they’re part of a “movement.” That’s why the Dawk-A is showing up on blog after blog in the Atheosphere. The Dawk-A, which is really a logo for a line of T-shirts and bumper stickers and who-knows-what else, is also, allegedly, a symbol of the “OUT” campaign.
But, come on! Displaying an ugly red “A” in the margins of your home page ain’t the same as being an admitted atheist in real life. If you’ve got a solid freethinking blog, everyone who reads it should know very well where you stand in the god-belief continuum: you’re OUTside it. My no-A blog is just as godless – maybe even more so – than someone else’s A-displaying site.
I, for one, happen to be an avowed atheist in my everyday, non-blogger existence. I speak out, loudly and often. My family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, and even casual acquaintances all know that I think religions are nonsense. Do I need an A to identify myself? Not as long as my voice still works.
Look, I admire Richard Dawkins for his unabashed atheism. But neither he nor his line of atheogarb have influenced my nonbelief one iota. In fact, I suspect that very few religionists have picked up The God Delusion, read it all the way through, and then said to themselves, “Hey, he’s got something there! I’d better get me an A.”
What truly astounds me about the “OUT” campaign is how quickly some nonbelievers have embraced an idiotic symbol as if they’ve been longing for their own version of the crucifix or the star of David. It’s a red A, for cryin’ out loud. If you put it on your shirt, and then add a cape and boots, you can look like a comic book superhero. How impressive!
If we’re really a movement, though, and not just a crowd of malcontents who dress up for some mutual grousing, we ought to band together and act like one. Wearing a T-shirt is not a rational substitute for taking action; displaying a logo is no indication that you’ve made a tough, reasoned decision.
Right now, the toughest decision of all for American atheists is the decision not to support a presidential candidate who seems OK— if only it weren’t for all that pandering to the theocrats.
But here’s the way I see it. By some estimates, we freethinkers make up around 10% of the American populace. That’s a healthy, election-influencing chunk of humanity. If we’re a real movement, let’s refuse to roll over and play dead at the ballot box. Let’s act like a movement where it counts.
Any candidate who drones on and on about his or her faith does not demonstrate a deep commitment to separation of church and state. A politician who takes every opportunity to speak at, and/or be photographed attending, prayer meetings, church suppers, and religious services, is likewise no great advocate of the First Amendment. A presidential contender who prays that our country be blessed by a god is doing what the founders specifically declined to do when they wrote the Constitution.
It’s a tough decision, whether you’re a progressive or a libertarian, a conservative or a liberal, to say: “I’m not going to vote for anyone who explicitly or implicitly, through word or deed, denies the rights of freethinkers by putting religion on a pedestal.” Yet, that’s what all these candidates are doing. Every mention of faith, every intoning of the word god, every appearance at a church or synagogue or mosque says: “My presidency will favor believers. Religion will be encouraged in my White House. While I’m in office, I’ll ignore the chipping away at the wall of separation. God bless America, and vice versa. I’ll continue to participate in holy wars. I’ll continue to support mythology over science, backwardness over progress. I’ll continue to use an evil and antiquated moral code as the national ethic.”
Well, count me out. I’m in a true atheist movement, although it may be a movement of one only. No candidate who puts god on the ticket will get my vote, even if I have to stay home and sit on my hands come election day — or go to the polls and write in “The Exterminator.” I will no longer condone the proliferation of superstition.
Isn't that what an atheist movement should really be about?ADDENDUM (12:45 p.m. EDT): I should add that I’m not suggesting we merely stay home on election day — or laughingly write in “The Exterminator” — and do nothing else. We should take every opportunity to make public statements about our tough decision. We should continue to speak loudly and proudly through our blogs and, if possible, let the candidates and media know why we freethinkers and secularists, as a bloc, will not be voting for anyone who injects religion into his or her political discourse. Mind you, I'm not saying that a candidate must actually be an atheist, or claim to espouse atheism. I'm just saying that we should punish those, however appealing they may be otherwise, who go out of their way to use god as a vote-getter. We must let them know that god is a vote-loser, too.