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20 August, 2012


Atheism+ is the latest idea from Freethought Blogs in their attempt to completely alienate anyone that disagrees with them and distill their group into an elite gathering of purists who constantly validate each other so they can make themselves internet-famous. They want to create a "new wave" of atheism, with a Capital A and a focus on social issues. You might be thinking, "Isn't that Humanism?" but you'd be wrong. Because it's not really about focusing on social issues so much as getting rid of people they don't like.

Jen McCreight describes why she wants to begin this purification process on her blog:
I want to be able to truthfully say that I feel safe in this movement. I want the misogynists, racists, homophobes, transphobes, and downright trolls out of the movement for the same reason I wouldn’t invite them over for dinner or to play Mario Kart: because they’re not good people. We throw up billboards claiming we’re Good Without God, but how are we proving that as a movement? Litter clean-ups and blood drives can only say so much when you’re simultaneously threatening your fellow activists with rape and death.
That's an awfully damaging indictment of the atheist community and its activists. The problem is, they are doing the labeling. They paint these broad strokes across the community and define misogyny to include things that aren't actually misogynistic. Number one is disagreeing with a woman. If you don't agree with something a woman has to say about a guy accepting a "no" in an elevator, you are an example of misogyny 101, as Stef McGraw learned when she was the first outcast and shut down. There's no way someone could disagree with a woman unless it has something to do with her having a vag.

She describes the trolls of the movement, without realizing those are actually just trolls. The nasty emails and rape threats that are coming from the internet are just that: internet trolls, not atheist trolls. There are MRAs who are atheists, yes, but what does that have to do with anything? There are vegan atheists, too. At the Reason Rally, we saw a number of activists, performers, comedians and leaders speak. Which ones might be included on this list of trolls? Oh, that's right, they don't want to tell you.

Who is included in the list of activists who have been threatening others with rape or death? Oh look, the first example that comes to mind is one of their own, Greg Laden, who "resigned" from the Freethought Blogs network and sat on a panel shortly after with his FtB friends discussing gender roles, in which a comment was made that men are female brains damaged by testosterone.

So who else? Thunderf00t, who wrote an entry on his Freethought Blog which had some good points, and some bad points. PZ Meyers went on to write a blog that completely misrepresented Thunderf00t's entire blog post, yada yada yada, and both sides are now foaming at the mouth at each other to the point that FtB is conspiring to keep TF from ever engaging at a conference again.

Who can forget Paula Kirby's unforgivable trespass, or Justin Vacula's shameful opposition to FtB's levelheadedness? We might as well also include the controversial figure, Sam Harris, as part of the slime we need to dispose of, or Jean Kazez for not wanting to get involved. DJ Grothe and TAM were summarily attacked for pointing out that they do, in fact, have a harassment policy in place and that rumors of TAM being an unsafe place were grossly exaggerated (which, even with the three or four unreported anecdotes that came out after this debacle, is still a pretty damn safe event if you're not thin-skinned enough to cry over a t-shirt).

Sure looks like a whole group of misogynistic homophobes, alright. Oh wait, it's Freethought Blogs who constantly use "douche" as an insult while insisting we end gender-based insults. It's funny, too, that a woman wanting to be identified as a skeptic, rather than singled out as a woman skeptic, would be seen as denigrating and harassing.

Richard Carrier, who deserves a great deal of credit and respect for the work he does, has lost my respect as a humanist when he talks about the need to "cut free the dead weight so we can kick the C.H.U.D.’s back into the sewers and finally disown them, once and for all." How very Final Solution of him. Atheism+ is just their own proverbial Kristallnacht, after all; we knew this was coming.

Even if some of the people attacked weren't in the right all the time, they deserved better than to be vilified and shunned, especially in a community that prides itself on skepticism and free thought. None of those people are misogynistic, homophobic, or making rape threats, but they're being lumped in with those that are or do. The people who don't even want to get involved are being told they are enablers and rape apologists.

While their forty or so bloggers are putting on conventions where hugs come with permission slips and the men go-a-courtin' while the ladies fan their faces, the rest of us will keep our movement. The movement that brought you Skepticon, Reason Rally, The God Delusion, Skeptic Women, atheist billboards, Supreme Court wins on the separation of church and state, and the ability to state our non-belief without feeling completely alone. Because even if they were right in their dogmatic feminism, it would still have nothing to do with non-belief in gods. For other activism, we join Humanist groups or Feminist groups.

When Atheism+ becomes divided over all their plusses (can't wait for the vegans vs. pescetarians, or the Atheism+anti-declaw community), we'll be here actually doing something for atheism.


  1. Initially, I found myself wondering why they thought it was a good idea to merge the atheist movement with other liberal causes. Most of the atheists I know are involved in multiple causes (e.g., atheism, feminism, LGBT) and seem to benefit from their involvement. The more I think about it and the more closely I read Jen's posts on the issue and see what supporters are saying about it on Twitter, the more I think it may really be about intentionally dividing our community. I see this doing far more harm than good.

    1. It is clear in the language they use. "Cut free the dead weight," "marginalize," "new wave," "the evil among us." It's clear they're drawing their line in the sand. I hope they are largely ignored.

  2. Thanks so much for your posts; I really felt everybody was losing their damned minds until I found your blog. It's great to see someone bringing some rationalism back onto the scene.

  3. Jen McCreight recently tweeted:
    "Greta on A+: Removing sexist, racist, self-absorded, hateful, assholes from atheism is a feature, not a bug" with a link to Greta's blog post.
    This a dangerous and insulting attitude. The implication being, anyone not welcome to Atheism+ or anyone who does not wish to join Atheism+ are probably "sexist, racist, self-absorded, hateful, assholes".

    Some people that feel like they want to join this now because Humanism does not fulfill their needs or other reasons may regret this in the future. Some parts of this new "group" will be the judge of if members are feminist enough, pro-LGBT enough, etc... And we have already seen what happens to people who do not fall in line on FtB comments. You want that as a future? Because that is what is the blueprint.

    If people want to join, that of course is their right. Most are good people wanting "more" however they define it. But I hope they change their avatars and such to the new symbol so I can spot them more easily.

    1. I'm also quite shocked by the black-and-white thinking expressed by Greta and the other Freethought Bloggers. You know who also thinks in absolutes? The Sith.

    2. Now they can "drum out" whoever they see fit.

  4. You write: How very Final Solution of him. Atheism+ is just their own proverbial Kristallnacht, after all; we knew this was coming.

    Before you get accused of Godwin's law, compare this -

    If we divide mankind into three categories - founders of culture, bearers of culture, and destroyers of culture - the Aryan alone can be considered as representing the first category. It was he who laid the groundwork and erected the walls of every great structure in human culture. -- Mein Kampf, Vol. 1, CHAPTER XI: RACE AND PEOPLE

    The rhetorical parallels are more than just slightly disturbing.

    1. I also considered that I might be committing a Godwin, but I think Richard Carrier's post is the best example of this "us vs them" mentality. Also, a few more examples from twitter today have pretty much sealed it for me. Jen McCreight calling out humanists for being old an white, for instance. https://twitter.com/jennifurret/status/237979476825350145

    2. There are times when such parallels not only can't be ignored, but must be highlighted. Doc dropping, complaining to employers, "outing" critics and heretics => making Jews where yellow Star of David patches. DMCA against people's blogs => shutting down Jewish businesses. These folks mean genuine harm - they aren't interested in dialogue of any kind. They don't want to debunk criticism; they want to destroy the source. And this is the tip of the iceberg of vile attacks against all those that deviate from their established orthodoxy.

    3. This popped up on Youtube -


  5. Atheism Plus is following all the markers of a right wing authoritarian movement. Exclusiveness, in-groups vs. out-groups. Not trusting information from out-groups. Squashing dissent through scapegoating. Destroying messengers of information that is counter to the in-group by using disparaging terms that are coded in group-speak.

    1. I agree completely. I also think that Atheism Plus is just a way for FTB to protect themselves

  6. Thanks for this blog. It was a pleasure to read. I wrote my own blog on this topic. We touch on some of the same issues.