Look. I get it that many groups are marginalized in various ways and in various areas, but returning bigotry with bigotry only keeps and endless cycle of stupid going. By all means, if someone is being a bigot, reply with as much anger as you like, they deserve it, but remember that if you package that anger in hatred and bigotry, you’re playing down to their level, and you’re surely losing a little bit, even if you “win”.
I understand that I’m asking a lot of tumblr, but this is mostly a message to my followers.
(Before anyone gets all bent out of shape about what I do or don’t know about science or religion, please read through my archives to see how much I’m a fan of science and please also note that I have a Master of Arts degree from the University of Chicago’s Divinity School, one of the foremost religious studies institutions in the country.)
Angwe says: Top-posting because I haven’t run into atheists who are stupid enough to believe that atheism somehow erases their privilege, thank a being or the universe as you are so inclined, but the religion-bashing is something that annoys me, so I’m reblogging mostly for the points about that. More comments below…
- Being an atheist does not erase privilege.
- This includes white privilege.
- This also includes cis privilege, CNDP privilege, and het privilege.
- Seriously, being an atheist does not erase your white privilege.
- Criticizing exclusively (majority) non-white religions is racist.
- This includes Islam.
- The existence of white Muslims does not invalidate this point.
- Black Christianity is not always hetereosexist.
- Black people are not the most heterosexist heterosexists that ever heterosexisted.
- Black queer/gay/lesbian/non-straight/pansexual/asexual people exist too.
- Mestiz@s are not the root cause of sexism.
- Neither is Latin American Christianity.
- You do realize Christianity was imported, right?
- Atheists are not the only oppressed religious group.
- Muslims are oppressed too.
- Often by white atheists.
- Islam is not evil.
- Neither are hijabs or niqabs.
- Neither is Vodun/voodoo/hoodoo.
- Neither is any other religion…
- …unless it’s World Church of the Creator / The Creativity Movement…
- Which is white supremacist.
- …or the Westboro Baptist Church.
- Who even the KKK hates.
- Evolutionary psychology is sexist, racist, cissexist, ableist, and heterosexist.
- This includes evolutionary psychology that (supposedly) supports atheism.
- Supporting evo-psych means
- You have not done your homework, or
- You are prejudiced.
- Other people’s clothing is not your business.
- Including religious articles of clothing.
- Including hijabs, headwraps, niqabs, burkas, crosses, crucifixes, pentacles, and other symbols.
- Even if you really don’t like it.
- Even if it’s really religious.
- Acknowledge other people’s identities.
- Even if you’re uncomfortable with them.
- Especially if you’re uncomfortable,
- Because they have racial, sexual, cultural, or disabled identity
- Paganism is not ‘atheism-lite’.
- Neither is agnosticism.
- Neither are indigenous religions.
- There is no such thing as ‘ironic’ bigotry.
- Unless it’s atheists whining about Christmas.
- Seriously, I thought only evangelicals did that.
- Trans people are not your special little puzzles.
- Neither are autistic / disabled people.
- I don’t care if you’re a scientist. We’re still not your Rubik’s Cubes.
- Not everything should be about science.
- There. I said it.
- PoC are not the reason why a lot of people are wary of atheists.
- It’s because of white/het/cis/CND atheists.
- Yes, including you.
- Demanding people educate you is oppressive.
- Even if you’re ‘being really nice about it’.
- Nice =/= good.
- Religions are not inherently oppressive.
- Did you know that hijabs and niqabs are cultural?
- And that many women find them liberating?
- Using emotion in writing, reasoning, the internet, or decision-making does not mean one is stupid/dumb/monkey-like/less-evolved/other ableist, racist, eugenicist terms.
- It means one is a fucking human being.
- Disability is not a flaw in evolution.
- Disabled people will not die out with evolution.
- Fuck you.
- Being atheist does not mean you are automatically not allistic.
- If you don’t know what that means, look it up.
- You can use Google.
- Being a queer atheist does not make you white.
- Seriously, enough with this racist bullshit.
- Cultural appropriation is also done by atheists.
- Deal with it.
- There are no purple people.
- You should know this.
- Making fun of ‘them crazy darkies doin’ their ridick voodoo’ is racist, ableist, and the reason why a LOT of black atheists will not have anything to do with you.
- Satire is a tool that works when aimed upwards, at the most powerful people.
- Black people are not the most powerful people.
- Especially black people practicing voodoo.
- No religion is more ridiculous than any other.
- Including Mormonism.
- …but some have more power, and are therefore better to make fun of.
- Like Mormonism.
- Being colorblind is only okay if you literally cannot see or distinguish colors.
- Otherwise, it’s racist.
- Religions derive strength and power from the social power of their followers.
- Which is why evangelical Christianity is a better target than Black Christianity.
- Being an agnostic (or bisexual) is not ‘taking the easy way out’.
- Really, now?
- Monosexism is real.
- How do I know?
- You’re doing it right now.
- And yes, queer can be a term for polysexual.
- If you think black people are mean to you,
- You’re probably white,
- And won’t say you are
- Because white people never say they’re white.
- The terms ‘hermophradite’ ‘third sex’ and ‘biological gender’ are
- And not up for debate.
- If you refuse to identify your privileged identities,
- I’m going to assume you just think you’re ‘normal’
- And moderate you.
- Refusing to acknowledge the power of environment and social structure
- Is bigoted
- And means you’re a biological essentialist.
- Intersex people exist.
- Deal with it.
- And no, they are not ‘miracles of evolution’.
- I thought you didn’t believe in miracles.
- Freedom does not just mean ‘freedom to be an atheist and make the choices I would make’. It means freedom to make even choices I don’t like.
- Including religious choices.
- Social justice / social uprooting / anti-oppression is not about you and your feelings.
- Nobody cares about white guilt.
- Making everything about your feelings is oppressive.
- If you’re offended,
- Get over it.
- Realize that being offended is much better than being oppressed.
Oh my god THANK YOU. I hate talking to my atheist brother about stuff because he holds to almost all of the beliefs that were debunked in this. In particular, I felt something in me relax at the bit about evo-psych being all kinds of wrong, and I was also really glad to see the bit about agnosticism being its own valid thing. And not everything does have to be about science! Jeez! Anyway, so, um, thank you OP and also I think I love you.
I have to say that one of my only issues is the idea of “better” targets. You should always “target” anyone who exhibits -isms. Anyone. OP is right in warning you off targeting a specific group of people as inherently X-ist (with the real and noted exception of white supremacist churches and the like).
But the reality is this: I call myself a radical feminist. “Radical” here not referring to bombings, but to the Latin root, which is, “root”. I aim at the social root of the problem. The structures that exist to perpetuate a hierarchy that keeps white, heterosexual, heterosexist, cis-males at the top and everyone else fighting for position below. This results in two things:
1) Every time I note that someone is speaking with privilege, it is an opportunity to speak out against these structures.
2) I accept that I have privilege and listen when someone tells me that there are ways in which I may have privilege that I don’t know about. And I try to do something about it. Always. I seek to be non-ableist, non-cissexist, non-heterosexist, non-racist, and non-bigoted. It isn’t comfortable. It requires me to listen. It requires me to accept that I have said something that I didn’t think was harmful, but that it is and that I need to both apologize and adjust my worldview.
This kind of understanding about my own frame of reference means that I have the power to adjust that frame and try to see the world through my fellow humans’ eyes. But I have to stop, listen, and not pre-judge what they say. I think too many atheists are ready to do that at the drop of the hat when the person on the other side of the conversation is a self-described believer in something. (I will, for the moment, avoid the digression that my definition of belief-systems includes atheism.)
OK, I think the rant might be done now.
Another blog post for State of Formation:
Last weekend a friend gave me Watch the Throne, the recent album forged from a collaborative effort of Jay-Z and Kayne West. I then did what I usually do when I have new music: I went on a run to try it out. I try to think as little as possible while running and, depending on my mood, will listen to whatever music will help me accomplish this - jazz, hip-hop or classical … anything goes. Unlike most music by Jay-z, this album was hard to run to because the music was so thought provoking.
For example, from the song No church in the wild: “Human being to the mob / What’s a mob to a king?/ What’s a king to a god?/ What’s a god to a non-believer?/ Who don’t believe in anything?” All I could think was: well put. And later on in the song, “Lies on the lips of a priest / Thanksgiving disguised as a feast.” and “I’m wonderin’ if a thug’s prayers reach / Is Pious pious cause God loves pious?” It all seemed like the most poetic and succinct summary of some major issues concerning religion I have head in a while.
This is seriously a read worth your time. Honna is lovely and eloquent thinker, not afraid to face the realities of living a faithful life in modern America. There is some good food for thought about how religious politicians became the way they are today.
And some thinking about how to move forward as a country…
…and as a believer.
Just as a warning for some of my followers: don’t use this as an excuse to grandstand about the “problems of religion in America”. Opt to put as much reflective thought, about the world and yourself, into any responses you’d like to make.
(Look, I know most of you are lovely people who wouldn’t do that, but it helps some people to be forewarned.)