The Director of Atheist Nexus Speaks Out on Atheist Communities

(Report by Hugh Kramer) I've just returned from a meeting of the Ventura County atheists where we heard a talk by and had a discussion with Richard Haynes, who runs Atheist Nexus, the new (it just celebrated it's first birthday) social networking site exclusively for non-theists. Richard, who sometimes writes under the sobriquet, "Brother Richard," was formerly an associate minister at a 12,000 member evangelical mega-church in Georgia. In 1993, he experienced a crisis of conscience over some of it's practices and, with his young wife and baby daughter, left the church. After a lot of vicissitudes and soul-searching, both he and his wife concluded that they no longer believed in God. Some of the habits of his time as an evangelist have persisted though and now he has dedicated himself to encouraging other atheists to "come out of the closet" and form themselves into a self-sustaining community. That, in fact, was the subject of his talk.
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Wow! That's your only response? I'm saddened. It took a long time to write that (A lot longer than your response to me). I carefully went through ever point and question you made about and concerning me. I even took the high road and ignored your egotistical and condescending remarks.

I did address the issues of Burqas. You simply disagree. I agree with almost everything you have said concerning them. However, you are ignoring every single persons comments about the rights of the state against the liberty of the individual to make choices (NOT those of the oppressed). Again I reiterate that 99.9999999 percent may be forced, and they need defending.

I clearly stated why I wasn't interested in going back and forth, but it is now obvious that you are only interested in debate. How else would you come up with the asinine statement, "Brother Richards stance that the Muslim slaves have to extract themselves from their own pit of misery."

If I had known you did not want to be a part of our community (as you have stated), I would probably not have wasted my time responding. Have fun in your superior intellect, and be gentle with us peons. I'd rather accomplish something.
Well no Richard I did not say I didn't want to part of the community, just that it is not my purpose here to subvert my own opinions in order to fit in with the herd. I did not come here to make friends, but to read, and talk, and learn what others have to say on various topics, and to give my own opinion on various topics if I feel I have something to contribute.

I am assuming from your response that either Joe is writing this for you or you have been very badly affected by the recent Crisis which is preventing you from commenting here as outlined by Kristy above, so perhaps when everything settles down, you may shed your respect for the religiously underpinned reasoning for women being subjugated under men in Islam.

I have hopes that you will come around Richard, but perhaps your close association with Joe may be dragging you down. He gave your beliefs and feelings so many times that you are sounding an awful lot like him. It's Ok, Kristy has already explained that you are a busy man.
Kristy is now explaining to Richard the bleeding obvious - that he should never have wasted his time trying to engage you in productive debate and you have proven this conclusively in your replies to him.
Everyone's a critic!
Richard I said elsewhere that I do have an enormous amount of respect for you. I believe you are a good and caring individual who at one time practiced that goodness as a preacher, or minister or some such man of the cloth, and now you are doing your best to do the same in a secular fashion.

It cannot be easy to just wipe the mind free of all that dogma, and I can't help but think that it is that residual biblical dogma which lays out a lesser place for women as opposed to the supremacy over them by men which has informed or guided your stand on supporting Muslim men, and the Islamic religion in their suppression of their women under the symbol of that oppression the Burqa. The Bible, Quran, and Hadith are plain in the assertion that women are less than men, and I have the concern that it is this dogmatic notion which has burrowed into your brain which compels you to support their less than full and equal participation in our society.

I do not condemn you for any residual religiosity, but please be honest with yourself and try to ascertain if there might not be some grain of truth in this observation of residual respect for religion which is a component of this issue of the Burqa.

Notwithstanding all the regrettable unfortunate exchanges between Joe et al, and myself, I want you to know that I honestly do respect and admire what you have done overall to help first your flock, and now the wider free-thought community so I will not harangue you further on these matters, but I do ask that you please read more widely on both sides of the issue and sometime when you can clear you mind of other issues I ask that you place the matter on one side of the balance with your good heart on the other side and reevaluate your position. It will be easy for you to decide that my position is the wrong position because I am a disagreeable character, and much harder to reverse your stand, but whatever you decide, I will refrain from attacking your position either way. If however you do happen to see the light it would be nice if you made it known on a future Atheist News Podcast if the opportunity should arise. I will of course keep my face shut whether you stay silent or reverse your position.

I will however need to finish the conversation here as others or myself may benefit from thrashing the matter out fully, but it is my intention to leave you out of it unless you would care to join in just for the sport of it.

since I understood your statement to mean that you would not reply, I will assume that you have read this or that one of your minions will pass it on to you at your next high mass.
Thanks for the backhanded complement, but you could not be more wrong. Don't pretend to think I am somehow suffering from religious dogma. You are now becoming laughable.

You have no clue what my stance is concerning women. I NEVER, even in my religious days, felt they were subservient to men. And you cannot find any statement in the podcast or in my discussions here that would say otherwise. I have a wife who is my equal (if not my superior), and I have two daughters that I have taught to be quite independent freethinkers (if anything they think women are superior to men).

I hate to dignify some of your other statements, but you have no idea the number of women I have personally helped get out of abusive relationships and abusive religions, the women I have held and cried with who had their genital mutilated when they were children, and those who were the victims of rape. How fucking dare you even suggest that my views are anything similar to these atrocities. I am disgusted to even have to use their suffering in an argument with you. It is below me and above your rhetoric.

What you are doing is not trying to have a discussion. You are regurgitating the same argument repeatedly, and ignoring every comment made by others.
Well to be sure Richard you are a good man, I do not doubt it, but many times I have heard what seems like your excessive stickiness for religion, and that is why I thought that this may be the cause of your curious stand on the Burqa. You like myself are a modern man, you value women as equals, and desire your children to be treated in society as being equal in every way to a man. You likely do not agree with FGM even though many Muslim women still commit that atrocity on their daughters. You want your daughters and women in general to have full rights and ability to not be handicapped by the fact of their femaleness in their full integration and participation in our open society so given all of that I am left puzzled and scratching my head over your stand which if it were you deciding the issue would not interfere, or inhibit in any way the ability for a Muslim Father or Husband to keep his Daughter, or Wife from realizing her full and equal position right up there along side every other woman and man in our western countries, by making them wear the Burqa.

To say like some have suggested that it is wrong to ban it because there may be 1 woman who truly wants to wear it among all of the tens of thousands who have no "Practical Choice" is a position which is just not tenable. It is an abandonment of women, and It is my hope that you will reverse this morally bankrupt position before your own daughters read and then assimilate what your position actually means for girls and women.

It is not your good Wife, or your well loved daughters who are hobbled by being pressured to limit their possibilities in thrall to Islam and the Misogynistic throwbacks of men which that base religion of misery and subjugation of women has spawned, but these females are somebody's wife, somebody's daughter, and indeed they are their own persons regardless of their association with fathers, husbands or brothers, and they deserve their full human dignity and place among us as full independent un-enslaved, un-repressed, unencumbered people, and I want you to support our society in helping to bring them out of the ancient past into the modern era by supporting a ban on the symbol of their slavery and oppression.
I am not quite sure if you (Richard) have decided to not respond to my last comment or if you or Joe if he has been writing these responses for you are still formulating a respnse so since one or the other of you has responded in the name of Brother Richard here and not yet said that you want to not continue, I thought I would sweeten the pot a little with a link to yet another Muslim "honor" killing of one of the well and truly enslaved women of Islam. In her name, and the long forgotten names of those who suffered the same fate, I ask you to read and feel the guilt that you will hopefully feel every time you read another account of what can happen when nobody speaks out against, but makes every excuse in the book as some are doing in these forums to maintain the status quo of the oppression of females in the Religion of Islam, under that outward symbol of submission, and as Jason Spicer rightly termed it "A Bruise" in it's own right upon all of mankind, known as the Burqa.

You see Richard, the reason I am concerned more about your public stand on this issue over lets say that of the Joe on the Atheist News Podcast is because you are the Head of arguably the largest Atheist umbrella group in the world with tens of thousands of members or more, and you display a picture of yourself standing beside Richard Dawkins so your public opinion in support of the Burqa or in opposition to a ban is of great consequence to those Islamists who may point to your organization and say to the lawmakers look "Even the lowly Atheists who oppose us on many issues do not want the Burqa banned".

When you publically take a stand in support of the Burqa as you did on the Atheist News Podcast it actually carries some weight in the wider scheme of things, as opposed to the opinion of some others here who personally agree with you, or disagree with you but whose opinion does not carry much wider clout. My opinion or that of Judith, or the eloquent reasoning of Jason Spicer though they may be superior to your opinion do not carry the same weight as yours due to your status as the head of the Atheist Nexus, and the fact that you made your statements in your own voice and they came out of your own mouth on that widely aired show. That is why it is primarily you, and not some others here who I am trying to help see the light on this issue.

Joe's opinion for instance though broadcast on the internet is merely the opinion of some loudmouth schmuck who happens to upload an mp3 file which anyone with a $250.00 laptop that has a built in microphone and an internet connection can do, as is painfully obvious by any perusal of all the similar efforts of teenage YouTubers, anyone can do what Joe does and often much better, but it is you who give weight to the issue.

The internet is full of such podcasts, and Joe is just one small fish like the rest of us in a large pond, but you are a big fish, and you have had contact with Richard Dawkins, so your opinion on this could also taint him. Perhaps someone should make th leader of the Atheist Nexus pro Burqa stance known to Richard Dawkins on the RDF website to see if he will ask you to stop displaying the picture of you and he together on your profile, or elsewhere as he may or may not want to be smeared by that association. Then again he may applaud your pro Burqa stand and ask you to join him on one of his next speaking engagements, or television shows where you can both lend your public support to the Islamist suppression of women under the Burqa.

The link below is only the latest of a string of atrocities which reach back into mists of antiquity, and which will undoubtedly continue on inertially unless acted upon by some outside force. It is the head of large organizations like Atheist Nexus and others who can be part of that outside force and help put an end to all of it by speaking out and exerting pressure on governments to shame them if necessary, as I am attempting to do to you now to come to the aid of these women who are trapped in a dark time of the past.

This link below concerns a Muslim Father who has beat his daughter to death with a chain because she dishonored the family by having or using a cellphone to possibly talk to males who are not related to her. Yet another example of what you are supporting when you support the Burqa. Please reverse your position before your daughters, other daughters, and women find the podcast, and the comments attributed to you by either yourself or more likely Joe speaking on your behalf and become ashamed of you.
First, I did not respond to you because you have ignored every point raised by me, Joe, and everyone else. If you do, as I did, and go point by point on each explanation given to you (now 10 pages worth) and actually respond to them, I will give you a response.

Second, you have made wildly inappropriate and accusatory statements about me personally, and I have found it is best to ignore such people. Also, if someone has agreed with me, you have accused them of kissing my ass.

Thirdly, I have NEVER took a stand in support of the Burqa. For you to continue to believe I have, you are either: in denial, ignoring truth, or not in touch with reality. I will repeat, I think the Burqa is horrible and used to suppress women around the world. This is especially true in Islamic countries. All I did was give my opinion that it was not the place of a government to ban them. I have NO problem with a government saying: a) no one can be forced to wear them, or, b) that under situations (driver license, permits, certain transportation situations, etc.), a government could require individuals to identify themselves. Take with this also, that my comments, NOT MY STAND, were made through my "American" views of freedom, liberty, and the limitations of government.

Fourthly, I have made it clear time and again, that I am on Atheist News as "Brother Richard" the individual. I don't speak for the entire Atheist Nexus community. This is also, as I have noted, why I don't comment much on the site.

Fifthly, and finally, it is asinine to assume I could influence Dawkins or somehow put him under my spell. Believe me, I disagree with tons of things he says and believes. He, Hitchens, Harris, Dennett, me (absolutely silly to compare me here), and everyone else are unique individuals. Also, we can disagree in some areas but not allow these disagreements to disqualify the things we do agree on.

There you go.

PS. My 16 year old daughter comments that the Burqa issue is dealt with in a book she had to read this Summer for your AP class, "Reading Lolita in Tehran." It is clear that she has a better understanding of the issue than all of us. Which is more and more the case these days.
Well a point by point response to supposedly 10 pages of points you have made, most or all of which would only lead away from the issue of focus down some tangential rat hole of diversion, and which have likely already been addressed by others and myself in any case, are merely side issues.

This is the issue: Women in this modern day living in slavery under the Burqa. I appreciate that you have said as much as you have lastly said, and It is my hope that none of the Islamists groups will seize upon anything said by the head of Atheist Nexus as being in support of their cause.

It is my understanding of what you are saying in this last installment that you do not support the wearing of the Burqa, but do not support the banning of it either. Perhaps you are more neutral on the issue than I had first thought and have not been swayed enough by either side to fully commit to a permanent stand.

It is my hope that after the reading of the forthcoming and relentless slew of abuses perpetrated against girls and women which are surely in the offing due to women's lowered status in Islam as symbolized by the yoke of the Burqa that you will come around in time.

Oh as an aside I thought the interested readers of this tome might be interested in this account of a Canadian woman who crossed over to the domain of the walking dead to visit with the ghosts who exist inside their mobile coffins in that netherworld of the Burqa. I was shocked to hear that these Burqa wearing females actually lose most of their hair, and their teeth fall out as a result of never getting the small amount of daily sun that is needed on a persons skin to prevent Vitamin D deficiency. In some areas men even keep the windows of the house covered or painted to protect other men from having to sully themselves by looking at the face of "their" girls and women. Please ask you 16 year old daughter to read that, and get back to you on it Richard!
The points you now see, are the ones I have made from the very beginning. There still are several points you are skipping. I agree the Burqa is used to enslave women. But we cannot say ALL WOMEN. You must also deal with the limitations and boundaries of government. Also, as I said, the government should enforce that no one be FORCED to wear it. etc, etc, etc.

Believe me, it would be ridiculous for "Islamists groups will seize upon anything said by the head of Atheist Nexus as being in support of their cause." I think I am very clearly on the record for condemning them, and quite a bit more than I do Christians. If you are in doubt, you should read my email.
Richard your position is that you support the Islamists in their cause of not having the Burqa banned. Your reasons for supporting their position may indeed be different than theirs but if it (Should the Burqa be banned from use on the public streets in France) were put to a Yes or No question on a Voting Ballot, your vote would be the same as that of the hard line Islamists who would vote against the ban. You are against the ban!

Many Muslims are in favor of the ban. The majority of female Muslims in the French Cabinet are in favor of the ban. The largest Muslim organization in Canada is in favor of having it banned, and many moderates are in favor of having it banned however you are siding with the Islamists, and the Taliban who vote NO to a Ban. You are on the record as saying NO to a ban!

Islamist groups could use that, however like yourself it is my hope that they will not, and I appreciate that we at least are on the same page in that.

I am not interested in dealing with the limitations and boundaries of government. It is for us to make the wishes of society known to government, and for them to enact the laws. Saying that the government should enact a law saying that "no one be FORCED to wear it." will not mitigate the harm because those who are forced to wear it are essentially forced or induced to say they want to wear it.

I who represent, and cannot be misconstrued to represent other than myself am a nobody Richard, however I am on the side of freeing those who you acknowledge above are being enslaved by the Burqa ("I agree the Burqa is used to enslave women."), and even if there are some side issues I am contented to lay them aside to achieve the emancipation of those slaves who suffer inequality among us due to their lowered status of femaleness in the Religion of Islam, whereas you who can be construed to represent tens of thousands of Freethinkers, and perhaps even an entire Atheist Ideology plainly are not prepared to set aside extraneous concerns, and side issues in order to free those slaves.

The fact that you vote in support of the Hard-line Islamist Taliban position on the proposed Burqa Ban by saying that it should Not be banned is the problem. You say somewhere above that you are reluctant (or words to that effect) to take public positions on such political issues out of concern that people may interpret your position as being that of the head of Atheist Nexus, so surely you see the dilemma here for those who might try to leverage their Islamist position to maintain the status quo on the Burqa.

You have taken the Hard-line Islamist position that the Burqa should not be banned from the streets of France in opposition to many moderate Muslim groups so one may hope, wish, or even pray if you like that someone will not use that fact to their advantage, but we all know that hoping, wishing, and or praying are ineffectual, so please reconsider your position, and make a retraction on some following Atheist News Podcast so as to rectify the harm you may have already done, or which may result from your continued anti-female stand.




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