There seems to have been a lot of jabber in parts of the atheist community these days about SJWs, also known as Social Justice Warriors, and the supposedly negative impact these people have had on the atheist movement. Argument about this business has gone up and down the internet, from YouTube to Patheos.com and back. The two sides of this foofaraw seem to be split mostly around feminism’s seeming inclusion into the warp and woof of some atheist discussions and issues deriving from that interaction, plus free speech issues pitted against “safe spaces” where “trigger words” may be problematic. If this is an incomplete list of the elements driving the current kerfuffle, that’s a product of my lack of involvement in the endless wrangling which is going on, mostly because I don’t give a shit about their arguments.
I do care that a lot of good people are all of a sudden being negatively painted with the SJW or other brush and that having to fuss with this matter distracts from far more important issues. People I respect, including Aron Ra, Matt Dillahunty, Seth Andrews, Steve Shives and others have caught flack, sometimes from former admirers, for no other reason than having opinions regarding social justice topics in addition to their views on atheism. Basically, I see this whole situation not only as a distraction from the problem at hand (irrational beliefs) but robbing that primary focus of energy which could be better used.
A great deal of this business has been linked to the earlier Atheism-Plus movement, and I suspect much of the rancor derives from it. I have already stated how I feel about A+, but it is worth noting that there are derivations which come from atheism which relate to a fair amount of what the SJWs are after:
Feminism – Pardon my being simplistic, but women should be treated equally with men. Even a cursory look at the bible or quran will tell anyone that the Abrahamic religions are not much for women’s equality. In fact, women in the bible and quran are fundamentally treated as chattel. Thus, atheism relates to women’s issues.
LGBT Rights – Gays, Lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered people deserve the same rights as the rest of society. Two of the most notorious verses in the bible may be found in Leviticus, 18:22 and 20:13, particularly, as regards how that book sees homosexuals, and a significant number of believers will lump in the rest of the initials without blinking. A lack of belief in gods and non-subscription to the dictates of their holy books is therefore significant to LGBT issues.
Climate Change – Believers would have us think that their savior is coming back any second, and therefore any work or monies expended on combatting climate change is wasted. Anyone who has watched the shift in weather patterns in the US and elsewhere and has no attachment to a deity realizes that reliance on something that doesn’t exist to safe us is a fool’s errand. Not subscribing to such religious malarkey clearly has an impact on climate change conversation.
These are just three serious issues where, atheism may be said to at least factor into any salient discussion, because, at least in part, religion drives the negative side of the equation. Nota bene: there are likely many more.
So the notion that atheism sits in a glass box - by itself - while issues related to the human condition remain untouched? That's not reality.
-- Seth Andrews, “The Reason Rally ‘Failure’”