Why I Can't Support American Atheists

As much as I like Dave Silverman, more and more he rubs me the wrong way, and it seems like most of the atheists who do the most rubbing me of the wrong way are affiliated with American Atheists. It seems like they're trying to undo all the work me and many others are trying to do by framing atheism as it's own religion. Whenever I see a Madalyn Murray O'Hair, Michael Newdow, or even Dave Silverman quote, most of the time it makes me facepalm, because most of the time they're reflecting some extreme opinion that I'm tired of being accused of having. Newdow is the worst in my opinion because not only is he wasting time in court and actually doing harm to our cause by setting bad precedent, but he's also saying things like having 'In God We Trust' on our currency forces atheists to commit blasphemy, and running an atheist "church." Uh, no! It's impossible for an atheist to commit blasphemy. You keep using that word, Mr. Newdow. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Then there was the infamous "YOU KNOW" billboard campaign, which Silverman obtusely defended as targeting only the closeted atheists. See, I've noticed this about Silverman. Whenever he does something public, he seems to completely dismiss the idea that perhaps his wording might be a bit misleading to, oh I dunno, the vast majority of the people who hear him, and he doesn't bother to clarify until after everybody's already upset, and then he acts surprised at the reaction.

And now the latest cross controversy. Susan Jacoby's article put it very well; if this is an establishment clause violation then every piece of renaissance art in every public-funded museum is a violation as well. The museum is not displaying the object to promote Christianity, it's displaying the object because it is related to the tragedy, because it BELONGS THERE. It is one exhibit out of many, which will undoubtedly contain many other religious symbols. Yes, it is possible to display an object with religious significance without promoting that religion. Does the fact that Egypt's Cairo museum displays a number of artifacts significant to the Ancient Egyptian religion mean that the state of Egypt recognized Osiris as the supreme deity? Of course not. Mr. Silverman, stop being so damned childish. Please, drop the suit before your organization does even more damage to the cause. Don't be a Newdow.

I think a lot of what AA does is way over-the-top, from the billboard campaign to these frivolous lawsuits. All the suit will do is fail and set a precedent that could be taken further in the future, perhaps even actually violating the establishment clause. AA isn't fighting a constitutional issue, they're providing a stepping stone for actual violations.

While I applaud the idea of promoting atheism on a massive scale like AA does, I cringe at the same time because most of those promotions and lawsuits don't reflect my views on it, and it makes my life harder because I call myself an atheist, so people tend to assume I at least agree with AA on most points. Their thoughts are in the right place, but I just can't get behind their execution.

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Comment by annet on August 9, 2011 at 12:46am
True. "Sugar brings more flies than vinegar." With the likes of Dawkins and Hitchins as our spokespeople (bless their venerable hearts) we already look quite angry to many.   Maybe these  guys were victims of especially awful religious terror and are still pissed off about it. 

Comment by MolotovDerp on August 8, 2011 at 11:36pm
It's a part of history. From what I've read on the subject they were two steel beams found in the rubble. Who cares if some people find it religiously symbolic? The beams are not presented in the museum that way.
Comment by Torkoal (Gotta catch 'em all) on August 8, 2011 at 11:06pm
Oh by the way, you've double posted.
Comment by Torkoal (Gotta catch 'em all) on August 8, 2011 at 11:01pm
They are taking it too far. Behaving like anything somewhat religious threatens them and going after it is making atheists in general look like assholes.
Comment by MolotovDerp on August 8, 2011 at 10:36pm
I generally don't listen to the people who think atheist=in line with whatever aa (ha at the acronym) because it's just a quick blanket statement-but nonetheless I agree about the current lawsuit and Silverman's statements. Can't say much bout the rest since I'm not armed with knowledge of the rest of those individuals or the organization in detail (and i don't bother with it).



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