Since I moved to the Freethought Blogs network, I have a bunch of new readers who aren’t familiar with my greatest hits from my old, pre-FTB blog. So I’m linking to some of them, about one a day, to introduce them to the new folks.
Today’s archive treasure: An Open Letter to Concerned Believers. The tl;dr: It’s common for believers to express concern for the well-being of the atheist movement, to worry that our public image is so negative — and to offer advice on how we could get our message across more effectively by being sweeter, calmer, and less confrontational. In this letter, I express my, um, gratitude for their concern, but inform them that it is unnecessary, and thank them for sharing.
A nifty pull quote:
It is difficult to avoid the observation that, whenever believers give advice to atheists on how to run our movement, it is always in the direction of telling us to be more quiet, to tone it down, to be less confrontational and less visible. I have yet to see a believer advise the atheist movement to speak up more loudly and more passionately; to make our arguments more compelling and more unanswerable; to get in people’s faces more about delicate and thorny issues that they don’t want to think about; to not be afraid of offending people if we think we’re right. I have received a great deal of advice from believers on how atheists should run our movement… and it is always, always, always in the direction of politely suggesting that we shut up.
You’ll have to forgive me if I question the motivation behind this advice, and take it with a grain of salt.
About the author
Greta Christina has been writing professionally since 1989, on topics including atheism, sexuality and sex-positivity, LGBT issues, politics, culture, and whatever crosses her mind. She is author of The Way of the Heathen: Practicing Atheism in Everyday Life
, of Comforting Thoughts About Death That Have Nothing to Do with God
, of Coming Out Atheist: How to Do It, How to Help Each Other, and Why
, of Why Are You Atheists So Angry? 99 Things That Piss Off the Godless,
and of Bending: Dirty Kinky Stories About Pain, Power, Religion, Unicorns, & More,
and is editor of Paying For It: A Guide by Sex Workers for Their Clients
. She has been a public speaker for many years, and many of her talks can be seen on YouTube. Her writing has appeared in multiple magazines and newspapers, including Ms., Penthouse, Chicago Sun-Times, On Our Backs, and Skeptical Inquirer, and numerous anthologies, including Everything You Know About God Is Wrong
and three volumes of Best American Erotica.
(Any views she expresses in this blog are solely hers, and do not necessarily represent this organizations.) She lives in San Francisco with her wife, Ingrid. You can email her at gretachristina (at) gmail (dot) com, or follow her on Facebook
4 thoughts on “From the Archives: An Open Letter to Concerned Believers”
Ooooh, if you are running some highlights I remember a great piece you did on how the gay movement is bizarrely religious. For whatever reason the keywords I use to search for it never find it. Any chance that it is easier from your end?
Gordon, I suspect you’re thinking of “Being an Atheist in the Queer Community,” a classic Greta post (as classic as the Open Letter here) from December 2008. Not sure I’d summarize it the way you did, but there ’tis.
RTWT… but then who would need to be reminded of that?
– Rieux, owner of a bulging bookmarks folder titled “Greta Christina”
Thanks Rieux, you are a star. I suppose by bizarre I meant unlikely. As the article points out, we are natural allies.
[…] almost like he’s trying to give atheists advice, reminds me of Greta Christina’s “Letter to Concerned Believers,” but he raises some questions that are worth answering. First: There are two billion Christians on […]
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