Wow Darrel Ray is brilliant. He nails it on “First generation leadership.” Because of my type-a personality and my inability to trust easily I was unable to spot future dedicated activists when they aligned with me early in their activist “careers.” Ashley Paramore and Shelley Mountjoy were by my side at the beginning. If I could have known to expand their leadership role early enough, they might have never needed to go become superstars elsewhere.
Check this article out if you would like to learn more about how atheist groups function, and how we can improve them.
Two Types of Leadership in the Secular Movement
Leadership among secular groups tends to come in two general flavors, those that are led by one or a few charismatic leaders (often the founders) and those that are led by a less centralized executive group. There is plenty of room for both types of groups in the movement, but it is important to be conscious and intentional in understanding and recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of both. For purposes of discussion, we will call these groups “first generation” and “second generation,” respectively, although they may not always fit that classification.
First-generation groups are often led by charismatic leaders. These are lean and activist groups. The founders have a sharp vision for what they want to accomplish and move fast to get the job done. They are often the leading edge of the movement and have influence out of proportion to their numbers both within the movement and in the larger society. Their strengths are invaluable because they are pacesetters, influencing the overall direction of the movement.
Despite their major strengths, it is also important to understand the weaknesses of first generation leaders. They are often an insular group and less democratic. Since first-generation leaders are generally autocratic, they tend to attract members who respond to strong, direct leadership. This limits membership, since only a fraction of the target population responds to this type of leadership.
Challenges to their leadership or vision are not welcome. It may be easy to join one of these groups but hard, if not impossible, to gain a position of influence. For this reason, the leaders have difficulty grooming the next generation. Upcoming, promising new leaders often see no opportunity to take part in the core functions of the organization and, therefore, don’t stick around long. Further, the boards of first-generation groups are generally a reflection of the leader and, therefore, typically very insular as well. The age range within this type of board is often similar to the age of the founder. This makes for a leadership structure that has a limited view and tends to be resistant to change.
Further, he talks about how groups led by charismatic leaders suffer when the external environment changes. The decision to start atheismunited.com was born from that change in environment. The atheist world is much different today than 6 years ago. RRS is still needed, but atheism united will be more current and relevant. The project was born from the idea that we didn’t care what banner we impacted the world under, we just wanted to have the biggest impact possible. We decided it was necessary to create something different. How justified Darrel Ray makes us feel.
“As long as the external environment remains consistent with the conditions in which the organization was founded, it will continue to function. But when the external environment changes, it can present difficult challenges. To the degree that an organization influences the surrounding culture, the target of its efforts must change. Culture is a moving target, and organizations that don’t adjust their influence strategy run the risk of using yesterday’s successful methods on today’s culture.
A good example is the civil rights movement, where many of the first-generation leaders continued following a vision that was rendered obsolete with changes in legislation and social norms.”
Reposted from: two types of atheist groups
I just had the chance to listen to the new Syqnys album. I was surprised to see I could listen to the whole thing free online. That’s smart, it made me buy it. His messages we’re on point. He said lots that made me think, and lots that made me want to go back and hear it a second time. Syqnys once wrote a song called “I am Rational Response Squad.”
Syqnys had all kinds of original thought in his album, which usually makes it one of those albums that you can listen to over and over. You should check it out, listen to it… then buy a hard copy for $10, once you buy the hardcopy you get the download for free. He also allows individual downloads for $1. I told Syqnys that my readers would want to know more, so I asked him a few questions and here is what he had to say:
What is the main theme of your new album?
Syqnys: The album is called “Hypatia’s Reign, which is a reference to the fourth century philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria, who was brutally murdered by a Christian mob for reasons that mainly had to do with her ungodliness and general lack of docility. This album represents the hope the secular community has for an era where rationality and reason dominate our public discourse. Where religion and other “conversation stoppers” have become as antiquated as alchemy is to modern medicine. “Hypatia’s Reign” is what the “Age of Enlightenment” was supposed to be.
By no means is the era a reality at this moment, but that is the point; it should be! It would be the ultimate historical irony, or rather justice, if the image of Hypatia came to represent the “Death” of unreason. The following line from the intro song sums up the idea perfectly, “Welcome to the Reign/come and feel the pain/ of the brilliant woman who was persecuted then slain/cut up into pieces by the followers of Jesus now the flames of ignorance will drown in her rain.” The album is also a reflection on my daughter Hypatia, who was still born nearly four years ago.
What do you hope the audience will take away from this album?
Syqnys: First and foremost I want people to really dig the music. If you are a fan of rap music already, there is no doubt in my mind you will appreciate this album. I’m not a conceded person at all, but I can rap my ass off, man. I try to be as creative and tricky with my word play as possible. With every song I want to say something that will either keep you on your toes, surprise you, impress you or simply plant the seed of a new idea, or even to validate something you’ve thought before, but never really had someone clarify it or express it in a way that left you confident that you were right about it the whole time. I’ve had this same experience reading Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris, and I hope I can have the same effect through music. Even if you’re not a fan of rap, you’ll find something on this album that will leave an impression. I’m willing to bet I can change the minds of a few anti-rap people out there.
What motivates you to speak out?
Syqnys: All I do is speak out, whether it’s with music, writing or just in conversations. Before I even knew what the hell I was talking about, I felt there were some serious flaws in what many of my peers and role models believed in and promoted. I remember debating my creationist friends about evolution and not knowing “shit about fuck” (as Robin Williams so eloquently puts it), but I KNEW they knew even less “Shit” about “Fuck”. All you have to do to figure out what motivates people like Brian and myself to speak out, especially on religion/atheism, is listen to ten minutes of Kent Hovind, Dinesh D’Souza or even the nuts of right-wing talk radio and you’ll understand perfectly what motivates us. Not to mention the religious extremist (actually their just the ones who take their holy texts seriously) of all stripes. People who don’t pay much attention to these issues can brush these lunatics off with a laugh… but they scare the shit out of me!
I don’t post much on this site.
Keep up with what I’m up to at one of these spots:
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Recent posts on Rational Response Squad forums
My blog on Rational Response Squad
Religion creates another atrocity, god is great, eh? Listen Muslims and Christians… stop the fighting. You’re both wrong, it’s time to act like rational grown-ups and throw off your archaic belief system, you are destroying civilization, and will continue to do so until we’re gone. Abandon your superstitious nonsense, and evolve already! Ask yourself, what solid proof to you have to believe in your God. If what you have is a holy book, remind yourself that hundreds of holy books exist for hundreds of gods, and you don’t believe in any of them, so obviously a holy book is not sufficient proof.
Throw off your superstitious nonsense, and embrace things you know exist like humans for example. Make no mistake, today millions of folks around the world who have no belief in a god are sad for the people who were affected by this needless loss of life, just as we’ve been sad about all the other atrocities committed in the name of religion throughout the ages. Our thoughts are with the billions who have been negatively affected by religion since the dawn of time, and always are. In fact my life is dedicated to ensuring these sorts of things don’t continue to happen, you can start by breaking the cycle… throw religion off today!
We’ve restored the content on both the old Way of the Master watchdog site, and Ask The Atheist.
I’m currently looking for people that are writing articles, have written articles, or are willing to write articles exposing Kirk Cameron, Ray Comfort, Todd Friehl and any of the other loons that work with the Way of the Master organization. That site had been taken down quite some time ago, and is now available here: Way of the Master Watchdog
The OLD Ask The Atheist site is now in archive format only attached to our site as a subdomain: http://asktheatheist.rationalresponders.com
You can log in to both of the above sites to post a comment with your RRS login and password.
If you’re interested in being a thorn in the side of the WOTM team (seriously it’s easy, it just takes a little time and energy) please let me know. The best way to let me know is to read a few of the posts on the Way of the Master Watchdog and get a vibe of what we were trying to achieve, and to submit a story to me that you think is worthy of posting. I’m currently in need of a few good stories involving Ray Comforts destruction of “The Origin of Species.” So if you’re interested in coming up with a post or two per month about the current whereabouts of the con-men at Way of the Master, let me know.
Oh… and if you want to check out the current form of Ask the Atheist it’s available here.
He’s won the Christian of the day award twice, so I thought it was important to show the other side of him, the bad days if you will.
At what point can we stop worrying about this? Christians, get a grip, please. Cory Tuchulski (you know him from this blog debate, which we are still waiting for him to continue) from Josiah Concept Ministries (tm?) has recently posted a blog echoing Jimmy Akin (another Christian who cannot think beyond what sermons were preached at him) in demanding PZ be fired. I’m ashamed of Cory, because I know he is not generally like most Christians out there, and I have grown to respect him as a person.
Cory I ask you; you do realize that he stuck a nail through an actual wafer right? That you believe there is any real significance to this is appalling Cory. It’s a piece of flat bread. The symbolism may shock you, it may stir up images of the passion from the Gospel narratives (fictions), but it has no actual meaning beyond what you interpret in it. Calling for his resignation over stabbing a wafer is using poor judgment, since Christians not only eat the wafer, but digest it, and we all know where it eventually comes out…
Here is what I think. Perhaps all Christians who eat the wafer on Sunday at church are also committing a horrendous act! They should all be fired! Curse those wafer-eating jerks! After all, PZ was only replacing tooth enamel with steel. The act of crucifixion (stauros – to pierce) is still happening in both instances. PZ throwing the wafer in the trash is much more humane (if such deluded concepts such as transubstantiation were real) than having enzymes break down the food, travel through your digestive track, along with all your other food wastes, and be crapped out in a toilet bowl while you read the most recent addition of Catholic Weekly, or Readers Digest, or I Don’t Believe in Atheists, or whatever other reading material is befitting a place next to the ‘shitter’ (and believe me Hedges’ book belongs in the can, not just next to it).
What would Jesus do? (If he were a turd, that is) Does Jesus stop being transubstantiated in your bowels? Is it right when he hits the toilet water filled with all that bacteria? Have you even thought this through all the way? What happens when you have diarrhea? All of these are pertinent questions. Unless, of course, it is just a wafer. Cory, this is not a thing you should be promoting, not you. Not any Christian. Not any sane, logical, sensible person. It’s a bloody (figuratively) wafer. It is not worth death threats, job resignations, or hoopla.
And how can you say he is a “poor representative of the university?” This isn’t Liberty U, where delusions are sold along side the false idea that you can have “informed faith.” He works for a liberal arts school, where science and reason are the starting foundations – to a higher education (not a faith-based one). If anything, Myers has demonstrated (once more) how he is the perfect representative for a school who puts science first, rather than Christian ignorance. You should take notes, not throw paper airplanes from the back of the class.
So, Cory, can we be done with all this ranting and raving, being on a tirade and kicking dirt in a huff and remember that the world (where reason and science work) outside of your delusions (which you have been spoon fed since mental recognition) does not hold to the same ideals that you do, where defacing a wafer is a crime where a person needs to be kicked to the curb where the economy is already in a bad place thanks to one of your own (Christian) kind. (Who uses the same poor logic and thinking skills)
To our friend PZ, keep doin that voodoo that you do so well.