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Implosion at CFI Canada because of accomodationism vs confrontationalism

blog was written today on the implosion of CFI Canada.  As long as we keep having these accomodationist vs confrontationalist arguments we will continue to have implosions. Frankly, it disgusts me that we have done this. I felt the wrath of the accomodationists when I was known for being a confrontationalist. I probably will still have the perception of being one. Even though I am creating a feel good project that supports all atheists.  I think I am a blend of both.  I hope you are too.

Being able to adjust your method depending on who you interact with is a strong suit.  And if someone sees you are confrontational, why must they label you as always confrontational?  It is also highly hypocritical to be an accomodationalist but be confrontational on the issue of confrontationalists.  It’s time for us to elevate our game.  This division has gone on long enough.  We must think critically and with reason.

I have always supported the efforts of those who are excessively passive, and think they should support mine. We must embrace each other even when we don’t completely agree. Part of the reason I started Atheism United was to show people how there can be a united front. I look forward to universally supporting both camps.  It’s sad how I know the only way to make it work is to not rely on these groups to actually unite.  I will support them whether they support me or not.  And would you believe that there will actually be people who will kick this gift horse in the mouth?  For what?  Because I told someone Jesus was fake on twitter?

Please people, ponder it… we must work together, share a planet together. We can’t make such a big deal over tact and approach. Vocalize your disagreement so that your position is known, but you can’t let it get to the point where you are shooting yourself in the foot.

And if we’re really going to make these labels “accomodationist” and “confrontationalist” can we at least admit there are more groups than that?  If we do, we must include a class of people who are still so downtrodden by religion and brainwashed by it’s followers that they refuse to speak up and would argue vehemently against someone who does.

Accomodationists aren’t a problem… people who are scared to speak up are.  Those people need to sit back and allow everyone else to help humanity move forward, they need to go work on something else.  Maybe environmental clean up, helping the homeless, or relaxing at the pool would be a better activity for people who are so beat by religion that they argue everyone should be quiet.  I used to call that group “Chicken Shit Atheists” but you can come up with a politically correct 15 letter name if you’d like.

Reposted from: Accomodationist vs Confrontationalist

6 comments - What do you think?  Posted by Sapient - November 27, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Categories: activism/volunteering, atheism, atheist orgs, tactics   Tags:

Two types of atheist groups

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 Leadership
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

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Sapient - at 11:40 am

Categories: activism/volunteering, atheism, atheist, atheist orgs, atheists, Rational Response Squad, tactics   Tags:

My religious upbringing and a timeline

I was born an atheist,  at 5 I was sure God existed because I was told by the person I trusted the most that God existed.  As I learned about the bible and started to understand the world I became a little more agnostic on the idea and was an agnostic catholic at 8.  At 13 my mother decided the Catholic Church wasn’t exciting enough and we joined a born again Christian Church, I was 13.  I said the special password prayer you need to say to let Jesus know you want in to heaven.  Literally, this was the argument and justification, say this prayer and you won’t burn in hell, you’ll go to heaven.  What 13 year old that still trusts his mother wouldn’t do that?  I did it… I was an agnostic Born-again Christian.  I talked to Jesus at night before bed, and I tried to get my father on the proper path as well.  I was tortured over the thought of him going to hell.

As I learned about science I leaned towards being an agnostic deist.  This process lasted several years and I happily with any type of theistic belief.  I was living with a non-practicing Jewish father who I thought of as very “Jewish” and now know him as someone who believes in Spinoza’s God or Einstein’s deistic leanings.  When I was about 20 I looked up atheism for the first time on the internet, I found Jake who helped me think myself out of my deism.  I was able to call myself an agnostic atheist less than a week later.  For the first time I was able to call myself an atheist without thinking I was evil because of the word that my mother brainwashed me about, that was 14 years ago. It was at that point I decided to spend my life correcting the wrongs of religion.

Mom, if you’re reading this… keep in mind, your completely ridiculous religion helped cause our family breakup.  Religion kills families.  My efforts come in large part because of how religion was forced on me as a child, but also because of all the other people who have told me about their upbringings, some of whom can use the word “Cult” to describe how they were brought up.   I was about 14 when you started praying for me to want you in my life, it’s been 20 years, where is that getting you?

1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by Sapient - November 12, 2011 at 10:11 pm

Categories: activism/volunteering, atheism, atheist, religion, Science   Tags:

Atheist Rap Artist Syqnys has new album

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!


If you’re interested in Hypatia you can purchase Brian Trent‘s book at Amazon about Hypatia and the Library of Alexandria.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Sapient - November 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm

Categories: atheist, music, Rational Response Squad, video   Tags:

What does Occupy have to do with Nontheism?

Dear Fellow Atheists, Secular Humanists, Freethinkers and other Nontheists,

Why is it that we don’t see many Christian fundamentalists or Tea Partiers taking part in Occupy? Because of an alliance that began in the 70s. Back then, corporations wanted more of a voice and religious Americans needed more cash. The result was the “Moral Majority.” This 40-year alliance explains why religious right wingers, who claim to be moral and pro-family, vote with Tea Partiers against help for families and the working class – after all, we can’t afford all that and letting corporations off the hook in paying taxes.

Luckily the number of fed-up people has grown about as fast as a CEO’s annual bonus and we now have the power to cut the corporate influence that has infested our politics. Since six mega-corporations now control much of our prime time news flow (see Who Owns the Media?), mainstream media hasn’t been covering Occupy too accurately, to put it nicely.

And it’s not just FOX. The rest of corporate media minimizes the message by focusing on clashes, using words like “terrorism” and the “destruction and violence” that supposedly accompany “anticapitalist demonstrations.” With the Oakland fiasco, the networks covered the police brutality but played down the message. That night ABC first treated us to a story about Bernie Madoff’s wife. Only after did they show footage of tear gas flashing through a rose-colored fog, a symphony of yells, shouts, cries and screams in accompaniment. ABC punctuated its coverage by citing an unidentified poll showing the Movement’s “unpopularity.” A fact check, however, revealed the opposite – a thumbs up from the masses. The next day they completely ignored a meeting protesters had with Tea Party kingpin, John Boehner.

Other ways the anti-corporate message is diminished is by lowballing. Many local news channels claimed NYC had only a 1,500-2,000 protesters, while non-corporate news sources gave figures of over 20,000.

Local coverage mimics national coverage in painting this movement in unpalatable terms, utilizing words like “chaotic,” “anarchistic” and having “no common purpose.” I don’t know where the news crew was, but in the protest I took part in all one had to do is glance at the sea of signs to notice that the message was getting corporations to pay their share of taxes and take responsibility for the environment.

Then there’s unabashed neglect. A FAIR report noted that during the initial protests, only CNN briefly mentioned it. On his TV show (9/21/11), Keith Olberman said: “So five days … protesting corporate control of the economy, and you haven’t heard a word about it on the news?” He later remarked, “If that’s a Tea Party protest in front of Wall Street … it’s the lead story on every network newscast.”

Moral: Conservatives calling the media liberal is like Madoff calling his investors savvy. To get the whole story on the corporate social responsibility movement, supplement your news with independent news like AlterNettruthoutOpEdNewsNPRor foreign news. Progressive non-corporate sources will also help you keep an eye on the Religious Right Wing and the Tea Partiers, or try People for the American Wayand the Center for Inquiry. For info on how your senators voted with respect to secular values, see the Secular Coalition’s Secular Scorecard.

Keep on protestin’

Emily Paine

FAIR Activism Update: Some Breaks in the Blackout of Wall Street Protests
Whitewashing the Blackout of Occupy Wall Street
What if the Tea Party Occupied Wall Street? Corporate media skip anti-corporate protests
4 Polls That Show Occupy Wall Street is Just Getting Started
CNN’s Factcheck Failure on Occupy Wall Street
The above letter was sent to me by email and posted here with permission from Emily.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Sapient - November 5, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Categories: activism/volunteering, atheism, Occupy Wall Street   Tags:

Scientist vs Thelogian

Dr. Jerry Coyne is drawing lots of internet attention because of the events that transpired around his debate on October 12 at the University of Kentucky.  Coyne debated John Haught a Catholic from Georgetown University.

What makes this event special?  Apparently both parties agreed to videotape the event well in advance of the event.  However after the event Dr. Coyne receives a correspondence from Dr. John Rabel (Coordinator of the debate) that John Haught didn’t want the video to be released.  They agreed to release it before the event and therefore Rabel obviously couldn’t honor this request.  Well Dr. John Rabel of the Gaines Center for Humanities agreed to not allow posting of the video because they didn’t get permission from Haught in advance to post the video.  Someone correct me if my timeline is wrong.

Well what was that?  Previous videos in this series with John Haught have been posted, Dr. Coyne knows as he studied them to prepare for the event in which Haught apparently came off as unpolished.  Did Haught think this appearance was so bad it was worth censoring?  Why didn’t he know there would be an annoying internet backlash?  Slews of e-mailers flooded Haught and Rabel with e-mail over the last few days with claims of cowardice. Legal action has been threatened against Dr. Jerry Coyne for antagonizing all of this.

Of course Haught and Rabel are fully to blame.  Do atheists really come off to Christian leaders like they can just roll over us and we’ll shut up?  Sorry Haught, we wont just go away.  We all want to see the arguments that you and Coyne made.  In fact, now we want to see it more.  Before we wouldn’t have cared.  You drew our attention to it.  You drew our attention to it just like Kent Hovind did when he sent in false copyright claims against youtube atheists.  If you wanted it to be something that would just go away, something that you didn’t become known for then it is you John Haught that should have slowly and quietly walked away and given Dr. Jerry Coyne his copy of the tape.

Kudos to you Dr. Jerry Coyne for not letting this issue die. Might I suggest everyone head over to Amazon and buy your excellent book “Why Evolution is True.”

If you decide to write Rabel or Haught please remember to be nice.


UPDATE: We now have reason to believe that the video will be released.  Haught changed his tune after the internet backlash.  We still await the video.  



Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Sapient - November 2, 2011 at 12:14 pm

Categories: atheism, atheist, Science   Tags:

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