SOPA has been shelved (probably so they can try to pass something like SOPA in some other bill when nobody is looking). Wikipedia has decided to participate in the blackout. We will also take part in the blackout. Now we must speak up against PIPA. Spread the word, post about it everywhere, talk about it, get informed.
A 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.
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.”
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
November 12, 2011 at 10:11 pm
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!
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