Atheist charity, redux

Not so long ago, I wrote here about the Foundation Beyond Belief’s selection of Quaker Peace and Social Witness for their third quarter, and why I think that was a bad idea. Yesterday, Dale McGowan, FBB Executive Director, wrote what sounded like a summary and wrap-up of this whole controversy, and Hemant Mehta, FBB Board President, posted about it as well. I don’t think this debate is a done deal, particularly given the conclusions drawn in those two posts.

Dale found the worst arguments anyone was making against donating to a Quaker charity, mocked those, and dismissed the entire side as too weak to be taken seriously. Meanwhile, I find the arguments being made in favor of this selection to be woefully inadequate, I’ve argued as much in detail — and haven’t heard any convincing responses. Mostly, I’ve just been ignored. Dale keeps saying in comments that he appreciates the conversation because it will help him think this through … but his personal statements on the topic in blog posts demonstrate that he has already made up his mind. Rather than engaging with ideas different from his own, it seems he is primarily interested in making the opposition look bad.

In this post, I’m going to lay out all the arguments I’ve heard in support of the selection of QPSW, and why I think those arguments are unconvincing. I’ve said a lot of this before, but hopefully organizing it like this will make it easier to follow. If anyone would like to respond to this post and defend the actions of the Foundation Beyond Belief, I’d really like them to do more than just repeat the points written in bold. I’d hope they could actually deal with the text underneath those points and explain why I’m mistaken.

Naturally, we have to begin by clarifying the aims of the Foundation Beyond Belief, because they should be tailoring their policies and actions to best suit those aims. Here’s what I think FBB is about, based on the FBB’s website and other writings by the FBB board.

  • “Our purpose is to focus, encourage, and demonstrate the generosity and compassion of atheists and humanists in the interest of a better world.” FBB FAQ
  • “… the Foundation exists to allow individual humanists a means of expressing their worldview positively and doing good in the name of that worldview …” Dale’s recent post at The Meming of Life
  • “Foundation Beyond Belief is a chance for us to prove we’re just as capable of volunteering our time and giving our money as any religious person. … Let this Foundation grow and let it be a symbol of the power of humanism and the effect that a bunch of atheists can have to make this world a better place.” Hemant’s FBB blog post
  • “Our Mission: To demonstrate humanism at its best by supporting efforts to improve this world and this life, and to challenge humanists to embody the highest principles of humanism, including mutual care and responsibility.” FBB About page

I fully recognize, as Dale argued in an FBB blog post back in February, that “demonstrate” is only one verb out of three important ones in that statement of purpose. Still, that’s no reason to discard it as completely unimportant. It’s very clear from these statements I’ve quoted that the people running FBB believe that the organization exists in order to encourage humanists to be charitable “in the name of” humanism, and that they hope aggregating the donations made by humanists in this way will serve as a powerful demonstration to the world that people can be helpful and generous without the influence of religion.

So. In light of that, why is it supposedly okay to channel FBB money to an explicitly religious charity like QPSW?

1. Quakers aren’t really religious
Yes, they are. How do I know? Because Quakers call it a religion. I think it appropriate to defer to them on that call. Quakers may not read the Bible literally, but they do in general value the Bible more than the Qur’an or the Mahabharata or, say, Gulliver’s Travels. Quakers may use vague language like “the Inner Light” when talking about the supernatural, and some do interpret this in a somewhat New-Agey sense. However, it is generally understood to refer to God’s presence. We have been reminded over and over and over that there are nontheist Quakers out there. We got it. Thanks. It’s nice that they are tolerant. But they are still a religion, both by their own say-so and by any common sense definition.

The existence of nontheist Quakers makes my point all the more important. By remaining part of a religious group, they are perpetuating the norm that religion is good and necessary. In the U.S., they are being counted by conservative Christian politicians making the case that this is a majority-Christian nation and therefore should be a theocracy. For all the reasons we think Atheist “Coming Out” Day is valuable, this situation is detrimental.

The bottom line is, supporting Quakers is not just another way to support atheists. They are still a religious organization.

2. Quakers don’t proselytize
When you label your good works as being done by Quakers, you are promoting the idea that Quakers are good people. This wins converts. Don’t believe me? Ask Stuart Burbridge, Quaker convert writing for the BBC’s Faith section on why he became Quaker: “Over several years I noticed wherever there was good work being done there always seemed to be a Quaker present. I was intrigued.”

Many people are religious not because they were won over by the arguments, but because they have a sense that being a “person of faith” is part of being good. This is also why many people who are actually atheists still identify as religious (see #1). If any part of the FBB’s mission is to shatter this misconception, to show people that atheists are good people too — donating to QPSW goes against that mission.

Yes, proselytizing is a low priority for Quakers, and they don’t go door-to-door passing out tracts. But they do get new members somehow, and doing good works under an explicitly Quaker banner is part of how they do it. QPSW is one of those Quaker banners.

3. This charity does really good work
Yes, I know. QPSW is doing a lot of important work in many areas of conflict around the world, and they shared the Nobel Peace Prize 63 years ago. I’m glad that they exist; clearly it’s better for the world that someone be doing that work than that no one do that work at all. However, that is not the choice we are facing. In order to support peace, it is not necessary for a charitable foundation that values “doing good in the name of [humanism]” to pay for someone else to do good in the name of religion. There are plenty of secular charities that do quality work for peace — doing good in the name of everybody — and FBB should be supporting them instead.

4. Quakerism is a really good religion
What this really boils down to is something more like, “Quakerism is much less bad than many other religions.” That’s certainly true. As I’ve touched on already, they tend to be very tolerant and they don’t have a strict dogma, meaning they’re never going to be the ones fighting for “intelligent design” to be taught in biology classes or anything like that. They’ve been on the right side of many important social issues throughout history, championing the abolition of slavery, women’s rights, gay rights, and so on. That’s lovely. I’d be thrilled to hear that someone who was a Southern Baptist converted and became a Quaker. However, I’d be even more thrilled to hear that they had become an atheist.

I’m hardly alone in that sentiment. After all, we’re all here, talking about this atheist charity and how it should run, because we think that atheism is better than Quakerism. If we didn’t think that were true, we’d be Quakers. Quakerism is undeniably very good, for a religion — but it’s still a religion (see #1), so I’m not that impressed.

5. It’s important to reach out to religious people
Sure. It’s good to talk to religious people, let them know we exist, and let them know we share many of their values. It’s good to work with religious people insofar as we have common values and goals. It’s certainly a good idea to have, for example, the atheist group helping rebuild New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina coordinate their efforts with the Lutheran group doing the same, so that they maximize their combined output. I think we can also agree that interfaith alliance organizations are worthwhile as well; it’s great when people with different beliefs can come together and do good “for goodness’ sake,” recognizing that each member has their own path for getting there.

However, the Foundation Beyond Belief giving money to QPSW is a horse of an entirely different color. It is not, as has been repeatedly argued, analogous to the first-quarter selection of the Bergen County Sanctuary Committee, a coalition of religious and humanist groups working for human rights. Supporting that charity means really supporting bridge-building between the religious and the non-religious. On the other hand, the Foundation Beyond Belief is an atheist organization, and the QPSW is a Quaker organization. FBB giving money to QPSW is not forming a coalition; it’s just giving them money to continue doing good work in the name of Quakerism. Surely there are other, more fair ways for us to reach out to Quakers than this.

6. FBB members want to do this
If so, I’m arguing with them too. This is not just a dialogue between me and Dale McGowan here. Arguments do not become true or false based on how many people believe them. I would think that a bunch of atheists could understand this concept.

Additionally, I don’t think it’s so obvious that there is this virtually-unanimous groundswell of support. Of course, I don’t get to read the FBB board’s personal correspondence, and I don’t always know who in the stuff I read is an FBB member and who isn’t. But the responses I’ve seen (in, and in comments on, several of the posts linked above) strike me as around 50% vehemently against. Those who are not against are for the most part indifferent. Even if a handful of the 533 FBB members were happy enough about this choice to send the board a heartfelt email of praise, it’s very clear to me that many, many potential members of FBB are unhappy enough about this choice to refrain from joining, even if they had been considering it.

Were there a lot of people who were really bothered that all the FBB charities so far had been secular or humanist in nature? It seems hardly surprising that a group that promotes itself as being by humanists and for humanists would select such beneficiaries. In fact, it seems like exactly what that group would and should be doing. Certainly, after the choice of QPSW was announced, there have been some FBB members who said they don’t mind the selection of a liberal religious charity every now and then, but where were the people beforehand who were actually upset that none of the charities were explicitly religious? Who did that offend?

7. You can just switch your money out of that section for this quarter
Of course. FBB has 10 categories, and members can choose how much of their donation goes to the charity in each category each month. You could wait for each new slate of beneficiaries to be announced, do your own background research on each one, figure out which charities are worth supporting and which aren’t, and adjust your percentages accordingly. With that in mind, it doesn’t really matter if they happen to pick a charity that’s not worth supporting every so often — but this is equivalent to saying, “The Foundation Beyond Belief doesn’t really matter.” And it probably doesn’t, not that much, in the grand scheme of things. But that strikes me as a weird argument for the administrative board of the Foundation to be making.

It comes back to the question I addressed way (waaaay) back at the top of this post. What is the point of FBB? Let’s look at their statement of purpose. Is it to “encourage” atheists to give to reputable secular charities by making it easy and centralized? If so, this expectation that you will continually readjust your money just complicates the system again, undoing most of what made it easy in the first place. But Dale said, “Not only is this not the whole point — truthfully, it’s hardly a point in our mission at all. It’s a very simple matter to find and support secular charities.” I disagree that it’s “very simple,” but whatever. The executive director of FBB is not concerned with making charitable giving easier for atheists. So — is the purpose rather to “focus” atheists’ giving toward charities which deserve our support? It’s hardly a focus if it comes with the assumption that whoever wants to will just divert their money from it — and that if most everybody chooses to do so, it’s no big deal. Then, is the purpose to “demonstrate” the charitable nature of humanism in the absence of religion? I’ve argued extensively (sorry about that…) about why this particular organization demonstrates the charity of religious people, not the charity of atheists. And don’t forget that “demonstrate” is supposedly the least important of the three verbs in FBB’s statement of purpose.

What, then, is the reason why an atheist, humanist individual is supposed to sign up for the Foundation Beyond Belief? What is it for?

I’ve seen a reasonable case made that FBB donating to a Quaker charity is not the end of the world. Fine. But this is very different from making the case that it’s actually a good idea. I’m of the opinion that we should choose actions not because they simply fail to cause catastrophic shock waves of destruction in the world, but rather because they seem good or at worst neutral. Things that are bad in relatively small ways are still worth stopping.

Dale McGowan has repeatedly suggested that how many people quit FBB over this is the real measure of how people feel about it. I’m sorry to hear that, because it sounded at first as though members could really offer their input and influence the way that the Foundation works. If that’s the way FBB wants to run things, though, I guess atheists looking for charity that’s honestly “beyond belief” will have to go it alone for now.

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  1. I like & respect both Dale & Hemant, personally & publicly. That said, I agree with you completely. Well said. I’ll be sharing this post with others. 🙂

  2. I agree with you 100% on every point. I have been a proud contributing member of the FBB for a while now, and I am fairly irritated with this particular instance of “bridge-building,” particularly with the way it is being handled. This FBB forum post, for example:

    Not all nontheists are alike, so we created a donation distribution system that allows individuals to express their worldview as they see fit. If a member wishes to support only secular groups, it is easily done in the member’s account panel. If another sees value in occasionally reaching out to progressive, non-dogmatic religious groups who are doing good work, that too is easily done.

    is fairly condescending. It’s true in an irrelevant way that not all theists are alike, and a rather pithy observation, but as you pointed out, the reason most of us joined in the first place was because we wished “to support only secular groups.” And the latter part sound a lot like “if you want to be a jerk who doesn’t support reaching out to good religious people, we have certainly given you that option.”

    Anyway, I have taken the jerk option, and adjusted my contribution percentages to keep the quakers out. I haven’t given up on the foundation yet, but this choice does vex me.

  3. Angie and Garbledina — Thanks so much, both of you. This was a hard post to write … especially because I really like and respect Hemant and Dale too, though I haven’t met them IRL … but sometimes you have to disagree with people you like. It means a lot to know some people out there get what I’m saying. 🙂

  4. I don’t claim to speak for either side, and I’m certainly not qualified to tackle your list point by point. But I don’t understand why this is such a big deal. FBB said from the start that they would consider supporting religious groups that do good work. They’re making good on that statement. If we refuse to ever support liberal religious groups who share many of our values, don’t we just look like a bunch of dicks? Do religious people refuse to support Doctors Without Borders because they’re a secular charity? (Well, I suppose a few do, and I bet they’re dicks.) I think we’re better served (and the cause of humanism is advanced) when we reach out to people who want to accomplish the same things we do.

  5. Aristarchus

     /  July 18, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    The thing you say at the end is really correct. I saw Dale quoted on Friendly Atheist saying that because no one quit in outrage over this, it must have the support of their members, and I was kind of dumbfounded. To be that tone-deaf is really amazing. It might have majority support (though I doubt it), but there’s obviously no consensus. But really, they condescendingly dismiss intelligent criticism, and then basically explicitly say that the only thing they’ll take as true indication of people’s disapproval is them quitting the program. (In fact, if you decrease your contribution to that category for this quarter, they have already explained that they’ll take that as a sign that everything is working, rather than as criticism.) That seems like a textbook bad business practice. It almost (but just almost) makes me wish I had been a member before, so I could now quit in outrage.

    @K: NFQ has been clear that this is fully keeping in line with FBB’s stated policy, and that she’s arguing with the whole policy, not just this one selection. The rest of what you say, though, is really just #5. Doctors Without Borders is a secular charity, not an atheist one. It’s neutral on religion. So yes, religious people donate to it without worry. The analogy would be a church collecting money for Haiti and then donating it to Non-Believers Giving Aid. None (even liberal ones) would do that, and no one is particularly surprised or outraged by it. They wouldn’t want all their contributions to be publicly touted as atheist giving when it wasn’t. That doesn’t make them dicks. That just makes them reasonable. Reaching out to religious people means working and talking with them, not joining their religion or their religious organizations.

  6. Excellent post. Like you, I didn’t realize that those of us who disagree with their decision to donate to a religious group were expected to make a fuss about it. When Dale emailed me and asked if I would be willing to help publicize the organization, I agreed to do so. My post deliberately omitted my personal thoughts on the appropriateness of their supporting religious groups. I felt like it made sense to present the facts and let my readers decide for themselves. Maybe a follow-up post is in order to help correct the apparent myth that most atheists have no problem supporting religious charities.

  7. @Aristarchus:

    “Reaching out to religious people means working and talking with them, not joining their religion or their religious organizations.” — I guess we just look at this differently. I don’t see giving charitable contributions to a charity as being equal to joining their religion or their religious organization. I see it simply as supporting good work that needs to be done.

    Call me crazy, but I think most FBB members do support this, or at least are ambivalent about it. Most of the people I see vociferously protesting the move preface their statements with something along the lines of “I never did get around to joining, but…” Or “Now I’m so glad I never joined…” (NFQ is an obvious exception to that, and I know there are others.) People who are furious/dismayed/disgruntled about this choice are more motivated to blog and post comments than are the people who saw the charity and said, “Whatever.” I’m not trying to belittle your opinion here, by any means, but I think that just because there are some loud voices against this doesn’t mean that they necessarily represent FBB membership as a whole. (Myself, for example.)

    I’ve seen Dale say several times lately that there are different kinds of atheists/humanists with different approaches to their charitable giving: Some of us think it’s a-ok to support certain religious organizations, and others don’t. Why can’t FBB work for both kinds of donors? Should FBB never again support a religious organization because a minority (if it is a minority) of members oppose it? Or should they continue to occasionally offer this option to the members who embrace it? I know people have railed against how the opposition is being framed as immature (not FBB’s intent, I feel certain), but it seems an awful lot like you’re saying that if FBB isn’t exactly the organization YOU want it to be, you’re going to take your ball and go home. Can’t we all work together?

  8. Aristarchus

     /  July 19, 2010 at 11:21 am

    @K: I have no doubt that a huge portion of FBB membership doesn’t care much about this. There have been a lot of good arguments made as to why this isn’t a big deal. But those aren’t arguments for it actually being good. I’m sure people who are neutral about this are a very large group, maybe the majority. But I suspect that the people who are opposed to it outnumber those who support it (meaning actually wanted this to happen, rather than not minding). I also have no doubt that the support is higher among current members than among non-member atheists. That’s because those who find the currently policy objectionable were less likely to join. It’s not because good, charitable atheists are fine with it. I donate plenty to charity. I’m exactly who the FBB should hope to bring in as a member.

    Yes, I’m saying that if FBB is going to give my money to organizations I don’t want to get it, I’m not going to give them my money. I don’t think it’s immature of me to say that. Yes, I could join and then fiddle with my allocations all the time, but just as easily someone who wanted to donate to religious organizations could send the occasional contribution outside of FBB. There’s no reason why I’m somehow being intransigent and inflexible in a way that those on the other side aren’t. And defaults matter a lot. As you said, most people don’t care much either way. To set the default one way is to proactively encourage that sort of action, and I don’t want to support an organization that is trying to steer the money of people who are indifferent into things I don’t like.

    Which gets me to the real point, which NFQ also made above. The point isn’t that FBB members like it or don’t like it. It’s that it’s a bad idea. It doesn’t actually work to accomplish the goals FBB says it exists in order to promote, which is how charities should be judged. Sure, lots of other charities are stupid, but I care more about FBB because the goals it espouses are ones I care about a lot and very much agree with. There isn’t anywhere else like FBB I can go to instead. I don’t have enough time or care enough to start a rival atheist charity funnel, but I would like one to exist, so I express my frustration somewhere where it might actually convince people. If FBB responds to this criticism in a way I’m happy with, I will very happily join.

  9. Great post. Important topic.
    Good to see such principled thinking, in the post and comments.
    My thoughts: atheists are overlooked minorities. Keep the secular identity and works fully circumscribed or we continue to be overlooked. Sure, reaching out is pragmatic, and the “other side” does it, but each position and zeitgeist is unique. Furthermore, most atheists would prefer to use fully secular channels of change — that should be the default option.

  10. This is, to me, a fascinating discussion to me as an atheist and (I’m outing myself here) a Quaker. I hope to address your comments more fully, but for now I’ll try to tackle “1. Quakers aren’t really religious.”

    “Quakers may not read the Bible literally, but they do in general value the Bible more than the Qur’an or the Mahabharata or, say, Gulliver’s Travels.”

    Not true. You can find Quakers who value the Mahabharata – or the Tao Te Ching, or the Annals of Confucius – more than the Bible. (I’m not sure about Gulliver’s Travels.) Your link represents the opinion of ONE QUAKER (Bill Samuel, who happens to be a friend of mine and who left our Quaker meeting because it was insufficiently Biblically oriented for him).

    “Quakers may use vague language like “the Inner Light” when talking about the supernatural, and some do interpret this in a somewhat New-Agey sense. However, it is generally understood to refer to God’s presence. ”

    “Generally understood” is wildly misleading here – unless you have some poll numbers to back it up? As you know, Quakers have no creed, so there is a wide variety of interpretations of the Inner Light. Some are purely personal/psychological. And even for those who would call it “God’s presence”, well, “God” may be seen as an impersonal force, as the universe itself, or as pure metaphor, depending on which Quaker you ask.

    Yes, Quakers are “religious” – the official name is “The Religious Society of Friends.” But why must “religious” automatically be taken to mean superstitious, irrational, and wrong?

    You seem to be making a mistaken assumption: that “religious” is equivalent to “believing in God.” But that’s not true of many Quakers – or Unitarians, or Buddhists.

  11. @Robert — I was actually raised UU, and I do understand the kind of environment that you’re talking about. Unfortunately I don’t have any polling data, and I don’t know anyone who’s doing such polls. I’m going to turn to the Wikipedia page on the Religious Society of Friends to warrant some of my claims, not because all of the research I did was on Wikipedia, but because Wikipedia is edited by the public so if these statements about Quakers were egregiously wrong, I’d assume/hope someone would have fixed them. (There’s no “controversial” tag, or any other indication that they’re in the midst of a serious editing war.) These are the first few sentences introducing the article:

    The Religious Society of Friends describes a range of independent religious organizations which all trace their origins to a Christian movement in mid-17th century England and Wales. A central tenet was that ordinary people could have a direct experience of the eternal Christ, particularly as a teacher and guide. Today, the theological beliefs among the different organizations vary, but include broadly evangelical Christian, Orthodox Christian, liberal protestant, Christian universalist and non-Christian universalist beliefs.

    In other words, theological beliefs vary, but include Christian, Christian, Christian, Christian, and non-Christian. I have no doubt that we could find Quakers who believe all sorts of things. Goodness knows that was true in my old UU congregation. But it does not seem unreasonable to conclude that Quakerism (like UU) is in general a version of Christianity, especially considering this sentence which appears in the Wikipedia article under the heading “Relationship to the wider Christian community”:

    Although nearly all Quakers prior to the twentieth century, and most today, consider Quakerism as a Christian movement, some Friends (principally in unprogrammed Meetings in the United States and the United Kingdom) now consider themselves universalist, agnostic, atheist, secular humanist, postchristian, or Nontheist Friend, or do not accept any religious label.

    But even if you do not think we ought to call the Religious Society of Friends a Christian denomination, it is still clearly (right there in the name) a religion. M-W defines “religion” as “the service and worship of God or the supernatural,” and I think that is how the majority of people understand the word. If when Quakers call themselves religious, they do not mean to imply belief in the supernatural, they should probably start calling themselves something else. Maybe they should call themselves an Ethical Society of Friends. Or something along those lines.

    Maybe rather than trying to discourage people from becoming Quakers (or, to refrain from encouraging them to do so), we should be encouraging Quakers to relabel themselves as something other than a religion. But in the meantime, I think the only fair thing is to defer to the group’s own definition of itself.

  12. NFQ,

    I appreciate your viewpoint, and your response. But I want to emphasize again that “religious” need not be equivalent to “belief in the supernatural.” It is a common mistake in our Western culture; we equate religions with sets of beliefs. But there is a much wider range of religious activity than just beliefs: festivals, rituals, practices, communities. Some religions are defined more by what they DO than what they BELIEVE. When you write

    “M-W defines “religion” as “the service and worship of God or the supernatural,” and I think that is how the majority of people understand the word,”

    I think you are reflecting a cultural bias toward Western forms of religious expression and understanding. If you asked a professor of religion, I think you would get a very different definition.

    All I’m trying to say is that it bothers me when atheists see anything with the label “religious” as the enemy. I think acceptance of atheism will be easier if religious folk see us as willing to work together with them to achieve common goals. In this sense, I think it was a good thing for FBB to choose a religious organization as a beneficiary.

    If, on the other hand, we continue to insist on “religious” = “bad”, then they will certainly continue to insist on “atheist” = “bad.”

  13. Robert, I don’t understand. The religious “festivals, rituals, practices, and communities” I know of are (as far as I’m aware) based on supernatural beliefs. Not every single person who is involved in them today might buy into every detail of those beliefs, but they’re still based on a supernatural narrative that many people who are involved do buy into. I wouldn’t call a Neighborhood Watch group a “religious community,” though it is a community, nor would I call brushing my teeth a “religious practice,” even though it is a practice. I know you think my definition of religion is wrong, but what is the definition of religion you are advocating? What isn’t religion, under that definition?

  14. @Aristarchus: You say, “The point isn’t that FBB members like it or don’t like it. It’s that it’s a bad idea. It doesn’t actually work to accomplish the goals FBB says it exists in order to promote, which is how charities should be judged.”

    Again, I respectfully disagree. Supporting a religious charity that does good work without spreading superstition accomplishes exactly what FBB sets out to do: It encourages atheist/humanist generosity while also building bridges with the wider world. People complain that we atheists need to make sure our money only goes to atheist causes so that every penny of our giving shouts to the world, “Hey, we’re atheists! Being charitable! Doing good work!” But I think it’s every bit as valuable for atheists to be sending the message, “Hey, we’re atheists! And we don’t think we have a monopoly on how to improve the world; instead, we’d like to work with you to make the world a better place.”

    On this point, perhaps we just have to agree to disagree. But I will continue to support FBB’s selection of liberal religious charities that do important work. I like the message it sends.

    I find Robert Oerter’s comments to be very interesting, and I think I understand what he’s saying. I’ve been to many a seder given by a friend who considers herself to be both Jewish and atheist. It is a ceremony, a ritual, a tradition that brings together community and family (and the food is great).

  15. @K: “Again, I respectfully disagree. Supporting a religious charity that does good work without spreading superstition accomplishes exactly what FBB sets out to do: It encourages atheist/humanist generosity while also building bridges with the wider world. ”
    While this may be true in a pragmatic sense, in terms of appearance and politics, there is more to the story. Somewhat unfortunately. We live in a political world.
    In that political world, atheists and non-religious folk face prejudice. For that to truly change, we must build respect for this segment of the population as a fully independent group. IMO.
    Quaker, Unitarian: sure these may be very un-religious religions. But they are religions. In terms of coherence and clarity, most atheists I know attempt to draw a straight line. Sure, it’s more complicated than that, but sometimes you must simplify to progress.

  1. FBB doesn’t get it | No Forbidden Questions
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