Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season is sketchy for me. I am constantly considering whether to call people on their shit or not, trying to focus on community and bridge building, while making it clear that much of what the holidays mean is not lost in bland community celebration. The KKK is a social, community building organization too you know–when it was clear it wasn’t its founder left. ISIS and other terrorist organizations provide fraternity, mutual good will, and vitality to participants. You would say that the holidays are nothing like that unless you actually remember the history of conquest. My grandfather used to say if we criticize conquest we have to go back to the first people rushing around the world. As if a long line of abuse means we should accept the last, most current abuse. I guess choosing which ancestors get the land is the question. What’s important is that we look to this history and say we must be different.
The venerable evangelical Discovery Institute fished for trolls and friends with a ridiculous article claiming atheism attracts sexist assholes while churches bring in the best and finest equally. DI ignores that churches demanded entire families go and was never oriented to attracting individuals, based on agreement rather than conformity. Further that churches have been losing male attendance so bad they are trying to develop men-oriented activities to bring them in and prevent them from falling asleep in the pews.
DI states that pony-tailed men dominated early atheist groups which is really a slam, incorrect as well, that atheist men were either effeminate, hippies, artsy, or antisocial. Real groups attract men in suits apparently; ones that keep women in place, and then in situations where women had a hope of socializing with other women outside the home without criticism.
They continue that atheists have had to clean house and root out their misogynist assholes, some of which is really ugly. They forget the churches cherish and hold dear to their misogynist assholes, keeping them as members rather than calling them out on their shit and making them change or leave. Church leaders don’t want to lose their leaders and bread winners after all and will tolerate damned near anything to do so. At least atheists are cleaning house, painful though that may be. The churches pretend to be inclusive but have no claim on integrity. A church had to include all as it considered itself the leader of flocks of sheep and wolves. It doesn’t matter which as long as they all go to church as if the wolves would learn to no longer eat sheep by osmosis in the face of contrary success.
The diversity of atheist groups is denied as well. The healthy growth and expansion of minority-based atheist groups shows that atheists who never did belong to a monolithic dogma can easily create healthy atmospheres, and are willing to abandon any dogma or status quo to do so.
That women didn’t flock to early atheist groups is a lie in any case though it is true that early suffragist groups decided not to discuss atheism in order not to scare away women who might not join if secularism were an issue. This only proves that the predominate gender issue in US politics and activism were (and are) so male oriented that any group faced a death knell if it even hinted it might be secular. I recently had a GOP supporter point out how certain elections had women’s issues as platforms forgetting how few they are.
I’m sure that when they learn of all-women atheist groups church men will decry that men aren’t welcome. It doesn’t matter what women do they can’t win.
You can be sure that an atheist who was accepted into church as a sinner than needed to be reformed and never with the idea that what they had to say was acceptable. Most churches considered atheists so egregious as to not even allow them in as redeemable sinners. Atheists were beyond hope, redemption, and socializing and were often excluded inspire of all.
That women went to church is more a sign that they were so abandoned in their lot in life that they had to gain support wherever they could because they sure didn’t have the power or money to get it any other way. Raising children is difficult and the men sure weren’t there to help, assuming that women could birth, rear, and raise them while they were absent doing their important things with other men. As if a check covered for their lack of attendance, criticisms of inferiority, and desire to be elsewhere. After all as Men’s Rights Activists continue to say today men work better when left to their own gender. It’s not surprising that some sought a separatism, encouraging apartheid, just to be able to have some gender autonomy.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s slogan not for ourselves alone is all about how women are abandoned after sex to deal with the consequences while the men find another conquest, loved or not. It’s also about how women weren’t allowed to gather into social and political groups, and were suspected of being lascivious gender-screwed whores if they did. She herself was trapped at home with children and household, unable to participate in political activism, as she hoped so much. She could of course have gone to church had she chosen because that was at least acceptable and near by. Churches being the most plentiful and elementary building in near every community.
The whole atheist-hating dilemma is so bad that too often the most aggressive of men and women could be the only ones to achieve success and then they face criticism of aggression and dominance. I guess you’re supposed to be a shirking wall flower and hope someone will notice and speak for you.
For me I am grateful for this nasty cleaning house by atheists of all ilk and know it as a positive sign of change, proof that atheism is a moral position. Let the churches take it as an example.
Jim Newman, www.frontiersofreason.com