To Realize I'm
Not The Only One
Theidyl Lucienne Arias C.

Graphic Rule

From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org> To: Theidyl Lucienne Arias C.
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: Tuesday, October 03, 2000 10:04 AM

We have slated your letter for posting. We correct and reformat all but the most arrogant of letters (we even reformat some of those in the interest of readability). Those letters written by people who come off as know-it-alls, for example, someone claiming an advanced education but who doesn't know how to form a simple sentence, are usually the only ones we will post verbatim.

Your description of the bigotry against you typifies that of most atheists in the United States, many in Europe and probably many in Central and South America (though Europeans, especially Russians, the Dutch, and those of Northern Europe, generally have it pretty good in this respect).

One of the main points of Positive Atheism is to encourage atheists to live life so as to end the stigma and the injustices that are everywhere committed against us. I have written my latest editorial column, "Reducing Our Own Stigma," along these lines. I'm also currently rewriting our "Introduction" (now tentatively called "Introduction To Atheistic Activism") as a detailed explanation of my views that portraying atheism as (at minimum) the simple lack of atheism, and that transforming one's atheism into a proactive personal ethic will work powerfully against this stigma.

Further, by openly accepting that theists have what they think are valid reasons for believing, we can make considerable gains in this regard. Ridiculing religion or otherwise denigrating it will only harm the situation, because it perpetrates the very bigotry we are trying to end. We do not have to respect the religious dogma in order to respect people for thinking that those dogmas are true: there is a big difference.

We generally oppose only those theists who openly and actively recruit, particularly those who use falsehood and other forms of trickery in their recruitment efforts. And we particularly oppose any move to legislate an idea that is specific to religion in general or to a particular religious sect. Studying the founders of the United States, particularly Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Thomas Paine, will show why state-church separation is imperative to religious liberty, including the freedom from religion. (I'll bet you encountered Paine's The Rights of Man and much of Jefferson's and Madison's work in your studies of the history of law. The works of John Locke and Rhode Island preacher Roger Williams are also critical to a comprehensive understanding of these issues, particularly when trying to recognize how these precious protections are today in danger.)

Our stigma has very deep-rooted causes that date back to the Greek Empire and before, where Socrates was executed for being "an atheist" (though he merely believed in a different theistic system than was popular at the time). If sin is rebellion against a god, then lack of loyalistic faith in that god is the ultimate sin. Since we have no reasons to believe that any gods exist, we shun the word sin and talk, rather, about immorality, evil, lawlessness, and the like: we do not use the term sin to describe criminal or unethical behavior because that word has a specific meaning, and try to use language that says the same thing but does not have the religious connotations. This careful use of language sets the stage for our being understood by theists, which helps tremendously toward our being accepted by them. It's not a miracle, by any means, but then, there are no miracles: we must work very hard for everything we expect to accomplish.

Perhaps you would like to comment on our proposed "Introduction To Activistic Atheism": I am currently rewriting the first section and I post the latest version each time I make changes in it. When I am finished, that page will link to where the final will eventually live.

Since you appear to have given your atheism much thought, we would enjoy hearing your views and especially your story (testimonial, if you will), particularly descriptions of your experiences trying to cope with the stigma and bigotry that you endure because your atheism is not understood by others.

Cliff Walker
"Positive Atheism" Magazine
Five years of service to
     people with no reason to believe

Graphic Rule

Material by Cliff Walker (including unsigned editorial commentary) is copyright ©1995-2006 by Cliff Walker. Each submission is copyrighted by its writer, who retains control of the work except that by submitting it to Positive Atheism, permission has been granted to use the material or an edited version: (1) on the Positive Atheism web site; (2) in Positive Atheism Magazine; (3) in subsequent works controlled by Cliff Walker or Positive Atheism Magazine (including published or posted compilations). Excerpts not exceeding 500 words are allowed provided the proper copyright notice is affixed. Other use requires permission; Positive Atheism will work to protect the rights of all who submit their writings to us.