Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Ethical Atheist Politican and Atheist Political Impotentcy

According to the ratings, the subject of the ethical atheist politician is not a popular or interesting topic. Readership is down significantly.

This does not surprise me. I have written in the past that the type of message that children get about atheists is a type that will tend to make atheist adults timid, passive, and politically impotent. Faced with a message since childhood that not trusting in God and not supporting a nation under God makes one an unwelcome member of society, children learn to view atheism as a mark of shame to be hidden. In contrast, those who grow up to be theists learn the attitude that they have a natural superiority over atheists that will tend to make them socially and politically assertive.

These effects then produce a vicious loop where theist adults use their social and political assertiveness to further dominate socially and politically impotent atheists. They use this political imbalance to spread the message that causes it - putting anti-atheist, pro-theist messages in more and more places where children can be found. This includes putting "In God We Trust" on school walls and demanding that the Pledge of Allegiance be spoken at school events.

There is a reason why atheists have far less social and political power per capita than many much smaller but much more effective religious groups.

Yet, these general tendencies produce specific exceptions. They have a "bell curve" of effects on different children. Thus, there is some hope that those who escape these effects can become the type of social and political leaders that can help to draw others out of this trap.

One of the purposes for this series is to help those few socially and politically assertive atheists with that project.

It is important to note that this social and political impotence is not the result of a set of defective beliefs. Consequently, no well-reasoned argument will end its effects. It is, instead, a learned emotional reaction. One can have all of the facts in the world about how safe it is to fly, and still be afraid to fly. One can have all of the facts in the world about how there is no shame in being an atheist and the absurdity in believing that a good American must trust in God and support a nation under God. However, this will not remove the social and political anxiety of atheism.

The way to deal with this issue is to begin to counter the effects of the message among adults in the community, while countering the message itself among the children. Furthermore, the issue described here is more of a task to be taken on by the ethical atheist political organization than by the ethical atheist politician.

Women's rights groups faced a similar problem. Women were taught to be silent and subservient. This rendered them politically impotent - a political impotence that men then used to promote social messages and political practices that reinforced their silence and submissiveness. Women's rights groups responded to this through "assertiveness training." Of course, these programs were met with opposition. Mostly religious organizations countered that women, in asserting their own rights, were trying to enslave and dominate men. However, over time, women lost at least a large portion of their political impotence.

Gay rights organizations also faced a problem in that young homosexuals constantly received a message that good, decent human beings were not gay. Homosexuality was something to be ashamed of - and this shame kept homosexuals politically impotent. To combat this, gay rights organizations promoted a "gay pride" movement. Their message, "I am gay, and I am proud" shook off some of this learned political passivism and gave homosexuals a political voice.

Ethical atheist political organizations are beginning to serve their community with the same types of programs. Billboards go up that atheist individuals and atheist families, spreading the message that an atheist is not some hideous blemish that must remain hidden. We get the backlash that the good atheist does not boast about his atheism, that the atheist who demands political equality is as bad as the theist who demands political superiority. These backlashes all aim to preserve the status quo where the atheist remains socially and politically impotent, and theists maintain a lock on social and political power.

These messages are very much worthy of support.

Eventually, this type of campaign needs to grow beyond billboards and passive messages to active events. The atheist not only needs to read and hear that atheism is not shameful. She needs to be coaxed out into some sort of public event where she can say, "Hi, mom! I am an atheist."

On top of these, I would like to recommend that ethical atheist political organizations take on another project to counter the message that atheism is an unsightly blemish to be hidden from the public. This has to do directly with the fact that we face a government-sponsored message that a good American trusts in God, and a good American supports a nation under God. That those who do not support a nation under God are supposed to sit down and shut up and yield the floor to those who do.

This would be to have the local government pass a resolution that recognizes that, "Many citizens who do not believe in God - and thus does not trust in God or support a nation under God - are still recognized by this Council as good people and patriotic Americans."

While it may be difficult to get these messages removed from government practices and government rituals, it may be possible to counter the message, at least for a while, by getting the government to explicitly repudiate those messages and to declare atheist citizens worthy of equal respect.

My guess is that an attempt to get such a resolution passed will result in a fight. There are many people in government who believe that an atheist cannot be a good person or a good citizen. Let's drag those people out into the light where others can see them and recognize them for what they are (and replace them).

There are many people in society who believe that an atheist cannot be a good person or a good citizen. Let's drag them out into the light so that people can see that the shame does not belong to the atheist but to these bigots.

It would help to provide a more solid social and political foundation for getting some future ethical atheist politician a seat at the political table.





5 comments:

Bilbo Fraggins said...

I found it interesting I'm just not sure we're there yet. Our movement has just recently gotten its very first lobbyist in Edwina Rogers, and while I'm thankful for people like Rep. Stark and Cecil Bothwell, I think the secular coalition and their national and state lobbying plans are much more realistic at present. As a side effect, building such a coalition collects the group that could later on help elect politicians as the size of the movement grows, but right now lobbying is much more likely to lead to the results we want then electoral campaigns.

Alonzo Fyfe said...

Lobbying, as I see it, suffers from the fact that the lobbyist needs to have some heavy weapons to wield to give the legislator any reason to listen to her.

She needs to go up to the legislature with the claim, "I have money behind me, and I have votes."

This, in turn, means going out into the public and signing up people who will give their economic (money) and political (votes) weight to the lobbyist.

This is the same money and votes that can, at some put, but their weight behind a candidate.

Jesse Reeve said...

According to the ratings, the subject of the ethical atheist politician is not a popular or interesting topic. Readership is down significantly.

This does not surprise me. I have written in the past that the type of message that children get about atheists is a type that will tend to make atheist adults timid, passive, and politically impotent.


The evidence does not support the claim that atheist blog-readers are uninterested in politics. There are any number of popular atheist blogs that focus on political issues.

Perhaps a likelier explanation is that the subject of the ethical atheist politician is a digression from your usual subject matter. The people who are familiar with your blog, who regularly read or link to it, are accustomed to reading about moral philosophy. They're less interested in politics. And the atheist blog-readers who are interested in politics, aren't familiar with your blog.

Elefacets! said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elefacets! said...

http://elefacets.blogspot.com/2012/05/where-i-see-religion-headed.html

My thoughts