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There were more atheists than I thought

February 5, 2011

I’m on the planning committee for the Social Justice Summit at my university, which began last night and continues today. We did an activity in which attendees stood in a circle, and people stepped into the circle if they belonged to a group. People could state an identity only if they belonged to it. “If you’re a victim of sexual abuse,” and those who were stepped in. Someone called, “If you’re an atheist.” I was exhilarated at how many people stepped with me into the circle!

In a conversation later, one woman admitted feeling uncomfortable stepping forward when someone called, “If you’re a Christian,” because she didn’t want others to assume she carried the biases associated with Christianity.

I feel a certain political commitment to being “out” because it’s the simplest and most effective way to promote social equality. The only reason people distrust atheists is because they think they don’t know any. Dawkins writes, “Being an atheist is nothing to be apologetic about. On the contrary, it is something to be proud of, standing tall to face the far horizon, for atheism almost always indicates a healthy independence of mind and, indeed, a healthy mind.”

Someone else at the conference said, “Imagine what the world would be like if everyone felt like they could be authentic, could be themselves, and be accepted for who they are.” What a wonderful world this would be.

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