February 27, 2012

Two Suggestions for Ending Religious Oppression

religious oppression

I support the rights of women to have control over their own healthcare, free from governmental restriction. This means that I want women to have easy access to affordable contraception and family planning services, including abortion. I also support full equality for LGBT persons. We should have already learned that "separate but equal" is not equal. Thus, I support same-sex marriage and believe that LGBT individuals are entitled to the same rights as everyone else. And as I have made clear repeatedly, I support atheist civil rights. Together, those of us who stand up against religiously-motivated bigotry will be on the right side of history.

The quest to end religious oppression is within reach. I've got two suggestions for how we can accelerate it, one obvious and one a bit less obvious. The obvious one, suggested by the graphic, is cooperation. If the atheist, LGBT, and women's movements can set aside our differences and work together, we can accomplish a great deal.

While there are undoubtedly pockets of homophobia and sexism in the atheist community, they are small and not particularly influential. The overwhelming majority of atheists seem ready and willing to work with women and LGBT persons toward common goals. I hope that similar goodwill toward atheists will extend from most in the LGBT and women's movements. We are far stronger when we come together.

My second and less obvious suggestion concerns the need for a collective refusal to be manipulated by provocative rhetoric. Working to end oppression is going to be called a "war on religion" by those who wish to maintain the status quo. We cannot be swayed by this attempt to create a misleading narrative. While some atheists may indeed welcome some sort of war on religion, this is not that war.

Whenever anyone tries to label our efforts against oppression as anti-religious, we must be ready to point out that our opposition is to specific behaviors and not the beliefs which may underlie these behaviors. By doing so, we give them a real choice: redefine your faith so it does not motivate you to push hatred and bigotry, or admit that you are waging a religiously-motivated war on equality and ensure the demise of your religion. Approaching the matter in this way also makes it easier for us to work side-by-side with advocates of equality who are not yet ready to set aside their religious beliefs.

H/T to The Immoral Minority
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