Interfaith Groups are Another Way to Exclude Atheists

Interfaith symbols

It is great that religious people occasionally make efforts to get along instead of killing each other. By coming together in various "interfaith coalitions," they may be able to overcome some of their long-standing differences, reduce conflict, and learn from one another. There is very little not to like about that, except that such efforts often exclude those of us in the reality-based community.

Responding to news that the Obama White House had created an Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge through their Interfaith Office, here's how Ophelia Benson (Butterflies & Wheels) recently put it:

An Interfaith Challenge offered by an Interfaith Office can’t be fully open to and inclusive of atheists. It rejects atheists in the very language it uses. We shouldn’t be pretending it doesn’t. We shouldn’t be pretending there is nothing exclusive or particularist or antisecular about faith-based offices and faith-based challenges in and from a branch of government. I don’t feel included in Obama’s challenge. On the contrary; I feel very pointedly and explicitly not included.

I agree. No branch of government has any business promoting religion - whether it is a particular religion or simply religion in general.

Efforts like this send a clear message to atheists: you are not a part of this. We are used to being outsiders in many aspects of our lives, but it is unacceptable to keep receiving this message from our own government.

For more on a closely-related topic, see Atheists and Interfaith Dialogue.