In Support of #NormalizeAtheism

I'm going to be away for a bit, and I don't have time to write anything lengthy now. But I wanted to take the few minutes I do have this morning to express my support for the #NormalizeAtheism campaign taking off on Twitter. I think this is an excellent idea, and I encourage any atheist active on Twitter to participate.

How does one participate? Simply use the hashtag in tweets explaining why you think it is important for atheism to be normalized. The more popular the hashtag becomes, the more likely it is that people will see it.

Admittedly, I have been less than enthusiastic about much of the hashtag activism I see on Twitter. Some of it is unnecessarily divisive or alienating; much of it is just silly. But the message here is so simple and so important that I can't help but love it. There are thousands of good reasons for normalizing atheism, and Twitter is a great medium for raising awareness about the need to do so.

I spent a few minutes the other night reading tweets that used the #NormalizeAtheism hashtag (even if you don't have a Twitter account, you can see what people are saying here). I have to concur with this report that many of them are outstanding. Many were funny; some were genuinely moving. I found myself thinking about how there are real people behind each and every one, real people who deserve to be treated better than many of them are currently being treated by their religious neighbors.

While a few of the tweets I saw did involve bashing religious believers, it seemed like most of those participating seemed to grasp the idea that normalizing atheism does not have to be about running anybody else down. Normalizing atheism is about standing up for ourselves and demanding equality. It is about calling for a meaningful cultural shift in the way atheists are viewed. And I would hope that this is something we can all support.

Obviously, a hashtag campaign is not going to change the world. #NormalizeAtheism cannot by itself bring about the sort of cultural shift we need. I don't think anyone is claiming that it can. At the same time, this sort of thing can be one valuable strategy for increasing awareness. Based on many of the tweets I've seen, it can also be a source of inspiration to those of us who face tremendous social pressure to conceal our atheism.

The #NormalizeAtheism campaign already has me thinking about how I can do a better job of taking risks in my personal and professional life to normalize atheism.