The following is a guest post from Aliakai who is an author, YouTuber, Hellenist, and advocate for theist and atheist allyship on social issues. Recently, Aliakai had me on her show, Xenia Bridge, and we had a great conversation about allyship and how fostering good relationships between atheist-friendly believers and atheists can only function to benefit both groups. You can watch that here (totally worth subbing, too!). If you would like to guest post for godlessmom.com, get in touch here.
Hold on there tiger, I know what you’re thinking. At least if you know who I am. “WTF is a pagan doing on an atheist blog telling atheists what attitudes are appropriate…or not? I’m an anti-theist and I’m functioning just fine as a human being, KTHXBAI.” Hear me out before you storm off.
I define anti-theism as the belief that religion itself is a net negative on humanity, and by the principle of entailment, should be eradicated from the human mind. Now this doesn’t always mean kill all theists or force them into Chinese-style eradication--erm, re-education--camps, but what it often does mean is incredible levels of disrespect during interactions between anti-theists and theists who cause zero harm to anyone with their beliefs.
Things like calling all beliefs irrational or delusions, the latter of which is a medical term that gets thrown around like glitter in a kindergarten class in anti-theist circles, or justifying using abusive rhetoric like the R-Slur on the grounds that it means something kinda similar in science and so that should actually be okay. Really owned the libs with that one. *sigh*
What this does is drive a wedge between two religious minorities (and yes, atheists are a religious minority and should want to be classified as such for legal protections, as they currently are in the US) that otherwise often have more in common than we don’t. It also increases the stigma on mental illnesses that can cause psychosis, which isn’t helpful for anyone. It certainly doesn’t improve the image of atheism in the wider world, and can perpetuate the stereotype of the self-important pompous arse who thinks the secrets of the universe have been revealed because they landed on a different answer to the God question than their peers.
The big three Abrahamic faiths tend to hate us equally, and many of us have more progressive social aims that we want to fight for, or at least the same sort of religious rights we want protected. If my beliefs are doing nothing to harm anyone, if I’m not trying to convert you, then what good is holding onto the attitude that I’m somehow intellectually inferior or less rational than you are when it comes to accomplishing broader goals? And what good does it do you to drive away potential allies?
When anti-theists tell me they can respect me without respecting my beliefs, it takes everything in my power not to give myself eye strain with how hard I want to roll them. What makes you think I don’t know that if we work together with those attitudes, I’m next on the menu when the Christians are done with their nonsense?
After Ruth Bader Ginsberg died, we as a nation collectively realized how fragile the protections on our rights are. Why wouldn’t a minority want to work with another with similar goals to amplify each other’s voices?
According to Pew Research, there are about 1.5 million pagans in the US, and around 13 million atheists, though both groups are notoriously difficult to count due to social stigma. Together, that makes 4-6% of the population, which, given the sheer number of folks who don't vote every election, means working together as allies could produce real social change. Especially on the local level.
If we want to live in a truly pluralist society where laws are created with the needs of the many in mind and not just the dominance of one religion, we need to band together and let our combined size become a megaphone. And yeah, that might mean working with like-minded Abrahamics who aren’t trying to use allyship as a ploy to convert you. Some of them aren’t that bad and we need all the help we can get to protect ourselves.
I advocate for allyship with atheists who identify as anti-harm, meaning those who oppose specific beliefs and practices we know do direct mental and physical harm to individuals and communities rather than blanket "religion is bs lolol" crap. Stuff like anti-LGBT sentiment, snake handling, purity culture, etc. Chances are, you can find theists who have the same problems you do with these practices and the legislation that is often pushed because of them, and work together with an eye toward equality and respect.
Before you rage in the comments on the video I did on the same topic, link here, really think about what part of your ego you need to gratify with this judgement. Respecting one another’s beliefs doesn’t mean sharing them. You don’t lose your atheist card for accepting who someone is or being polite to them. But you might have a lot to gain, and for that, I think, a bit of an attitude shift is worth it.
Who am I?
Aliakai (who writes fiction under the pseudonym Ashleigh Gauch) is an author, YouTuber, Hellenist, and advocate for theist and atheist allyship on social issues. She makes a range of content, from Hellenic religion to JK Rowling’s TERF nonsense to her weekly allyship show where she spotlights theists and atheists who believe in community building and allyship for social change.
Where you can find me:
Thank you, Aliakai, for taking the time to write this for us and provide some food for thought!