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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Heard

How My Approach to India Is Slightly Different From Armin Navabi's

One of my favourite books in the world is Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. It made a pretty decent movie, too. Nick Nolte's performance took me by surprise, but I digress. There's a line in there from the recurring Vonnegut character, Kilgour Trout,

"Takes all kinds of people to make up a world."

It's simple, easy to understand, and in totally plain language that needs no interpretation. And it's accurate.

From the moment I first consumed that sentence back in the 90s, I've been reminded of it nearly daily, most significantly since I've jumped into the outspoken atheist arena. Not only does it take all kinds of people to make up a world, but it takes all kinds of people to make up a community, a movement and to create change.

Recently, we saw Armin Navabi of Atheist Republic come under fire for sexualizing a Hindu god. Outrage spread like wildfire across the nation of India, with complaints filed and newspapers covering it. Of course, Armin doubled-down on his remarks and is now running a Patreon campaign with goals to make sexy artwork of more Hindu gods.

I'm not going to get all holier than thou with you and pretend that I've never tried to provoke believers in the same way. I have. What I am going to say, however, is that I've grown from the early days of this blog, and I've learned that there are far more effective ways to promote critical thought in the world.

At the same time that Armin was admiring Kali’s curves, my nonprofit began raising money to send Indian children to school. School, which is cited repeatedly in Your Stories as the catalyst for doubt in your faith. School, which introduces children to logical thought, the scientific method, and the universe's many wonders.

Here's the thing. I think it takes all kinds to make up our community. It certainly takes all kinds to fill out the atheist population. It takes different approaches to normalize atheism, blasphemy and apostasy. One method is shock and awe a la Armin and Atheist Republic, and the other, of course, is secular education.

Both approaches have recently been used to set sights on India. You decide which leads to more change.

If you're like me and left your edgelord days behind and believe spreading secular education is a far better approach, I'd like to ask you to pay for one kid to go to school for a month. It is just $11. That's less than a pumpkin spice latte and scone at Starbucks. Eleven flippin' bucks. You know what? You're not going to get any op-eds written about you in Indian papers, but you're going to change a child's life forever. You're going to help create a critical thinker in an area rife with superstition.

If we reach our goal, we will have done this for forty children.

Can you imagine what changes in their community might come as these forty critical thinkers grow up? The organization we are supporting, Responsible Charity, sees their evidence-based curriculum through until graduation. That is a real, measurable result of your $11. I don't think Kali's luscious boobs can accomplish that, but as we all know, Mr. Trout said that one time,

“It takes all kinds of people to make up a world.”

I support Armin's campaigns to normalize blasphemy, but I feel education is more effective.

If you agree, throw in your latte money for today and change a kid's life forever.




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