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  • Courtney Heard

Is There An Atheist Movement?

When the godless are spoken about in many mainstream media outlets and blogs, it’s often referred to as a “movement.” This seems to get quite a few atheists worked up, ready to swing their dictionary around, shrieking “atheism is just a lack of belief in gods!” While that is true – that is precisely all that atheism is – there is a movement whether we want to accept it or not.

atheism movement

The definition of ‘movement’ in this context is:

a series of actions or activities intended or tending toward a particular end

While many atheists prefer to simply be an atheist and find like-minded people out there to converse and socialize with, there are plenty who are organizing action intended to bring about a particular end.


From my perspective, there are three movements associated with atheism. They can be broken down as such:


1. Anti-theism


This is a movement that sees its atheists engage in frequent debate with believers in hopes that some (maybe in the audience) will free themselves from the shackles of their religion. The neverending debate that goes on over on Twitter is part of this movement. The Unbelievers tour with Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss, Sam Harris debating a Rabbi and the weekly Atheist Experience television show are all examples of this movement. Anti-theism works. Religiousness is declining in most areas of the world with unrestricted access to the internet, and many fresh, new atheists have come right out and said that they are no longer religious due to people, information and arguments they found on the internet.


2. Atheist Empowerment


This movement is all about raising awareness for atheists who face adversity after making known their lack of a belief in a god. It’s about preventing atheist bloggers from being hacked to death in the streets. It’s about freeing atheists who are locked up in the jails of the world's theocracies. It’s about giving young atheists a place to turn to when they’re being rejected by family and friends. The fight to free Raif Badawi is part of this movement. Raising our voices when Mubarak Bala was locked up in a mental institution was part of this movement. Draw Muhammad Day, and not bowing down to the same forces that slaughtered the staff at Charlie Hebdo is also part of this movement. This movement has had successes but it has far to go.


3. Separation of Church and State


The Freedom From Religion Foundation seems to be the leader in this movement to remove religious influence from the law. This is predominantly a fight that goes on in the US, but there are important issues to face in the UK, Australia, Canada and in many other countries. Removing “In God We Trust” from American currency, not having to say “One nation under God” during the pledge and refusing to pray before high school sporting events are all small fights that make up the bigger movement to separate church and state.


While I appreciate that there are many atheists out there who don’t care about any of this, and it doesn’t make them any less of an atheist, asserting that there is no atheist movement is naive. There clearly is. Atheism itself is not a movement, but there are atheist movements. I, myself, am proud to be part of these movements. Denial of their existence is something I simply do not understand.


Do you think there are atheist movements? Let me know in the comments.


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