I know there are a lot of people that are still afraid, today, to be known as an atheist. I’ve heard the stories; People losing family and friends (I’ve actually lost a long time friend), even losing a job, or if not the job, the much deserved promotion at work. It’s concerning that in the 21st century, there are still those bigoted toward people that are simply non-believers.
It’s difficult being in a minority with absolutely no voice. Unlike racial, or ethnic minorities who, when they have a complaint receive positive media attention, atheists, if we ever receive media attention, it always seems to be negative. How we may change this, I’m unsure. We’re at a crossroads of sorts where there is an opportunity to show others within society that we’re not the evil, devil-worshipping people some describe us but then the downside of pushing too hard is ever reinforcing the idea that we are here to destroy society.
I hear some say that maybe we should just leave it alone and go about our lives. There’s some merit to that but I’ve never been one to just surrender under pressure. Sometimes, the only way to have people listen, is to stand up and speak louder. The problem is that there are not enough of us speaking, and those that are listening, are well, us.
We blog or produce video content but who is reading or watching any of it? Well, of course, we’ve all heard about “preaching to the choir”, but I’ll use a more secular analogy: attending a pep rally. Think about it, someone produces some content and what do we see on social media? “Terrific”, “Wow! Great show!”, or like comments coming from…atheists. I don’t expect the devout to read or watch, but when we cannot reach the general public, maybe there needs to be a reevaluation of what were doing and why.
If the purpose is to encourage our fellow atheists, all good and well, but it’s, in a way, like going to church weekly to reinforce a belief system isn’t it? Much of the content I have seen seems to be created for atheists and does nothing to attract others who may be interested in discovering who we actually are. I’m not suggesting that content should be about trying to convert anyone to atheism, just changing the perception of what it is to be an atheist to those that may have genuine questions.
As content creators, whether written or video, do we have an obligation to attempt to normalize atheism to others? I think in some instances, atheists are more interested in driving their numbers (views, subscriptions) than to actually do anything that may actually change the negative perception of the public. That’s okay, but let’s all be honest about what we’re doing and not pretend that we’re moving atheism in a positive direction.
Should we be attempting to do more or stay where we are is the question that everyone should sit back and try to answer for themselves. How each of us answer that will determine what the future of atheism will be.