I ran across today this post by blogger Bruce Gerenscer about the Atheist + movement/ Freethought blogs. Bruce Gerencser was a pastor for over two decades in the Independent Fundamental Baptist movement before losing his faith. The IFB movement is a Protestant Christian sect so extreme that many fundamentalist/evangelical groups who are familiar with it disparage it as a "cult" due to their extreme beliefs, lifestyle, and their rejection of other fundamentalists as being "liberal" or not "Bible Believing". (When fundamentalists think a Christian group is too far to the right, that's really saying something).
Some great quotes/points from his post: (Bold text is his words, normal text, my comments)
"I am of the opinion that the atheist cause is best served when atheists are free to connect themselves to whatever group or cause they wish. I prefer a loose coalition of atheists as opposed to a structured atheism with rigid political and social beliefs. With a loose coalition individual atheists are free to pick and choose what and who to support. Atheism+? Either you are with them or you are against them, to quote Prophet Carrier."
"This Us vs.Them approach of atheism+ will ultimately harm and weaken the atheist movement. Any time there is exclusivism rather than inclusivism, the group’s power is diminished. The fundamentalist approach of atheism+ will only continue to marginalize other atheists who can’t or refuse to toe the atheism+ ideological line. Atheism+ should be working to include as many people as possible rather than exclude as many people as possible. (especially since atheism+ is a reaction to a tiny fragment of people within the atheism community)"
Exactly, this is precisely what the opponents of atheism want, a house divided, a movement that can't take on the more extremist elements of Christianity, because it's too busy squabbling over the scorched earth tactics of Carrier and company.
We should be respecting and celebrating differences of opinion within the atheism/skeptic community, except for when ideals espoused by members are harmful (racist, homophobic, etc). Atheism + started with good intentions, but they are proving the point that the road to hell is paved with them (pardon the hell reference in an atheism post, but you get the point of the common American saying). They took some isolated comments by internet trolls, painted all their legitimate, non-sexist critics with the same brush, and now we have what we do today, a house divided.
"Many of the sharpest critics of atheism+ are people who were Evangelicals before they deconverted. What we see in atheism+ is very similar to our experience in the Evangelical church. We left leaders who demanded we toe the line doctrinally. We left churches that were built on an Us vs.Them thinking. We left churches and leaders who believed they held the only Christian franchise. Exclusivism controlled everything our former churches and leaders did. Why would we want to join a group that is just an atheist version of what we left behind?"
Agreed, the behavior of FTBers, an us vs. them, and they are evil, no exceptions, is remarkably similar to the attitude taken by fundamentalists against who do not agree with them. To fundamentalists, any critics are automatically branded as "doing the work of the devil", fellow Christians who criticize them are "liberal", "not Bible believing", or not "true Christians". To Carrier and company, their critics are unjustly called "misogynists" or trashed as, "asshole atheists", "stupid", "retarded", or many other slurs and insults. I can somewhat understand them using this kind of tone against unashamed/unapologetic trolls who make no excuses for true hate filled behavior, but the FTBers have taken this stance against everyone who criticizes them for any and all reasons. This is unacceptable, and shows the true closed minded, exclusivistic character of the FTBers. They truly are trying to create a "cult of atheism", and anyone who doesn't agree with them can in the words of Carrier, "GTFO out".
"The other leaders in the atheism+ group could have publicly called out Richard Carrier but they didn’t. It is also evident, based on his last post, that he wasn’t called out privately either. It is evident that the atheism+ group values Carrier being a part of their group more than it does attracting new members. As I told someone recently, Carrier killed the baby in the cradle."
FTB has refused to condemn Richard Carrier's comments, and not rejecting him and his blind hatred of his critics, they are alienating people from Atheist + movement, and FTB in general. This will lead to Atheism Plus either dying a slow death, or marginalizing it down to a small group of followers who have shut themselves out to the rest of the atheist community. Either way, it will be forgotten in due time.