02 January 2009

How Can Atheists Be Good Allies?

Greta Christina asks on her blog "How can atheists be good allies?"

Here's a brief quote from her blog explaining why this is important:
I think it behooves the atheist movement to make alliances with other groups that we have affinities with: groups that aren't atheist- specific and that are made up of both believers and non-believers, but that have goals we support ... and in some cases, progressive ecumenical religious groups who recognize the validity of atheism.

I think it behooves us for a number of reasons. Partly because our movement is too small and too stigmatized right now to accomplish what we want on our own: we'll get more visibility and more work done if we have other people speaking for us and working with us. Partly because it shows the world that we don't just care about how we want to be treated and what we think we deserve: we care about what we have to offer and how we want to participate in the world.

And partly because it's, you know, the right thing to do. Because we're not just atheists, but people, citizens of our communities and our countries and our world. Because we do care about what we have to offer and how we want to participate in the world.

So how can we be good allies? I've already written about what atheists are asking for from people who want to support us. What should we be doing to be good allies with people we want to support?
A brief outline of her suggestions is listed below:
  1. Treat other groups the way you want to be treated.
  2. Don't assume that religious believers are stupid -- and don't talk to them or treat them as if they're stupid.
  3. Don't be quick to assume malice or willful ignorance.
  4. If you're going to talk about religion, tread carefully.
  5. Be careful about making analogies.
  6. Remember that it's not always about us.
  7. Support other atheists whose methods are different from yours.
The expanded explanation of Greta's suggestions can be found online here.

Not only are these suggestions useful for atheists -- they would also be useful for Unitarian Universalists (of all theological stripes) as well when working with others.

No comments: