Monday, 13 October 2014

Political diversity in US Atheist Movements

Much is made of the lack of diversity in atheist, secular and skeptic movements within the USA.

However, there is some irony wrapped up in the fact that those who shout for an increase in diversity the loudest also seem to be hell bent on on narrowing the political spectrum represented to the exclusion of those who are politcally right wing or central by tying atheism into a particular set of sociopolitical beliefs

Part of the justification for this seems to be that in the USA the conservative right shows far greater levels of religiosity than the left, so the expectation comes that one would expect less from the politcal right to attend.

So why is this not being challenged?

When Greta Christina recently tackled Sam Harris on the numbers of women who read his books she was very quick to point out that the male-female balance of atheism in the USA was not mirrored around the world, thus (at least in terms of her argument) showing that the assumption that this status quo is an inevitability is something to do more about than simply shrug your shoulders.

So why do these same people see atheism as "largely a left-wing thing" (paraphrasing there)?

If we take a look at the British Social Attitudes Survey 28 we see the following results:

As you can clearly see, 44% of the major right wing party are of no religion as opposed to 46% of the major left wing party. Hardly any difference to speak of and clear evidence that a left-right split in lack of religiosity is far from a foregone conclusion and an axis along which diversity can be pursued.

So whilst it is a laudable goal for atheist movements to try and increase representation amongst underrepresented groups by making sure they feel welcome, is it really consistent to do exactly the opposite with those on the political right by going out of your way to make them feel LESS welcome? Shouldn't these conferences be making sure that right wing speakers take to the platform alongside left wing speakers? Or is diversity something that only gets lip service and when the group in question is one you don't like you quietly forget about it?

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