Sunday, July 14, 2013

I'm With JT Eberhard, Who Is With Ed Brayton

Joe Klein's Time cover story[1] took a cheap shot[2] at atheists, claiming there are no secular people doing charity.  Ed Brayton wrote to them[3] about it.  So has JT Eberhard[4].  And so have I:
I cannot help but be disappointed by the recent remarks in your publication by Joe Klein regarding atheists and charity[1].  He wrote: 
"But there was an occupying army of relief workers, led by local first responders, exhausted but still humping it a week after the storm, church groups from all over the country — funny how you don’t see organized groups of secular humanists giving out hot meals — and there in the middle of it all, with a purposeful military swagger, were the volunteers from Team Rubicon."
On top of this being a demonstrably untrue statement , it's unnecessarily hurtful.  Atheists face enough problems[6] without a cover story from one of the world's most respected publications taking cheap shots at us.  Nearly all of us have been told we deserve to burn in Hell forever.  Many atheists have a justified fear of their family or employers knowing of their lack of belief.  I've had friends disowned from family solely due to their atheism.  Others have lost jobs.
The word "godless" has as a listed definition[7]:  "wicked; evil; sinful."  In other words, people treat atheism as synonymous with being evil.  We are constantly faced with claims that we cannot be moral without a god.
Atheists are often prohibited from holding public office in a variety of ways.  The US Constitution states[8] "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States," but several states still have laws specifically prohibiting us from qualifying for elected positions.
The general electorate often refuses to vote for anyone who doesn't profess a belief in a god.  While people recently have become more willing to vote for an atheist for President[9], we've still got a long way to go[10].
Atheists face these issues and many others[11].  We don't need a voice as prominent as Time making things worse.  That's why I'm writing to ask you to make up for it by doing a story on atheist charities such as The Foundation Beyond Belief[12] or Recovering From Religion[13] & their Hotline Project[14].  Because the Klein article was a cover story, I think it's fair to ask that this story be given equal treatment.  Plus, it's not like they're not worthy of such coverage.  
Foundation Beyond Belief recently reached the milestone of a million dollars raised[15].  That amount includes more than $45,000 related to the Oklahoma tornadoes, the very disaster Klein accused atheists of not helping after.  And Recovering From Religion helps people negatively impacted by religion, because of attitudes expressed by Klein, the other issues I listed above, and various others.
I hope you'll make things right rather than let Klein's slap in the face go uncorrected.
Time should make up for giving that bigotry the credibility that comes from a cover story in their publication.  And it's not outside of the realm of possibilities.  The more requests they get, the more likely they are to do a story on atheist charity.

So, please write to them and politely request they do so.

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1.  http://nation.time.com/2013/06/20/can-service-save-us/print/
2.  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/06/25/joe-klein-offers-a-pathetic-rebuttal-in-response-to-criticism-of-his-attack-on-atheists-in-time-cover-story/
3.  http://freethoughtblogs.com/dispatches/2013/06/27/tell-time-to-stop-dismissing-secular-generosity/
4.  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/2013/06/im-with-ed-brayton-its-time-to-email-time/
5.  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/05/30/what-are-atheists-doing-for-the-victims-of-the-oklahoma-tornado/
6.  http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2011-12-10/religion-atheism/51777612/1
7.  http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/godless
8.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Religious_Test_Clause
9.  http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-07-26/athiest-poll-president/56516466/1
10.  http://abcnews.go.com/politics/t/blogEntry?id=16623786
11.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Discrimination_against_atheists
12.  http://foundationbeyondbelief.org/
13.  http://recoveringfromreligion.org/
14.  http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2013/06/04/atheists-to-start-1-800-hotline/comment-page-8/
15.  http://foundationbeyondbelief.org/node/1867

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