Is American atheism heading for a schism?

A new movement, Atheism+, has prompted non-believers to spit venom at one another rather than at true believers

In the passionate world of American atheism, the venom usually directed at believers has now been turned against the wrong kind of atheists.

The cause of this freethinking furore? A new movement called Atheism+. According to its website, “Atheism+ is a safe space for people to discuss how religion affects everyone and to apply skepticism and critical thinking to everything, including social issues like sexism, racism, GLBT issues, politics, poverty, and crime.”

A+ was born when Freethought blogger Jen McCreight (the mind behind Boobquake) made a passionate call for a “third wave” of atheism, one that extends atheist activism into progressive politics and calls for a part of the movement to be one where women can exist free from the harassment that has plagued women publicly involved in the atheist movement.

The founders of Atheism+ say clearly that “divisiveness” is not their aim, but looking through the blogs and voluminous comments in the two weeks since A+ was mooted, trenches have been dug, beliefs stated, positions staked out and abuse thrown. A dissenting tweeter is “full of shit”, while, according to one supporter, daring to disagree with Atheism+’s definition of progressive issues and not picking their side makes you an “asshole and a douchebag”.

It took 700 years from Constantine renaming Byzantium in his own honour to papal legates circulating letters of anathema that split the Roman and Orthodox churches. Atheism, in its public, online life, has started exchanging internet anathemas – perhaps we should call them inathemas – in little more than a decade.

People are being told to wipe the spittle off their chins, take their heads out of their asses. The Life of Brian’s lines about the various fronts for the liberation of Judea are being oft-recycled. 140 character brickbats are being thrown on Twitter under #atheismplus.

The rest of the article may be found on The Guardian.

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