Where the rabble-rousers come in

Victor Stenger sends encouragement.

It’s time for secularists to stop sucking up to Christians–and Muslims and Jews and Hindus and any others who claim they have some sacred right to decide what kind of society the rest of us must live in–what a human being can do with her own body. The good news is that young people are joining the rising atheist movement in increasing numbers. I have not met one yet who is an accommodationist.

That is indeed what it is time for. This does not mean, contrary to what accommodationists keep saying (whether they believe it or not, and I suspect they mostly don’t), it is time for us to call believers idiots whenever we encounter them. It means it is time to stop sucking up to them by pretending to think their religious beliefs are entirely reasonable and well-founded.

I think there is room, indeed a need, for both the accommodationist and confrontationist approaches. If you look at the history of every great social movement–the abolition of slavery, women’s rights, civil rights, gay rights–you will see both components. There are people who try to work within the system to make changes. They often succeed, but usually at a snail’s pace–too slow to satisfy the millions who are impatient to have their inherent rights recognized by the power structure.And that’s where the rabble-rousers come in. They confront the system and eventually win the hearts of a majority that becomes awakened to the basic justice of the cause. They also give more power to those trying to work within the system.

We’re needed. We have a part to play. We’re not leaving.

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