Should the Minnesota Atheists and the Humanists of Minnesota join forces into one organization as August Bershire of Minnesota Atheists proposed recently in their newsletter? We have many things in common, but we also have some important differences. Therefore, I lean against the idea. Here's why.
Despite positive signals here in Minnesota and elsewhere, the struggle for LGBTQ equality still marches on. This struggle is particularly acute for trans-identified people, arguably less understood by the general public than gays and lesbians, and certainly still the target of religious conservative animus and fear. What will it take to widen the circles of moral and civic inclusion? Motivated by this basic question I contacted OutFront Minnesota for some perspective.
Reason alone betrays the potential of humanism.
I'm just as guilty of it as anyone. It's a useful phrase, an efficient linguistic shortcut that encompasses much more than meets the eye. It's a tribal conceptual totem, it's an ingroup/outgroup line of demarcation. It's the discourse and the principle mode of practice, ubiquitous in secularist activist secularist circles, of "reason and evidence."
Whether you're taking those first brave steps out of the closet, or are taking this day to commemorate the day you did, congratulations. You will always find a welcome home with the Humanists of Minnesota, or with our ally organization the Minnesota Atheists. Long before gay-anything had majority support in the US, atheists and humanists were speaking out in support of our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. We continue to do so without hesitation.
On National Coming Out Day we urge all people of good heart and tolerant temperament to step up their resistance to the lingering efforts to demonize and oppress people based on their sexual orientation.
As many of you know, there is a pernicious marriage amendment on the ballot this fall. Only recently has opposition to this ugly amendment gained the upper hand in a poll. There's still too much uncertainty for comfort, however. What can you do? Please consider volunteering with Minnesotans United for All Families. Wouldn't it be wonderful to wake up after the election and know that you live in the first state to beat back this kind of bigotry? It'd be even sweeter if your efforts helped make it happen.
The "where's the evidence" heresy is now global. Flagship journals Skeptic and Skeptical Inquirer magazines have been publishing for many years (20 and 36 years respectively), drawing critical awareness to dubious beliefs, and improving thinking on a tiny populist scale. Their candles have likely catalyzed many of the on-the-ground developments we see now--the proliferation of local skeptic groups, as well as regional, national and international skeptic conferences.
Overlapping the rise of organized skepticism is the atheist and humanist movement on college and high school campuses. The Secular Student Alliance just announced the formation of their 400th campus group--a mark of stunning growth, and perhaps as much as a tenfold increase from 20 years ago. Skepticism is well established online, of course, giving it, in theory anyway, an unprecedented equal hearing with the opposing council in the court of public judgment.
So, things are well under hand, right? If we're not there yet, we will be shortly, no doubt. A new age of enlightenment is upon... Um, no. And we haven't even begun to define what "there" is yet. Let's change that. Let's open a dialogue on the future of skepticism.
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