Why is atheist a bad word? How do we flip this word because I don't think I can (honestly) call myself anything else!

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The main reason atheist is a bad word is because, unlike religion, we have no formal organisation, no community, no standards. We exist purely in the negative (we're not religion). We are individuals instead of a group. We are "moral nihilism", etc.

If we had atheist communities that we could point to and say "that's who I am, that's what I stand for" then people would respect us more.

That is the main challenge for atheism/humanism in the future. We do have humanist/atheist groups but few with a clear identity and community that can rival religion.

Not that I think there should be one homogeneous strain of atheism/humanism. No, diversity and competition between groups is healthy.

A lot of atheists become nauseous at the thought of something resembling religion, but we really do need communities to educate our kids in an increasingly diverse and complex world, otherwise they'll be attracted to religions simply because they are organised and articulate.

So, it's not really word choice that is holding us back. Rather, it is a lack of values, organisation and community behind the word. The best thing you can do is help push the atheist community towards better organisation/community.

Folks like Alain de Botton and James Croft understand this problem.



As for an ideal label, I start with humanism, and then I can explain myself further from there.

It's sort of the same thing with Libertarians, as an example. Part of the reason why they have a hard time gaining political momentum is because they're so independent and suspicious of authority by nature. It's tough to corral them all and organize them.

Which one? All of them? Then it's "I don't believe in gods."
I personally love identifying my self as an atheist! Most especially because it is shocking to people; "Wow, this atheist is just a person like me." I typically wait for someone to identify themselves as religious and BAM! I hit 'em with it. Sometimes it goes badly, and I am condemned to hell, but I can't stand how outspoken some religious people are so I fight fire with fire and own my bad label with pride!

I think that is awesome Michael!  Good for you!!!~ Melinda

Yeah like booklover said - way to go Michael!

The most common stigma is a hangover from the Cold War era. The USSR was anti-religion, so anyone, anywhere who identified as an atheist (religion-neutral) was automatically considered a traitor, communist, un-American, etc.  And we still are by many. 

I don't understand why that feeling is strongest in the area of the United States that actually seceded from the Union about 150 years ago.  Ironic.  Back then they used the buybull to justify slavery, and now they use high school and college football games to advertise their piety.

Gag me with a spoon.

Felaine, a very old Valley Girl

Stephanie, Melinda, thank you. I just reached a point where it got old listening to them proclaim their religion with so much pride, so now I just bring the fight directly to their front door. A decision I have yet to regret, it was truly liberating. :)

You know Michael, you have inspired me to try harder to just say I am an Atheist and be proud of it.  Let it shock people.  I shouldn't care if they don't like it!  It shows people that Atheists are just regular people (except smarter, LOL ;)).~ Melinda

Yeah I agree with Booklover - again! Just come out and let them see us for who we are.
Exactly. It's not something I throw around and thrust in peoples faces just for shock value, but the moment someone (in a perfectly "secular conversation" which has no reason to have anything to do with their religion) puts it out there I immediately return the favor. "god has a plan for all of us." "I appreciate the sentiment, but I'm an Atheist, I have my own plans." Simple as that, Melinda. Don't get me wrong, people can get real ugly about it real fast, but don't be intimidated and don't automatically give religion respect. Remember, they "know" us nons are going to be subjected to an eternity of the worst possible existence in hell and are, quite disgustingly, indifferent about it. Respect the individual, not the religion.

I can't help but to respect that Michael. Me being a youngin' dealing with this sensitive subject, I can only imagine what's yet to come for me in the future. I'm open about my beliefs and I am far from ashamed. No one can change that but it's also not respected. There's nothing wrong with the Atheist title. Everyone is just so caught up in the fact that we don't value christian/muslim/catholic/jewish/etc. beliefs, they forget to respect us and at least TRY to understand our values. it's immoral to say the least.


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