‘The Orbit’ rounds up atheist bloggers

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"The Orbit," a collection of 20-plus new and existing blogs, will focus not just on social justice and activism through an atheist lens. Photo courtesy of The Orbit

"The Orbit," a collection of 20-plus new and existing blogs, will focus not just on social justice and activism through an atheist lens. Photo courtesy of The Orbit

(RNS) Organizers hope a new platform for blogs by atheists and others who identify as not religious will set it apart from other atheist sites.

The Orbit,” a collection of 20-plus new and existing blogs,  took off Tuesday (March 15) and will focus on social justice and activism through an atheist lens.

“This group is founded from the beginning as a group dedicated to atheist social justice voices,” said Greta Christina, author of an eponymous blog on The Orbit. “We were also focusing on a diversity of voices when we were building this network from day one.”

The Orbit logo, courtesy of theorbit.net.

“The Orbit,” a collection of 20-plus new and existing blogs, will focus not just on social justice and activism through an atheist lens. Photo courtesy of The Orbit

The Orbit includes bloggers of different races, sexual orientations and gender identities — a sign of the growing maturity in organized atheism, which has sometimes drawn fire for its lack of diversity.

“Our site is feminist and progressive,” The Orbit’s site says. “We know black lives matter and that no one is illegal, we know trans women are women and that sex work is work, and we support a socially conscious atheist movement. As atheists, we believe criticism of religion must fall within this framework.”

Christina said The Orbit will differ from other platforms by operating as a collective, with all bloggers sharing in revenue and making decisions.

Many Orbit bloggers migrated from other atheist platforms at Skepchick and Patheos, but the bulk came from Freethought Blogs. Rumors of discord at these platforms spread throughout 2015, but writers say they are focused on the future.

“This group decided it wanted to go off and do its own thing and more power to them,” said PZ Myers, whose Pharyngula blog is among the most popular at Freethought Blogs, which he now manages. He has already replaced The Orbit’s bloggers with new ones.

Ed Brayton, founder of Freethought Blogs who now writes at Patheos, said: “The Orbit is being launched by people I think very highly of and consider friends.  … I see no point in building up some sort of rivalry between blog networks. There’s room for everyone.”

(Kimberly Winston is a national correspondent for RNS)

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  • G Key

    Regardless of belief or nonbelief, some people fight for Equality, Respect, and Compassion; others fight for Inequality, Trespass, and Cruelty; and still others stand by and claim to be neutral.

    It seems to me the words & actions of both the Religious Right and the antagonistic antitheists are matters of trespass, not of beliefs.

    In the hope that Greta Christina implied the above when she said, “As atheists, we believe criticism of religion must fall within this framework [of socially conscious progressivism],” I wish them good fortune, and have added The Orbit’s website to my Favorites.

  • I appreciate their intent to tackle an atheist perspective on intersectional issues, but having been a consumer of some of these very same blogs in the past I’m, well, skeptical. Previously, there was too much emphasis on umbrage taking and infighting for my taste. Hopefully they’re moving past all that.

  • G Key

    I read most of The Orbit’s blogs from bottom to top, but stopped about 3/4 of the way up. (I have a low threshold for stress.)

    I didn’t see “infighting”, but I did see a lot of “umbrage taking” — some put me off, and others were so dead-on I wanted to scream. (The best examples of each came from the same author, Niki M.)

    A couple of the bloggers sound openly inviting & welcoming (Greta Christina and Tony Thompson); others seem more targeted toward the “atheist blogging cognoscenti”, which is entirely out of my league (and interest).

    I’ll keep The Orbit in my favorites and see how things progress.

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  • samuel johnston

    My experience with “social justice” atheist warriors has not been pleasant. The tend to make social causes their “evangelical religion”, and adopt the intolerant behavior of religious evangelists. Give me an old fashioned skeptical atheist every time.

  • My reference to in-fighting concerned the ‘rifts’ that appeared in movement atheism as a whole in recent years. Some atheists prefer to remain committed to rational skepticism of religion as the proper focus of movement atheism, and so regard a shift toward social justice as “mission creep.” Others (a small minority, I believe) are the kind of vocal jerks & trolls who would pollute any movement they might involve themselves in. Throwing these various factions together produced a seemingly endless stream of accusations, complaints, and insults, all blending further with more fundamental infighting over labels, tactics, and ideological differences. The final result: inertia.

  • G Key

    Bummer. Glad I’m not involved in “movement” atheism.
    I just believe the Golden Rule means respecting others’ personal boundaries, beliefs, belongings, bedrooms, bodies, and business, along with their rights, freedoms, privacy, and equality, as one would have others respect one’s own.
    Thus I see the hostilities from the Religious Right and the organized antitheists as a matter of mutual trespass, not of differing beliefs.

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  • Stan

    Hear! Hear!

  • Stan

    Similar here, but at least the antitheists don’t come a knockin on my door as often.

  • M.L.

    Appears to be nothing more than an ‘Atheism Plus’ reboot. I seriously doubt it will succeed with a different moniker. It’s just too shrill and self-righteous, and more often than not the things they call “social justice” issues are really just ‘radical chic’ pandering.

    This is just soooo summer of 2012…

  • M.L.

    SJW atheists and religious zealots have much in common. They’re both extremely judgemental, self-righteous, and love to point fingers and ‘shun the fallen’.

    The main difference between SJW atheism and the puritans is that the latter were pathologically preoccupied with sex and always looking to condemn “SINNERS!”and the former are pathologically preoccupied with race, gender, and sexual identity and always looking to accuse someone or some thing with being a ‘privileged’ bigot.