Atheism is not the “new gay marriage” (or the new anything else)

A few months ago, Bill Maher made a claim that I regularly hear from other atheists:
“[Atheists are] out there, they’re thinking it, they’re just afraid to say it. But that’s changing,” he said. “It’ll be the new gay marriage.”
He’s certainly not the first person to have made the comparison. Earlier this year Todd Stiefel, a prominent atheist activist and generous philanthropist, took the analogy a step further when speaking with CNN:
“I consider myself working on the next civil equality movement, just like women’s rights, LGBT rights and African-American Civil Rights.”
Austin Cline claims on About.com’s atheism section that “atheists [are] hated more than gays,” and bestselling author Richard Dawkins has frequently compared the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) rights movement to the atheist movement—drawing heavily from the LGBTQ rights movement for his “Out Campaign,” which encourages atheists to “come out.” And these are just a few examples in a long line of well-intentioned atheist activists and organizations—who generally consider themselves LGBTQ allies—comparing the LGBTQ rights movement to the atheist movement. There are things about this comparison that, on the surface, make sense: atheists and LGBTQs are marginalized communities that deviate from normative ideas about how people should live, that often share an experience of needing to reveal our identities to others (sometimes with terrible consequences), and that experience social stigma.

Muslims demonstrating against NYPD surveillance

NYPD: Muslims are terrorists

This hideous practice not only tramples on the rights of American Muslims, it also makes a mockery of the very rights and freedoms that are at the heart of the American experiment. If America is great, if America wants to be great, its greatness is to be measured not in the size of the flags we fly, but the extent to which we recognize the innate rights of all of our citizens, starting with the most marginalized amongst us.

A young person holding a gun.

COMMENTARY: Concealed handguns a form of white social control

(RNS) Part of the problem lies with with the lunatic — and, I would argue, racist — manner in which the Florida legislature has defined self-defense. You can start a fight for any reason, and if you begin to lose the altercation, and feel you are about to suffer grave body harm, you can kill the other person with totally immunity.

Turkey Guitar player facing Riot police

Sounds of Protest: Les Miserables, Gezi Park, and the Power of Music

Ultimately that’s what so amazing about music at Gezi park. It’s not about the notes. It’s not about the words, or the melodies. It’s ultimately about us, all of us. It’s about the power of music to unite all of us. It’s about this new global generation of humanity who care about the well-being of one another beyond the narrow confines of nationality, race, creed, or class, that give us hope. They give us hope that they will be able to sing together, make music together, make love together, and make of this old world, a new world.