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How Can We Create Inclusive Community? I've struggled with finding a sense of community in most of the places I've lived, in large part due to demographics. But all too often, when I do find atheist communities, they're filled with militant, bitter, dogmatic, belittling, and segregative attitudes against the religious and anyone who happens to believe in anything supernatural. How can one create a sense of community that is tolerant and compassionate when working with limited demographics? #community

LifelongLearner 6 May 7
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13

Sorry, but I think your whole question is non-sequitur. You build community by being friends and friendly with the people around you. Atheists, at present, are too widely scattered to form "community". While building community, you will learn and others will learn about you, what ideas are ridiculed and maybe even why.

If you were my neighbor, I would probably be giving you grief about your "Buddhism" thingy. But you are not, so you get off the hook for today. My primary point here, is it is not so much a person that is aggressively belittled, but the ideas. And there are many that DESERVE aggressive ridicule, not only religion, but anti-vaxxers who recently revived the measles. Neo-luddites who shun modern practices like pasturizing milk and fruit juices, causing illness and death.

I know it sounds like I am justifying the "militant, bitter, dogmatic, belittling, and segregative attitudes" you were decrying, but it is hard to build community with people who are dead.

You are 100% correct, @Normanbites
A "community" is comprised of people who share differing viewpoints.
If everyone thinks the same, it's just another echo chamber.
Or a cult.

12

When I'm with other atheists I'll trash religion all day long, because I have to hear their stupid bullshit and I can't even tell them I'm an atheist or they'll hate me. If people believed what they wanted to believe and let me believe whatever I want to believe, I'd be much more generous towards them. I went to someone's funeral, and the pastor giving the eulogy didn't say one thing about the deceased. Not one. He went on and on about Jesus and how you have to accept Jesus or go to hell. I went to the side with another mourner and we both bitched about how much we hate Christianity. Later I spoke with the daughter of the deceased and she was pissed too. She said the only reason that pastor was doing the eulogy was because her cousin insisted he do it. That's just one example.

I got a "friend" request the other day from someone I didn't know on Faceberg. Their avatar was an American flag and their news feed was prayers, bible quotations and other religious clap trap. No thanks! Not gonna let you see my page!

@celticagent I get requests from people I don't know all the time. I wonder how they find us.

@Naejidlopalev I accepted one friend request because he was friends with my cousin. I unfriended and blocked him when he sent me a gif of a penis being jacked off, and told my cousin. He obviously doesn't go to her church so, yes, she must just friend anyone.

12

Help me out here , Bcz I fail to understand what is exactly that you are asking / saying . I am a very simple person and oriented to daily reality . U know , the itching and scratching of real life vs words and ideas that can't have practical application .
Tolerance and compassion in " community ": what's keeping u or anyone to find or practice this ?? Tolerance in your immediate community is when your next door neighbor has young kids and make a lots of notice , or they scratch your car ( playing ), or their friends park on your driveway and u choose to say nothing hideous in all situations . That's tolerance . Who cares if they are religious or atheists .
Community starts from your house and the one next to u , your public schools and your coffee shop . It starts w u .
Compassion : any time u do anything for anyone in your daily life without expecting a reward , or any time feel and act for anyone in your daily life while u have other things to do , that's compassion .
Personally , I don't answer my front door when people who I don't know well but apparently they know me and asking for me to go check on their kid's injury let's say , with :" hold on , are u religious ?". And I doubted many humans do !
Although , if u are atheist , most people assume u are a horrible troll , but that's another story and I am tired .
Community and friendships thou and deep bonding and motivation to do more for community , it comes w common interests and common ideas . U won't see many meat lovers at vegans restaurants , and that makes sense !
Let's say I had the compassion to care at 0200 in the morning for the next door kid who it's belly hurt . Let's say I get invited by mother the next day to cofffee . Let's say she tells me " we will love to have u in our church , in fact we do a fundraiser next week for "... whatever ".
What do u want me to do ? What do u want me to discuss w them and y m I the bad guy if I just say , nah , churches and I are not friends ". Or Mr Buddha and yoga . Or whatever , name it .
Community is based on common interests and ideas . Other ways , absolutely u need tolerance And compassion to be a part of your community and regardless . But strong bonds develop w common ideas and common causes . The reason more atheists are isolated is Bcz not many common ideas of living w " rest of community ". And frankly , some of us we are at age that " open mind " is laughable . We know what will stand for and what we find ridiculus . That does not makes us less tolerant or less compassionate . Just more eclectic where we spend our energy , time , and money .
Many proffesionals btw of the medical community they volunteer their skills and x in their communities , often religious communities and causes . I can assure anyone , if the recipients of their compassion knew about their atheism , they will had decline their volunteer work !

I love you.

Exactly. Good reply. I'm the only Agnostic in my neighborhood. Nobody (including me) cares or is offended by our neighbors' beliefs. We all support and watch out for each other.

@bigpawbullets yes ! Who cares ! ♥️👍

It's a rhetorical question, aimed at promoting a discussion on what we can do to make stronger and more inclusive communities.

Wow! Did you have the big cup of coffee? 🙂

@Sticks48 right ? Hey sticks , good morning !😍 Yeah , I have shit to do today and I ll take it straight / no sleep , I ll sleep tonight like dead I am sure 😂😂😂

Hear! Hear well said
And I luv ya, too

11

There are atheists of all stripes in this community. Some feel that if you do not try to force your religious ideas on me, you have the right to believe as you choose. Others are more angry due to negative experiences with religion. Similarly, on the political spectrum, the community leans to the left of center, but also includes reactionary right wingers and bigots.

On the religious dimension, I do not respond to most posts about religion, as I am some 50 years past religion. On the political side, I will and do strongly and actively disagree with posts that I find offensive and destructive.

My older brother was molested by a catholic priest when he was about 13 or 14. We grew up in the Boston area. Those priests are now gone, but the memory of that assault lasted with him and our family still. He's dead now, died more than 10 years ago at the young age of 48.

8

I think the Atheist Community of Austin is a good model to follow. They do a lot of cool outreach programs for the homeless and others, they are religious-friendly and they are super positive. I've been watching the Atheist Experience for 10 or 11 years.

I had a similarly good experience with the group in Santa Fe. Totally prosocial and humanitarian.

8

i agree. these attitudes in the atheist community are counterproductive to community. they are embarrassing quite frankly.

I agree!

7

It goes beyond militant attitudes toward religion. As in any group, members run the gamut of personalities, beliefs, politics, etc. On this site, the majority (or at least the most vocal) seem to be rabidly liberal and quickly kill any dialogue or discussion with seething animosity toward anyone who has a different view or opinion from them. The result is a mostly exclusive community of extreme left-wing fanatics (for the most part). So I don't think a completely inclusive community is really possible in any sizable group, including this website. There are simply too many variables and personalities that separate and exclude one member from another.

7

The difficulty is, I believe, due to some human propensities that are not necessarily natural, but rooted in secondary drives caused by thought systems and their social products (societies) that afflict and damage our otherwise natural thought processes and instinctual drives.

What are those 'natural processes'? I like one proverb as an answer. Though like religions, proverbs are mythical, also like religions they can sometimes offer enduring symbolic guidance. Go to 'the horse's mouth'. Since Nature has no mouth per se, it doesn't mean she doesn't speak a language that we, as her premier reasoning handiwork should be equipped to discern with our natural faculties left undisturbed or unblocked.. Unfortunately, we social creatures have come to form societies that exploit fears and substitute fostering of our individuality with doctrines, their supporting myths and compulsive 'group identity'. Groups and isms are all too ready to relieve us of the burden of independent reasoning; to in fact discourage it by making examples of those demonstrating the audacity of asserting individuality outside doctrinal bounds and authoritative censorship in any way.

Your question is vexing because we discover that escaping a corral can give the illusion of gaining freedom that is short-lived upon discovery that we've only found a shared pasture where brands might differ but they are still bourne by all. Until we can erase or otherwise reject all branding (labeling), we'll be unable to return to brand-free, nascent state of true individuality. Yes, it is true that some damage suffered at various developmental 'windows of opportunity' cannot be repaired. We are in a way of speaking, stuck with it. We can, however, self-examine and identify most of it and thereby act to prevent perpetuation of it in the ways we rear children and contribute to societies; 'slings, arrows and all'.

Back to labeling: The term atheist, used as a noun, is no less a label than Muslim, Presbyterian, Republican, Socialist, Feminist or even American.. When we announce that we are something or anything in terms of a noun that applies to any group, we subject ourselves to one or more of the self-appointed inventors and guardians of orthodoxies presiding over the group. Where do we find an 'ism' that is immune to being taken-over by self important 'leaders' who deign to also define just who is and who isn't a genuine member; who hasn't spit on his (yes, usually his) hands and established a hierarchy beneath them of other ambitious subduers of their fellows? 'Atheism' is no exception, unfortunately.

Add to this the fact that not all come to be atheist for the same causes. Some reason their way to rejecting gods dispassionately while others seek it as refuge from hobgoblins and bugaboos while preserving healthy appetites for new mythical substitutes. Even the existence of bitterness and hostility have different causes. Some are bourne like a 'chip on a shoulder' while others are more reactive 'tit of tat' in answer to insults or disrespect by critics. The worst are seething, unresolved anger at having been deceived or otherwise 'done wrong' by theological organizations and/or indoctrinated families.

Want to escape those attitudes? Escape first the labeling; at least in terms of nouns. Think more in terms of adjectives. In that way we can agree or disagree with specific ideological positions held by groups at any time we agree as individuals without the necessity of bearing their label; though it won't prevent virtually ALL of them from labeling us anyway. It is the price one pays for intellectual freedom; to repeat, the 'slings and arrows'... Language, our own not Nature's, is one of our chief captors against which we must continuously struggle in freeing ourselves. How do we form and participate in a community without calling ourselves something and thereby become vulnerable to the ambitious within our number who instantly set about a conquest to become 'Lord'? They are always among us and most often the most bitter and obnoxious participants.

So far, as an individual, I haven't any full answers; no full-set of keys to freedom. One, so far, is avoiding noun identity and emphasis of merely descriptive, individual identity. I'm atheist in having rejected gods and theology as a partial description of my individual identity not as a 'member' of a group who subjects himself to definition by things like Dawkinsian or Murray Ohairian orthodoxies.

Maybe it isn't even possible for those who seek the freedom of independent thought and reasoning to 'congregate' under common purpose. It could just be that in this 'pickled' existence saturated in six thousand years of pathogenic, exclusive male, conquesting brine that we've been permanently crippled in the ability return to a state from which our progeny can arrive and remain as cucumbers.

Just in case we can, I suggest forming something along the lines of an 'alliance of individual seekers' loosely based on assisting one another respectfully in identifying self-limiting doctrinal 'baggage' and sharing of ideas on how to further the process and each others' focus in the process. I'd be game for that as a starting point.

Thank you for the enjoyable read. 🙂

Your comment was profoundly well-written.

the only thing I have to add is identifying with a group can give us the courage to speak our mind. I recently had a conversation with the west side Mexican girl raised Catholic and although she was highly skeptical she didn't know she had a choice. I suggested some you to pieces by Carl Sagan and some books by Richard Dawkins. without those convenient labels I wouldn't have been able to counsel her at all.

-"Maybe it isn't even possible for those who seek the freedom of independent thought and reasoning to 'congregate' under common purpose. "
Silver1won.
... -pick a representative for the group.
Independent thought , to me, mean that you can think wherever, but the decision its based on the well being.

7

Perhaps you are referring to antitheists? That's not the same as atheists... They fight or oppose religion in government...

7

Can't be "inclusive" if you want to keep out the more "militant".

Too many mixed messages here. Very contradictory.

Communities have all kinds of people.
What you're saying you want doesn't exist in reality.

Thank u !!

LOL, I'm sorry. I was under the impression that posts were supposed to promote discussion, which was my aim. I am well aware of the imperfections of the world. What can we do to make it better, including within our own communities?

@LifelongLearner You DID "promote discussion". That's what this is, a discussion.

One thing we can do to "make it better", is to accept that there will always be different voices and positions within communities. Most especially, those that will dissent and challenge. Accept that they exist for a reason, and don't try to squelch them.

I don't want (nor do I hold ANY expectation that it's possible for) everyone to "get along" all the time. For one thing, it's not remotely realistic. For another, opposing viewpoints are completely necessary.
I think this particular community is very representative of ALL positions. You know, just like real life is representative of ALL positions.

Nothing in life is ever going to be "easy". I will never understand why some people insist on trying to force that unrealistic concept.

Do you not see the hypocrisy of calling for a more "tolerant" community, but being completely intolerant of those who may be more militant and confrontational?
Where's your tolerance for other viewpoints?

@KKGator Telling me I can't have what I want because it doesn't exist is not a discussion. Saying something insightful about why it's not possible, or giving some suggestions on how to make it possible would be much appreciated, like your second post, for example.

@KKGator I feel it's worth pointing out that you assumed an intolerance on my part, when really I was just bringing up a point where I think we could improve as a community. I'm sorry if it offends.

@LifelongLearner I was not offended. You do not have the power to offend me.

Btw, just because you may not care for how I choose to communicate does not make my comments any less "insightful". You just don't like them, which is fine.
I don't think being "militant" is necessarily a bad thing. Perhaps if non-believers were a little more militant, the theists wouldn't feel so emboldened to run roughshod all over the rest of us.
Perhaps that's the "improvement" we should be considering for a better community?

I think my approach is just as valid as you think yours is.

7

You can only do for you and no one else, so I would suggest that you make every effort to subdue the militancy in order to enjoy a more congenial atmosphere.

6

I’ve worked hard to perfect my militant bitterness, but try also to temper it with a little kindness, patience and humor.

Word!

6

I would say many of them/us have a right to be bitter, especially if the religious doctrines were used as a form of abuse or control and the religious treated us horribly. Sure sure notallreligious, but certain wounds take longer to heal than others. Not to mention, there are bitter and belittling religious people too so I think you will find that kind of mentality in any community you go to.

As someone who was raised in a religious family, who also had traumatic experiences that are tied to that religion, I definitely hear what you're saying. And I have a deep sense of sadness for anyone who has had such experiences.
Those atrocities occur at the hands of man, not religion itself. Should we be bitter towards the internet because people use it for human trafficking? As you mentioned, the type of people in any community will vary greatly. We will find a full spectrum in any group. I wasn't trying to imply that I'm ignorant of that reality.
I would like to believe that as we slowly begin to understand human behavior, we'll not only have a better understanding of why people commit such acts, but we'll also be able to make positive changes in ourselves that will reduce, if not eliminate them. Perhaps that's naive, but isn't it worth aiming for?

@LifelongLearner At the same time much of the doctrines from various Abrahamic religions are toxic and actually advise treating women as submissives and treating homosexuals as infidels worthing of stoning or conversion therapy. The three religions have many toxic passages and to give them a blind pass and blame it purely on human deficiencies seems limited. The religions have just as much to account for as the misguided sheep that follow the holy books to the letter aka literally. Otherwise we are cherry picking the best and ignoring the bad.

Nailed it.

6

Why would you want an echo chamber?

After moving to Republican-dominated, Christian Eastern Washington, I made friends with like-minded people. My friends range from Christian to atheist.

They don't hassle me about religion.

6

I do not by default believe 'inclusivity' is a laudable goal. considering the point of a group is like minded individuals that rather leaves inclusivity in the cold. Why would you want to include those that feel differently.

Oh, I don't know...maybe to foster a better understanding of human nature and to better understand why people believe the things they do. Or to find out what we do have in common with people who feel differently.

Exactly. I, for one, am not going to be tolerant and inclusive of misogynists, white supremacists, homophobes, transphobes, etc. etc. The supposed "loving christians" are not inclusive of all people so why are atheists or agnostics expected to be any better? 😕

@LifelongLearner I can understand something without supporting it. different opinions are not automatically equal. some 'opinions' have more value then others. To me, the opinions of the religious are, by default automatically less valuable then the opinions of people based in reality, for example.

6

I am also Buddhist, Zen Buddhist/atheist. I accidentally found the temple by attending a compassionate activist meeting after our failed presidental election. I was pretty miffed at having to take off my shoes and maybe sit on the floor, but was amazed with what I discovered. They have become my community/family . If there is no Buddhist community in your area, you might want to visit a Unitarian church. They typically are very open to everyone, atheists, pagans, wicen, and even christians.

6

Since you are a "buddhist" why not mingle with other buddhists.

@markH2444 hello

5

"they're filled with militant, bitter, dogmatic, belittling, and segregative attitudes against the religious and anyone who happens to believe in anything supernatural."

Physician heal thyself?

5

Place local ad

Non believers altruism group contact...

5

We can be militant and bitter but for the most part I hope we are inclusive.

So true! Thank you so much for reminding me that one specific action/behavior should not be used to make fixed assessments about a person.

...Or fixed assessments about the group or community that they "represent."

5

To a lot of atheists those things are the opposite of what atheism is all about and there are already lots of places for those things which they are trying to avoid

5

Welcome to the asylum. Enjoy your stay.

4

As long as there are varying demographics, there will be varying attitudes toward those that do not belong, sad but true.

lerlo Level 8 May 7, 2019
4

I am an atheist with friends from both the secular and religious beliefs prominent in my area. I build community by participating in organizations that reflect the goals I want for a community. By doing that I found some fellow atheists and some religious friends that I am pretty sure consider their religion a useful social pact built on fables that promote a loving kind community. It is true that some of my atheist friends are I must evangelico in their approach but they learned a long time ago that I prefer a different approach.

Thank you for sharing that.

4

Let the bitter ones who want to resist the theocrats have their community. Whatever their reasons, that is unlikely to change.

If you can't find an already established community of like-minded souls, start your own. You are absolutely not alone, you just need to find the others.

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