When I started this blog in 2014 my goal was to have a place that I could vent my frustration and “practice” my writing skills. I’ve always enjoyed writing but I never seemed to be very good at it. So the blog gave me an opportunity to do both; vent and write. The decision to turn this blog into a podcast is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. I’ve said on many occasions that I’m just some southern boy who just happen to have something to say and our show started as an outlet for me to vent my frustrations. I was a baby-atheist (someone new to atheism) and still in the throes of religion struggling to break free from the last chain holding me captive; the fear of hell. I was angry, angry about being lied to for so many years, angry knowing I will never get those years back and NRR was my place to go and release my anger and frustration so that Ms. Ashley and I didn’t kill each other. Ms. Ashley at the time was a believer and struggling to understand my anger. To her it felt like I woke up one day and decided to try on this atheism thing. What she didn’t know was that I had begun listened to podcasts and started doing my research. The atheism word scared the hell out of me. For so long, atheists were the spawn of Satan, they were here to steal my soul. Pastors taught that atheists were here to seek, kill and destroy my chances of ever entering the kingdom of heaven. They were something to fear. They were the scum of the earth, hypocrites and bound for hell. They are to be avoided at all cost!
As I began to grow in my atheism my anger fell away and my activism came to life. It was only when I was able to get past my anger that I began wondering what I could do to help others. To help those people who are new to non-belief and feeling the newly found anger that so many feel in the beginning. I began looking for opportunities to share my experiences and opportunities that allowed others to share theirs. This is where the segment for deconversion stories came to life on the radio show and where the desire to have others write for this blog and share their story. We felt it was so important that others have an opportunity to share their story with the hope that someone will be listening and/or reading and realize that they are not alone.
Eventually I had to self-actualize my anger because Ms. Ashley had grown tired of it even to the point that it placed our relationship in jeopardy. There were many nights she and I were standing in the middle of the living room floor yelling at the top of our lounges. In her struggle to understand she would ask questions that I, being pissed at the entire world, would view as an attack instead of an attempt to gain knowledge. Ninety percent of the arguments were my fault. It actually got to the point where she was telling me that I needed to find the positives in atheism. If you ever want to piss off a new atheist, tell them they need to find the positives in atheism. As it always happens, I will think about something she said for a couple of days and I have to crawl back with my tail between my legs and say the words most men hate to say, YOU ARE RIGHT! It was my search for the positive that my activism came to life and I’ve never looked back.
So what does it mean to be an activist? An activist is someone who promotes or impedes social, political, economic or environmental change. As activist we stand for what is right and just. We fight for the rights of those who can’t and we stand in opposition to those who make it their life ambition to remove the rights given by our Constitution. We stand shoulder to shoulder with our black brothers and sisters who are being judged due to the color of their skin instead of the content of their character. We stand with our gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered family and friends who still face a country who hates them. Even with the Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, state governments and Presidential candidates are still fighting to remove those rights.
We, as activists, stand in defense of our community and say we will NOT back down, we will not bow to your bigotry, and we will NOT surrender to your hatred! Like it or not we are here and we are not going anywhere, in fact, we are getting bigger and stronger. We are the fastest growing community in the country. People are waking up to the truth about religion. They are finally seeing the harm caused by religion and are leaving in droves! The religious in our country are being put on notice! They are losing and they know it. We as activist, are getting louder and louder and we will not be silenced.
Being an atheist activist down here in the south is a totally different experience than up north or out west. Down here, in the good old bible belt, we see Jesus everywhere! He is on cars, billboards, t-shirts, hell you can’t go anywhere without seeing something that has to do with Jesus.
I have been asked “why don’t you move somewhere more liberal where you no longer have to deal with the religious bullshit of the south”. My answer is simple, because I’m needed here. Now I know there will be those who disagree with this answer and to be honest I really don’t give a shit. What good am I in New York, or in California? The battle ground is right here in the south. This is our ground zero. If we don’t fight for equality down here, who will? As activists we take on the responsibility of speaking out while others remain silent. Using our voices does not make us popular but we stand and fight with the hope that those generations who follow us will live in a society that is not ruled by hypocrisy and bigotry. This is OUR battle and I intend to fight and stand for the rights of all people. We can never expect to win the war against religiosity if we do not stand up and let our voices be heard.
So how can you become an activist? Listed below are three ways that you can become an activist in the secular community without bringing any unwanted attention to yourself. If you are interested in activism you can do one or all three of them but it is my hope that you do at least one.
- Home-based Activism – I’ve heard this called “arm chair activism” but I don’t like the way that sounds. It implies that activists are lazy, so I renamed it. “Home-based activists” are those people who are perfectly happy staying out of the spot light. They are the people sending letters and emails to representatives, senators, and congressmen. They are the foundation of our movement. You can join organizations like FFRF, Recovering from Religion and the Secular Coalition for America.
- Podcasts– These are the folks who have a voice and aren’t afraid to use it. The great thing about podcasts are that you can still remain anonymous while being heard. Podcasts were my intro in to atheism. They were the one place I could go learn in secret. There is little to no upfront cost and you can reach an international audience.
- Meetup Groups – These are the folks that have a desire to create a community within their community. In small towns all across this nation there are people who are walking through life thinking they are the only one. They feel alone and they are scared. They feel as though they are the black sheep in the family. No one will understand what they are going through. Meetup groups are the best way for those people to connect with other like-minded people. If your community does not have a secular group, start one! It’s like the movie Field of Dreams – Build it and they will come.
The time to become an activist is NOW! We have the opportunity to make a positive change in the world and I hope you are willing to take the challenge and join us as we fight to move this community forward. Your action is needed. You can make a difference today that will last for years to come.