Atheist “Antics” AND Secular Change by Kim Rippere

Posted by on August 10, 2012 in Featured, Guest Post, Thoughts | 3 comments

The Background

Recently, I wrote about antics not being perceived as a mature aspect of the atheist and secularist movement.  That others see these antics and can easily dismiss our movement because of the tactics used.

I singled out the use of “unholy” water as an example of an antic.  I received “feedback” from a few organizers and participants: Brandi Braschler, John Porgal, and EllenBeth Wachs.

As a disclaimer, I am on the Board of Secular Woman with Brandi.  We have exchanged perhaps 20 words total on this topic.

More recently Ernest Perce said that he was going to whip the Qur’an.  From the Washington Post:  “On Monday, Perce threatened to bring a whip into the Pennsylvania Capitol and use it to desecrate a Qur’an if the House doesn’t void the resolution by the time it reconvenes from summer recess in September.”

My reaction wasn’t at all what I thought it would be.  Even after reading Hemant Mehta’s article, I just couldn’t get that riled up about the whipping.  Actually, I found myself smirking!

Then a friend sent me a link to this video.

The video just made me think, that is was no big deal.  Hmmm.

Where is my scorn?  My embarrassment?  My self-righteousness?  It was missing.

The Learning

Like any good critical thinker I did some introspection to figure out what is different about these two actions:  sprinkling unholy water and whipping the Qur’an.  Doesn’t take long to realize there is no discernible difference and that trying to find a shade of gray that would allow me to pronounce them different lacks any level of integrity.  Hmmmmm.  Then the difference became apparent!

Me.  Yes, me.  Something about how I perceive antics changed.

I am a tolerant, except to intolerance.  I try not to judge and to assume to best in people.  In a diverse variety of life’s aspects you will find me writing or talking about continuums and there being a place for us all along that continuum.  You will find that as my friend in real-life, via Facebook, and through every other medium.

Yet, in retrospect, I find that my posting and view on antics was not at all what I would expect.  What is there to say, but I expect better from myself.  And finally, and most importantly;  I apologize.

One thing to point out is that the change did not come because of the “feedback.”  It came because of something internal to me.  Perhaps this is why I prefer to the Socratic method to debate.  So many times change comes from within.

Current Thinking

For this section, I have put “antics” in quotes.  That word no longer feels right.  It is filled with judgment and disdain.

So, how am I thinking about “antics” now?  They are one method to making a point.
1.    Religion and faith are emotional not deductively rational.
2.    Atheist and secularists are trying to make cultural and societal changes in emotionally charged aspects of life.
3.    “Antics” drive at emotional responses.
4.    Reasoned “arguments” do not drive emotional responses.
5.    “Antics” are NEEDED.

Do I wish that reasoned arguments receive the same attention?  YES!  But, they do not and never will.  Is the attention always good?  No.  But, when it happens randomly it has the potential to have impact.

Do I see myself participating in “antics.”  Not as my first choice.  I do see at least one in my future though.  If for nothing other than to grow as a person.

The tagline for my personal blog is “Always Evolving.”  Here is one clear instance of that evolution.

Kim Rippere is a lifetime atheist with some hints of Catholicism-lite.  She is currently the President of Secular Woman.  A new organization whose mission is to amplify the voice, presence, and influence of non-religious women.
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  1. It always seems a pretty bold claim to insist that an “antic” (or series of them) will do –or has already done– more harm than good. How to be sure it’s a net loss?
    Particularly if a win for the atheist movement might have negative implications for the secular movement.
    Quite polarizing to declare it a loss/gain, no less so when they show their math.

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  2. There’s something for everyone, and different people listen to different pleas. As long as you’re not harming others, we’re all doing our part to do whatever it is we aim to achieve (which can vary significantly).Glad to see continual self-examination, that’s a VIRTUE to be valued.

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  3. Well said Kim. (and Emily below me).  There is a place for all sorts of tactics when it comes to this debate.  Sometimes, people need to “hit over the head” with something—something you call “antics”.  There is a place for that.  Other times, rational discussion will better serve.  I think that the antics in question do need to fall under certain guidelines–one can go to far.  I also agree with Emily in her praising you for continued self-evaluation.  That is something that we all must do.  It becomes dangerous when we think we can no longer improve. 

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