A few people have asked, “Why is such an organization necessary?” or “What are you going to do that other organizations like the National Secular Society (NSS) or British Humanist Society (BHA) aren’t already doing?” It is a fair question, and the main answer to this is that none of the groups mentioned actually promote atheism. They do not, as a matter of course, challenge religions directly, question the validity of the concept of faith, or criticize pronouncements made by the religious institutions. At Atheism, we will be challenging religious claims and the propagation of religious faith.
At the November 2009 NSS Annual General Meeting, its President, Terry Sanderson, stated that it was not their job to promote atheism and at present there is not an organization that is doing so. He went on to explain that the current non-theistic movement is made up of three “arms”, and we at Atheism have modeled this into a simple Venn diagram as a graphical aid to differentiate where we fit in as an organization (please note this diagram is schematic and not to scale).
Each of the circles represent the following movements:
Secularism is the political movement to separate church and state, and to challenge and remove religious privilege.
Non-Theistic “Lifestances” are more positive “alternatives” to faith and religion, such as humanism, PEARLism, scientism and the like. They promote ethical systems, ways of thinking and ways of life.
Active atheism is the challenging of faith – the belief, in the absence of evidence, that God exists – as a bad thing per se. From this follows the challenging of religion, its doctrines, pronouncements and teachings. Until now there has been no distinctively atheist organization in the UK, which is why this organization has been formed.
At Atheism, we do, by definition, support and promote secularism, and we have common ground with non-theistic “lifestances” – hence the overlap. We will work with their promoting organizations where appropriate. However, we will be doing things that they do not (or will not) do and vice versa.
So join Atheism, the nation’s only democratic, membership led, grassroots campaigning organization advancing atheism.