A reader writes:
In reading the recent comments on this subject I've noticed that we, as atheists, are often using the language of the gay rights movement to describe what it's like to be an atheist in a largely theistic society-- particularly the desire to 'come out' as atheists. While sexual orientation and religious belief are by no means equivalent, and I think it remains harder to come out as a homosexual than as an atheist, the metaphor is interesting and helps us understand the appeal of the 'New Atheists.'Hitchens and Dawkins are the gay pride parade of Atheism. They are marching straight down the middle of main street and declaring, apologetically, "We're here, we don't believe in god, get used to it." I wish someone would come up with something that rhymes. In a country where coming to realize you don't believe in god often means revealing this fact to disappointed family members and friends and being ostracized as amoral or even evil-- there is something viscerally satisfying and exciting about the courage of Hitchens and Dawkins to state their beliefs publicly and defend them so strongly. The flip side of that is, of course, that there is something slightly cowardly about being a completely closeted Atheist.
Like a gay pride parade the New Atheists overreach.
I cringe when I hear them make blanket dismissals of people with any religious convictions as ignorant, bigoted, or just plain stupid-- just as many of my gay friends cringe when they see... lets say 'breaks of decorum' at gay pride parades that many of us find unacceptable in anyone, gay or straight. But, without those people who are willing to overreach, come out of the closet, and let people know "yes, you probably know an atheist or two and they are not evil or amoral people" we will continue to be quietly marginalized.Discussions about homosexual equality, marriage, the end of DADT would not have been possible without the LOUD homosexuals who broke out of the closet. Likewise the real interesting questions about the nature of morality, and where we come from, and why we are here, and what constitutes a good and meaningful life cannot happen without Loud Atheists coming out of the closet and declaring that they live moral, meaningful, and fulfilling lives without turning to the supernatural.