Chris Stedman is a “Humanist Chaplain” at
Mr. Stedman is a self described “faithist.” He wrote a book by the same name. That’s a pejorative term he claims some atheists use to describe non-believers who feel a kinship toward believers, seeing them as people whose beliefs are worthy of respect; down playing the differences between non-believers and believers; ignoring for all he’s worth the uglier side of religion that historically has been and currently is a blight on humanity, instead preferring to focus on issues we have in common. I never heard the term “faithist,” but if my synopsis holds water, then “faithist” equates to “Uncle Tom atheist.”in my parlance. I prefer the latter as a more succinct descriptor.
To Stedman (is it Reverend Stedman? Father Stedman?) these things make atheists unlikable because it points out our differences with those religionists who feel compelled to promote blatant attempts at history revisionism, the dumbing-down of our schools, and out right proselytizing for a “Christian Nation.” It makes us look bad to the Christian majority. It irks them. He doesn't like that.
In short the “New Atheist” is different from the plain old atheist because we won’t step off the curb and cast our eyes down when confronted by religious violations of the constitution and common sense.
We won’t shuck and jive and shuffle our feet when the Christian Taliban passes laws declaring non-belief in god’s role in ensuring the security of our nation a crime punishable by imprisonment (Google “Kentucky God Security Law).
We won’t stay quietly in the closet anymore when believers proffer their scripturally supported belief in non-science, reproductive rights, or who can marry who in a secular nation. You know... like the “New Blacks” (AKA “Those Uppity Nigras”) who wouldn't ride on the back of the bus. Or the “New Gays,” (AKA “Militant Faggots") who won’t sit still for being the target of homophobes. Or the “New Feminists” (AKA “Femin-Nazis" according to Rush Limbaugh) who won’t have their reproductive rights dictated to them by misogynistic old Christian white men.
But there’s nothing new about atheism. What’s new is the dwindling power and influence of the Church over thinking people. What’s new is we no longer have to fear Inquisition, torture, imprisonment, execution or expulsion from the community. We no longer have to pretend to be believers to earn a livelihood, or stay alive. What’s new isn't so much the atheist activism, as it is the loss of power, influence, and threat of retribution that religion and religionists have enjoyed for 1700 years or so.
Robert Ingersoll (1833-1899), Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), Madelyn O’Hare (1919-1995) , Christopher Hitchens (1949-2011), Dawkins, Harris, along with thousands of other open and in your face atheists past and present who refused to roll over - all were, it seems, “New Atheists” to Stedman and those who wield the term at atheists like an exorcist wields a bottle of holy water at his victim
Never mind that the very people decried by Stedman are the very people to whom he owes his open non-belief and his very position at Harvard. Without their activism he’d still be in his closet and wouldn't be pandering his “I’m not like THEM, I’m one of the good heathens” to his believer bedfellows.
There’s nothing new about me being an atheist...been one since my late teens. But if you want to tag me with this inventive term coined by religionist’s in fear of their dwindling influence and numbers, and picked up by accommodationist non-believers to ingratiate themselves to those who’d happily enslave him to their belief system, then feel free.
I’ll wear “New Atheist” with the same pride I do “Godless Hell Bound Heathen” - as a badge of honor, a symbol of strength of conviction, a testament to my reason.