This is actually about a post that I mostly agree with (as I do with most of what Greta writes–seriously, she’s amazing). The post is titled, “We’re Telling Them They’re Wrong: Why Coming Out Atheist Is Inherently Oppositional,” about the point that “Coming out as an atheist means telling believers we think they’re wrong.” Greta is absolutely correct about that, and it’s an important point.
But I think she’s mistaken when she says:
[Coming out as an atheist] is also an oppositional act. Even in its mildest forms. Even when all we do is put up billboards saying something as innocuous as, “You can be good without God,” or, “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone”… we are saying, implicitly, “If you believe in God, you’re mistaken.”
Those signs, however, could have been put up by a believer Or by believers and non-believers pooling their money. Just like how you can be straight and support the message, “It’s OK to be gay” or “If you’re gay, you’re not alone.”
Yes there’s a difference between being gay and being an atheist. Greta correctly points out that being gay doesn’t mean thinking straight people are wrong, while being an atheist means disagreeing with theists. But those signs don’t even say “I’m an atheist.” They just say “some people are atheists.” They’re equivalent not to “I disagree,” but “some people disagree.” And “some people disagree” is something anyone can think is worth pointing out, even people who aren’t part of “some people.”
The reason this is important is that some people deem that message “too controversial,” and that position is not even halfway defensible. If people get upset over being told “there is no God,” that’s kind of understandable. Even though there’s nothing inherently wrong with telling someone you disagree with them, most people still don’t like being told they’re wrong.
But “some people don’t think there’s a God”? The only people being told they’re wrong by that sign are the nuts who think all atheists secretly believe in God, but deny it because they’re evil. If you think that sign is “too controversial,” you’re just showing your anti-atheist bigotry. You’re showing you don’t want certain topics discussed at all. There’s no excuse for it, and people need to be called out on it.