The Joy of Sects

May 6, 2013


sect (sekt), n 4.  any group, party, or faction united by a specific doctrine or under a doctrinal leader. (Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, 1996)


 I look forward to being at the Women in Secularism conference next week. The line-up is chock-full of smart, interesting speakers, many of the attendees are friends and colleagues, and D.C. is a great place to spend a weekend. 

Not everyone feels that way. Some of the people who are not going are not just passing on the conference, they’re also criticizing that it’s happening at all. It’s not needed; it’s a waste of resources; it dilutes our mission, they say. 

I have a specific and a general response to all that.  

Specifically – obviously – women (who are over ½ the U.S. population) have been getting screwed by religion since well before whatever fiction writer dreamt up the story of The Fall in Genesis.  (There, Eve is forever blamed for original sin because she… what now? Ate from the Tree of Knowledge? Oh, please. If God were just, he would have given her a medal instead of kicking her out of the Garden.) 

Anyone who can’t see that most of Christianity (for one) has for millennia institutionalized the unequal treatment of women isn’t looking very hard. Catholic women can’t even vote for a Pope, much less be one.

Should women be motivated to strengthen their specific secular position in our society? Hell yes! Or do what? Sit back and take it for another 1000 years? I wouldn’t… 

Which brings me to a general response… 

ANY large group who feels like they have a particular beef with religion (or pseudoscience, or other wacky beliefs) has a legitimate interest in addressing that problem as a group.  

At CFI-L.A. we’ve hosted Black Skeptics, Spanish-speaking atheists, gay and lesbian humanists, and others who’ve had specific troubles in our society based on who they fundamentally are. And I say, welcome to our tent. 

Ideally, our whole movement is a coalition of individuals and groups who all have an interest in promoting a secular and reason-based society. And if some of those groups want to get together to fine-tune their methods for dealing with and changing this uber-religious society we live in, more power to them.


How can we help?