This blog launched in April, with a high minded mission to represent, inform, promote and challenge various ideas from across the atheist, humanist, secularist and related communities. Since then we’ve published 37 weekly articles, as well as a short experiment with daily roundups. So, here is my year in review, and top ten takeaway:
1. “We’re going to take over”
Beyond Atheism has been my favourite podcast of the year – despite their tendency to cover topics on my to do list so well that I don’t feel like getting round to them. A couple of months ago, one of the hosts said something that really crystalised a lot of the ideas I’ve been exploring: “We’re going to take over.” Societies are going to keep getting less religious and that brings profound changes that deserve serious discussion.
The article that most explicitly addressed this was How should faith groups engage with the post-religious majority?, but the implications of this societal shift, and the challenges and opportunities presented by a post-religious future have been recurring themes, which I hope I have something useful to say on.
2. Community matters
Community Matters is a three part and growing series considering the challenges and opportunities facing AHS+ groups in a post-pandemic world.
3. Activism matters
Activism Matters is an eight part and counting series, where I’ve spoken with a range of activists and leaders in different AHS+ groups, learning about their routes into activism, their perspectives on the movement and what motivates them.
All of the activists were extremely insightful and generous in contributing their time. My favourite interview was probably with Nathan Alexander and Todd Tavares from the Beyond Atheism podcast, or Paul Golin from the Society for Humanistic Judaism.
4. Revisiting new atheism
Over the last fifteen years, I have been a vociferous consumer of atheist and other AHS+-focussed media. But It has been a while since I read a major book exploring these issues. In starting a new chapter in my personal humanism I wanted to revisit and reflect on some of my earlier influences. This influenced a lot of the background to articles, and was most explicit in AHS reads: The God Delusion, a five part series.
5. Why counter-apologetics are not enough
In Atheism, religion, and the pitfalls of reasoning from first principles, I explained why atheistic first principle rationalism may be suitable for refuting theism, but building a personally fulfilling and socially just humanism takes more work. The need to move away from focusing on the former to the latter is a major theme of the blog.
Despite this, I played around with a bit of counter-apologetics in Halo Reach, Sisyphus and religious apologetics and How not to respond to atheists, if you care about conversation.
6. Our movement(s) must address transphobia
In my third article The transphobia problem in AHS+ (and still one of my most read) I addressed one of the social justice issues that most drove me to create this blog. I returned to the theme in my article for Pride – Stop gaslighting LGBT+ people about religion, and in Questions for ‘gender critical’ atheists, I tried to take an approach that could reach ‘gender critical’ and atheists sympathetic to transphobic arguments dressed up in pseudo-secular or pseudo-rationalist terms.
7. Defining AHS+
My first two articles (What is AHS Plus? – AHS+ Blog and AHS+ space in the UK) explained the catchall term for the related concepts of atheism, humanism, secularism and others, why I’ve found it useful, and how groups organised around these ideas relate to each other. AHS+ isn’t an attempt to replace or override other labels. I explored some of the problems in attempts to create or elevate other catchall identity labels in Were the ‘Brights’ really the worst idea?.
8. We need better research on atheists, humanists and secularists
In Why does the Census undercount the nonreligious? I was able to use some of my sociological and political research skills to consider this question and its implications. The need for better research is also a theme I revisited in Asking atheists: five social experiments and Why proportional representation is an AHS+ issue.
9. Christian Nationalism isn’t just an American problem
2021 started with an attempted insurrection by US Christian Nationalist seeking to overturn the election result. Hopefully 2021 will also be the year that wider liberal society starts taking these issues seriously.
In Cassandra characters and the looming threat of theocracy, I discussed how voices from marginalised communities within our movement have been most effective at calling out this threat. Similar themes were covered in Silence can be deafening, review of Vox.
However, it is important to recognise this not just as a US issue, but as an international movement particularly active in the UK and Europe. In Are UK Christians the most persecuted in Europe? Obviously not, I explored one example of this in how the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians in Europe used links to US based hate groups and their tactics to promote their false persecution narrative.
10. My top article
I’m pleased to say my most read article of the year was Happy humans and atheist ‘A’s; the symbolism of AHS+. This article was a lot of fun to research and I’ve been happy with the feedback from a couple of groups whose logos were referenced. The article explored the history and meaning behind a range of common symbols and designs used by atheist and other AHS+ groups.
This is the 38th weekly article since the blog launched in 2021. Due to some personal changes this year, I’ve decided to take a break from weekly blogging following article #40. I’ve bought my planned break forward a little because of other circumstances, but will be taking the time to reflect on what’s worked well and to come back strong, with new articles in May 2022.
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Photo information: AHS+ logo on nature scene