American Atheists, American Humanists and The Secular Coalition join the woke church

A number of American atheist, secular and humanist organisation have released public statements strongly condemning atheist thought leader Richard Dawkins. American Humanists even went so far as to withdraw their ‘Humanist of the Year Award 1996’ from the evolutionary biologist. Gosh.

So, what on earth did Richard Dawkins do to attract so much ire from self-professed ‘sceptics’? It must have been very bad. One would think perhaps he joined ISIS. But no, he did something far more unforgivable in the eyes of the modern progressive—he asked questions about the concept of ‘self-identification’ as it relates to gender ideology:

‘In 2015, Rachel Dolezal, a white chapter president of NAACP, was vilified for identifying as Black. Some men choose to identify as women, and some women choose to identify as men. You will be vilified if you deny that they literally are what they identify as. Discuss’

Richard Dawkins is clearly attempting to instigate discussion on a prominent, relevant issue that has far-reaching implications given that the self-identification model of gender identity appears to be the one taking hold. If someone is a man yesterday and claims to be a woman today, does that make it so? Well, this is the question we are all going to have to grapple with, as this specific concept of self-identification appears to be at the forefront of activism, policy and lobbying on the topic of gender identity.

Dawkins is doing what he has always done of course; poking at dogmas that intersect (and often conflict) with our scientific understanding. Something the aforementioned groups were happy to cheer along just so long as it was aimed in the direction of creationists and Christian conservatives.

If Dawkins was to make any mistake here, it was to forget that he was on Twitter and therefore not in the presence of actual adults capable of regulating their emotions.

Woke alarm bells started ringing a while back when American Atheists’ board member (and former reasonable person) Matt Dillahunty labelled JK Rowling a ‘transphobe’ for detailing her experience of sexual assault and raising perfectly sensible concerns about self-identification.

Richard Dawkins also crossed a line with Matt when he recommended the book ‘The End of Gender’ by Dr. Debra Soh:

Oddly, Matt Dillahunty came out strong in opposition to the idea of reading books and objecting to the intimidation of female scientists, telling Richard Dawkins ‘Just fucking retire. You’re an embarrassment’.

Not a very reasonable or humanist response one might think.

I’ve read the book in question myself and interviewed the author here. The book is a wonderfully objective, compassionate piece of writing on one of the biggest issues of our day. You’d think this is precisely the type of discourse one might wish to support if your goal is to disempower bigots.

The statement from American Atheists attempts to link Richard Dawkins’s words to the unacceptable violence and attacks visited upon trans people. This statement was then endorsed by the Secular Coalition for America. Not only are the claims of anti-trans violent attacks highly questionable, but statistically rare too, thankfully. And even were it open season on trans people, it would still be absurd to link such atrocities to the tweets of Richard Dawkins.

Amazingly, American Atheists did something similar after the Christchurch attacks in New Zealand where an anti-Muslim terrorist killed 51 worshippers at a mosque. Rather than reiterate a commitment to opposing anti-Muslim bigotry and asserting the right to criticise fundamentalist Islam, they instead shared appalling opinion pieces blaming Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins for the attack. It is unforgivable that an atheist organisation is unwilling to defend innocent, prominent atheists when they are irresponsibly smeared as the cause of a terrorist attack. What use are American Atheists if they were of no use here?

Were I so inclined, I could simply reverse this dishonest game and accuse them of wishing to destroy the lives of young adults who are pushed into transitioning too soon–due to the stifling of open discourse on gender. Or perhaps I could tag them as misogynists for dismissing the impact of self-identification on women’s rights, sports and spaces?

Are American Atheists responsible for the violent attacks visited on oppressed Christians across the globe because they question the existence of a soul? After all, religious people identify as having a soul, does that not make it so then? Should we all live our lives and restructure institutions, society, language and law as if those identifying as having a soul actually possess one? And if we don’t, are we ‘erasing their existence’ and encouraging violence against them?

Gender identity isn’t the same as claiming to have a soul of course. But If you don’t believe that having a soul is central to the identity of pious religious people, then you have not been paying attention. People literally dedicate their entire lives to the ‘truth’ of this concept. And to them, the stakes of this ‘truth’ are astronomically high. It’s the difference between salvation and eternal torture. And these Atheist/Humanist groups have not thought twice about openly ridiculing, criticizing and opposing such people.

Hemant Mehta of ‘the Friendly Atheist’ released a blog under the especially unhinged title of ‘Richard Dawkins is Still Denying the Basic Humanity of Trans People’. Where was anyone’s ‘humanity’ denied?

Hemant spends a huge proportion of his time mocking, criticising and blogging about the irrational beliefs of Christians and Republicans. Would he accept the suggestion that he is dehumanising these groups? Encouraging violence against them? Because Hemant’s rhetoric in the direction of Republicans and Christians is far more scathing than anything Richard Dawkins has ever said about trans people. In fact, Dawkins actually said nothing about trans people at all.

Dawkins later followed up his initial tweet with somewhat of a mea culpa for enraging the woke mob:

I do not intend to disparage trans people. I see that my academic “Discuss” question has been misconstrued as such and I deplore this. It was also not my intent to ally in any way with Republican bigots in US now exploiting this issue.

Of course, this was not enough for Hemant who then engaged his impressive mind-reading skills to conclude that Richard Dawkins’s clarification was not genuine, commenting that it had ‘all the sincerity of a YouTube apology video’.

You’ll notice those infected with woke ideology only twist the knife more when their target attempts to acknowledge and address criticism. Because it’s not about wanting to help others understand you see, it’s about enjoying the feeling of righteous superiority. A feeling that evaporates when your target clarifies they were not actually doing the thing you accused them of doing. And that’s no fun when you want everyone to know how much better you are, is it?

Although Dawkins’s concern with being ‘misconstrued’ is understandable, it’s too charitable in the assumption that those angriest with him desire to understand what he actually thinks.

And just when you thought the hyperbolic, unhinged hysteria could not be ramped up higher from ‘violent attacks’ and ‘denying basic humanity’, in steps American Humanists to take gold.

In the statement from American Humanists, they accuse Richard Dawkins of attempting to ‘demean marginalized groups’, ‘attacking black identity’ and implying that trans identities are ‘fraudulent’. They also announce that the board has voted to withdraw the Humanist of The Year Award (1996) from Richard Dawkins,.

As this situation has now reached embarassing levels of parody-like pronouncments, I’d like to remind you at this point that this is all happening because Richard Dawkins tweeted this:

These organisations and individuals also make another fundamental mistake in this area too—they assume all trans people subscribe to the far-left, progressive viewpoint when it comes to gender identity. And that’s simply not true. When they talk about defending trans people, they really mean defending the viewpoints of trans people that match their own.

Trans people are not a politically homogenous group. It may come as a shock to these American groups that many trans people also identify as centrists, conservatives, right-wing, Christians etc. And many of them do not care for the lunacy on the left that is dominating the discourse on trans issues either—which often makes their life more difficult. Are you ‘erasing the identity’ of these trans people when you demand the acceptance of a myopic, progressive viewpoint on their identity?

Trans rights should be guaranteed of course. Personally, I’d go even further and say that dignity and compassion isn’t too much to ask for either. I also don’t personally have an issue with using someone’s ‘preferred pronouns’ —just so long as it’s my own free choice to do so. And anyone who wishes to oppress and abuse trans people can consider themselves enemies of mine.

Everything else is up for discussion however. This is precisely where we need actual sceptics. This is where we need the tribeless, free-thinking adults to rise above the noise and bigotry to make sensible noises.

Instead, we now have atheist, humanist and secular organisations attempting to create a climate where mere discussion on this issue is to be considered beyond the pale and worthy of excommunication. This is what ideologues do. And like all groups of ideologues, they will eventually implode under the force of their own purity criteria.

I’ve lost my interest in mainstream atheist/humanist/secular groups in the states in recent years. They have become utterly infected with woke ideology. There’s no backbone, no radicalism, no room for heterodoxy. They have simply just rejected one church in favour of another.

I’ve never subscribed to an ‘atheist community’, but I did expect organisations flying under that banner to be better placed to resist intolerant and irrational ideologies. You cannot consider yourself a ‘sceptic’ and excommunicate someone for wishing to discuss self-identification and gender. These groups will no doubt attract ideologues of the same woke denomination, but they should no longer describe themselves as ‘free-thinkers’.

Stephen Knight is host of The #GSPodcast. You can listen to The Godless Spellchecker Podcast here, and support it by becoming a patron here.


  • News just in: American Humanists have just voted to give the now-vacant Humanist of The Year Award (1996) to Shamima Begum for her promotion of the “religion of peace”.

  • The Atheism+ debacle was just a foretaste of what was to come. Now this toxic ideology has pretty much destroyed what is left of the atheist ”community”. It is now filled with zealots as much as any church or cult.

  • Sex has nothing to do with atheism. The sexual issues are used by Republicans to activate their voter base. Hypnosis is used to create events that service those issues and atheists are currently played against each other using hypnoscripted events.

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  • When did Matt Dillahunty lose the plot? He used to be very reasonable.

    • Richard Sanderson

      Gary, there have been several times when he seemed to lose it.

      First off, he is from a religion background – and people from religious backgrounds who lose their faith, don’t always lose their fundamentalism.

      During the Atheism+ nonsense, Matt tried to post a mildly critical comment (against whatever argument the blog writer was musing on) on an Atheism+ blog under a false name. The experiment failed, with Matt’s comment deleted pronto, and him kicking up a fuss about it, and the blog snapping back saying it was because he posting under a false name.

      Then, years later he seemed content walking a fine line of parroting “woke” dogma, while keeping an open mind towards debate. So for example he hosted a debate on stage with Sam Harris, and even attended a Mythicist Milwaukee while some of the woke-whippers were calling everybody attending (Matt, Seth (who pulled out), Courtney Heard (Godless Mom, who seems to have rank the Kool Aid, sadly), and Steven) all manner of names, namely “Nazi”. Perhaps this pressure damaged him somewhat.

      However, the major incident that seeded his decline was, predictably, over the trans issue. Matt initially came to the defence of a skeptic known as Rationality Rule (I think), who dared to express mild skepticism over the Woke definition of trans, sex, gender, and basic biology. This turned out to be a huge mistake, as his workmates at Atheist Experience and various “humanist” organisations turned on him with vicious predictability.

      Anyway, some weeks/months after this, he has obviously gone through some sort of struggle session and has thrown all his rational thought away and re-appeared Body Snatcher like parroting the extreme trans dogma.

      So, these incidents, plus the fact his wife (or former wife) was VERY woke and regressive, have put him back on the path of fundamentalist, the non religious type.

      • Stacy Livitsanis

        You’re exactly right. The incident in mid-2019 at the Atheist Community of Austin concerning Steven Woodford (Rationality Rules), who had been a guest on The Atheist Experience, was pivotal in my growing out of the gender ideology cult, and wokeness in general. Tracie Harris, Jen Peeples and Claire Wuellner, among others, declared Woodford a hateful bigoted transphobe for a video about transgender athletes (which I now understand was an extremely mild critique), and they all left the organisation in protest. At the time Dillahunty tried to smooth this over with some blatantly disingenuous comments, making me think he didn’t agree. But as you say, he clearly won the battle over himself, and now hateful misogynist trans activists like Katie Montgomerie (who spends his time getting women banned from Twitter for promoting reality) are allowed to guest host on The Atheist Experience. Another ACA show, Secular Sexuality, is nothing but a mouthpiece for gender ideology in all its deranged forms.

        I spent fifteen years listening to Dillahunty, Harris et al, and learned a lot of very useful information about logical fallacies and critical thinking from them, which I can now use against them and all of the atheist/skeptic individuals who’ve gone the same way: The hosts of The Scathing Atheist, Thomas Smith of Serious Inquiries Only (who has clearly gone completely insane), Creationist Cat’s Vadim Newquist, Hugo & Jake, Shannon Q, Seth Andrews, PZ Myers, Cognitive Dissonance, Rebecca Watson, Mr Atheist. All now crazy. The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe lies by omission in never mentioning gender ideology at all. Something utterly debunkable remains ignored by the most prominent skeptic podcast.

        “he is from a religion background – and people from religious backgrounds who lose their faith, don’t always lose their fundamentalism.” – This is exactly what happened with an ex-Christian friend of mine, who is now in the gender cult. He instantly spurned twenty years of friendship when I gave the “wrong” answer to “Are trans women women?”

    • “We must purge the intellectuals” – this hostility towards iconic figures is born of pure resentment and an inherent poison spread by any slave revolt – or “ressentiment” if you refer to Nietzsche’s original observations on this phenomenon. This nonsense is far from new – it has been grinding on for well over a decade and the players involved have been churning out a steady stream of spiteful bile consistently attacking anyone who deviates from the new orthodoxy as peddled by PZMyers, Rebecca Watson et al. This is a new heresy born of a new fundamentalism. Did you only just notice? If you want a good barf, lookup the “The Privilege Delusion” on Skepchick. It will celebrate its 10th birthday on June 5th.

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  • EmpatheticRationalist

    The issue is, that Dillahunty is not exactly intellectually brilliant,
    but he is just good at debating people because he has a psychopathic personality.

    His talking points are all regurgitated stuff from other actually brilliant people,
    like Betrand Russell and Richard Dawkins.

    And like any psychopath Dillahunty uses cunning lies and manipulation skills to get what they want.

    Joining the delusional woke mob,
    gave the fat ugly bald guy sexual access to naive females and attention in general.

    It is all deliberately planned, don#t fall for his religious background excuse,
    Dillahunty is doing this stuff on purpose.

  • As for American Atheists/American Humanists, the remind me of a quote from an old Jewish friend –

    “You can take the (wo)man out of the church, but you can’t take the church out of the (wo)man”.

    Many of them are former fundamentalist theists – while they may claim to reject theism, they have no capacity to reject theistic thinking. A pretty good example of how neuroplasiticity can, and does, permanently deform cognitive processing. Both these organizations ceased to be relevant a long, long time ago. They are now the cartoon godlessness that xtian loons have peddled as parody in every respect.

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