The Leaders of Atheist, Skeptical and Secular Groups: Support Feminism and Diversity in the Secular Community
  • Petitioned Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor

This petition was delivered to:

Co-presidents, Freedom from Religion Foundation
Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor
President, Center for Inquiry
Ronald Lindsay
President, American Humanist Association
Rebecca Hale
President, American Atheists
David Silverman
President, Secular Coalition for America
David Niose
Executive Director, Secular Student Alliance
August Brunsman
President, James Randi Educational Foundation
D.J. Grothe
Executive Director, Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
Elisabeth Cornwell

The Leaders of Atheist, Skeptical and Secular Groups: Support Feminism and Diversity in the Secular Community

    1. Adam Lee
    2. Petition by

      Adam Lee

      New York City, NY

We, the undersigned, are atheists, skeptics and nonbelievers who value free speech and rational thought and who seek to build a strong, thriving movement that can advocate effectively for these values. We've chosen to put our names to this petition because we want to respond to a video created by a blogger calling himself Thunderfoot. In this video, Thunderfoot attacks named individuals who've been active in promoting diversity and fighting sexism and harassment in our movement. He describes these people as "whiners" and "ultra-PC professional victims" who are "dripp[ing] poison" into the secular community, and urges conference organizers to shun and ignore them.

We hold this and similar complaints from other individuals to be seriously misguided, false in their particulars and harmful to the atheist community as a whole, and we want to set the record straight. We wish to clarify that Thunderfoot and those like him don't speak for us or represent us, and to state our unequivocal support for the following goals:

We support making the atheist movement more diverse and inclusive. It's long been clear that the skeptical movement has a preponderance of white men. While we don't disdain their participation, we believe skepticism is valuable and important to people in all walks of life, and in accordance with that principle, we consider it vital to have a movement that reflects the demographics of the society we live in. If our community continues to be dominated by white men, it will become increasingly out-of-touch and irrelevant as Western society becomes increasingly multiracial and multicultural and as non-Western countries gain economic and cultural power.

To that end, we urge the atheist and skeptical organizations to make a conscious commitment to diversity: to intentionally reach out to people of all ages, genders and ethnic backgrounds to speak at our conventions, to serve on our boards of directors, and to be the public faces and representatives of skepticism. We believe that there are talented, dedicated and eminently qualified people of every gender and every race, and that seeking them out will strengthen our movement and broaden its appeal.

We support strong, sensible anti-harassment policies at our gatherings. There have been too many instances of people at atheist conferences reporting bad behavior and unwelcome conduct by fellow attendees. When it's repetitive or especially egregious, this unwelcome conduct may rise to the level of harassment, defined as behavior intended to demean, threaten or intimidate others. We hold that preventing harassment is a legitimate and obvious goal for conference organizers, and that this can be done through the implementation of fairly simple and well-tested conduct policies.

We want to encourage robust debate over opinions and beliefs, as a good rational community should, and we believe that the wide adoption of anti-harassment policies advances this goal by fostering a rational atmosphere of civility and respect, where all people can express their opinions freely and feel comfortable in doing so. We applaud the conferences and organizations that have already created model policies in this regard, and we urge others to do likewise.

We support the people in our community who've been the target of bullying, harassment and threats. Outside the conference environment, there are prominent members of the atheist community (including most of the people named in Thunderfoot's video) who've been subjected to a vicious and persistent campaign of online harassment, including obsessive streams of slurs and invective, threatening messages, sexually-tinged taunting, and malicious impersonation on social media, all carried out with the goal of bullying them into silence. We stand shoulder-to-shoulder in support of the people who've been harassed in this way, and forcefully and unequivocally condemn those who've carried out the harassment. Unless they change their ways and make amends, they have no place within the movement.

To put a stop to this bad behavior once and for all, we need to change the culture of the atheist movement so that sexism isn't condoned or defended, just as racism and homophobia aren't condoned or defended. We're grateful to the leaders of the movement who've spoken out against harassment, and we encourage all atheists and skeptics, regardless of their influence or prominence, to do likewise.

Recent signatures


    1. Petition delivered!

      Adam Lee
      Petition Organizer

      Hi all, one more update: Now that we're past 2,000 signatures, I've delivered a PDF version of this petition to all the atheist group heads listed above. I have every hope that it will influence their discussion at the upcoming HEADS meeting. Thanks to everyone who's signed!

    2. Reached 2,000 signatures
    3. 1,800+, and what we aim to accomplish

      Adam Lee
      Petition Organizer

      We're past 1,800 signatures now, and my thanks again to everyone who's signed. I think this is a good time to discuss why this petition was created and what I'm hoping it will accomplish.

      Obviously, the group leaders who are named in the petition aren't listed because they're the biggest villains. Many of them are staunch allies: some have taken positive steps toward making our movement more diverse; others have taken the lead in implementing harassment policies; still others have contributed to Surly Amy's series of atheist leaders speaking out against hate directed at women. Some have done all three.

      Rather, they're named because they have leadership roles in this community, and they have power to influence its direction and its culture. We want to encourage them to use that power for good. We want to show them that the grassroots is behind them, that we appreciate all previous efforts to promote feminism and diversity, but that there's more work to be done!

    4. Reached 1,500 signatures
    5. 1,000+ votes for feminism in the secular community, and why it matters

      Adam Lee
      Petition Organizer

      Hey all,

      We're now past 1,000 signatures! Thanks so much to everyone who's signed. You're the people who give me hope for the secular community. Despite the vociferous minority of hateful trolls, I'm more convinced than ever that a majority of us just want to do what's right.

      Later this month, there's going to be a meeting of the heads of secular and freethought organizations, appropriately called HEADS, and they'll be discussing feminism and diversity and what steps atheist groups should be taking to address them. This means it matters even more that we get a strong showing, to prove to our leaders that there's grassroots support for making the secular community a more diverse, welcoming, and inclusive place.

      I've bumped the goal to 2,000 signatures, and I'll keep moving the goalposts as long as we keep reaching them. :) Thanks again for your support, and if you know of any other people who'd be interested in signing this, please send them my way!

    6. Reached 1,000 signatures


    Reasons for signing

    • John Lisowski CLIFTON, NJ
      • 11 months ago

      Thunderf00t is a hypocrite. He pretends to be a champion of free thinking and skepticism but he's one of the most closed minded bloggers you'll see. When he debates feminism he doesn't engage in the topic. He just makes nonsensical analogies and ad hominem attacks. His videos run counter to Sociology, Anthropology and Psychology. He doesn't believe that pop culture media influences society, meaning his position is factually wrong. This is a position he explicitly unapologetically stands by and it goes against mountains of peer reviewed research. Furthermore, his dismissive assumption that rape can only be limited by changing female behavior is disgusting. He claims that we cannot decrease rape through education and by spreading empathy and thus we have to just deal with the number of rapists we have now instead of addressing it. He also believes that date rape does not exist (he calls date rape "bad sex") and sexual harassment is not a problem. What bothers me the most is that people are so inclined to listen to him since he's a hero in the Youtube atheist community for taking on the Creationists. This fool does NOT stand for me.

    • Ioana Ionescu BUCHAREST, ROMANIA
      • 12 months ago

      I support atheism and equality.

    • mitchell allen STONE MOUNTAIN, GA
      • about 1 year ago

      It is important to the atheist movement

    • Anita Kanitz STUTTGART, GERMANY
      • about 1 year ago

      Women have a lot to say about how to advance women's rights, and governments need to learn from that, listen to the movement and respond.”

      -- Charlotte Bunch

      “We are unalterably opposed to the presentation of the female body being stripped, bound, raped, tortured, mutilated, and murdered in the name of commercial entertainment and free speech”

      -- Susan Brownmiller

    • Briana Murphy SALISBURY, MD
      • over 1 year ago

      The sexism and racism that taints the atheist/secular community makes it difficult to engage with it.


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