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To drag this into the context of this blog's other main focus, I wonder what to make of the connection between "outing" and atheism.

When he launched what he calls "The Out Campaign" (an effort to get atheists to come out publicly as atheists) a little over two years ago, Richard Dawkins had some strong comments about outing:

Before I go any further, I must forestall one major risk of misunderstanding. The obvious comparison with the gay community is vulnerable to going too far: to 'outing' as a transitive verb whose object might be an unfortunate individual not yet – or not ever – ready to confide in the world. Our OUT campaign will have nothing, repeat nothing to do with outing in that active sense. If a closet atheist wants to come out, that is her decision to make, and nobody else's. What we can do is provide support and encouragement to those who willingly decide to out themselves.


With regard to the vast majority of closeted atheists, this is presumably entirely uncontroversial: I doubt almost anyone wants to force some average schlub out of the atheist closet.

But Rogers' efforts prompt the question: what about powerful closeted atheists, ones who actively participate in efforts to attack or (especially) legally discriminate against us? Dawkins appears to oppose outing (or, as Rogers insists on calling it in that context, reporting on) closeted atheists even under those circumstances; is he right?

Blake Stacey

I think it's fine if Dawkins prefers that the organization he started stays away from "political outing". It's not the job of the OUT Campaign, they're not equipped to do it, and their efforts are valuable elsewhere -- no problem. However, if a couple whistle-blowers came forward with tapes and testimony showing that, say, Rick Warren was an irreligious charlatan just in the Jesus game to fleece the rubes, I'd have no problem with a journalist reporting on it. Not having a cyberbrain link into Dawkins' mind, I don't know how he'd react in that situation.

chicago dyke

Mike is the Best, i adore him and really miss being his neighbor; we had some good times when i lived in DC. nice to see you two hooking up, GC!

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