Secular Groups and Intra-House Politics

It’s bad enough that the free-thinkers are among the most widely persecuted groups in the world; that many of us are forced to keep our identities secret just so we can avoid being yelled at, discriminated against, or shot for apostasy. Evidently, I need to guard my ass from factions within the secular groups too.

Pakistan Atheists and Agnostics (PAA), and countless other secular groups around the world, are not just social clubs. Our cohesiveness is a defense mechanism. This group supported me when I had to climb out of my dorm window as a mob at my university tried to attack me for being an atheist. They were there to ward off the feeling of crippling isolation I felt in the year following my de-conversion. They were there to assist me through the daily frustration of hiding my identity from everybody, including my parents.

Naturally, I feel that people who allow unpleasant experiences with group members to generate rifts within the group itself, can go fuck a jagged keyhole.

We’re not a cult, but we are a support group. And we stick together for more reasons than just religion-bashing. Atheists and agnostics who deny this persecution are invited to step out of whatever sorry Defense, Bahria or F-sector bubble they live in and smell the air of real Pakistan.

It is becoming increasingly painful for me to introduce myself as a feminist, knowing what self-proclaimed feminists they have done locally and internationally to secular groups. I sympathize with women who have faced sexism within these circles, but I have nil respect for the ass-lords who treat misogynism as a uniquely “secular” phenomenon, instead of a general phenomenon which is present among all groups including, yes, the atheist ones.

I’m talking, of course, about people like Rebecca “Elevatorgate” Watson and the Atheism+ crowd. They are the ones who have almost completely dedicated their lives to sabotaging the secular movement by portraying sexism as an “atheist problem” rather than a pandemic that’s pervading the secular community just as it’s pervading others.

While providing additional ammunition to a world that is already starkly anti-atheist, they tend to ignore the fact that atheists and agnostics are far better aligned with the cause of feminism than the general population. Without religion, we have one less excuse to support the anti-abortion, hetero-normative, “cover-yourself-in-a-trashbag-so-I-feel-less-tempted” attitude.

PAA, and I’m certain this is true for other groups too, is hounded by people who have allowed bystanding members to become collateral damage in their personal relationship battles; who have downed group websites, and threatened to rat out their fellow atheists possibly putting their lives at risk; who are engaged in a perpetual vendetta, an endless bitch-fit against an atheist group(s).


I’m not advocating tribal mentality. Perhaps secularists in the developed world are in a better state, but we in the developing countries, particularly the Muslim world, have enough extrinsic shit to deal with without the unending intra-house politics.

  1. great article man. I love PAA and the members :’>

    • Ali Haideri
    • February 14th, 2013

    I don’t know about you buddy but I live in Pindi and work in Islamabad and pretty much everyone (except my family) in my office knows I’m an Atheist and they respect it, although in their own odd ways. I never had any unpleasant confrontation with them about their “cult of death”. Maybe it has something to do with humor as well as how much you show respect to their religion and “the right to having a personal opinion”.

    • See, of course the probability of you being killed just for being an atheist is astronomically low….as long you keep your lips sealed, your head bowed, and keep “showing respect” towards their religion.

      I respect them as free individuals who have the right to believe whatever they wish. But why must we be forced to show respect to a religion that claims we’re “worst than beasts” and deserve to be tortured in hell for all eternity? How masochistic are we?

      The measure of our freedom, our safety is the level of dissent we’re allowed. It is where you can reveal your identity not just to a trusted few, but announce it as openly as they get to announce that they’re Muslims. And in a country where 76% of the people believe that apostates should be murdered (link in the article), that’s just not possible.

      There is a difference between becoming accustomed to a toxic environment, and living in a not-so-toxic environment.

        • Ali Haideri
        • February 14th, 2013

        Well you’ve also gotta watch out for your neck right? In a country full of retarded inbreds that can cut you in quarters for expressing disagreement with their delusions, it’s a lot wiser to zip up your lips than to prance around demanding the right to expression of free thoughts from people who can NEVER give it to you. We have absolutely no choice other than that. I would to love to think otherwise for some hope but sadly the fact is totally inverse. But fret not. Atheism/Agnosticism has grown substantially recently in this unfortunate Pisslamic shit bucket excuse for a country. We can only have a strong voice when we acquire strong numbers and the future doesn’t look dark. Until then, reason, science and secular humanism is our upper ground. Remember, we don’t “believe” like they do that we are better human beings than them, we know it!

  2. No disagreement there…

    I feel disappointed when atheists belittle their own suffering by saying, “Well, a grand total of seven Pakistanis know that I’m atheist and haven’t attacked me yet, so I guess the whole ‘atheists are being persecuted’ thing sounds kinda overrated.”

    It’s not. The reason that we live in relative safety is because
    a) many of us come from a privileged, educated background
    b) we’ve learned how to deal with our environment. We understand the limits to what we can publicly say, the people we can trust with our real identities, how freely we can talk to each person without getting him/her upset and so on..

    Otherwise, the conditions here are evidently, definitively bad for atheists…and that’s why we need to stick up for each other.

    • Sonia Wahab
    • February 16th, 2013

    Thsi suffocation is increasing every passing day. It will kill me.

    • Hasan
    • February 17th, 2013

    I can relate to this view on the “sexism in secular groups” fiasco. It seems to me that the whole debate is pointless ( that is if one accords it the status of a debate ). Granted that sexism is a problem, it is not conceivable that it exists solely to haunt women in secular groups.

    • Turbo Lover
    • February 18th, 2013

    Very well said. I believe that it the violent people behind this who have misinterpreted religion also.

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