Blogging: Am I Shooting Myself in the Foot?

Blogging can be painful. Ow!

The more I think about this, the more I want to talk about it.  See, I’ve realized for a while that people who self-identified as conservative atheists, or secular conservatives, or a myriad of other labels, really don’t seem to want to talk about religion.  They are, almost without exception, political bloggers and podcasters.  I don’t think I’ve seen more than a handful of posts from these conservative atheists that have had anything to do with religion, at best I see them advocating separation of church and state, not opposition to religion in general.

In that, I seem to be relatively unique, or at least I haven’t found anyone else who both labels themselves a conservative atheist and who writes primarily about religious subjects.  Now while being unique is supposed to be a good thing, after all, where is anyone going to go for that information except to you, I suppose it only works if your niche isn’t so small as to be virtually non-existent.  That’s what I’m trying to find out.

Of course, while atheism seems to be a liberal club, the fact is that around 20% of self-identified atheists say they hold some conservative views.  Open atheists, as opposed to the simply non-religious, make up about 5% of the population based on the most recent polls.  Just worrying about the United States for the moment, with approximately 350 million people, that means there are about 17.5 million atheists, or 3.5 million conservative atheists out there.  Granted, not all of them may be online, not all of them may be reading blogs, but you’d think there would be someone, wouldn’t you?

I guess the logical question to ask is, are we talking about atheists who happen to be conservatives, or conservatives who happen to be atheists?  Which side of the equation happens to be the dominant trait?  I can only answer for myself, it would be my atheist side, but that may not be the case for others.  In fact, I’m starting to suspect that the majority of people who share those two traits may be conservatives who just so happen to be atheists, but who spend little, if any, time concerning themselves with their lack of religion.  Religion, among conservative atheists, seems to be largely irrelevant, but I think exactly the opposite is true.  Getting rid of religion and the irrational beliefs and mind poisons that accompany it would do a great deal to improve the political situation in this country.  If people gave up ridiculous beliefs of all sorts, learned more about what was going on in their local, state and federal politics, they would elect better representatives, based on actual evidence and information instead of absurd faith, and we’d be better as a society.

To be honest, I can’t figure out why someone who identifies as a conservative atheist or a secular conservative would be so adverse to talking about religion.  I’ve talked to a lot of people who identify that way, who assure me they are adamant atheists, yet they simply will not talk about religion in any way, shape or form.  This has made life a bit miserable in the search for a conservative atheist co-host for the podcast and finding listeners.  I even asked one of these secular conservative bloggers what he thought of the podcast and he said that it was fine, he listened to one episode, but there was too much religion so he wasn’t interested in it.  I just don’t get it.

One of the big things that’s supposed to draw in readers and listeners is to find your voice.  I have mine.  I’ve always had it.  The problem is, it’s a voice that largely has no audience because far too many people seem to be afraid of half of their chosen identity.  Unfortunately, talking about conservatism tends to drive away the atheists and talking about atheism tends to drive away the conservatives.  Apparently, there are some things that you cannot be too unique on or you’ll spend your time talking to yourself and that’s largely the situation I’m in.  I guess I ought to get used to pain in my toes, I’m just shooting myself in the foot.

26 thoughts on “Blogging: Am I Shooting Myself in the Foot?

  1. It seems weird to me, especially since the religious right has polluted the republican party so thoroughly, I would think that conservative atheists might want to look around and start speaking out against religion. Maybe they figure they are better off trying to work with the religious on the things they can agree on, but that seems to be a losing strategy overall.

    As far as building an audience, it's fucking hard. I've been thinking about this a lot myself lately because my numbers are honestly quite pathetic. As you said, it is important to find your voice, separate yourself from the pack and put out a good product. Even if you do those things, there are so many blogs it's hard to get people to consistently read yours out of all of their other options.

    My recent post A Conversation Between Dawkins and a Young Earth Creationist

  2. I sometimes wish I had more of a niche. I could start blogging more about my experience with Chrisitan Science, which would make me more unique, but would have less wide appeal. Kinda like your problem.

    From listening to your podcast, I'd say that you aren't as conservative as you make yourself out to be. Likewise Haus, isn't as liberal from your conversations. The liberal and conservative labels have become funhouse stereotypes–maybe you should just stay away from Them. Most popular socially conservative beliefs are grounded in religious thought–and you don't hold those. Fiscally conservative is fine, but this isn't an economics blog…yet.

  3. Like Hausdorff, I think some of it is that conservative atheists are so used to having to share space with religious conservatives that they are a bit brainwashed about criticizing religion. Out of an abundance of respect for freedom of belief, they don't want to criticize other conservatives, even when the beliefs are causing real harm. I've seen it as a bit of a "catch-22" situation for conservatives, and it might take generational change to really mend the problem.

    I think you also have a problem with liberal biases working against you. While I think many liberals do a pretty decent job of exploring differing views, well, let's be honest….a whole shitload simply don't. Particularly the smug breed of Social Justice Warrior that is so common in the atheist blogosphere these days…..try to tell them that sincere, honest, decent conservatives exist, and you might as well tell them to believe in Santa Claus. So in a crowd that's 80% liberal, there are whole big groups of closed-minded people who will just blow you off without a second thought, despite the fact that you likely share many views and could at the very least provide them with a different perspective to consider. While I think the average godless liberal is likely to be a bit more open-minded than say, an extremely conservative hardcore religious believer, I'm not going to pretend it's guaranteed, especially on political issues.

    I have noticed a certain similarity in your commenters here and the people who sometimes agree with your comments at Atheist Revolution…they tend to be independent thinkers, and not people who are comfortable being "followers". Yes, there are a lot less of us, but it's good company! I also think there is an undercurrent of rationalist conservatives that is slowly growing in America right now. Religious issues and neo-con policies are playing a role in helping libertarianism siphon off some of them, but at some point I think libertarians and reasonable conservatives are going to have to work together. Wouldn't you be willing to work politically alongside libertarian nonbelievers like say, Penn Gillette or Michael Shermer, if it helped curb liberal excesses without pandering to religious nuts?

  4. I quickly perused your article so sorry if I missed some of your finer points, but I'd like to say you're not alone.

    I find myself pretty well in the middle, although if anything I'd lean towards talking about religion over talking about politics. Politics to me in a lot of ways is a bit of a lost cause. I fight for 2nd Amendment rights, followed closely by 1st Amendment rights, but I feel like I'm much less likely to have any affect on those causes than people's religious beliefs. I think atheism is "trending" so to speak, while the anti-gun and big brother mindsets are probably increasing. I'll fight the downhill battle first.

    I also believe that religious beliefs (and superstitions) are the #1 factor in political affiliation so it feels natural to start there. If we can get people to focus on the rational/logical process by questioning dogma, tradition, etc., political decision making should begin to follow suit. Then we can start talking about how privacy is an important tenet of freedom, freedom of speech is the most liberating principle in history, and how the 2nd Amendment levels the playing field, defending those Human Rights.

  5. Do you think that whatever conservatives came to the Atheist community, left soon because of domination of the modern liberals?

    Susan Jacoby did a hit piece on Right WIng Atheists in 2011Surprise, right-wing atheists do exist. Its quite a lousy piece, something she should be ashamed of. I read her 'The Age of American Unreason' a few years ago, where she mentions the good-old-times of Robert Ingersoll.. when he would travel across the country having debates.. and people from both sides of the spectrum would attend and have a lively participation in the debate. She laments that today's americans are so polarized and they dont talk anymore. Given that, its so odd to see her do a hit-piece on RIght WIng atheists.

    And then there's the women in secularism conferences.. which is better titled 'feminists in atheism'. coz there are no Religious women, no Non -Feminist or Anti feminist women.. and no Right wing women either.

    I am a classical liberal.. and I find the Atheist community to be just a huge echo chamber of modern liberals.. who are heavily into human-nature denial .. in stark contrast to the few conservatives that I follow. Its a pity that 'diversity' has come to mean this.. not a diversity of opinion, but a diversity of people that say pretty much the same thing.

  6. I can't speak for any conservative atheist other than myself but I can say I am neither afraid nor bored with religion as a topic. What I would like is to leave the liberal agenda for just one freeking moment!

    Like every other atheist I worry about poisonous superstition in government, schools, business, families ad naseum. I can work myself into a fearful frenzy or relax and stand-by in shocked horror. Either way the human needy requirement for super-imaginary support is baffling. The insidious spread of the disease with its constituent consent is incomprehensible. For example: How does my mother benefit by spreading the disease? If she doesn't benefit why does she do it? Why does anyone do it? I know from experience religions teach the need to spread the religion. I understand that. But this ridiculous fantasy is spread by people who would never follow another's rules. Why is religion an exception? It's bizarre!

    For the record I am fiscally conservative, environmentally responsible, atheist, professional and female in no particular order. Choosing one before another would be like asking me which leg is my favorite. I do my thinking. In don't get my views from others and I am direct, even blunt.

    I would like to find similar independent thinkers. Agreeing with me isn’t a requirement from my perspective. I enjoy a logical argument for or against my stated views. I haven't met another conservative atheist so I searched. Until I read your blog I thought I was the only one on the planet! I can't speak for any others but I can tell you I would have read every word you wrote had I known where to find it. Now that I do…….

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