Advertising its Summer Series talks, Greenville Avenue Church of Christ in Richardson, Tx, declares “isms” – including Judaism, Islamism, and Atheism – “dangerous”. Minister Shelton Gibbs III said that topics such as racism or sexism won’t be discussed because “there are only so many Wednesdays in a summer.” Responding to social media backlash, Gibbs indicated he teaches his followers that those outside of their church’s interpretation of religion are contrary to “God’s Order”.
In the posts & articles i’m seeing about this, Judaism and Islamism are being openly defended, but there’s a roaring silence in the headlines. Article include “Church compares Judaism, Islamism to ‘dangerous isms’“; “North Texas church targets ‘dangerous isms’ like Judaism“; and “Texas church ‘dangerous isms’ include Judaism, Islamism“. The “A” word is missing: the unspoken, unvoiced identity.
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies,
but the silence of our friends.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King
Not only is Minister Gibbs teaching that Atheists are dangerous, but the public is quietly excluding them from discourse about the negative implications of this Summer Series theme. The silence inherently perpetuates negative stereotypes about non-religious people. Because of both ignorance and silence like what we see here, people of non-faith are arguably the most mistrusted, misunderstood, & hated identity.
7.1% of the US population – that’s 22.8 million Americans – identify as Atheist or Agnostic. There are 5.7 million Jewish people and 3.3 million Muslims living in the United States. 31.8 million people are one of those three identities, and all are directly impacted.
Advocates and Allies are voices for the voiceless. The world needs more of that. Silence around issues – like recognizing Atheism as an authentic identity – builds walls between us that isolate and harm people.
BE a voice for those unheard.