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Greetings, fellow members of the Ex-C community. I have been in communication with Webmaster Dave and Brian Sapient of The Rational Response Squad and have been the unofficial "liaison" between both communities. I would like everyone's input on how we here at Ex-C can help the RRS and vice versa.

 

I would like to see the two communities sort of band together in either an official or unofficial way and have been given the go-ahead by Dave to pursue it. I am asking everyone's opinion before seeking further ties with the RRS because this is our community and I respect all of you and your opinions. No matter what your current beliefs or lack thereof, we can agree (as indicated by this site's moniker) that religion in general and Christianity in particular are irrational. I believe that there is a need for irrationalty to be combatted; we can help.

 

In speaking with Brian Sapient, he has expressed his desire to come on-board our forums and converse with us and, in turn, welcomes all of us to visit him at the RRS site linked above. This could possibly be viewed as a "joint business venture" only not so slimy. We may find that we can be a stronger, more unified front by standing together.

 

Anyway, give me your input!

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I would like everyone's input on how we here at Ex-C can help the RRS and vice versa. [...] I would like to see the two communities sort of band together in either an official or unofficial way and have been given the go-ahead by Dave to pursue it. [...] No matter what your current beliefs or lack thereof, we can agree (as indicated by this site's moniker) that religion in general and Christianity in particular are irrational. I believe that there is a need for irrationalty to be combatted; we can help. [...] We may find that we can be a stronger, more unified front by standing together.

 

Maybe I'm out of turn, being a newbie, but here goes anyway. Admittedly I've only glanced at the RRS site (had never heard of it until I saw this).

 

Anyway, I'm skeptical.

 

First, the two sites do seem to have some overlap of target audiences, but not complete overlap. This site is for ex-Christians, while RSS seems to be anti-theism. So where do pagans fit in? Those who choose to believe in some variety of supernatural theism other than Judeo-Chrisitianity (and I've already seen a few such people here) ... are they welcome at RSS? Or are they accused (as unfortunately some atheists do) of being "superstitious fools"? In particular, I'm concerned about your statements that religion in general is irrational and that irrationality should be combatted. Personally, although I'm an atheist, I have no problems hanging out with most "irrational" people, including Wiccans, polytheists, Satanists, rooster-worshippers, those who pray to Julie Newmar, etc. The major factors that form my dislike of Christianity are not its irrationality per se -- despite the delusions of Ayn Rand and her ilk, any intellectual system of inquiry, including philosophy and "religion," which addresses questions of ethics and morality must concern itself with non-rational questions and issues; the fact that they are non-rational makes them no less legitimate. Rather, the reasons I dislike Christianity are its pretense of absolute exclusivity to "salvation," or "nirvana," or whatever you want to call it, and its vindictive antipathy toward those who do not share its tenets; factors which I generally don't encounter in other religions.

 

Second, the RSS site seems to be aimed more at actual activism than this site is. What about those of us (including me) who are atheists, but don't particularly feel the need to engage in militant, activist atheism (including "combatting irrationality")? An additional concern here is that many in the activist atheist camp have the erroneous belief that atheism automatically leads to and is only consistent with liberalism (not true). And in fact, when looking over the forum descriptions at RSS, there's one forum "Dangerous Talk with Staks" which is described as "A forum for progressive democrats [sic] to start fighting back." Speaking for myself only, I'm a hard-core atheist; I'm also a Republican, and I'm most certainly not "progressive," at least not in the flawed sense in which I suspect the word is being used in the RSS description. While I respect the rights of politically liberal atheists to their opinions, and in fact agree with them on many things, I for one have no desire to become part of a "united front" with such groups.

 

It's certainly possible that I've misunderstood the purpose and nature of RSS and/or Ex-Christian.net. However, to the extent my understanding is correct, I suspect that trying to form some "alliance" or "joint community" would alienate those members of each site who are not completely in sympathy with the viewpoints and goals of the other site.

 

Anyway, those are my concerns. If there's going to be any sort of "joint venture" or "banding together" of the two communities, I would like to hear those concerns addressed.

 

I do agree with you that there are many common interests between the two communities; however, it also appears that there are differences that are not trivial. It appears to me that the interests of each would best be served by making sure each is aware of the other's existence, letting the members of each know that they are welcome to visit and contribute to the other community, and posting regular messages informing each community aware of significant developments at the other site -- and going no further.

 

In speaking with Brian Sapient, he has expressed his desire to come on-board our forums and converse with us and, in turn, welcomes all of us to visit him at the RRS site linked above.

 

If that's the extent of what you're proposing -- increased communication between the two groups -- I can certainly have no objections. I would welcome hearing more about RSS, it's goals, etc. as I'm sure I have at least some misconceptions about their group.

 

- Roy

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I'm afraid I have far too many philosophical differences with RRS to support the organization. Moreover, I strongly suspect that the methods of the RRS are counter-productive; setting yourselves up as radically anti-Christian in this way is only going to provoke a strong anti-atheist response. It is precisely this kind of polarization that causes so many problems in American society.

 

I would also like to second BCRoyWatson's reservations.

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If Brian is going to join ExC I don't even see why this was asked, as far as I am aware he is an ExChristian. If he, and the group are going to come on as a moderator, or some such I'd have some of the reservations the others have expressed. This site gets confused for an atheist site enough as it is. I guess my question would be how does Brian feel about being part of a group that is welcoming and open to other forms of theism?

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I have no issue with him or the group. We've had similar people who were vehemently anti-religion before and that's okay. I agree that we need to support each other in leaving Christianity but that does not mean that we have to protect every single idea someone might hold just because it's not Christian. People have to accept that some will find paganism silly, or Buddhism stupid, or new-age-ism insane... or the exact opposite or whatever... that is reality and this site does not exist to protect some of these views from other of these views when they conflict.

 

Only if we have a problem with them abusing and being unsupportive of people... only then should we say no more. But let's not crucify someone before they even have a chance.

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I have no issue with him or the group. We've had similar people who were vehemently anti-religion before and that's okay. I agree that we need to support each other in leaving Christianity but that does not mean that we have to protect every single idea someone might hold just because it's not Christian. People have to accept that some will find paganism silly, or Buddhism stupid, or new-age-ism insane... or the exact opposite or whatever... that is reality and this site does not exist to protect some of these views from other of these views when they conflict.

 

Only if we have a problem with them abusing and being unsupportive of people... only then should we say no more. But let's not crucify someone before they even have a chance.

 

 

Well I don't think I was any where near to crucifing anyone. I have some reservations, and I asked one question. I do accept that some people may find my, or others beliefs silly, or whatever. That being said this is not atheism.net so my question stands.

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I'm down. People seem to accept me here even though I'm vehemently opposed to all forms of theism, and yes, self-ascribed agnosticism. As long as the conversation is for the most part civilized, I don't think that's a problem.

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I'm all for the free exchange of ideas but like the others so far I'm just curious as to what would be the purpose of this "joint business venture?" The only thing I really know about this group is what I watched on the Nightline debate. They seemed "eager" but a little "cocky" at times which left a slightly unprofessional impression in my mind considering the venue.

 

Anyhow, like the others, I guess I'm just in need of some more details before I really have much of an opinion on this.

 

mwc

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While this site is a support site and not necessarily an activist site, I really don't see the problem. There a large number of members here, myself included, who would like to take a more active approach in hastening the decline of the religious mind control machine. As a word of caution, however, let not the decline of christianity create a vacuum that would hasten the already virulent spread of Islam.

 

I'm a bit scarce on the details, but I would like to applaud the RRS's actions in protesting the opening of the cretinism museum in Kentucky this week.

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If they all want to join and become members, cool. If I check out their site and find it interesting enough to join, then cool. Why would it need to go any further than that?

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I see nothing wrong with both groups joining together. I think it would make both sites more diverse.

 

I think not only can we learn from them but they can also learn from us.

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All right, let me start by saying that I was merely proposing a joining in the sense that we welcome the RRS into our community (their own category on this forum, link on the homepage, etc.) as a way of giving us "home court advantage" when communicating with them and allowing those of us who appreciate them and what they do to stay abreast of their news, events and podcasts. They would in turn give us space on their forums (should we choose to use it) and undoubtedly a link on their homepage. We can strengthen both communities.

 

If you want to blame anyone for being insensitive in proposing this, blame me; it wasn't Dave's idea nor Brian's nor anyone else's. Though I have never been tagged as such by the moderating staff, I am an atheist and have never had anything but pleasant dealings with everyone else here. There is no reason to believe that welcoming a few more publicly recognized atheists would sway the equilibrium of this community.

 

Let me try to address all concerns that have been voiced so far:

 

First, the two sites do seem to have some overlap of target audiences, but not complete overlap. This site is for ex-Christians, while RSS seems to be anti-theism. So where do pagans fit in? Those who choose to believe in some variety of supernatural theism...

 

I am not an RRS mouth-piece and am in no way officially affiliated with them, to my chagrin, but I feel safe in saying that they are not "anti-theism". They are atheists but do not militantly try to deconvert people; they try to get people to question the way they view the world and ask themselves if they are being honest with themselves. If they are against anything, I would say that it's fundamentalism, evangelism and extremism. They have said numerous times that personal religion in itself is not a bad thing but that it rarely stays with solely the owner. Their problem with religion is the need the followers feel to spread it and the social consequences that can occur as a result and have in the past.

 

As for your fears about political discord, the RRS is made up of a core group of about six individuals that range from moral conservative/social liberals to the opposite, they have conspiracy theorists and those who reject conspiracy. They aren't a militant camp of jack-booted atheists with a "my way or the highway" creed but people who try to get others to think about their beliefs and not simply swallow everything that's forced down their throats. Diversity is welcomed at the RRS.

 

I'm afraid I have far too many philosophical differences with RRS to support the organization. Moreover, I strongly suspect that the methods of the RRS are counter-productive; setting yourselves up as radically anti-Christian in this way is only going to provoke a strong anti-atheist response.

 

It's absolutely fine if you or anyone else disagrees with what they do or stand for though I believe you have many pre-conceived notions of their group that happen to be incorrect. As I stated above, they are not "radical" nor are they necessarily "anti-Christian." In listening to their shows, engaging in their discussions and posting on their forum I have to say that they are very open to those who disagree until they are attacked at which point they lose respect for the person attacking them and naturally retaliate. Usually this is in the form of reading crass hatemail on air and mocking the author.

 

As I said, it's not my job to represent or to defend them but I have interacted with them enough to know what they stand for and how they conduct themselves and it is with nothing but utmost respect for their fellow man.

 

If Brian is going to join ExC I don't even see why this was asked, as far as I am aware he is an ExChristian. If he, and the group are going to come on as a moderator, or some such I'd have some of the reservations the others have expressed. This site gets confused for an atheist site enough as it is. I guess my question would be how does Brian feel about being part of a group that is welcoming and open to other forms of theism?

 

When I thought of this idea, I was listening to an RRS show where Brian was speaking of his past faith and immediately put two and two together: "He's an ex-Christian. He belongs with us." Regardless of his personal beliefs (or lack thereof), he is an ex-Christian as you pointed out. If he were anyone else with no assumed agenda, he would be welcome to join. I contacted Dave and Brian because of the fact that Brian heads up the RRS and that if he were to simply come on-board, Dave might've viewed it as over-stepping his bounds. After all, this is Dave's house... Brian has one of his own, right?

 

I brought it to all of you because I honestly care about you and your reaction. This is my idea and I am willing to take the blame. I didn't want a new RRS link to pop up on the main main page and a new discussion area named "Rational Response Squad" to pop up on the main forum area without everyone's prior knowledge and understanding of the intentions (stated in my first quote reply).

 

Only if we have a problem with them abusing and being unsupportive of people... only then should we say no more.

 

I have no reason to believe that any of the Rational Responders would deal in any way other than respectfully and cordially just as they do on their own forum. If attacked, though, they have been known to strike back. But who can blame them? They have pseudonyms for fear of retaliation and feel a definite need to protect themselves from vicious attacks.

 

The only thing I really know about this group is what I watched on the Nightline debate. They seemed "eager" but a little "cocky" at times which left a slightly unprofessional impression in my mind considering the venue.

 

You must understand that the Nightline special was edited with incredible bias in favor of Cameron and Comfort. Way of the Master invited RRS to a debate on the existence of God in which WOTM could prove his existence (in a church?) using on factual proof, not faith nor the scriptures. They failed in their premise less than five minutes in by using the Ten Commandments and personal revelation.

 

At that point, Brian and Kelly realized what the mood of the argument would be and WOTM went on to insult their intelligence and the intelligence of the live and television audiences by likening natural selection to a absurd caricatures of nonsensical animals (crocoduck, sheep dog, etc.) and intelligent design to a Coke can. The WOTM reps were there with the intent to proselytize on a grand scale, not to engage in a debate. You can view the entire unedited video feed of the 90-minute debate here and judge for yourself. I can't blame them for being exasperated. You can see by the end interview that, although Brian and Kelly feel insulted and cheated from a fair debate, they are compassionate towards Cameron and Comfort and genuinely like them. The RRS has really been unfairly pigeonholed as a hate group.

 

If they all want to join and become members, cool. If I check out their site and find it interesting enough to join, then cool. Why would it need to go any further than that?

 

The idea is to give them their own little space where they can communicate with us and where we can have easier access to them and their resources (updates, upcoming events, new podcasts, live show announcements, etc.) As I mentioned earlier, I didn't want to step on Dave's toes by inviting the RRS aboard. Also, by going through Dave first, we will be able to give them their own little space where you can avoid them altogether, if you so choose.

 

I really hope this cleared up some of the confusion. If there are more questions, I will field them as well. I truly do appreciate everyone's input and I hope that everyone realizes that I'm not here to hurt or undermine anyone. Based on my past performance, I think most could agree that I'm a pretty reasonable and genuine guy. I don't want to see anyone get bent out of shape; I just want to open our community up to more resources. Hey, I listen to podcasts all day long at work and am running low. Does anyone else know of any good free thought podcasts?

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All right, let me start by saying that I was merely proposing a joining in the sense that we welcome the RRS into our community (their own category on this forum, link on the homepage, etc.) as a way of giving us "home court advantage" when communicating with them and allowing those of us who appreciate them and what they do to stay abreast of their news, events and podcasts. They would in turn give us space on their forums (should we choose to use it) and undoubtedly a link on their homepage. We can strengthen both communities.

 

I personally would find this a cool addition to this site. Ultimately it's Dave's decision though. I'll support whatever Dave decides.

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I personally would find this a cool addition to this site. Ultimately it's Dave's decision though. I'll support whatever Dave decides.

I agree without reservation.

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That being said this is not atheism.net so my question stands.

 

Correct. It is ex-Christian.net... and he is an ex-Christian. So I don't see the validity of the question.

 

I have no reason to believe that any of the Rational Responders would deal in any way other than respectfully and cordially just as they do on their own forum. If attacked, though, they have been known to strike back. But who can blame them? They have pseudonyms for fear of retaliation and feel a definite need to protect themselves from vicious attacks.

 

I have no reason to believe that either. I'm actually on board with the whole thing. An ex-Christian is an ex-Christian... regardless of what views they have adopted since. We have people on these forums already who represent pretty much every world view and, I think, would be more verbally opposed to [what they consider] foolish beliefs than the RRS.

 

Imagine if Brian had started his web life here... and only later decided to form the RRS to be more visible in the debate against irrational beliefs. This conversation would never even have been brought up. Many people on the board would be proud of his actions and talk well of him. There would probably be an area where they could talk about the groups actions... in short, it would be very much like it would be if they came on board here.

 

It has always been my understanding that membership here was open to all ex-Christians (and even some who weren't... and even some who never were but were opposed to all religious belief at times) for discussion, support, and the spread of information. In the very, very rare cases I have seen someone suspended or banned from this site it was because they were continually abusive towards others in a direct and unacceptable manner and continuing to allow them here would harm the community. I can not believe that would happen with Brian but if it did then it would be dealt with.

 

People seem to accept me here even though I'm vehemently opposed to all forms of theism, and yes, self-ascribed agnosticism.

 

I, for one, welcome our Atheist over-lords. :P

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I personally would find this a cool addition to this site. Ultimately it's Dave's decision though. I'll support whatever Dave decides.

I agree without reservation.

Me three.

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If they all want to join and become members, cool. If I check out their site and find it interesting enough to join, then cool. Why would it need to go any further than that?

 

Exactly.

 

My reservations aren't about Brian in particular, or you, or any other person associated with RRS. And I'm not worried at all about militant anti-theists wounding the feelings of non-Christian theists who are existing members, should that hypothetically become an issue; I'm sure the "heathens" here have encountered such people before and are quite capable of dealing with it, and that there's no need to protect anybody. And should the political mix in the existing membership shift as a result of new members, well, so what?

 

My concerns are about any sort of "joining together" at the organizational level.

 

Let me offer an analogy. If I have a Baptist pastor in my home as a dinner guest and he wants to engage in a friendly discussion about the differences between our beliefs, fine. Provided he doesn't venture into proselytizing, issuing moral condemntations, etc., but sticks to asking questions and receiving answers, and allows me to do the same in return, no problem.

 

Does that mean that I'm going join his organization -- go and get baptized, pray every night, and attend their services? No. Does it mean that I'm not going to join, but will cooperate with his organization in some way -- maybe allow one of his church's evening Bible study groups to be held in my home? No. There's a big difference.

 

I was merely proposing a joining in the sense that we welcome the RRS into our community (their own category on this forum, link on the homepage, etc.) as a way of giving us "home court advantage" when communicating with them and allowing those of us who appreciate them and what they do to stay abreast of their news, events and podcasts. They would in turn give us space on their forums (should we choose to use it) and undoubtedly a link on their homepage. We can strengthen both communities.

 

Well ... A fair reading of your original post shows that what you were proposing was that ExC and RRS align themselves organizationally to at least some extent, perhaps officially; that they arrive at shared positions on at least some issues; that they actively seek out ways in which they can assist each other; and that they engage in coordinated activities to pursue and advance what you perceive as a common purpose. That's much different than simply inviting them to stop by because we'd probably like each other.

 

I am not an RRS mouth-piece and am in no way officially affiliated with them, to my chagrin, but I feel safe in saying that they are not "anti-theism" [...] If they are against anything, I would say that it's fundamentalism, evangelism and extremism. They have said numerous times that personal religion in itself is not a bad thing but that it rarely stays with solely the owner.

 

Well ... when I followed your link to their site, the very first thing I saw was a large banner at the top of their home page which reads, "Fighting to free humanity from the mind disorder known as theism." Not, "fighting to convince theists to keep their opinions to themselves and out of our faces," but "fighting to free humanity." Not "fighting to show theists that their way of thought isn't the only legitimate way," but "to free humanity from the mind disorder known as theism."

 

And the very first question and response on their FAQ certainly implies that their focus on Christianity is due to Christianity's prevalence, not to any difference RRS perceives between Christianity and other forms of theism. To paraphrase Purple, this is Ex-Christian.net, not Atheism.net, or Ex-Atheist.net.

 

Look, I'm not questioning the integrity or good intentions of you, Brian, or anyone else. It seems pretty clear that you're impressed with RRS, and you probably have good reason to be. I'm sure there are a lot of things I'll like about RRS when I hear more about them.

 

And if you were to tell me that RRS' motto and such other "confrontational" things are humorous, or are devices intended to irrritate the inevitable fundamentalist proselytizers who visit their pages, fine; I've certainly been known to play "bait the fundy" myself, on more than a few occasions.

 

And if you were to say, "yeah, I'm really enthusiastic about my idea, and maybe I got a little carried away in my original post," or "I did that from my workplace, it was the last thing I did before going home and I was in a hurry," -- fine, no problem. Despite what it may look like, I'm not trying to nitpick your words but have tried to fairly capture the overall meaning of what you've proposed doing ... and I certainly don't always say or type exactly what I mean either.

 

So, OK, you wanna give them their own forum section here. But why is even that necessary, or for that matter desirable? What's so special about RRS? I mean, why not contact Ellen Johnson over at American Atheists and invite them to set up their own forum section here? -- they've been around a lot longer than RRS, and they've had a lot more experience at dealing with the media and with making their views known to legislators and other "opinion-makers." Or what about the ACLU? -- they've also got a lot of experience, and the last I heard, they're pretty strong on the idea of church/state separation, which I'm sure would appeal to many people here.

 

And if the intent is to simply allow interested individuals to stay in touch, well, they can already do that by joining RRS and/or bookmarking their web page.

 

Reading back over the responses in this thread, I don't see anyone (myself included) who objects in any way to individuals from RRS joining here or vice versa. But as Robbobrob said, why does it need to go further? You seem to think that ties between the groups would strengthen both groups; frankly, I doubt if it would do much of anything, to be honest. But to the extent it has any impact at all, I think that what you're proposing would be all cost and no benefit. Ties can strengthen; they can also constrain and hinder.

 

Let me make a counter-proposal.

 

How about setting up a general forum section called "other organizations," or "friendly people," or something similar, where those from RRS, or the ACLU ... or, I dunno, Atheists for Jesus ... or any other organization can post announcements concerning their groups that they believe would be of interest to ExC's members?

 

Anyway, I think I've stated my 1-1/2 cents worth, so I'll clam up now ... And whatever the ExC owners and moderators decide is ultimately fine with me too.

 

Though I have never been tagged as such by the moderating staff, I am an atheist

 

Are you talking about those labels under our avatars (yours says "Thinker," mine says "Curious")? What's up with those? -- I tried to change mine, but couldn't.

 

- Roy

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If he wants to join or anyone from RRS wants to join, of their own accord, no problem, not even an issue.

 

As for "alligning" with them, offering them space on the boards, etc, I could see that, though there would have to be a damn compelling case for it, and should stick to the site's purview (ex-Christian, not Athiests Only Club). However, it isn't unheard of here.

 

Otherwise, I don't really care. If I'm not interested, I just ignore the thread.

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a forum specifically for the more activist, hard-core atheist types might not be a bad thing - I'd join. :D

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Okay, so would it be a new RSS specific section added to the site or a more generic ACTIVISM section where they would be participants?

 

I'm asking because I think Ruby has some group she's working on that would fall into a activism category.

 

Or maybe people just have general ideas that don't fall into any camp they want to discuss.

 

mwc

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