Ask an Atheist with Sam Mulvey

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Bad News


8/27 update: Now with a silver lining, read below!

There’s a lot of weird stuff going on, locally, within the atheism movement, and nationally.   Becky, Mike and Sam get together and chat about it.   What do we talk about this week?   The new “Atheism+” movement, the Family Research Council shooting, and our own problems with Washington United for Marriage, the organization behind Referendum 74.

To bring some fun to events, we’re joined by Dan Lombardo for the first time with “a Moment of Science.”

There is many show notes, updated throughout the week:

Washington United for Marriage:

Here is a copy of the statement from the Producers of Ask an Atheist regarding Washington United for Marriage’s rejection of our endorsement and the endorsement of other atheist organizations.

On Monday, Washington United for Marriage changed their mind!  Read about it here!

Family Research Council:

Here is a text copy of our statement about the Family Research Council shooting, authored by Mike:

Last week, a young man with a nine millimeter handgun named Floyd Lee Corkins walked into the Washington DC lobby of the Family Research Council, a fundamentalist Christian lobbying group.

Stopped by a security guard, Corkins opened fire, hitting the guard in the arm before being subdued and disarmed. Found in the shooter’s backpack was additional ammunition and literature about the FRC’s anti-gay policies and support of Chick Fil A’s recent statements about same-sex marriage.

Corkins has a history working with LGBT rights organizations, which have been some of the first to condemn the shooting.

The producers of Ask an Atheist want to communicate our sympathies with the security guard and his family and all those affected by the shooting.

Tony Perkins, the Family Research Council’s president and a former Republican lawmaker, held a press conference soon after where he laid the blame for the attack on the Southern Poverty Law Center, which had labeled the FRC as a “hate group.”

Perkins claims that the SPLC label “gave people license” to use violence against their group and calls for the label to be removed.

And it’s here where my sympathy for the Family Research Council ends, because their prescription for preventing a future shooting basically amounts to telling their critics to just shut up.

This is unacceptable and indicative of the Christian privilege that the FRC espouses and the hypocrisy they embody.

In their world, only they are allowed to criticize their political opponents, often with junk science, with bigoted lies and with slander.

If any group is catering to a bullying environment that accommodates violence against its opponents, it’s the FRC.

When the African country, of Uganda – with the overt influence of American evangelical leaders – was pushing a piece of legislation that included the death penalty for homosexuality, the U.S. Congress quickly condemned the bill.

The Family Research Council lobbied hard against the condemnation of the bill.

They’ve accused gays serving in the military of being rapists, they’ve wrongly accused gay men of being pedophiles, and they’ve repeatedly put forward thoroughly debunked studies to support their lies.

The Family Research Council has given the gay community a lot to fear, because despite their extremism, they have a lot of powerful political allies and they flex their muscles quite a bit.

Floyd Lee Corkins had every reason to fear the FRC and a damned good cause to be angry at them. His anger and his fear were totally justified.

His violent actions were not and can not be justified.

The Southern Poverty Law Center didn’t give him license to commit murder when they rightly labeled the Family Research Council, just as the FRC didn’t give him license to commit murder by lobbying for hateful legislation and making vile bigoted statements.

Floyd Lee Corkins is responsible for his actions and should face justice for them.

And the fact that someone commited a terrible crime against them doesn’t render the FRC immune to criticism. It doesn’t cancel out the fact that they remain a hate group.

About the Author: Sam Mulvey

Sam Mulvey is a producer and the technical brain behind Ask an Atheist. He is a collector of vinegar varieties, vintage computers, antique radios, and propaganda.

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Okaaaayyy… Does that mean the episode is coming up? That the podcast is available for download? If so, where, please?

Mike Gillis

New episodes air on the radio at 3pm PST, and usually go up online as podcasts during the first 24 hours.

This episode hasn’t been recorded yet. We record it today.

Renee Fritschie-Scoggin

Bad news? Oh no 🙁 Will any of today’s podcast talk about CQNW? I’ll still listen if it doesn’t, but just curious 🙂

Mike Gillis

No. Don’t worry, Renee. All of the news from CQNW has been very good.


I had not heard of the FRC shooting before. The statement issued by the producers of Ask An Atheist clearly demonstrates another way that secular morality is superior to religious morality. If this had happened at the headquarters of an atheist group, the religious right (including certain people who don’t need to be named here, we all know who they are) would be very fast to label it as the wrath of their god upon us for our sins and lack of belief. They would have justified it and said we deserved it, as they do for pretty much any… Read more »

Scott I

I am not a happy man. When the blogathon was going on I contacted the organization specifically about making sure my donation, as a Canadian, to WU4M was credited to your event. The lady I contacted was nice, pleasant and seemed open to what you were doing. I can’t believe that an organization that presents itself to be about equality would treat us all like 2nd class citizens. I have again contacted the same lady as I did 6 weeks ago about my frustration in this matter and the thought of demanding they return my donation has crossed my mind… Read more »


@ Jeff

In all honesty, I only really feel bad that this will only be used as an excuse for them to double down on their bullshit. I couldn’t care less about a maniac shooting spree where the targets actually have it coming.

So maybe not all of us are quite so evolved. I know, (intellectually) there’s no excuse. Life is precious etc.

On a purely emotional level I hope isaac takes a detour right onto their workplace.

Mike Gillis

No, nobody “has it coming.” Nobody deserves to be gunned down at work, totally unarmed.

Nobody. This is the sort of bullshit that people like Randall Terry says when some asshole shoots an abortion doctor and it’s intolerable.


Everything I’ve heard about this idiocy that is “Atheism+” I go “Gee, I thought that is what ‘we,’ as a movement, were doing.” And then, I think, “Yeah, but I’m not a pompous arrogant twit that wants to focus on one subject and pretend I’m trying to be inclusive” which leads to the “Oh! I get it! the + is + pomposity and arrogance and blinders that disallow them to see that equality and fairness is what most people want…” And then that leads to a “Maybe that’s why they don’t like Humanism…maybe it’s not that they want Fairness and… Read more »


Gee, Durakken, in your haste to build that straw feminist, I guess you missed that the atheism+ supporters were on the side of Ask an Atheist.


I’m pretty surprised how offended Sam and Becky seem about Atheism+. I hope it was spill over anger from the Washington United stuff, but maybe not considering I was also a bit surprised about the Dogmatic Feminism episode(s). This is only the second place I’ve heard anything about Atheism+, so I assume a lot more talk has been going on, but after first learning about it via PZ, Jen, and Rebecca’s Google Hangout on YouTube just last night and then hearing you folks be so suspicious of it, I just don’t get the problem. They are trying to talk about… Read more »


I think a lot of the problem with the discussion around Atheism+ is that it originated on a blog network that has been a target for sustained trolling for a year now over feminist issues. In this climate, every word they say is amplified and portrayed in the nastiest light possible, and spread far and wide to make sure that the first things people hear on any FtB-related issue are negative. For example, humanism. I saw a lot of discussion on FtB about how Atheism+ relates to Humanism and why they were different, etc. For example, when Greta mentioned that… Read more »


Sas, It’s not a strawman fallacy. Everything I’ve heard from Atheism+ is pretty much points to a group that is full of themselves who are blinded by their “Evolved” and superior ways of Feminism and it is their leading basis for what they are thinking and doing. The only strawman you might say is that “they don’t believe in the superiority of women” which I’ve never actually run into a feminist who when you look at what they are say actually wants equality. So that strawman is an observation and more of a “perhaps you should relook at feminist views”… Read more »


Durakken, you’ve misread my comment; I wasn’t talking about AaA supporting Atheism+, it was the reverse. The link Rogi gave is an Atheism+ proponent passionately speaking up in support of Ask and Atheist against WUfM’s actions, and encouraging people to write in. You talked at length about how arrogant and dogmatic and full of themselves Atheism+ supporters are, but they were happy to have AaA’s back against anti-atheist bigotry.


Enough. I think the A+ “thing” is totally misguided and potentially worse. But this is not the place for that particular argument. As long as we can work towards common goals, like what has just happened, they can have their club without me needing to bring up what I think about it at every turn.

Congrats, everyone. This is good news. Although seeing the actual banner, it’s hard to imagine such problems for such a petty thing. I almost can’t believe it. We still have a bit of work here, eh?


Sas, actually this is places in the wrong thing. I meant to post in the comments of the podcast and not a new thing. I assumed the first post was the podcast post. Oh well. Sorry that that was in the wrong comment section.


I’m not really sure what to think about this whole “Atheism+” thing. I keep writing words and then deleting them because it’s such an new and amorphous thing right now. I’m a little confused whether this is just an attempted rebranding of secular humanism or something wholly different. It could be exciting; it could also be a huge flop.

I think I’ll go poke around their forums a bit at


I think Noelplum sums it up nicely in most aspects… I think it’s fair that they want their own group as all atheists aren’t feminists and all feminists aren’t atheist thus they need their own group. However to try to take over a label, which noelplum does a good enough job in arguing that is what is going on, is just wrong and in bad form. As the people from Atheist Experience say, modified, “What are you doing and Why are you doing it? The why part is more important than the what.” I have a problem with what… Read more »


It’s funny how you mention The Atheist Experience as a counterpoint, because they are up to their necks into this Atheism Doubleplusgood bsh’t. It is as if they argued so much for “atheism is not a moral system”, that they now believe the opposite.

I’m pretty sure a German philosopher with a funny ‘stache said something about this kind of stuff, hundreds of years ago.


Yes Fabricio, it doesn’t escape me that The Atheist Experience support this type of thing is ironic when using one of their lines, but in my few interactions with them in email or brief chat discussions with them, I find them pretty dismissive, not very thoughtful, and pretty dogmatic in general. This isn’t all together unexpected though, because when you get flooded with thousands of people arguing points that are fairly stupid you tend to stop thinking things through, stop listening to people, and start making quick decisions based off a gut feeling or a broad generalization about a topic… Read more »

[…] of dollars, and our public participation was rejected by Washington United for Marriage.  When we spoke up about it, the atheism community responded, and WU4M responded with an alacrity I’ve never seen before. […]

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