Sans Cilice

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White Anti-Racism: No Hairshirt Necessary

Huffington Post Starts a Religion Section

I am 100% ambivalent about Huffpo’s new Religion section. While I am in favor of a section for important religion related NEWS, I have been bothered by statements that are dismissive of the atheist population while trying to be inclusive. In her introduction to the section, Arianna Huffington says that she believes “that we are all hardwired for the sacred” and that “[f]or some, it involves organized religion. For others, it’s a personal spiritual quest.”  She also says that she hopes that this section will avoid “the pigeonhole depictions of both the faithful and the agnostic we see so frequently.” Now, because I’m atheist and don’t really have religious opinions, it seems that I’m not quite part of the target audience. However, I’m sure that many of the articles within it will interest me.

What bothers me though is that this new section aims to be totally inclusive but fails to recognize the atheist population even while making efforts to acknowledge agnostics and those on vaguely spiritual quests.  Now, if it seemed like the Religion section was planning on reporting NEWS related to all things religious, I would not feel in the least bit left out as an individual; it’s very rare that there is major atheist-related news. I’m annoyed that this section– like many others on the site (I’m looking at you, LIVING section!)– seems like it will largely consist of individual opinion/advice columns on life issues from people with varying levels of credibility and writing skill.

This being said, I think it is possible that this section will give its readers greater insight into the world-view of those in different religious cultures. It is undeniable that for many people religion is a defining part of their identity and guides their decisions. Additionally, I appreciate editor Paul Raushenbusch’s recognition that there is nuance and variance to atheism and theism alike:

“I expect some of the most interesting conversations will be between people who are theists and atheists, and that will be great! But please, let’s be civil. As a start, it would help if religious people acknowledge that non-religious people can be moral, and if atheist people would acknowledge that religious people can be intelligent.

I hope Raushenbusch’s attitude prevails. But more than that, I hope this section contains NEWS and is not filled with personally indulgent truism-laden shit like “7 more ways to ( desirable-sounding verb here )” and “What Your Dreams Say About Your Relationship with Parents/Sex/Productivity/Your Bowels/God/Happiness/Food/Scalp/Dreams”.

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Filed under: Journalism, Personal, , , ,

2 Responses

  1. I appreciate your thoughts about atheist inclusion in the Huffpo’s religion section. What would that look like specifically? In other words, what would you like to see that is missing? I’m curious because I don’t have a good idea of what “atheist-centered” news items might look like. Would it not be the rest of the news?

  2. Sans Cilice says:

    You’re absolutely right– ‘atheist-centered’ news is all of the news, religion news included. I was only bothered by the intro editorial of the section which seemed to claim to be entirely inclusive of all points of view without quite including atheism. But really, that’s just fine.

    Additionally, I’m very happy to report that the Religion section consists of very few of the spiritual/relaxation focused articles so prevalent in the Living section. In fact, it really is news and well-informed editorials about religion relaated events and trends.

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