posted on Jan, 13 2008 @ 10:16 AM
ATS: Open Forum or Christian Website?
Is ATS a truly open website, that allows all opinions and points of view on all subjects, so long as the writer stays within the T&C, or is it really
a website for Christians who will not tolerate strong voices speaking different points of view?
I can only speak about what I have experienced and perceived, but it truly does seem like the answer is, ATS is not truly open on the subject of
Anyone who knows my posts, knows I am an atheist, and a staunch one. I have been accused of being “militant” and a “bully” because I have
strong opinions on the matter of religion, and state them in blunt language. However, I refrain from personal attacks, speaking in general terms about
religions, and the actions that I perceive in particular followers of such. For whatever reason, some people take these as personal attacks, and there
have been confrontations between me and certain staff members behind the scenes about my speaking my opinion in the faith forums.
I have been told to stop derailing threads, when I post one point on an opinion I have that I believe is on topic, and then people jump on my points
and an argument ensues. I do not do this to cause an argument or derail a thread; I have an opinion, I speak it as I thought we were allowed to do,
then I am accused of derailing. Because of this I have been asked in the past to stay out of threads that are about people’s faith, threads that
theists go into to speak to each other about their faith. I have honored this request. I stay out of the threads such as, “When Did You Decide to Be
Religious?” because I am not religious and obviously those threads are not meant for me.
Whether this is correct or not, I don’t know – but the point has been made by other members (and I agree) that lack of belief in god has as much
place in the faith forums as lack of belief in UFO posts belong in the UFO/Aliens forums. It is still an opinion on faith and is just as valid as any
Recently, I made a three or four sentence post on a news article that had my opinion on the subject matter. I was U2Ud by a staff member (and I am not
naming names as this isn’t about arguing with any particular staff member) that I had to stop preaching in the faith forums.
Now, perhaps this is just a perspective thing, but I don’t find a three sentence opinion on how to solve a particular problem in a particular sect
of Christianity to be preaching. I consider a multiple paragraph post hammering home someone’s entire belief system step by step to be preaching. I
consider quoting scripture at length to illustrate a point to be preaching.
Web definition of preaching:
1. To proclaim or put forth in a sermon: preached the gospel.
2. To advocate, especially to urge acceptance of or compliance with: preached tolerance and peaceful coexistence.
3. To deliver (a sermon).
1. To deliver a sermon.
2. To give religious or moral instruction, especially in a tedious manner.
Web definition of sermon:
1. A religious discourse delivered as part of a church service.
2. An often lengthy and tedious speech of reproof or exhortation.
As has been established many times in my posts and posts by others, atheism is not a religion. Nor is a three line post lengthy or tedious. I stated
an opinion, not a moral or religious instruction.
Why is it me, the atheist, who is told to “stop preaching” and to stay out of the faith forums, when we have members who go into threads on every
topic on the board with scriptural and religious references, and who then go on at length, often in ways that have nothing to do with the OP? The post
of mine in question was not even IN one of the faith forums.
I am very concerned about this. I do have strong opinions. My opinion on religion is as strong as any of the extremely religious people on the board.
I stay within the T&C, but I do not tiptoe around the bushes to state my piece. I say what I have to say in plain language then usually move on. And
yet I am told to stop preaching.
So my question is this: is ATS truly an open forum where anyone can talk about anything as long as it stays within the T&C, or is it really a
Christian board and strong opinions about the lack of god and a desire to see the end of religion are not welcome to be spoken?
If it is a Christian board, then in my own humble opinion, it should state somewhere that it is such, so that people like me who thought we were safe
to speak on any topic and share our opinion however diverse from the opinion of the average person in America (and elsewhere) do not invest our time
in the board’s activities, and can find elsewhere on the internet to call home.
If I had seen that this board was a Christian board when I first came here to check it out, I would never have stayed. I would have sought a board for
alternative topics that is open to all opinions equally.
If this board is not a Christian board, and it truly is open for ALL opinions, then why do some staff members keep telling me to stop posting in the
forums that I like to be in the best? Why is it me, an atheist, who is constantly being stifled?
Is this the policy of the entire staff? I don’t think so – the last time this occurred, I went to one of the Super Moderators and asked directly
if I was going to get banned, and I was told that as long as I was within the T&C that I could post what I liked, where I liked. That is the
impression I had of ATS, and that is why I am very puzzled and frankly, a bit angry, that people want to censor me.
I know, it’s a private site, and the administration can set whatever rules they want. But my impression, from all the posts I have seen on subjects
similar to this, that as long as one stays within the T&C, one can have their say on any subject on the boards.
Maybe it’s just a matter of some people’s faith being offended by my lack thereof. My rationality is offended by some of the testifying I see on
the boards. That’s part of being a member of an internet community – some people you agree with, some you don’t, and the ones you don’t like,
you put on ignore. I know I use my ignore button when I feel that I need to.
So, is ATS truly free, or is it actually a site for Christian thought? Is atheism only tolerated when it stays within certain limits believers are not
held to? I would truly like to have this cleared up in my mind, because if this is a site that only tolerates Christians to speak their full opinion
at any time, and no alternative voices, then I don’t think I belong here.
I have had private conversations with a few other atheists about this throughout the months I have been a member, and I have heard similar stories to
this. Are there more of us out there? If you have been privately told to keep your opinions to yourself, I’d like to hear it. If you think some
people should have complete free reign (within the T&C) and others should not, then I’d like to hear why.
I was going to post this as a stand-alone thread, but I think it belongs more properly here, in Atheist Chat – our own little ghetto of free
I didn’t post this to get anyone in trouble or begin a palace coup, but I think it’s time this subject was brought out in the open and discussed.
And this is also an experiment: threads that ask if ATS is the CIA, or NWO, or similar questions are left up for discussion. I ask the same thing,
except about religion. Is this post going to be pulled and am I going to be banned because I ask? It remains to be seen.