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Are the “Brights” really worth it?

In the harsh religious environment of America, where to be an atheist means both social and political discrimination, this idea holds some weight. In the UK though, the vast majority of people would call themselves secular, seeing religion as something that shouldn’t interfere with politics. Indeed, where in the USA an atheist would never get to high levels of public office (without lying about their beliefs), the current leader of the Liberal Democrats, Nick Clegg, does not believe in God. So should the term “Bright” still be used?

I think instead of using the Brights as a platform for change, we should use the organisation purely to group people of similar worldviews together. The Brights have meetings all over the UK, open to people who subscribe to different labels, whether it be atheism, agnosticism, humanism, scepticism, and many more. As for trying to enforce the meaning of the word, I think efforts should instead be focused on changing the public perceptions of the original terms. “Bright” is a great word for describing people who hold no supernatural worldview, but it doesn’t cover individual positions on belief in gods. Both atheists and secularists can be Brights, but whilst an atheist does not believe in gods, a secularist might.

What was clear though, from a number of people I spoke to during freshers’ week, is that the term “Bright” is very vague in who it encompasses. Some Brights will argue that it is a strictly non-believing organisation, whilst others will insist that as long as you do not use the supernatural to make decisions, you are welcome. In fact the only people who I think do not belong in the Brights group are those who actively participate in faith healing, psychic readings, or active prayer and other similar activities.

The Atheist & Agnostic Alliance’s relationship with the Brights is really one of “business only”. They were kind enough to make good looking flyers at low cost, and they are a great source of speakers for the “godless” events we are planning this year. Other than that, the groups should keep separate.

Adrian Hayter writes an online blog at http://atheistblogger.com
To join the Atheist & Agnostic Alliance please email rhul@secularstudents.org

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