Open letter: The atheist registry
I hesitate to write to you because of your message regarding ownership of e-mail sent to you and the revealing of names and ISP information.* Unfortunately, although I assume you didn’t intend it to, that sounded like a threat, since the publishing of ISP information could be used to launch a hacking attack against a person. Even so, I am going to proceed under the assumption that you intended this as a warning against people who want to harass you as opposed to an attempt to silence honest conversation.
Your old post about the atheist registry recently came to my attention, and I’d like to comment on it. Even though I am very much an atheist, I can’t say that this post bothered me in the way that it seems to have bothered many other atheists. You clearly stated that you would only list “out” atheists, you would not be listing addresses, this would not be a government list, etc., so the list couldn’t easily be used to attack or harass individuals. (I’m assuming you would remove people from the list who became religious, and that you would somehow handle situations in which an atheist and a theists in the same area had the same name). I’m not seeing a significant problem with that, any more than I see a problem with Wikipedia having a “list of atheists” page.
I can see some people being upset by your blog post seeming to make an association between atheists and child molesters, etc., but that is a disagreement with your personal beliefs, not a disagreement about whether or not a list of atheists can be ethically compiled. Atheists themselves might find such a list useful, as it would allow them to find — and perhaps network with — other atheists. They might also use it as a tool to convince “closeted” atheists to become more public with their beliefs, or take some measure of pride as the list of names grew. Atheists should also understand that the moral justification for creating this list can also be used to justify similar lists — for example, a list of scientists who disbelieve in evolution.
By the way, I read a few of your other posts and found a number of places where we are in agreement. For example, I completely agree that it makes no rational sense for an atheist to be angry with God.
I, for one, am always happy to have an intelligent conversation about truth and religion, and I don’t use my lack of belief in God as an irrational defense against discussion.
Anyway, if you do end up making your list of atheists, feel free to include my name.
I know that this e-mail won’t make me popular with some, but I’m interested to see if I get a response from the blogger.
*From a post on Pastor Mike’s blog (bold, color, italics, and underlining removed), “PUBLIC NOTICE: And , one more thing , any e-mails I receive , I will consider them MY property , and WILL , from this point forward , take it that any e-mails and/or electronic transmissions you send me are MY property , and that by sending them you are giving me permission to PUBLICLY post any and all info in them in any forum , written or otherwise that I so choose , as well as distributing the info to anyone and in any way I so choose – up to and including the e-mail and / or your ISP info!”