Southern Baptist leader endorses secularist campaign

May 31, 2015

By Bob Allen

A Southern Baptist seminary president has added his blessing to a campaign advocating for atheists.

Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., affirmed Openly Secular, a campaign fighting discrimination against people based upon their non-belief, in a two-minute video message posted online.

“You are probably wondering immediately: why would I be doing a video at the site of Openly Secular?” Akin said in the video. “The reason is that though we do disagree about some very important issues, we also agree about some important things as well.”

“For example, we do believe, together, that no one should be coerced when it comes to their particular religious beliefs,” Akin continued. “Whether they are religious or not religious, they should have the freedom to express what they believe and they should be able to do so without hatred, without discrimination. They should not be put down because they happen to disagree with another person in terms of what they believe.


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24 comments on “Southern Baptist leader endorses secularist campaign

  • All I see is a theist cynically using this opportunity to bolster the claim that all beliefs should be respected and not ridiculed.



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  • It seems that the Baptist, Danny Akin, ( I hope no relation of Todd ” legitimate rape” Akin), realises that when it comes to the real world, people have to co-operate. Three bloody cheers for the obvious !



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  • This will probably have consequences for Pastor Danny Akin in his wider congregation so respect where respect is due. Human rights recognize no god, but respect everyone’s choice of god.



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  • I think you’re probably right. It all sounds great up until the end. This would undermine the First Amendment. Yes, respect the right to practice, believe, or not believe, but we also should be able to ridicule (“put down”) what we do not agree with.



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  • Notice the reaction of one commenter on the original site….quoting the bible and criticising the pastor for reaching out to those (us – secularists and atheists) who “hate god”. Interesting that this idea is still current among some theists. It would be interesting to find out the original source of this “hate” business.



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  • 7
    Cairsley says:

    As the religious portion of the US population diminishes, the religious will appreciate even more the value of secularism. Here in New Zealand, where Catholics have always been a small minority (currently about 1/8 of the population), the Catholic bishops have long been staunch advocates of secular government, and for obvious reasons. How else could Catholics’ religious freedoms be protected in a democratic, pluralistic society?



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  • But how does one respect and ridicule at the same time?

    I applaud and welcome the olive branch from the ‘enemy.’ Maybe through the actions of secularists the hardcore theists will become more tolerant. Um…and vise versa {{nudge nudge}}.



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  • I am always getting in trouble (usually from my wife) – when somebody – on telly or whatever – praises god or whatever – I respond automatically “which god is that then…” – Secularists/Humanists or whatever label you can put on us, don’t hate any of the man-made deities – we just think (that on the balance of probabilities) none of them actually exist and can you actually hate what you consider to be fantasy??



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  • Vicki
    Jun 1, 2015 at 6:59 am

    But how does one respect and ridicule at the same time?

    It is possible to respect the person, while ridiculing ridiculous ideas.

    Those who use science and critical thinking, will quickly discard their own ridiculous speculations, once evidence shows them to be errors!



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  • 12
    tvaughan says:

    This is going to be a common approach by the shrinking religious numbers in America. It’s an effort to appear acceptable to non-religious thinking. However, don’t let this fool you. All one has to do is search just about any
    Baptist church website and read their “statement of beliefs” to find out what they truly teach children and adults who attend their services. The bottom line with them is you are all going to hell unless you believe and do and as they instruct. It’s sneaky and deceitful, in my opinion, for them to suddenly open their doors to dialog when they know it would take an act of congress (so to speak) to change their mind on their fundamental tenants. I do believe that even though they do have a written statement concerning their core beliefs…not all church-goers adhere to the doctrine…which is a whole other topic.



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  • I did it many times while I was in the Army. I learned to respect the rank if not the person. Granted, this is somewhat the opposite of respecting the person while not respecting the idea they promote, but it works the same. You just learn to separate the ideology from the individual. I can detest the ideology while still respecting the person who is under its spell.



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  • I can of course only speak for myself rod, but hating god is predicated on its existence, and I’m not capable of hating something which is non-existent; but I expect you mean the idea or concept of said supernatural entity, which I think deserves ridicule, which is fun, creative and positive, but hatred saps energy, is destructive and negative.

    Leave all that to the beloved brethren.



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  • I agree with the concept. Unfortunately, history has shown religion to be the textbook example of inflexibility, regardless of evidence. “You just gotta have faith!



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  • 19
    Michael says:

    The same trick Paul played on the early Christian Jews to create the Christ Myth. You can’t beat them then join them. A back door man!



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  • 22
    Michael says:

    I agree totally , but Christians relish the hate, it’s as much a part of the bible as the love your bother idea, but they use innuendo and allusion from the bible to disguise their hate! By using bible quotes, that some how makes it Righteous Hate. Christian narcissism and vanity, are unavoidable, it seems excessive pride is a Christian trait!



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  • Sorry, alan. It is not possible to respect a person while ridiculing their ideas. Arguing facts, sure. Contrasting evidence, of course. Logical discussion, absolutely. Making fun of someone, absolutely not.

    Atheists (and many Christians) need to learn that mocking and ridiculing produce only heat, not light.



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  • Stiefel told the Charlotte Observer he met Akin a few years ago through a mutual friend. He said he thought Akin would be amenable to the video request, because, “We have our areas of disagreement, to be sure, but he’s a good guy.”

    Todd Stiefel, a wealthy philanthropists, founded Openly secular which includes The Richard Dawkins Foundation. I know neither Todd Steifel nor Danny Akin and developments that appear positive can always turn out badly. Nonetheless, I’m appalled by the cynicism that buries cautious optimism and crushes the olive branch underfoot on this thread. The ultimate irony is that we who believe in evolution, natural and cultural, may be blind to its unfolding in front of our eyes. Did anyone actually read the full article?

    Christian fundamentalist are not going to transform into secularists let alone agnostics or atheists in one step. Perhaps Akin, who holds considerable status in his faith institution as a Southern Baptist seminary president, at least represents the secularization of progressive church leaders and by association the rank and file nibbling away at the edges of bigotry. Danny Akin, his character, his speech affirming Openly Secular on its home court, and the conciliatory compatible trend he advocates should be cause for celebration.



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