I left The Radical Secular podcast at the end of June 2022, after our 89th episode titled “Abortion and Juneteenth.” All episodes are archived in audio format on the podcast feed, and in video format at the Black Sun Journal YouTube channel. The following is adapted from my Facebook announcement:
The Radical Secular has been a great forum. It provided me with an opportunity to discuss important issues in a collaborative setting with some really smart people, my co-hosts Joseph Occhipinti and Christophe Difo, and our guests. I’ve learned a lot from both Joe and Christophe. We share a great deal of common ground when it comes to the causes and cures of the great dysfunction in our civilization. And those weekly episodes gave me a valuable sounding board of multiple perspectives. But even though we called ourselves The Radical Secular, the tone was not nearly radical enough for me. And that’s my first reason for leaving the show. I can’t stomach the pulling of any punches about religion or spirituality. They’re an unparalleled curse on the world, and it’s my obligation to say so.
My particular lot in life is that I was the firstborn son of cult leaders, supposed messengers of God. I was given a front row seat to some of the most heinous manipulation of human beings that’s ever existed anywhere. I recognized in the first 5 years after leaving the cult, that God-belief was at the center of the storm. I recognized that the power my parents held over tens of thousands of people rested entirely on their claim to real-time divine communication. My experience demonstrated to me that beliefs about the afterlife and karma and reincarnation, were the nexus of all the spiritual abuse and manipulation of members. I never saw any “God” except the self-righteous egos of the fanatics who raised me.
So I became a vocal atheist and began publishing Black Sun Journal in 2001. I connected the dots to show how religious beliefs directly create the conditions for the complete subjugation of human beings. Even under a secular “democracy” in which all citizens have freedom of conscience, people still voluntarily shackle themselves. The root of the word religion is “to bind.” And they bind themselves to false beliefs and rituals and superstition and rigid rules of conduct. I’ve had conversations with thousands of people over the past 30 years, most of which involved people complaining that I’m being too “harsh on religion.” They insist that religion serves a social purpose, or that my parents weren’t really charlatans, or that God is real and I’m going to hell. People who weren’t there, who didn’t experience the cult trauma, are always chock full of apologetics. Even the ones who were there, often try to deny or justify the abuse they endured, much of which I personally witnessed.
It’s taken me well into my sixth decade in life to gain enough perspective to understand fully not only what happened, but why. I left that cult at the end of 1993 at the age of 29. At that time, I knew things were very, very wrong. And I knew I had to leave. Now I’ve been out of the cult just about as long as I was in it. And during the second half of my life, I’ve come to grips with the cold reality that human beings tend to recreate these cult dynamics almost everywhere. The shitstorm of my childhood is much more typical than I realized in America, and not so easy to leave behind. Not only have extremist religious cults become much more common this century, but cultic thinking has come to dominate one of the major U.S. political parties. The pathologies of the cult I grew up in have gone national and global. And that’s why there’s no shrinking from the direct confrontation with religion–all religion. It will kill our civilization, if it’s not stopped.
My co-host Joe Occhipinti left the show at the same time I did, and posted the following message on Facebook:
I’ve left the Radical Secular and I am drawing down my social media presence. I do so with good feelings about what I have done, the people I worked with and about the show. I hope my contributions did some good.
Leaving TRS reminds me why I accepted the invitation to join it in the first place. When I joined TRS, I was harshly chided for it by a close family member. I have lost some long, dear friends because of my advocacy. I thought as much could happen. I’ve always tried to be diplomatic and conciliatory and when I became more ardent and political some just didn’t’ like it.
Why did I join TRS?
Even a moderately enlightened society would not force women to have children. It would not take a harsh, militaristic response to regulating immigration. It would not prioritize the most powerful over the most weak, nor the most privileged against the most needy.
A good and healthy society would not focus so much on the grievances of the powerful in this way, to the point of embracing white nationalism.
The European enlightenment was a cultural revolution against theocratic rule. And that separation of church and state power has allowed for a flourishing of human rights.
It was the encroaching power of theocracy that prompted me to join TRS.
Be religious, be whatever you want to be, as long as you aren’t abusing others, taking away their rights, Worship whomever you want as long as you are willing to accept the scientific realities, like the looming climate catastrophe we have entered. Do as you please, as long as you agree government should be secular.
I left religion a few decades ago, but I don’t expect others to do the same. But I won’t stand by as we lose centuries of human progress and fall back into an age of superstition and oppression.
Life is about being adaptive. My advocacy is a response for the times we live in. I would much rather been writing sci-fi stories or talking about the wonders of nature. It has taken a toll on me and right now I need some emotional capital to be there for my family and friends. So I am taking a break for a while.
Thank you all for listening and reading my stuff. I am truly honored to have had your ear. Be well everyone.
Joe was a valued partner in The Radical Secular project, and is a great friend. And I’m sorry that our collaboration has, at least for the moment, come to an end.
Like Joe, I’ve experienced incredible resistance to having frank conversations doubting the existence of God. They never go anywhere. It’s an uphill battle to convince anyone that they are a mortal mammal that dies forever at the end of its lifespan. It’s just too much for most people to accept that their family members and pets will soon be gone forever, and that we will all soon join them in oblivion. There’s no hope of continued life after death. Our brains don’t seem to be able to fathom the reality of our finite existence. In our minds, we always tend to smuggle ourselves back into the future after we die. At least most people do. I don’t. I know there is zero chance that after my body stops functioning, I will ever exist again. Zero. The same is true for you, whether you like it or not. And that’s a hard sell.
Yet, God-belief is what is keeping the world in chains. God-belief is what is destroying the climate. God-belief is behind the idea that a 10 year old child who is raped should carry her child to term. “God’s plan” is apparently anything that justifies the terrible behavior of men, the wealthy, and vile dictators who make war on innocents. If “God’s plan” is in force on Earth, then God is a motherfucking bastard, war criminal, and sociopath. Fortunately, it’s not true. Because there is no God. All of these heinous acts and punishments that are justified by God-believers are actually the work of human beings who lack accountability. So in order to get human beings under control, and establish accountability, we have to get rid of the God delusion.
This is the second reason why I left The Radical Secular.
Early in the project, I wrote a lengthy article covering the history of God-belief and why we need to leave it behind. I called it The Radical Secular Manifesto and was going to publish it on our website. The team felt that it did not reflect our collective vision and that I could not publish it under our name as if it did. They felt that the scope of our project was separation of church and state, and social justice, rather than directly challenging God-belief. They felt my manifesto would be alienating for too many people who would otherwise support our social justice work. For a joint project, I could see the wisdom in not publishing it. But in making that concession, I felt undermined. Our work was watered down, and compromised from my standpoint.
The first half of that manifesto is published here. It’s called The Eightfold Path of Denial of Death. Because we really have to go back to first principles. The US would not be trending toward a theocratic fascist dictatorship without widespread God-belief. Take away that despicable fantasy, and the whole house of cards collapses. Take away the nonsense about a man in the sky, and we human beings have to look each other in the eye and solve our own problems. We have to justify our ethical positions rationally. And religious people can’t do that. Their invisible cosmic dictator is the number one justification for hate and misery on the planet. And we humans created this bastard. It’s all a hall of mirrors.
Which brings me to my third reason for leaving the show.
I’m referring to a specific incident on July 4, 2022, which was America’s first Independence Day following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022. Dobbs v. Jackson was a heinous decision that is in the company of Dred Scott v. Sandford, and Buck v. Bell. Dobbs strips the right of bodily autonomy from 50% of the American population, putatively placing all women in the category of reproductive slaves.
So I made this meme in which I repurposed Frederick Douglass’ famous speech “What to the American slave is the 4th of July…” to illustrate the grave impact of the grievous Dobbs decision on women. I posted it on The Radical Secular Facebook page. After some Black and female commenters objected to the meme, two of my co-hosts disavowed the meme and said they disagreed with it.
They insisted that as a white man, I had no intersectional standing to appropriate a famous speech by a giant of Black history and use it for my own purpose. Which was to compare the loss of abortion rights to slavery. I stand by the comparison.
In order to buy their argument, you’d have to accept that when it comes to social justice, only certain people are allowed to speak about certain issues. If this were enforced, it would grievously wound the cause. According to intersectional dogma, my perspective as a white man, neurotypical, cis, heterosexual, means that I have to be subservient to the “lived experience” of anyone in any oppressed category. There’s apparently not room in the social justice project for me to express my views, in my own words, or for me to quote the words of a great Black man in any different context than they were originally spoken, because I lack the requisite “lived experience.”
This is self-sabotaging nonsense. Compared to many I’ve lived a very privileged life. But I don’t have to be oppressed to understand how oppression functions, or to want to end it. One of the main things I’ve learned in studying sociology and political economy and all the rest is that it can only be understood from the systems perspective. This is the opposite of lived experience. This is the bird’s-eye view. There are demonstrable facts about how oppression functions. And there are demonstrable facts about what it will take to successfully challenge it–which is the attainment of sufficient political power.
This is how I can tell progressives that they were wrong to turn up their noses at Hillary Clinton in 2016, or to attack President Obama as “not progressive enough.” Factually, incontrovertibly, progressives, Black and brown people, and women who failed to strongly support the Democratic party, slit their own throats. Now they’ll be dealing with the results of a fascist Supreme Court for many decades, if not forever. The Dobbs decision in many ways rests on the shoulders of non-voting or third-party “progressives” in the 2016 election.
I don’t care if people don’t want to hear this. This is what they need to hear. I’ve had people from every oppressed group tell me that the Democratic party “hasn’t done anything for them.” And that as a white man I’m in no position to instruct them how to vote. Fine. Have it your way. You made your bed, now lie in it, as you lose everything that the civil rights movement and women’s movement of your parents’ generation fought for.
I don’t have the heart to have this argument. Frederick Douglass doesn’t belong to Black people any more than Abraham Lincoln belongs to White people. Ruth Bader Ginsburg doesn’t belong to women any more than President Obama belongs to men. Intersectionality will be the death of social justice. The moment anyone tells a white man who’s fighting for social justice that his perspective is “not needed,” is the moment I say, “then fight your own battles.” I’ve come to that regretful conclusion, and it’s for life.
My parting thought about The Radical Secular project goes back to the reason I started it with Christophe in the first place: we need to be absolutely beyond radical in challenging both religion and God-belief. Because they are at the core of human oppression. The core of Black oppression. The core of the oppression of women. Religion must never be privileged over other forms of expression in our civilization. It must never be allowed anywhere near government. It must not be granted a tax exemption. And no one’s beliefs about the nature of existence should be allowed to influence decisions about the human rights of others.
This is the meaning of secularism, and without it we will perish–and are perishing.