New OnlySky website aims to unite non-religious people
“You won’t find much use of the term ‘none’ on our site, and that’s because we really reject that label,” said Hardin – who describes himself as a secular humanist. ReligionUnplugged.com. “This term defines this rapidly growing group of Americans as what they are not. We are interested in what they are.
OnlySky is believed to be the first web platform devoted exclusively to secular ideas and voices. It aspires to be a center for the exchange of information, commentary, criticism, discussion and ideas – all related to secularism and unbelief – by and for people who span the spectrum of race. , gender, age and life experience.
But non-religious Americans are a notoriously difficult group to define and pin down. Studies have shown that some people who report no belief in God have other supernatural beliefs, such as a belief in psychics or UFOs, and some report that they pray. And their attitudes toward religion range from complete apathy toward it to militant hostility.
Can a single media platform hope to be so many different things to so many different people?
Hardin said professional and personal reasons prompted the creation of OnlySky. He wants to reach what he described as “a market of unmet needs” – secular Americans – and said he has been prompted by “the growing effort of certain forces in our country to create a kind of test religious for everything”.
Hardin raised his own money to start OnlySky, then brought in other investors. He declined to provide further financial details. The name comes from the lyrics of John Lennon’s “Imagine”, a 1971 song that has become something of an informal secular anthem:
Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us, nothing but the sky.
In attempting to capture the diversity of non-religious Americans, OnlySky is entering difficult territory. For most of the 20th century, the public faces of disbelief were largely white – like Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case that removed prayer and Bible reading from public schools, and Paul Kurtz, philosopher and founder of Prometheus. Books.
And the “new atheists” who launched the 21st century with a series of books on the evils of religion were also white and male – Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Christopher Hitchens and Daniel Dennett. The audience at their events largely reflected this. And there have been a series of incidents in which women have said they felt harassed at secular events. At first, many members of organized secularism called for greater racial and gender diversity in leadership and membership.
Hardin said he was aware of this history and wanted OnlySky to move past it.
“We think diversity is an amazing superpower,” Hardin continued. “And we would really like to look into that and get to know everyone in this diverse group.”
Many in OnlySky’s stable of around 50 contributing writers come from communities of diverse racial and ethnic background, sexuality and gender. Some are big names in unbelief, like Hemant Mehta, whose well-established blog “The Friendly Atheist” gets millions of page views a month; Anthony Pinn, professor at Rice University, specialist in black religion, hip hop culture and no; and Sikivu Hutchinson, author and secular activist.
Others are well-known faces at events on secularism, including Monica L. Miller of the American Humanist Association and Debbie Goddard of American Atheists. Several other contributors migrated from Patheos, a blog hosting site that now focuses more on religious voices than non-religious voices – James Croft, Alix Jules, Jennifer Michael Hecht and Adam Lee among them.