Scott Douglas Jacobsen: We have talked before. I wanted to reach out because the Atheist Republic remains the largest atheist Facebook page in the world. As its CEO, you hold power and influence in the international atheist community.
Internationally, the population of the formal irreligious stands at about 16% or more than 1 billion people. How can communities and organizations, such as the Atheist Republic, give voice to the formal irreligious?
Allie Jackson: Hi Scott! It’s wonderful to speak with you again. What every organization can do to help the irreligious around the world, is to give them a platform to express themselves.
Often I focus my attention on Ex-Muslims in Islamic countries. Their voices are muffled and there are often serious consequences to speaking out against Islam.
Be loud about the injustices they face. Be their voice when they can’t use their own. Share their stories on your platforms. That’s the best advice I can give.
Jacobsen: What does the Atheist Republic provide for its members?
Jackson: That’s quite a question, actually. We provide a lot to the atheist community, much more than social media. We publish atheist related books, news, and blogs. Our bloggers range from new atheists to old, American to Bangladeshi, and everything in between.
We have a one on one support group system that provides resources and advice for asylum and emotional support. We give atheists a platform to use their own voice in our podcast, Atheist Republic Voicemails.
We have consulates around the globe, encouraging atheists to get out from behind their computers and meet together for drinks or community service. There’s so much more, and we have many plans in the works! We’ll never stop trying to bring the community together, and give everyone a place to belong.
Jacobsen: How can satire and comedy soften the transition for those who do not see the utility in religion for themselves?
Jackson: Satire is such a powerful tool of expression. It can make a person laugh, feel offended, confused, or angry.
Often when we are faced with an emotion regarding satire or comedy, we are forced ask ourselves why. In searching for that answer, we either double down on the beliefs we already hold or are challenged to explore a different idea.
It can be uncomfortable, but that’s why I like satire. Does it soften the transition? Perhaps, perhaps not. Changing one’s mind on a topic is rarely soft or easy, but when people are honest with themselves, there is much joy in it. Every belief should be challenged.
Jacobsen: What has been one of the most dramatic reactions to the work of Atheist Republic?
Jackson: Oh my, where to begin. [Laughing] I’d say the most dramatic reaction towards us was when the Malaysian government started a witch hunt on our Atheist Republic Kuala Lumpur members, simply because they met for dinner…and took a picture.
For anyone reading who is unfamiliar with this story, our consulate in Malaysia decided to get together for dinner, and just meet other atheists around them. Someone took a lovely group photo, they blurred out faces of those not wanting to be public and gave it to the Atheist Republic to share.
This led to news coverage of the gathering, death threats towards the consulate members, and the government saying they would “hunt” these members down like animals, because atheism was that terrible to them.
Jacobsen: How can we help with the situation in Malaysia and elsewhere, where state and religion conspire to silence the formal irreligious?
Jackson: This ties back to what I was saying earlier, the best thing we can do, is the voice of the silenced. We can write the United Nations, and scold them for having Pakistan and Saudi Arabia hold seats on their committees, when they are responsible for so many human rights violations against atheists in their countries. Just never stop, keep trying new ways to fight for them.
Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Allie.