Peter McGrath:

One of the joys of atheism’s outlets on the internet was that they were clever, deft, funny, tolerant and irreverent. It was certainly robust and not for the faint-hearted.

Those of us who do not wish to extend our atheism into someone else’s definition of progressive politics may take rather unkindly to being described as immoral scum, useful but unsavoury body parts, and outdated contraceptive devices. In the week when American atheism made its appearance in the Economist’s editorial pages, it seems to have been sowing the seeds of that most religious of events – a schism.

If only a great prophet had arisen among them

I remember countless meetings where the idea was “one more plank.” And the problem is that this is what Freud called the narcissism of the small difference. People will always try to concentrate on themselves. Well, you can go to a meeting where someone says, “The meeting doesn’t stop till we discuss the question not just of Cherokee lesbians, but Cherokee lesbians who have to take an outsized garment label.” It’s barely an exaggeration. There will always be someone who wants it all to be about them. So what was for a moment something that was social, general, collective, educational, and a matter of solidarity can be very quickly dissolved into petty factionalism. Therefore, coalition-building is reassembling something out of fragments that needn’t have been fragmented in the first place.