Secular VIP of the Week: Jaclyn Glenn

Jaclyn Glenn is an increasingly popular YouTube presence who has made videos on everything from vegetarianism to atheism to feminism. She also has popular Twitter and Facebook pages along with her website, where she sells secular T-shirts. She spoke with Johnny Monsarrat for this interview.

RDF: You’ve got 180,000 subscribers on YouTube, and most of are from the last 12 months. Is that overwhelming?

Jaclyn Glenn: I get many messages from people on YouTube, but unfortunately, I don’t have time to read all of them. I wish I could, but it is fairly overwhelming. The recent American Atheists conference was the first I attended, and a lot of people came up to me.  It was pretty amazing, but something I am definitely not used to.

RDF: That is interesting, since you have not been a part of the secular movement for very long. I recall that you started making videos on vegetarianism and came out as an atheist recently.

Jaclyn Glenn: I started off as a vegetarian, and that is what motivated me to make videos in the first place.  I wanted to speak out on behalf of animals, but as I stayed on YouTube and kept making videos, my attention turned to religion. I was starting to give a lot of personal attention to it. I was very Christian.  I grew up catholic and then became both protestant and what most people would call a “bible thumper.” I was preaching in people’s faces and trying to guilt them about certain things.  Eventually, I just didn’t feel right about some of the things I was saying and my family made me think differently about many social issues.

Jaclyn Glenn: These experiences made me a more liberal Christian and from there I started making videos from a Christian perspective. I said things like, “as a Christian, I do not like it when other Christians are homophobic. I do not like it when other Christians are against women’s rights or when other Christians are extremist in any capacity.” So my very first videos on YouTube are me saying things from a Christian viewpoint, which is interesting because you can watch me change into an atheist.  People know that I was like just like any other Christian.  If I can change my mind—having been so extreme—then hopefully other people feel like they can change their minds.

RDF: You say your change to Atheism was a slow process, was there an interaction that stands out? Alternatively, a milestone?

Jaclyn Glenn: It was a slow process. I started off as agnostic and started watching the Amazing Atheist’s political videos. I watched and agreed with all of them, but got offended whenever I watched his videos on religion. The thing that bothered me—it was a gut reaction—was that he was bringing down the religion I was a part of. However, I had no reason to be offended.  As I continued to watch his videos, I thought, “I have no reason to disagree with what he is saying. Everything that he is saying is right, I am just personally offended due to indoctrination.”  A lot of YouTube videos helped me and then I read Richard Dawkins The God Delusion, and that was the final straw. Out of all the things Dawkins says, there wasn’t anything I could argue with. Another thing that was a big catalyst for me was the realization that Christianity is plagiarized. Many gods before Jesus have stories too similar to ignore.  I realized that I had to be an atheist because I did not have enough evidence to believe what I had been taught.  I was mad.  I felt lied to, but I feel free from Christianity now. It is a good feeling.

RDF: I’ve seen a number of your videos, and they often take a talking-head format.  Do you see yourself making videos in which you conduct interviews or do something musical? I understand your Dad is a Christian songwriter. Are you also a performer?

Jaclyn Glenn: I play piano a little bit, and I sing. I have a few singing videos out—one is called Amazing Science, and one is “Our God is an Awesome God,” which I re-wrote to make it funny. I have not made a CD yet, but I’ve been thinking about it.  As far as interviews, I interviewed many people at the recent American Atheists conference.  You’ll see videos on my channel soon where I interview prominent atheists and get their opinions on things.

RDF: Who’s more frustrating to talk with, meat-eaters about vegetarianism or Christians about atheism?

Jaclyn Glenn: I would say Christians about atheism.  Whenever you talk about eating meat, people make jokes.  It is not usually a heartfelt issue. However, if you insult somebody’s religion, you are insulting them. You are insulting their intelligence, moral character, culture, inheritance, and so many things that they take personally. What I always say is that insulting a religion is not insulting a religious person. It is not that I do not like religious people; I just don’t like religion.

RDF: Where do you fall on the spectrum between friendly atheists and confrontational atheists?

Jaclyn Glenn: That is hard for me to answer because people who are religious view me as “extreme”. I am uncensored, unfiltered, and I do not sugar coat things.  Since religion is such a controversial issue, you are labeled “extreme” for even bringing it up. However, within the atheist community, I feel close to the center of that spectrum. I’ve talked to many atheists who are in-your-face and call Christians idiots. I would never do that because I was a Christian. I was a Christian for most of my life, and I was not stupid, I just hadn’t thought critically about it before.  It was just something I grew up with, and I am not going to insult people for that.  I was in the same situation. Leaving religion is uncommon, so to judge everyone who hasn’t is ridiculous.  However, I am also not going to have a discussion with a homophobic Christian and say “I respect your point of view, but…” No.  I do not think you have to respect the point of view to respect the person.

RDF: There’s much comedy in what you do.  Do you find that helps you get your points across?

Jaclyn Glenn: I try to make it fun. Many atheists on YouTube are very serious and talk like they are giving a lecture. What I am trying to do is reach people who are younger and maybe haven’t thought about religion before.  When they see me on YouTube joking about things, hopefully they’ll be more inclined to watch. It is like a friend talking to you instead of a professor lecturing you and it makes it easier to talk about religion.

RDF:  Richard is perceived by some as a professorial stereotype who’s condescending, but you have a more girl-next-door ethos. Do you think that is part of your appeal?

Jaclyn Glenn: Absolutely—I am trying to relate to people. Given that atheists are among the most distrusted Americans, it is important that people learn to not think atheists are bad people.  I am trying to eliminate that stereotype so people can see that atheists are normal, nice, and moral. Making things fun and casual reaches a broader audience and opens up people to discussions that they would not normally have.

RDF: What’s your advice for YouTubers who want to follow in your footsteps?

Jaclyn Glenn: The more, the better. The more people out there speaking their minds, the less it will strike people as strange. My advice for YouTubers would be to plan out your arguments and be passionate. When I first started, it was hard to show passion. I was passionate, but it was hard to convey it through a camera. It is hard to sit by yourself and stare into the lens like it is an audience. It is an awkward situation that takes getting used to.  Just to look into the lens, be passionate, and pretend that there’s an audience watching you. If you are passionate about it, you’ll be more convincing. You also have to be patient. Recognition does not happen overnight.

RDF: Do you have any future projects planned?

Jaclyn Glenn: I have a couple things on the backburner; one would be an album of me singing funny songs I’ve written about religion. I also might start work on a book, which is something people can look for in the future.

RDF: Great, thanks for speaking with us Jaclyn.

For more Jaclyn Glenn, visit jaclynglenn.com, or follow her on YouTube, Twitter, or Facebook.

 

53 COMMENTS

  1. Jaclyn:

    A lot of YouTube videos helped me and then I read Richard Dawkins The God Delusion, and that was the final straw. Out of all the things Dawkins says, there wasn’t anything I could argue with.

    Exactly ! Which is why the religios don’t like reason. A few years ago on this site there was a superb article and discussion following entitled Fleabytes by Paula Kirby, where the author took on and deconstructed the arguments put forward by such eminent theologians as John Lennox, “Wee Flea” Robertson, and others against the God Delusion. Their combined efforts to refute the book amounted to a swarm of flies attempting to stop the 100 mph London to Edinburgh train !

    If Jaclyn reads this, and I’ve enjoyed many of her videos, please, please, just slow down a wee bit, so that codgers like me can hear what you are saying ! On a personal note, my dad was a Catholic well into his teens, until he also realised what bollocks Catholicism was !

  2. Atheists are some of the most intelligent people on earth, just Google atheist images and see, how can atheists be the most distrusted people from any society? It just goes to show the true colors of religion. Welcome aboard Jaclyn!

  3. Jaclyn Glenn is superb. What she has to say about feminism is right on the money.

    She makes a case that feminism should be about equality and therefore should automatic if you subscribe to equal rights. There was a real danger that the atheist movement was being poisoned by ideological rather than rationale debate on this subject.

    Before anybody jumps down my throat go and watch her video about this to see what I am talking about.

    • @ “mr-DNA”

      “She makes a case that feminism should be about equality”

      I dun know what she “makes the case for”, but if that is what you glean from her ubiquitous, self-promoting imagery saturating the Internet, then both you and she are naïve.

      There is no such animal as “equality”. Never has been. Never will be. You are not “equal” to me, to her, or to anyone.

      There is genetics. There is class distinction. There is culture. There is NO EQUALITY. Anywhere.

      That’s just a word that makes you feel good.

      • Thanks for response which I admit to finding slightly bizarre. In normal usage when people talk about equality they are talking about legal rights and equality of opportunity not that everybody is the same .Where did you get that interpretation?
        If you are saying people shouldn’t have equality in the sense that I meant – unless I am misinterpreting your statement you are arguing for might makes right. I’m not naive in that I believe we have or could have perfect equality in a society but nor am I cynical enough to say we shouldn’t strive for it in the first place.

        The particular case she was making was that we don’t need the label “feminism” if we subscribe to the principles of equality as I have defined it – equality in the law and equality of opportunity.

        • I’ve already said that this the ideal rather than reality. However the rights revolution has benefited society for everybody and continues to do so.
          If you have any understanding of history you will know there is greater equality in law and greater opportunity now than in the past – this is demonstrable. As bad as things may be, they are better than they were because of those that have worked for human rights.
          I really don’t get this “things aren’t perfect therefore why bother” attitude you have. Its like somebody turning up at a banquet and leaving because the doilies aren’t folded the way they like them.

      • james ballard Jun 28, 2014 at 6:19 pm

        Despite our major disagreement regarding the existence of a non-theist god process supported by evidence derived from the scientic method, I hereby go on record as being in full agreement regarding human ‘equality’.

        “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”

        is figurative and literally means

        “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that although human equality is at best a theoretically perfect ideal, all humans posses unique and different characteristics. However all human beings shall be treated by law as if they were indeed equal, and deserve certain unalienable rights, among which are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. To secure these rights, Governments are instituted among humans, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

        The truth isn’t nearly as ringing a call to revolt as the words in the Declaration, but truth is often tough to deal with (and ‘yours truly’ doesn’t possess the writing skills of Franklin and Jefferson!)

        • This must be a cultural thing. In my side of the pond equality pertains to rights not an idea that humans are always the same. “However all human beings shall be treated by law as if they were indeed equal, and deserve certain unalienable rights, among which are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”
          What kind of equality are we talking about here? Wealth, intelligence, influence? Surely it is obvious that if somebody is lacking in these areas they should have the same equal rights in law and the same opportunities if they have the talent.
          You say you are agreeing with jb but your comments seem more compatible with my stance.

  4. Mesmerising. I just can’t stop watching her mouth. As far as I’m concerned speech is one of humanity’s God-given abilities, so to me it’s sad that, having been given an unfair measure of it, she should deny the Giver with such certainty and at such a young age. I also wonder how many more times she’ll change her mind during her life. I pray she’ll do so just once.

      • Just not clever enough, Nitya. I could say the same to you about all of the Christian apologists. I guess we all wish that just one indisputable fact could come to light that would provide us with the absolute truth once and for all. Or maybe that would spoil the fun we have discussing the meaning of life and everything.

      • @ “Nitya”

        Quote :

        “…clever arguments…”

        …You should know by now “clever arguments” don’t work on fundies…

        But you know what ? This Tuber dame gives me an idea…Yeah…Someone like Ms Glenn’s…uh…mental disposition…It just might work on the fundies…She’s already making in roads on ole Smithy here, and she didn’t need to get past the mental acuity required to be on YouTube…

        BRAVO for the Jacklyn Glenns of the world…Let’s see MORE of them !!! Absolutely !!

        Saint James

        • I think JG is a pretty girl ( well, woman), and that fact plays to her advantage. She also appeals to a younger, hip audience. You have to use the tools you have. She could just as easily be winning hearts and minds for her former religion……and be just as successful!

          I don’t blame Smithy for finding her attractive, though I wish he’d take note of her line of reason as well.

          • appeals to a younger, hip audience

            Exactly why I’m happy she’s featured here. If for no other reason, she helps dispel the lingering notion that atheists are “just a bunch of (angry, rich, old) white men”.

          • @ “Nitya”

            …You know Nitya, I must be missing something here…Did not some of us here just have a good discussion about masks and how chameleon fundies bait and switch all the time on the Internet…Don’t you get what I would call a genuine “creepy” feeling that this dame is saying EXACTLY what DF wants to hear, yet her father publishes religio songs and she sings along…and SUDDENLY, she’s a flaming convert to atheist…

            We’re talking about a Millennial 26 year old for gawd’s sake, NOT a full grown mature adult who is fully capable of making life altering decisions..!!!…

    • Wow… That is incredibly condescending. FYI, she has changed her mind only once so I guess that in this regard, your prayers have been answered. Enjoy it. Prayers are rarely heeded by the “Giver” or maybe He’s too busy watching your mouth to actually listen to them.

  5. @James Ballard

    Your may wish to retract your ‘hear hear’. My comment was in support of Bonnie’s, not agin it. It’s creepy to talk about not being able to ‘stop watching [Jaclyn Glenn's] mouth’.

    Political correctness has nothing to do with it; that’s just something blokes say when their Neanderthal views get challenged.

    “You can’t even grope an unknown woman’s tits anymore, it’s political correctness gone mad!”

  6. @ “Katy Cordeth”

    “It’s creepy to talk about not being able to ‘stop watching [Jaclyn Glenn's] mouth’.”

    No it is not.

    Explain exactly how you and Bonnie are NOT imposing POLITICALLY CORRECT nonsense on Mr Neanderthal Smithy ?

    Then you can work on this Neanderthal. Heads up : I’m more hip to Greer/Paglia, long before I’d accept most of the Steinem/Friedan nonsense.

    I just won’t tolerate Zeitgeist PROPAGANDA from either side of the table.

      • @ “Katy Cordeth”

        …I was unaware that caps offend your fragile cyber-sensibilities, shame on me…

        I still would like an answer, should you chose not to deflect further.

        Never liked the utility of propaganda and name dropping in an obvious effort to alter a poster’s behavior; I realize you were not the name-dropper, but you claimed to support her at any rate.

    • Sorry @James Ballard, this reply is for that in relation to comment of 6.45 pm. ( no reply button. Perhaps we’re moving too fast!)

      To begin…I don’t know what DF means. Showing my ignorance/naïveté I’m afraid. Secondly, her arguments are too persuasive to be masking secretly held fundie sentiments. I take her at face value and think she’s aiming to show that one can be a rational human being and a hot chick (hope that’s the correct terminology ?) at the same time.

      • @ “Nitya”

        My bad I guess. I left out the “R”…Dawkins Foundation…You’re commenting on the Dawkins Foundation blog (AKA : “RDF”)…Don’t be embarrassed, I’m such an amateur I can’t get my avatar pic squared with wordpress because my old avatar will not match their new revamp…but I see “Bonnie”, whoever she is, is not happy with that…

        Quote :

        “…her arguments are too persuasive to be masking secretly held fundie sentiments”

        Her “arguments” are formulaic. Perfect mimicry and unoriginal. It could just as easily be that she is being manipulated. Review her admitted history : RCC indoctrination, for Purgatory’s sake, !… and her admitted in-your-face fundamentalist preaching…since, oh, excuse me, last Tuesday…now she’s on our side…wow…reminds me of the old “de-programmers” back in the 70s when they were rescuing MOONIES…Only they were not near as successful as Ms Glenn purports to be in her sudden epiphanous “conversion(s)” …Again, we’re talking about a 26 year, not a ZEN Buddhist philosopher.

        Nope. I don’t buy it.

        Quote :

        “I take her at face value and think she’s aiming to show that one can be a rational human being and a hot chick”

        I take nothing in Millennial Western culture at “face value”. A fool’s errand. Most especially when I see obvious sexual exploitation of her Internet persona trumping her purported “conversion”. Tell me there’s not sexual dumping going on here. Overkill, in fact. Am I the only Saint here that sees behind the makeup glitter & gloss ??…Help me and ole Smithy here before we suffocate under it !!

        Are you not familiar with the chief attendant sx of BAD…Both religiousity and hypersexuality…exhibitionism…etcetera. Review DSM.

        “Hot chick”…yeah…review the interview…And read between the lines…She’s clearly getting off on the attention…Comes as no surprise for someone her age.

        Tell me vanity and self-indulgence does not win the day here.

        Then I have a bridge to sell you.

        I have to sign off. Catch you on the morrow.

        • @ James Ballard.

          why do I get the feeling that you’re being deliberately provocative ?

          . I take nothing in Millennial Western culture at “face value”. A fool’s errand. Most especially when I see obvious sexual exploitation of her Internet persona trumping her purported “conversion”. Tell me there’s not sexual dumping going on here. Overkill, in fact. Am I the only Saint here that sees behind the makeup glitter & gloss ??…Help me and ole Smithy here before we suffocate under it !!

          You’re antagonising the feminist within. JG is entitled to dress however she wants. What would an attractive, young western woman need to do to meet with your approval? It may come as a shock, but that’s how millennial women dress. These are the clothes they wear to uni, to work, social occasions and when they accompany their mother! I know this! I have a millennial daughter of my own!

          • Hi Nitya, …Back again…temporarily… [Removed by moderator.]

            I am acutely aware of the extant cultural zeitgeist…No one can continue to ignore it with impunity…Nevertheless, I still insist that JG's antics are, in fact, old hat, nothing new, and totally unconvincing. I'm not simply going by how she dresses, I'm judging by her comportment with the interviewer, the transparent predictability of her answers, and her vitally youthful extravagances and self-conscious expansiveness… I don't begrudge her her day in the sun…All I'm saying is that there's nothing here that I can take seriously. If she embodies some bizarre Millennial slant on "feminism", then I pity not just her future, but what the future will hold for ensuing generations. This is not feminism. This is showmanship. And she's very good at it. I suppose there will always be Youtube to enable her, but I'm a bit disappointed that a serious site like RDF is furthering that enablement, albeit unwitting…or not. Goodnight…Tomorrow's another day.

    • @ “HellFireFuel”

      Quote :

      “Pretty or not her mouth moves too fast for me. Slow down girl. Us oldies can’t keep up”

      …It’s all part of a magician’s show…Faster the jive, more effective the distraction. A likely Bipolar Affective Disorder keeps the chameleon company, I have little doubt.

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    • @ “Bob Springsteen”

      Quote :

      “Jaclyn was the sort of hypercritical Christian I despise.”

      …The jury’s still out on the longevity of her supposed conversion. Judging by current indicators, the flame will burn out soon enough before she’s back to singing her father’s gospel tunes.

          • You’re sounding more Islamic with every breath. Isn’t that one of the ultimate aims of religion in all it’s myriad forms? The wish to control women and how they present themselves?

          • @ “Nitya”

            Quote :

            “You’re sounding more Islamic with every breath. Isn’t that one of the ultimate aims of religion in all it’s myriad forms? The wish to control women and how they present themselves?”

            …Not sure who you are addressing here but you’re missing the total picture…You’re so caught up in American “feminist” propaganda argot that now you’re misinterpreting my own intentions here…I have no desire to “control women” or “how they present themselves”… Since when does feminism preclude a man from being critical or suspicious of a woman’s motive? Since when are men off bounds dare they suggest that women can be manipulative themselves without the man being labeled misogynist ? Ridiculous.

            It’s like you’re on auto-pilot, and you’re not even taking in my other points. At all. You’ve picked out one tree in the forest, neglecting the rest of the scenery.

            You think I’m Islamic ??!! Clearly you know absolutely nothing about me !

          • @ James Ballard June 29 10.47pm

            Might I remind you of some of the words and phrases you’ve actually used so far during the course of your exchanges: manipulate, exhibitionist,vanity, getting off on the attention, bipolar affective disorder, war paint, woman’s motive, and many personal attacks on other (female) users of this site.

            A large chunk of this invective has been removed by the moderator already. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that your language is intemperate to say the least. Nevertheless I still give you the benefit of the doubt re motivation, and assume that you’re trying to provoke an argument for the sport. Perhaps you reach the peak of your rhetorical power when you’re on the attack?

            If Jaclyn Glenn does by chance, have a change of heart, you will be in the enviable position of being able to crow. Until then, it’s probably wiser to be circumspect lest you’re forced to eat your words.

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  9. There is some discussion about JG changing her position in the future as if she is predisposed to do so because of her fairly recent arrival to atheism. I would venture to guess that the road travelled from the indoctrination of religion to self-realization that belief in a supernatural deity is irrational, is, for the vast majority of travelers, a one way street. We see where many journeys take place between various religions, but once a rational conclusion that there is no god has been achieved, reversal is probably very rare. It’s like the journey from ignorance to understanding and intelligence.

    • @ AfraidToDie
      I would venture to guess that the road travelled from the indoctrination of religion to self-realization that belief in a supernatural deity is irrational, is, for the vast majority of travelers, a one way street. We see where many journeys take place between various religions, but once a rational conclusion that there is no god has been achieved, reversal is probably very rare. It’s like the journey from ignorance to understanding and intelligence.

      We often see it associated with the level of mental development. Development often ceases earliest and at a less developed stage, in the lowest achievers, and in those retarded by indoctrination glorifying childish thinking.

      http://psychology.about.com/od/piagetstheory/a/keyconcepts.htm

      The Preoperational Stage (age 2 to about age 7) : At this stage, kids learn through pretend play but still struggle with logic and taking the point of view of other people.
      The Concrete Operational Stage ( from age 7 to 11): Kids at this point of development begin to think more logically, but their thinking can also be very rigid. They tend to struggle with abstract and hypothetical concepts.
      The Formal Operational Stage (begins in adolescence and spans into adulthood): The final stage of Piaget’s theory involves an increase in logic, the ability to use deductive reasoning, and an understanding of abstract ideas.

      There must be cases where mental development continues to mature, when the regular retarding indoctrination pressure is removed.

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