Atheist Ads in the Subway

I ran across an interesting article today about an atheist group that has purchased a month’s worth of advertising in New York’s subways. The ad consists of a blue sky background with the words “A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?”

I find it a little hard to believe that the campaign is “in no way anti-religious,” as the director claims, and if they took the number (one million) simply from another groups survey, how can they be sure they’re all “good”? Is that undue critical thinking for a simple ad campaign?

About these ads

94 responses to “Atheist Ads in the Subway

  • larry

    I’m sure most of them are “good”. I’ve been “good without god” all my life. No grovelling at altars, no praying for things you are going to get anyway, no mindless chanting the praises of a 2000 year old dead jew. The only problem has been to conceal my orientation from christians. Vindictive bastards that most of them are, they will sabotage the life of anyone who doesn’t share their ridiculous superstition!

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      I’m also sure most of them are good, but I’m pretty sure not all of them are (just like not all religionists are good). I’m also pretty sure atheist organizations wouldn’t be impressed by a billboard that said, “9 million theists in New York are good with God. We win.” Neither is a particularly meaningful statement. The atheist billboard is rhetorically weak.

      In addition, calling most Christians “vindictive bastards” is a pretty ridiculous assumption, and tells me you’re not so much concerned with objectivity as with promoting your own ideology.

    • sweeney

      Your opinion is clear. But I am interested to understand why anyone would have such a negative opinion of Christians in general. Certainly, there have been a number of well documented situations where Christians have done remarkably foolish things. But on the other hand, there have been some individuals who have represented their faith remarkably well. You have said in your own message, “Vindictive bastards that most of them are, they will sabotage the life of anyone who doesn’t share their ridiculous superstition! ” This does not seem logical to me. Would you put someone like Mother Teresa in this category? Would you consider Billy Graham in this same way. Even if you disregarded their faith, would not their works and efforts to help individuals count for something?

      Your antagonistic attitude towards Christians may be hurting your ability to have reasonable discourse over the subject. I have seen too many good people who call themselves Christians go on to do many acts of kindness to be able to agree with you. Maybe you are just angry at God for some reason

  • Marco

    So these fools are making fun of people who believe. I see it being directed at Baptists. So their brand of “religion” is advertising to not believe in God. Mathematically,

    Atheists = 1/(belief in God)

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      I don’t know about being directed at Baptists, and I don’t think they’re making fun so much as confronting. I will be interested to see how the city responds to the campaign, though.

  • franz dibbler

    I think that the campaign slogan simply implies that a million NYers simply have no belief in a deity. Are you implying that a belief in a deity is required for “goodness” or morality?

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      I am implying no such thing. My statements were aimed at the rhetorical impotence of the ad. Believers far outnumber atheists in New York, and the assumption that they are also “good” can just as easily be made of them. I also said I am highly doubtful that the ads are not at all intended to provoke believers. There’s nothing in between the lines here.

      • franz dibbler

        Outside of Scandinavia believers outnumber non-believers everywhere. Honestly, I don’t know why they are using such a milquetoast slogan in their ad. Perhaps if their slogans were more provocative then they would not be permitted. There have been complaints in places about the Atheist bus campaigns.

    • g55rumpy

      and what would your moral compass be?

      • Daniel O. McClellan

        My moral compass? I try to keep in mind that most people are trying to do good and have a unique set of circumstances informing their worldviews that may or may not agree with my own. I can’t judge others for living their lives according to the dictates of their own consciences, so I treat them as I’d like them to treat me. I believe in a personal God, but I also believe part of the test of mortality is to find answers to these questions on one’s own, rather than be spoon-fed them by a text or a dogma. Another part is to make the human family a more joyful family.

      • franz dibbler

        Empathy, kindness, social/cultural norms, etc. No deity required.

      • Frank

        My moral compass is not influenced by the writings in a 2000 year old book written mainly by savages. Otherwise, I might be tempted to follow the example of this mach male warrior God. Though he said “Thou shalt not kill,” he ordered death for all opposition. He punishes offspring to the fourth generation, ordered pregnant women and children to be ripped up, is partial to one race of people, judges women inferior to men, is a sadist who created a hell to torture nonbelievers, sent bears to devour forty-two children who teased a prophet, discrimated against the handicapped (they weren’t allowed to approach his altar), ordered the stoning of a man who picked up firewood on the Sabbath, punishes people with snakes, dogs, dragons, swords, axes, fire, famine, and infanticide, and said fathers should eat their sons. Is that nice? And Jesus is a chip off the old block. He said, “I and my father are one,” and upheld “every jot and tittle” of the Old Testament law. He preached the same old judgement: vengeance and death, wrath and distress, hell and torture for all nonconformists. He never denounced the subjugation of slaves or women. He irrationally cursed and withered a fig tree for being barren out of season. He mandated burning unbelievers. (The Church complied with relish.) Are you aware of the methods and devices the Holy Church used to use to tortue and kill unbelievers, when they had the political power to do so? Moral compass? Are we even living on the same planet?

  • Jay Ox

    While the message may appear to be anti-religion, the intention was not. They could have worded it better to meet their ‘intentions’ but then I don’t think many relgious people understand what an atheist really is. Perhaps that’s why they chose simpler language.

    “how can they be sure they’re all “good”? Is that undue critical thinking for a simple ad campaign?””

    I think this is undue critical thinking on your part since they are just generlizing. Much like I would be generalizing if I said that “Christians are good people.”

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      Jay, thanks for the comment. I must say am doubtful about the sincerity of their intentions. An ad campaign like this doesn’t get funding just to extend a hand of fellowship to a tiny number of closet or oppressed atheists in New York City. There are much cheaper ways to do that, and ways that are much less ambiguous as well. I think it’s certainly one of their impetuses for the ad, but if they deny any desire to confront religiosity in some capacity then I think they’re being dishonest. That’s just my opinion, though.

  • larry

    “In addition, calling most Christians “vindictive bastards” is a pretty ridiculous assumption, and tells me you’re not so much concerned with objectivity as with promoting your own ideology.”

    I am not interested in promoting any ideology, just living my life free of the evangelical BASTARDS who don’t want to let me! Obviously you are one of them.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      No, actually I’m not an Evangelical. If you want to read through my blog you’ll find I’m nothing of the sort. You may find that the less you decide (arbitrarily) that people are your enemies, the less enemies you’ll have to fight.

      • Frank

        Whether you think they are your enemies or your friends won’t make a difference. They will harass you and try to force their religion on you. It’s been the “Great Commission” of the Christian Church since the beginning. And Islam is even worse, not that they are more aggressive, but more likely to use violence for their beliefs. People like you who believe that the world can live in peace, while most of its people are convinced that the others are wrong and deserve to be burned and tortured in hell for an eternity, are living in a dream world. The only chance of there ever being peace on Earth is if humans either go extinct, or become mainly objective by being replaced by robots.

  • Daniel O. McClellan

    Thanks for the response, franz. My main issue with the campaign is that it does not seem to be particularly powerful. I think the CNN article is causing more of a reaction than the ads ever would. Perhaps they are toning it down so their message gets through, but is it worth it if the statement is watered down that much? Perhaps they’re specifically trying not to confront believers, but what kind of impact is their diluted slogan going to have on the non-believers to whom they are ostensibly reaching out to?

    Seems to me that much money could be put to much more effective use.

    • steve

      You have to be blind to not see the intentions of the ad, if atheist are so good and moral that $25,000 would have been spent toward helping the many homeless or hungry instead of antagonizing believer and that is exactly their intentions.

    • franz dibbler

      Thanks for your thoughtful comments Daniel. We have no fundamental ;>) differences regarding the basis of morality. These soft approaches don’t do much for me. I think they are perhaps targeted toward young people raised in religious families who simply are unaware of the other options available. To me it would make more sense if these signs were located in places like the Midwest where Christianity is more ingrained. Getting a group of Atheists together is a bit like herding cats, so these are just to let people know they are not alone.

      • Daniel O. McClellan

        I appreciate your comment franz. I think I agree that there would be better forums for such a campaign if it is about social awareness more than about confrontation. Those in charge of the campaign did say they were looking for the most bang for their buck, though, which is why they chose the NYC subway system. I can’t help but think that it’s about more than keeping insecure atheists informed.

  • Eric

    This campaign is long overdue. London did a similar one last year on their busses. This is hopefully only the beginning. Due to the sensitivity in this age of general extremism, this must be done in baby steps, to give those who are non-believers a general knowledge that there are people of like mind out there, and that the public will not lash out. If a couple of more people are comfortable saying they are non-believers after this, then I say mission accomplished. this is just the first round.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      So this campaign, you believe, is one of progressive desensitization of society to the atheist worldview?

  • Daniel O. McClellan

    Franz-

    The question isn’t whether or not morality is possible without deity. Of course it is. I never said otherwise.

  • Luiz

    Some people are good, some people aren’t, it really doesn’t matter if they believe in god or not.
    But you need things like supertition, religion and even patriotism to make a good person do something evil, and some times not even realise that.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      Thanks for the comment Luiz, but I disagree entirely. People do bad things for too many different reasons to count, and far fewer of them derive from religious dogmas than you seem aware. The desire for power causes far more evil than any superstition ever has. All imperialism is built upon it in some way or another, and thus all the wars that go with it, irrespective of their putative origins.

  • Steve Wiggins

    To me the ad seems neutral. All my life I’ve seen atheists/agnostics hated and feared for what they represent. They seldom seem to be the ones committing hate crimes against religious people. To me it looks like a public awareness campaign — don’t forget we’re here. Presumably religious freedom includes the right not to believe.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      I think you’re probably right to a large degree Steve. If I understand Eric correctly, it may be a way to begin to begin the breaking down of social stigmas associated with atheism. If this is the intention of the campaign, to familiarize rather than to confront, then I take no issue with it.

  • Bill Warrant

    I think Goodness is a rather irrelevant (and subjective) point. Would you be a Christian if you knew there was no God just because you think it might make you a “better” person?

    I would prefer it if the ad would be something along the lines of “Belief in deities was once man’s way of coping with the unknown. Now we have science.”

    Bill

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      Thanks for commenting, Bill. I don’t think someone who doesn’t believe in God will gain much from a theist tradition that they can’t gain on their own, but I don’t think anyone can know there’s no God any more than someone can know for a fact there is a God. We reach conclusions based on the evidence we have available to us.

      Also, I think most religionists find their belief systems bring them something that science cannot. While God has long been appealed to as an explanation for unknown phenomena, religion has been about much more than that for millennia. It’s not just about explaining why plants die in the winter and grow in the spring. That reasoning was obsolete long before the Bible was ever penned.

      • Rosenstingl

        I believe there is a confusion between atheists and agnostics. The former believe there is no God and the latter say “I do not know”. I am a scientist and naturally in the second category.
        I know that it is absurd to try to prove a non existence. A basic fact in science and/or philosophy. I cannot prove that God does not exist. Nor the contrary as a matter of fact.
        Being “Good” has nothing to do with God. There are “good” communists and “evil” believers (Bin Laden).
        Sometimes a religion may help to behave properly if the moral sense is weak or lacking the same way a cop or law may prevent a potential evil doer misbehaving

  • waynedawg

    Atheists are evangelizing!

    Who would have thought that?

  • Abadiali

    Chill out guys…voicing ones beliefs is what this country was founded on. One organization can only insight fear if we buy into it. Athiest have a place (and obviously want a voice) just like all entities and yes they have felt they have to keep quiet and low profile in a world with a majority of believers…let them have their 15 minutes.

  • Tom

    I think the message of the ad is clear and non-offensive. 1.) There are a substantial number of non-believers, correcting a common myth that the percentage is much lower. 2.) Those non-believers are still good people. It’s a relatively benign campaign, and the controversy and opposition surrounding it just provide more evidence of the athiests’ claim that there is a lack of tolerance toward their viewpoints that is not exhibited toward other religions.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      While I disagree that atheists are at the receiving end of more antagonism than other religions, I think you’re probably right about the ad’s message.

  • Merv Dale

    What a load of manure! Doesn’t anyone look up the definition of a word before using it anymore?! “Debaptize now” is an exclamatory statement encouraging people already Baptized! to undo their act of faith! That is anti-Christian and thus anti-religious. Mr. Atheist has a right to advertise anything damn thing he wants to put up, and my God will deal with him when his time comes so I don’t worry about his actions. I do wish people would stop trying to be PC and just say what they mean and mean what they say. He’s obviously started a fire – he just needs to be prepared to deal with the consequences!

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      I don’t think the shirt is associated with the ad campaign the article is referencing. If it were, that would be a different story, but I think it’s just a stock image to accompany the article.

  • Titus L

    Is this campaign paid with “In God we trust” money? If the parents of the American nation thougt so, then respect your parents. Disrespect them now and you’re not americans anymore.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      I think the Constitution makes clear that the tyranny of the majority is not tolerated. This is the reason for the electoral college. While atheism was hardly a consideration during the drafting of the Constitution, it must be one now. “In God We Trust” on the money is hardly tyranny, but I think the country certainly needs to be accommodating where it does exist.

    • Jim F

      Titus – that’s a pretty ignorant statement. We would much rather our money wasn’t proselytizing. Did you know that god was not added to our paper money until 1957?? Ever hear of the Red Scare? McCarthyism? Those people were hardly the parents of our country.
      Besides the awareness that others mentioned, we atheists want to let closet atheists know its ok not to believe. There is so much pressure on nonbelievers in this country – people lose friends and jobs. There are a lot of judgmental people in this country.

      • Jim B

        Dude. I’m on your side, but it doesn’t help when you get the facts wrong.

        “In God We trust” was added to money in 1864.

        “Under God” was added to the pledge in 1954 due to the cold war.

  • Durkman

    What you believe should be what YOU believe and kept to yourself. All of this “God” “No God” nonsense it’s all psycho babble to me. Just plain dumb and unproductive. More fuel for mindless hatred. Just what the USA needs more spiritual agogo.

  • Ray

    sounds like a pretty big orginization that dosn’t belive in orginized religion.

  • John

    I think you’re being intentionally disingenuous by attacking what you guess is the intention of the ads. They’re simply asking a question; assuming that there’s some subversive, anti-religious agenda implied in the ad is irrational.

    For those that can answer the question in the ad in the affirmative, I would imagine that reading it might lead the viewer to a sense of community. For those who are not atheistic, but might question their beliefs (or how happy these beliefs actually make them), it may lead to further inquiry around those concerns. For those that are absolutely confident in their belief system, and are entirely happy as a result, there’s no rational reason that this ad should stir up any contreversy or concern — it should, to use an aphorism, roll off them like water off a duck’s ass.

    I’ll never understand why people who claim to be so completely confident in their beliefs are so quick to assume that others with different beliefs have a subversive agenda. Although I have no background in psychology, my guess is that it’s some type of cognitive disorder.

    As an agnostic who does not believe in the concept of an interactive god, I don’t get upset or feel persecuted by believers who express their beliefs (even believers in the most ridiculous and patently “made-up” religions or cults, such as Mormonism and Scientology). I’m always fascinated, however, when I’m asked about my faith, and reply that I’m agnostic — I’m suddenly treated as a pariah and a threat by these same groups. Quite the hypocrisy…

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      Thanks for the comment, John. I disagree that spending thousands of dollars to put ads like this in the most conspicuous spots they can imagine is simply “asking a question,” but I think the comments here have helped me understand a little better.

      I disagree that a strong reaction to atheist campaigns means a cognitive disorder. There are rational and irrational arguments being produced every day from both sides of this discussion that engender strong reactions, again, from both sides. Sometimes people just feel strongly about an issue. My response, I hope you recognize, was not particularly strong, nor particularly assumptive. I questioned the rhetorical strength of the ad and the sincerity of the person quoted. If questioning others now equates to a cognitive disorder then why are atheists so keen on it? Not trying to infer anything, just trying to point out the fallacy.

    • Ashton

      I’m offended by your judgmental accusation that Mormonism/Scientology is “most ridiculous and patently ‘made-up.'” Sounds to me like you are the one treating other believers as pariahs. Maybe you should think about the meaning of hypocrisy.

      To comment on the atheist ads on the subway–as a theist (specifically Mormon), I don’t have any problem with free speech or other belief (or non-belief) systems. I do, however, have a hard time believing that atheists do not have an existing support system. There is a lot of media out there (on tv, in film, books, etc.) that questions belief systems, so I’m not sure why atheists need to advertise in such a way, but I have no problems with it.

  • Matt

    I guess New Yorkers learned nothing from 9/11. I suspect that the USA is a doomed nation because it has rejected GOD.

    • Jim F

      Matt – we learned one very important thing from 9/11 – the effect religion and a belief in god(s) can have on some people.

      • Daniel O. McClellan

        Jim-

        Geopolitics was at the core of 9/11. Theists were used to carry out the details, but it was nationalism, not theism, that made 9/11 possible.

    • Zeke

      Matt Matt Matt… wow. You simply don’t get it. A degree of the opposite is true.

  • Julian

    The main reason the ad campaign is flawed is because they extrapolated from poll data of people who subscribe to “no religion” to come up with a figure of 1 million New Yorkers. The problem is that there are many who follow no religion who are theists, and conversely, there are many atheists that follow a religion. If these atheists are anti-dogma, why do they have to form evangelistic organizations that come up with definitions of their knowledge (belief) and try to convince others of the same? Sounds like a religion to me.

  • pplr

    Matt that comment strikes me an utter assumption and thought up by one who doesn’t recognize the large number of Christians (unless you pretend other branches of Christianity aren’t Christian) in the USA. I disagree with your comment and I think it puts off more people than just me.

    About atheism, the “Debaptize Now” is anti-religious as it encourages people to undo/leave religious events and religion.

    While plenty of good and honest people are atheists there is a group of fundamentalist atheists out there who can be just as irrational when taking about religions as a religious fundamentalist. Dawkins and Harris serve as PR people for this branch of atheism that runs around claiming that religion is evil and harmful to society. That strikes me as not just annoying religious people but promoting intolerance in society.

    It also, as a theme, ignores modern history (in France, Russia, Cambodia) where atheists have, when committed atrocities against believers (rather than the believer on different believer violence we have all likely heard something about).

  • Hans

    My first thoughts after reading the slogan were comparative. I began to see the religious and non-religious as opposing side. The supposed intention of the ads was to reach out to other non-religious folk. This goal could be better achieved through a tolerance slogan than a comparative one. Preaching tolerance for atheists would help them not feel alone. Also a tolerance slogan wouldn’t set-off defensive reactions by the religious.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      Thanks for the comment Hans. This is one of the concerns I still have. The organizers of the campaign know how religionists are going to respond. Just claiming in an article that it’s not confrontational isn’t going to convince the millions who see the posters without having read the article. I think the campaign has more than one intended outcome.

  • monica larkin

    I am a born again Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I believe he died for my sins and rose again on the third day to defeat death. I read the Word of God daily, my bible. I pray and meditate on what the Word says. I believe Jesus Christ is my personal savior and he hears me when I pray to him and He does answer. I am not a “vindictive bastard.” If you choose not to believe it is your choice.

    • Jim B

      He answers your prayers does he. I know the stock answer, “he always answers, it’s just that sometimes the answer is no”. But if your an amputee he _always_ says “no”.

      Why is that?

      Why does your god hate amputees?

  • Sean

    “‘First, the coalition hopes the promotion will enhance awareness of New York City’s secular community. He explained that the coalition also hopes to encourage “talking and thinking about religion and morality,” as well as support involvement in groups that encourage a sense of a social community for non-believing New Yorkers.'”

    My Response: I do not think anyone is ignorant of a secular community. Everyone knows there are people who do not believe in any God or any form of religion. Why does anyone need to know that there is a secular community in New York? Do atheists need to come together to discuss their similar opinions? If someone does not believe in anything then why would there be a need to express that? I was always under the impression atheists just lived their life and did not worry about people who had a belief. I mean no offense with these questions I am just really curious.

    Now, what I find strange is how De Dora says this advertising hopes to promote talking about religion and morality. I believe in God, but I always strive to be open minded and to seek others’ views; I like expanding my knowledge and learning new things all the times. However, I’ve spoken with many atheists who have bashed me and insulted me and tried to make me feel inferior just because I have a personal belief. At the same time, I also have some atheist friends who are more open-minded and who like to debate, but overall I’ve encountered many people who have become aggressive and heated just because I asked a simple innocent question, or just because they know I believe in God. I find it a little hard to believe that one of the goals to this advertisement is to promote religious and moral discussions when so many people, both religious and atheist become so heated and aggressive.

    “They are looking to reach out to more people who have similar feelings, but might not be aware of an outlet to express their beliefs, he said.”

    My Response: I also find this a bit hard to believe. Once again, I have many atheist friends who just live their life, and they don’t care about God or anything religious. They do not have any needs to express themselves, they just want to live their life and want people to respect that. But even if they do want to express themselves, there are many places to do so. The internet is filled with blogs and websites for people to express themselves. I’ve come across many forums where people discuss religion and atheism and why God is not real. There are many books that discuss the invalidation of God, as well as magazines.

    Once again, I’m just curious, and since I was never an atheist or lived life without having God in my conscious, I do not know what the real need for these advertisements are.

    • pplr

      Religious and non-religious groups of people can have open-minded or aggressive and mean people. It isn’t a surprise as people come in all varieties.

      Did you ask the atheists who were not open-minded if they read Sam Harris or similar authors? Just because someone isn’t part of a religion doesn’t mean he/she is free of ideology-a factor that could have popped up during your discussion.

  • Lewis

    It’s important for everyone to know that there is a non-religious option, just as there are religious ones. At present, the religious advertisers far outspend the secular ones. (Perhaps it’s nothing more than another phase of capitalism?).

    Also, there is a certain small segment of “believers” that engages in fear mongering, and thus it is necessary for non-believers (and maybe others) to maintain visibility and offer some sort of sanctuary and balance.

    All groups have their good and bad. Non-believers are now statistically not as criminally bad as the larger group of professed believers, but I think it because the non-believers group is not yet a random sample of the whole population.

    This campaign can be criticized for it’s wording, perhaps, but my opinion is that the overall attempt to inform is commendable.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      Thank you for the response Lewis. I think you make decent points, although I am still wary of the idea that there are people out there unaware that atheism is an option (especially who ride the subway in NYC).

      • Lewis

        Daniel,

        I concede that the great majority of people are aware of atheism, although in the diverse culture of New York City, it is hard to know who is aware of what. Maybe what I should have said is that it would be desirable for everyone to personally know some atheists, and what they believe. Each non-believer is different, but they all agree that they do not accept superstition or non-verifiable phenomena. Skepticism and scientific evidence are invited. They also object to the insertion of religion into the political and educational arenas. Otherwise, they disagree on just about everything. Almost all non-believers are regular people who feel a bit (sometimes more than a bit) threatened by the unwarranted negative reaction that others have toward them, and so it is in their interest to publicize and try to overcome some of this.

        Then there is the question of why non-believers are such. Maybe we are just wired differently than others. No one knows, be we do know that there is a great diversity in humans, and there is nothing to rule out biological difference in this case. Live and let live is a great concept and so is the Golden Rule. However, when one is physically, mentally, emotionally or otherwise threatened, it is difficult to maintain a perfectly neutral stance. There are many literal and figurative “athesists in foxholes” because of this.

        Assuming that the NYC bus ads supply some contact information and inspire some inquiry, they are a step toward better understanding.

  • Jim F

    Its the Christians that keep trying to put religion in schools and government that worry me. Besides being directly opposite of what the bible teaches (keep thy faith in the closet), its a slippery slope to becoming a theocracy. And we all want to live in a theocracy like Iran, right? Its that drive to force others to believe what they believe that’s the problem. I think a large part of it is insecurity in their own beliefs, and apparently an unwillingness to teach their children themselves.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      An unwillingness to teach their children themselves? Jim, are you aware of the recent events surrounding a Christian girl who was home-schooled and was a perfectly normal and competent member of society, but who was forced by a judge during divorce proceedings, to enter public schooling because the judge determined the child needed to be exposed to ideological alternatives? There is a lot more going on here than you seem aware.

      • Jim F

        That case is entirely irrelevant Daniel. That was a case where one parent wanted to homeschool and the other didn’t. Psychological counseling found that the mother was alienating the father from the child thru her extremist religious views. If that’s all you have to justify religion in schools you’ve proven my point…

    • Matt

      Jim… If you truly believe that the the Bible teaches followers to “keep thy faith in the closet”, then unfortunately you have no concept of the Bible or its teachings.

      May I invite you to read this verse? And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. – Mark 14:15 (Holy Bible: King James Version)

      • Jim F

        I was referring to Matthew 6:5-6 – “pray in the closet”. But Matthew 10:5-6 also says “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. ” In other words, don’t spread the gospel to people who don’t believe.

  • Jim F

    Sean – You have an issue with there being “a need for advertisement”? Judgmental much?? Sheesh. Tell that to all the churches.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      Jim, you’re misrepresenting the story. The father and mother were separated, and his claims that she was socially suffering were shown to be false by the report. It says she is “generally likeable and well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising and intellectually at or superior to grade level.” The report stated blatantly that the girl “would be best served by exposure to different points of view at a time in her life when she must begin to critically evaluate multiple systems of belief and behavior and cooperation in order to select, as a young adult, which of those systems will best suit her own needs.” It’s not the job of the court to appease an angry father by ordering a girl to be influenced in one direction ideologically. Do you think a parent alienated by another parent’s secularist influence on a child would actually have a court order the child into a religious school? The court wouldn’t intervene at all. You’re not paying very good attention to this problem.

  • feckless

    1) there is one exactly one avowed atheist in our federal government: Pete Stark.

    2) A million people is a large constituency. There are only a few million Cubans in this country but their political axes dominate our Cuban policy.

    3) There is no representative of atheism in our government.

    4) Republicans and the representatives of christianity are on 24/7 decrying “secular humanists” as being incapable of morality and inherently evil. e.g. the Army officer who told Pat Tillman’s mother she should shut up about her son’s death b/c she doesn’t believe in God and she must think her son is just “worm food”.

    5) If you took issue with any one of the contstant drum beat by religionists against the 10% of this country who are atheists, your question of discrimnation would be more valid, but all I ever hear is “I can say atheists hate x-mas, america, children et al., but don’t you say boo about pedophile priests”.

    6) Christianists can never have an honest dialog, and fear exposure to other concepts because they are just fellow travellers, they are unthinking christians.

    7) An atheist (today) could never be elected president, atheists are the most openly derided and discriminated group in america.
    http://volokh.com/archives/archive_2007_02_18-2007_02_24.shtml#1172018751

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      I’m afraid I disagree entirely with this statement:

      “atheists are the most openly derided and discriminated group in america.”

      When you can point to atheists who have been killed for their atheism in this day and age then maybe you could begin to contend with homosexuals. You’re way off base.

  • Igor

    “It also, as a theme, ignores modern history (in France, Russia, Cambodia) where atheists have, when committed atrocities against believers (rather than the believer on different believer violence we have all likely heard something about).”

    The ad is a response to a very common claim (often by fundamentalist believers) that one cannot be moral without believing in good, thus de facto labling atheists as immoral and evil. The implication is not that no atheist/agnostic ever did anything wrong. History is well recognized. Communist opposition to religion stemmed not from state sanctioned atheism but from the grasp the church had on the uneducated proletariat, which directly competed with communist party’s control of the same demographic. In fact, when it became politically expedient, Stalin turned to the Orthodox Church to mobilize the support of the masses.

    • Daniel O. McClellan

      So Stalin and his Militant League of Atheists shut down the churches, killed tens of thousands of clerics and church members, and stole their property in self-defense? You’re way off base.

  • Sean

    To Jim F:
    I don’t have an issue with it and I have not judged anything as far as I know, I just do not see the true reasoning behind the advertising. I also am against churches and any other religious organization promoting themselves through advertisement. I just wonder why is there a need to promote a community of non believers. Do they need to reinforce their views? What is the motivation or aim of this social community of non believers?

    See, I would think that if you don’t believe anything why would you care what others believe? What is there to discuss with others if a community of non believers believe they know there is no god?

  • Matt T

    I think Jim F hit the nail on the head. As an agnostic I am far less ‘wary’ of this ad than the theism that is forced upon me daily. While I’m not a huge proponent of advertising atheism, I absolutely understand it’s necessity in todays world.

    Furthermore, any Christian complaining about the money being used for something better, enough with the hypocrisy. People in glass houses and all that…

  • Igor

    Monica: “If you choose not to believe it is your choice.”

    Except those who do not believe your exact version of the story do not label you as inferior and destined for eternal punishment for what is essentially an arbitrary thought crime. Do you return them that favor?

  • Matt T

    Sean, as I mentioned in my post I’m not a big fan of advertising it either. But your argument assumes that organized religion doesn’t have an impact on atheists. It does, and it rears itself in areas where it is supposed to be absent by law (politics, schools, etc.). Right or wrong, this is a fairly innocuous salvo against the big guns of Christianity in the U.S.

  • Jim F

    Well, its unfortunate that “atheists believe nothing” has been perpetuated by people like Ray Comfort (aka BananaMan) and other anti-atheists. Atheists believe in people, they believe in freedom of thought and speech, they believe in compassion, they have very high morals, etc. etc. etc. That’s one reason for advertising.

    Letting people who may be suppressing their beliefs in order to conform that there are others who believe the same thing is another big reason.

  • Sean

    Okay, that’s understandable, but anyone can believe in people, freedom, thought and speech, compassion, high morals, etc. How does being an atheist distinguish those beliefs from others of different beliefs?

    I am not saying someone has to believe something in order to believe in freedom, people, compassion, etc, but anyone is able to believe in these things.

    • Zeke

      To Sean:
      “How does being an atheist distinguish those beliefs from others of different beliefs?”

      Measurable action. And for this reason, perhaps this initiative seeks credit from the community or at least a chance to enter the arena playing field for the opportunity to display “good” actions as usually associated with other creeds.

  • Igor

    “How does being an atheist distinguish those beliefs from others of different beliefs?”

    In some instances it’s a question of motivation. One motivated by the purity of the act is better off than one motivated by fear of eternal punishment or promise of eternal reward. Alternatively, morals based on arbitrary mandates in old scriptures rather than on some rational reality can be dangerous. Our cultural norms dictate that it is no longer acceptable to stone disobedient children to death.

  • Igor

    Essentially most people believe in those things in spite of scriptural commandments rather than because of them.

  • Justin

    I don’t think anyone should be cramming their beliefs down anyone’s throat; Christian, atheist, or otherwise. I’m glad you’re proud of your religion and you think it’s the greatest thing on Earth, but I don’t need to hear about it. If it makes you happy then good for you – keep it up.

    On the flip-side, it’s ironic atheists are constantly claiming that they’re being accosted by the religious right with all of these billboards, advertisements, and whatnot shoving shame and disrespect down everyone’s throat toward anyone who is not Christian. Now the atheists are doing the same thing, but in reverse.

    I don’t understand why people are so concerned about what others believe in.

    Maybe I’m just a godless heathen and I don’t understand.

  • Kevin

    The Universe is so big and probably so populated that it becomes really impossible not to believe there is a higher authority that some will call God and others the Tree of Life and others the All Knowing One and others Nirvana. There are evil ones, not only humans, who would prove their rights by exhibiting a truly American phenomenon; some believe that they can screw their neighbor (figuratively) without the screwed neighbor having the right to retaliate. If the neighbor retaliates then with great happiness they can take them to court and clean out their bank accounts, their house, and leave them in the street homeless. My vote is that the City government should not allow these posters to be wallpapered in a God (any God) fearing city. Would they allow Nazi posters? Would they allow Al Qaida posters? Would they allow Child molester posters? I don’t think so, but these posters are meant not only to prove their right to stamp on the majorities belief in God but also to prothesylize that there is no God. Sorry, Sorry and Sorry. Stop this abomination. I want to make it clear that I don’t have anything against athiests but I do resent them trying to destroy the time honored beliefs of this country and all of our good people. Be an athiest but don’t walk around with the mark of the beast on your forehead.

  • Jim F

    I think that’s the crux of the message Sean – a person can do those things without religion. It seems obvious to many people but certainly not to all. Atheism became an evil word during McCarthyism and the Cold War. It was associated with being immoral and anti-American. Unfortunately many people still believe that. They even associate atheism with dictators like Stalin and Pol Pot. The only reason those two made atheist countries was that they didn’t want anyone worshiping anyone or anything other than them.

  • pplr

    Communism, especially as put into practice in various governments, was atheist.

    While McCarthyism was certainly a bad thing the point about communism is factual history.

    Saying either Christians or atheists embrace high morals is a generality that does address when members of each group did terrible things in service of that group.

  • sweeney

    Daniel,

    You have done an excellent job with this posting. It has created some significant discussion that hopefully will create some serious contemplation about the subject

    It is interesting to see the responses from various individuals. I would contend that the effort to place these posters is certainly an act of religionists. They deny the existence of God and want others to know that is how they believe. They contend there is nothing outside of what we are as humans.

    What does it not make sense are the attacks on those who do believe. I am unable to discern how having belief is somehow harmful to those who do not believe. Some of the comments seem to indicate that those people of certain faiths are aggressively pushing thier faith on others. While I understand there is sharing the faith with one another, there is nothing that is “forcing” others to believe. Yet some here seem to contend they are being forced to have religion expoused by others.

    Choice is the key. Atheists have the right and freedom to choose how they will believe. So do Christians and others religious faiths. But it also seems there is some resentment towards Christianity for reasons I cannot understand. The historical record shows that our nation was founded on Christian principles. God was extremely important to many of the founders of this nation. Like it or not, God is a part of the historical record of the United States of America. This is our factual history. I do not understand the resentment towards the historical record of this nation. Was some wrong committed because our forefathers had faith in God? That seems to be at least an element of the thinking of some of our atheist friends. Maybe there are some who have a different opinion who would comment. I am only offering my perception.

    Again, thank you for this posting. It has been very enlightening.

  • pplr

    typo (sorry)

    I meant to say “does not address when members of each group do terrible things”

    Many religious fundamentalists attack the theory of evolution because it challenges their ideology (which often managed to include the idea the earth isn’t that old and humans didn’t come from another type of creature). And this is in spite of the fact that the theory of evolution was researched and supported by professional, serious, and sincere people.

    In the same token many atheist fundamentalists oppose discussing the atheist aspect of communism because doing so challenges their ideology (that only religions and not atheism can be involved in bad things).

    One of the other things many atheist fundamentalists have problems with is that atheism is a belief or idea. Note you can “believe” that the light in the next room is on, so “beliefs” hardly need to be religious. Some of these same atheists (note I am not talking about all atheists) get into arguments with dictionaries (which often label atheism as the belief there is no God) in spite of the fact that many dictionaries were often made by people just as professional, sincere, and serious about their work as those who research the theory of evolution.

  • Igor

    “In the same token many atheist fundamentalists oppose discussing the atheist aspect of communism because doing so challenges their ideology (that only religions and not atheism can be involved in bad things).”

    Nice straw man there. No atheist/agnostic says anything of sorts. Apparently you either didn’t read or willfully chose to ignore anything posted here that did not support your preconceived notion of what it is atheists (dis)believe or say.

    Like I said before, it is well documented that Stalin had no problem with organized religion when it suited his need to mobilize mass support. Other times religion was undesirable because its control of the proletariat conflicted with communist control of that demographic. The ideology that governed the communist regime was communism with atheism being politically expedient. In fact, communism was such a driving force that similarly to Fundamentalist Christianity it affected science education in the country. Surely you have heard of Lysenkoism?

  • Igor

    Sweeney: There is some contention whether U.S. was founded on Christian principles or as a Judeo-Christian nation. Consider article 11 of the Tripoli treaty signed into law by John Adams and unanimously ratified by Congress:

    “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquility, of Mussulmen; and, as the said States never entered into any war, or act of hostility against any Mahometan nation, it is declared by the parties, that no pretext arising from religious opinions, shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.”

  • Igor

    Kevin: You are an idiot, part of the resentment towards Christianity in this country is because of people like you.

  • Zeke

    Ditto on the Kevin being an idiot comment.

  • pplr

    Actually I have spoken with atheists who claimed so.

    Moreover if you look at Stalin alone you miss the general part of communism that was atheist. Blaming the everything on man (even if he was particularly bad, and Stalin was) lets the dogma off the hook for promoting discrimination against religion.

    Also the atrocities done by french attempting to fight “superstition” by punishing (sometimes with death) those who refused to stop subscribing to them during the terror predates Stalin.

    The basic failure of the argument that atheism cannot be involved in something bad is that it asserts that other people are willing to do terrible things in the service of their beliefs but atheists won’t. That doesn’t take in to account the full range of human freedom of action for good or ill.

  • Daniel O. McClellan

    I’m going to shut down the comments on this post. I appreciate everyone’s input, and I think a number of good points have been raised. Hopefully a few people have learned something. I know I have, but I don’t have time to look over all these posts right now, and I don’t want things to get out of hand.

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