I recently wrote a blog where I pulled an article from the UK Telegraph saying that our movement is nothing more than the "least inspiring movement in recent years".
I am adamant that one of the main reasons for this and other types of negative press out there is because of the billboard campaign by American Atheists. The billboards are inflammatory. They are not thought provoking or lead to thoughtful debate or discussion. They are insulting and I am frustrated that this is how American Atheists think our movement should be perceived and represented. I have wrote to the Chairman of the Board of AA and asked him to reconsider this campaign. Although the idea of the billboard I'm all for, what they say needs to make people say or think "wow, that's great, and it's something I want to check out further". We need to do better!
What are your thoughts on this? Do we need to write to American Atheists via petition?
They're good, except it makes the website look like it is wethinkatheist.com instead of just thinkathiest.com.
I love them (Matthew's examples). Personally speaking, I think most go too far and are offensive to people of faith. I see one of those strong examples of atheist advertising and I think to myself "Of course they make a good point but do they have to do it so rudely?"
I think it stirs up more hate and fear for the word atheist and may possibly be hurting the movement of atheism. But you know how these days bad publicity is sometimes what gets you in the lime light and draws a lot of attention so maybe it can all counter-balance out? I'm just thinking out loud.
"I am adamant that one of the main reasons for this and other types of negative press out there is because of the billboard campaign by American Atheists."
The media and public opinion have always been pissy anyway. It only makes sense to placate their oversensitive nature when it serves some sort of strategic value. I think that American Atheists have hit a point where they feel it is better to be openly discussed and visible rather than quietly ignored. Good PR is nice, but not if it comes at the expense of having a real platform to say your piece.
People have become too sensitive. I think the ads were poor in execution, but the tone was still only mildly aggressive. They pale in comparison to some of the anti-atheism ads I've seen in the United States. I am not suggesting that one bad deed deserves another, but we are looking at a double standard. When confronted with anti-atheism ads, at least a few media personalities simply responded 'I am not aware of those'. Essentially, a broad spectacle is made of something when a minority group does it, but when it is a common occurrence from a majority position, nobody bats an eye.
I'm not even complaining about it. That's the way it is. It seems like the American Atheists leveraged that. Even non-confrontational billboards and adverts drew ire, so they had to know that these ads would rally a bit of media spotlight. Has it caused a bit of confrontation and controversy? Yes, but why is that a bad thing? There is more tension building beneath the surface than what we typically see. Sometimes that has to be brought out into the open air.
I advocate religious tolerance as a matter of freedom of believe and conscience. What frustrates me, as well as many others, is that the current form of religious tolerance makes it a social taboo to argue about beliefs. These are arguments that need to happen. Tolerance of atheists, as well as the tolerance of many minority groups tends to be passive aggressive. It's unhealthy. Atheists do need to build bridges to the community at large, but if that's all we do, we will largely have only a superficial impact. We need to be forthright and, at times, we need to stir the pot.
I don't love the current leadership of the American Atheists. I don't think that David Silverman is the best public speaker. That said, I'm not a member. I'm not even American. I don't think their approach is really going to have a detrimental impact on the public view of atheism on the whole. It will probably just bring to light some of the already existing bad vibes towards us. Personally, I think it's much easier to address problems once they are brought out into the open.