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?
"You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep seated need to believe." - Carl Sagan
This discussion has been amazing and want to thank everyone for the time they point into their comments.
I guess my point is that yes, I recognize that different atheists have different and valid ways of expressing their thought and opinions. Some like to be more agressive and some less. However for me, the more visible we become, the more it becomes the responsibility of those at the forefront not to give these stereotypes people have of atheists. My problem with the billboards and Silverman is that the audience both have could be in the millions. I think it is his and his organization's responsibility to take a "higher road". We can call people wacks all we want, but this is clear; it will not gain respect or understanding to what our movement stands for. I hope to bring people in by thoughtful debate. For those on here who could care less, that is your absolute right, but I also think then you are not concerned with furthering the atheist movement. You don't have to be a humanist, or non-violent, or anti-gun to be an atheist. But I would hope with reason comes the reasonable. In my opinion, insulting people in the public sphere, is not reasonable debate.
Heather, respectfully I don't understand how you come to these conclusions based on what I have written. If you read my posts carefully you should conclude different approaches for different markets. I am on no ones train and most of the respected Atheists ( Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens ) feel much like myself about the past and religions horrible record and the future if things continue as is. You are contributing words and ideas I have not proposed. Yes I can make inflammatory statements where religion is concerned because I truly believe it is mental illness on its best day and evil incarnate when taken literally. I know not of what you suggest but I am sure your intentions are good. Thanks for the debate and best wishes.
I humbly think we are all missing the point here. They are being in-your-face ON PURPOSE.
Think of it: they have little budget. They are overwhelmingly outspent by religious nutjobs. What can they do?
1) Do a meek and sweet campaign which will probably be effective to the hundreds of people who see it, or...
2) Be in-your-face, almost condescending, to ensure it gets picked up by as many religious websites/TV shows as possible, so that more people see them (and come out of the closet!).
Working in Marketing, I'd go for 2) any day! If they had been meek and sweet they might have convinced some, but for example, I, who live on the other side of the world, would have NEVER heard of them... for me, the (much) greater exposure more than compensates for the lower "convincing" rate.
Well done, American Atheists!
A very valid point, Alejandro, especially for marketing your own product. I think what Robert is saying, and I am strongly agreeing with, is that Atheism is not the exclusive product of American Atheists. There are many atheists who have to market themselves on a daily basis and in direct contact with family, coworkers, and religious neighbours. Any ground that they may or may not have made with the people in their lives has no bearing on American Atheists. The AA billboards, however, do have a strong bearing on the lives of thousands of atheists who have no interest in using an aggressive and confrontational approach.
I've never hidden my beliefs or backed down from debate when challenged, but now I've got other atheists calling me an 'apologist' because I'm not all gung-ho about insulting theists in an undignified manner. Honestly, if I were to run across a group of people insulted by this campaign who asked me where I stood on the issue, it would be the first time in my life that I would consider closeting my atheism.