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?

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I agree.  You're not going to convert theists.  You are going to increase our voices by helping people who are closet atheists realize that it's ok and they are not alone.

I'm trying to put myself in the role of an in-the-closet-on-the-fence believer who is looking for options. If I were to see a group that is visibly portraying themselves as arrogant and offensive, why would I look to join that group?  I would get laughed at by the believers around me for doing so. In my opinion, to truly expand our numbers, the people we need to reach out to are those who are teetering on letting go of religion. If we are not aiming at theists then what is the point of the billboards at all? To say nah nah, we are better and smarter than you?

Richard Dawkins once said that it is never his aim to be arrogant or offensive, just 100% clear. Clear that these beliefs are not rooted in reality, and that they never will be. To these people, clarity is a threat. Clarity is arrogance. Therefore, I see no reason why I should care about their feelings. I'm just happy there are atheist billboards.
So then you really don't care if theists take notice or not? Voltarian huh? Cultivate your own garden? Again, I apologize for going around in circles on this, I respectfully disagree. The more atheist movements, whether its new or old, get in the news, the more important it will be to present ourselves as persons of better behavior (morals) then just as people who claim to be more "clear" on things than others. I think Hitch, although very abrasive achieves this, by being so schooled on history and verse and vernacular that you cannot win a debate with him. What could be construed as insults, is his passion in his beliefs coming through. So when he says "NDEs are bullshit" people listen. Billboard cant talk back and justify their ideas with a follow-up.
Methinks that you are looking for something more than atheism. If this were a humanist organization, then yes, I might agree with you. Atheism is a lack of belief in gods, or a belief of no gods. It doesn't matter how we're portrayed. We're all different. I happen to laugh when I see those billboards when I roll into jersey, and I also laugh when Bill Donahue from the Catholic League gets all red in the face when we mock him.
"It doesn't matter how we are portrayed".  Really?  Maybe another forum topic. I definitely care how we are portrayed and yes I am talking about atheism. I know atheism means lack of belief in gods or a belief in no gods, but that belief and the explanation of it, if it is meant to be center stage in the public eye, should be thought out in a manner that is both clever, satirical sure, funny, and thought provoking. Yet it can be all those things and not insulting. To gain respect one has to show intelligent respect and that is not a atheist trait or a humanist trait it is a universal trait.
I agree, Robert.
Dear Robert: I thinks you underestimate the power of religion to bring about the end of civilization as we know it. With the end of the cold war the possibility of mass destruction on this planet is most likely to be caused because of religious conflict and the desire of one or more of the fanatics in each party starting something that escalates out of control. It has been proven over and over again that there is a surplus of volunteers willing to go to nirvana to accomplish this given weapons of mass destruction. From everything I read and study we have a limited window of opportunity to turn the ship around. Do you really think slow reasoned gentlemanly debate will work?

Dear Joseph:  I think that you underestimate how much more quickly the power of religion could bring about the end of atheist organizations than the end of the world.  It is immensely unlikely that the neo-cons involved the pact with fundamentalists for their votes actually share a fundamentalist world view.  If holding up my hand when poled for belief in a 6000 year old planet would get me elected, you better believe that I would do it.  To suggest that indicates sincere belief is akin to having faith in the honesty of politicians.

 

Appealing on behalf of the imminent destruction of the world is not a tactic I would expect from an Atheist.  I cannot see how you reasonably compare the threat of suicide bombers to that of world leaders who would as eagerly initiate global nuclear destruction.  This sort of argument really just boils down to an emotional appeal.

 

If you think that holding your head up and conducting yourself with dignity will have no effect on those who oppress us, then I might suggest you at least look into the story of a little brown man named Ghandi.  I can fully respect that you might desire another approach, but I would prefer not to get dragged into any sort of conflict.

How will anyone bring about the end of an atheist organization anymore than convert everyone to Catholism. People such as Sam Harris agree that the scenerio I suggest is more likely to be started in the middle east and the desire to retaliate. Countries such as Pakistan, Iran, and Isreal with proven nuclear and or intent are more likely to be the catalyst. Even if someone shuts down an atheist organization does that stop you from being an atheist, but if they blow you to smithereens, that does.

Ending the potency of an organization can be done by convincing a judge that the organization's media campaign constitutes hate speech.  Such a blow would actually impede my ability to vocalize my own beliefs, even though I try to do so in a metered tone.  If you want to address the risk of theocratic autonomy in the middle east with confrontational slogans, then I suggest you set your billboards up there and see how much of a calming effect they have.
George Carlin was and is a genius. Ridicule is an art form

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