In my area, in a city called Salisbury, MD, there are couple of billboards that are pro-religion, such as "Wise Men Follow Jesus" and my favorite, "Real Men Follow Jesus."

So here is my "retaliation". I hope you like. :)

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There's more than one way to skin a cat? ',:-)
What do you hope to accomplish by simply retaliating? What's your end goal in being an atheist/secular activist?

You may see it as retaliating, but I don't. I see it as making a point using the same language that someone readily agrees with in one context but not another. Perhaps that will spark something. Perhaps not.
Now if there were only some way to get them to agree on something

We agree on the question of god. Well, we mostly agree. ;-)
@Reggie: True but I'd say you were playing a game there. And one that may or may not end the way you want. Why not increase your chances of invoking thought and decrease your chances of being seen as insulting?

@Larry: I hear ya.
A game?

Okay, let me ask which part of the above picture is so objectionable? Is it calling God Jesus imaginary? I assume not, since I also assume that you are an atheist. I also assume that you do not wish for atheists to enable and coddle delusions.

So, is it the "Real Men" part? Why is that so inflammatory? Is it because of the attempt to control and manipulate people? Scare them into thinking that people might not be see them "real men" and they will be taunted and mocked? That there is only one way to be a "real man" when we know that not to be true?

Or, is it something else altogether? I'm trying to understand your objection to this piece.
Ok I think I understand why my message is not getting through. You're under the impression that the billboard should only be made to reach out to people who are already atheists and not to everyone; religious and non alike. Try to put yourself into their shoes.

Calling Jesus is not objectionable to ME, it's objectionable to religious people. If you're making a billboard you want it to talk to as many people as possible INCLUDING the religious. Therefore you want it to send a message that brings as many people in as it can while causing them to think and not simply dismiss it. The "Real men..." part of the message would turn me away instantly were I religious no matter my religion.

My only objection to this piece is that it's just as small as the messages it reports to be a response to. The game being played lies in the fact that in order to evoke anything but a disdain from a religious reader it's relying on the reader to be the bigger person. Why take the chance? Be the bigger person to begin with and you'll gain the upper hand from the start.
Growing up in an environment of moderate, religious indoctrination, I feel comfortable in saying that no single billboard or message will have the effect you seem to want on religious minds. Marketing is often most effective when it is specifically targeted and simple. De-conversion, as a whole process, is none of that.

Even the Christian billboard is really only trying to reel in men who might feel ashamed in submitting to the authority of Jesus. The response above does a good job in mocking people with imaginary friends. Will it reach Christians and make them think about it logically? Of course not! Theism is not a logical conclusion in the modern era. Not a sound one, at least.

I'm not under any such impression about who the target audience is. The target audience does include Christians. It let's them know that they are being mocked. Will that make them defensive and dig their heels in more? I am sure for many it will. But mockery and ridicule are powerful tools that are very effective. We would never coddle other silly beliefs with such respect if they weren't so widely held. So why does religion get the pass?

I am under the impression that you think that there is one, correct tone and message that should be used and will work like a panacea. I couldn't disagree more. There is room for all sorts of tactics in defending a reality based world view and taking mockery and ridicule off the table is naive. The Accomodationist stance of "sit down and shut up" atheism is an appeal for no one to challenge other peoples' beleifs and to respect ideas no matter how silly they are for fear if we hurt anyone's feelings, they won't listen. Well, we have quite a history of that type of atheism and it has shown to be quite ineffectual.

Am I advocating running around and telling people they are stupid? No, of course not! And I am not even saying one way is necessarily better than another all the time. How we deal with people on a personal level is completely different than how we should deal with ideas in the public arena. Ideas in the public realm should never be coddled, treated with preferential treatment, or shielded from critical inquiry. Many atheists compare atheism and theism to a war (much to my chagrin), but if it is at least a battle of ideas, why would you not use all the tools in your arsenal? To be honorable?

Religion did not invent ridicule and mockery. Neither did Jerry Springer. It has been around far longer than either of them and does serve important social functions. It may not change the mind of Fred Phelps, but it might make that doubting kid decide to give things a little more thought before handing his or her brain over to religion. And that thought process may continue for years before they realize that religion is fiction.
One of the challenges for us as atheist/secular activists is to relay our message WITHOUT relying on the exact same tactics and words as those who (by all accounts) wish to enrage us with their's.

First, the atheist "movement" is not a uniform movement with a single, uniform, group sanctioned tactic to be used. Second, do you really believe that religious folk are using propaganda to enrage you? Seriously? You really think that is their intent? Were you ever religious in your life?
@Larry: Good one. It's always nice to see someone able to recognize a not so subtle straw man coming.

@Reggie: On your first point I disagree. We ARE a uniform group in that we lack belief in a god or gods. We are also (usually) a uniform group in that we do not wish there to be religious influence on us or on others against their will which means we generally oppose religion mixing with politics. What we lack is a stated goal on which all of our efforts can be focused. Using the EFFORTS in their proper time, place, and situation is what tactics are.

@whoever: My book is loosely based on the principals and philosophies in The Art of War by Sun Tzu. Basically it's based on a question, "What would Tzu do?"
We are a uniform group of cloth wearers, too. Not sure how this connection about the lack of beleif in a particular idea suddenly makes us a uniform group with shared goals and values. As you state, we generally do share similar ideas about things relating to that lack of beleif, but there still the question of how to go about turning our ideas into action. And this is where opinions will widely differ due to all the other factors come into play that are not related to the simple idea of atheism.

Back to the cloth wearing analogy, we all share the idea that people should not walk around naked. But how to dress them? Can't we all agree on a single uniform? Probably not.
Sorry but your analogy is just a LITTLE off.
We are all cloth wearing.

We all share the idea that people should not walk around naked.

But HOW to dress them?
You go completely off the track crashing and burning.

A single uniform? No and wouldn't want it to be so.
The same KINDS of cloths to a certain event? Yes.

Would you wear a NASCAR shirt and torn up jeans to a gala event or a fancy restaurant and would you wear a Tux to go off-roading or swimming in a lake?

Not unless you WANTED to cause a stir and be fairly well ostracized. The same goes for atheist activism.

If you WANT get followers and get more people who'll shove you away you merely have to think the other side is stupid and act accordingly. If you WANT to provoke thought (The "think" in should be capitalized in my opinion.) then you're going to have to reach out to EVERYONE not just people who think the way you do. Unless you WANT to polarize as many as possible.
Every anaology fails at some point. But you misunderstand the point of mine.

If everyone was going to your gala event, then we could probably agree on a dress code. But the whole point is that not every atheist is attending your debutante ball. Get it now?

Religion POLARIZES people. Atheism is not a religion that can have dogma to dictate the dress code. Dogma isn't even the antithesis of athiesm, it is a non sequitur.

You don't convert people to atheism, which is how you seem to think it works. Atheism isn't a positive. It is a negative. A default position. People are de-converted. It tears down, it is messy, it can be painful, it is not always nice.

Truth does not require the majority and the truth should never be sacrificed to appease the majority. This isn't a popularity contest where we can sacrifice our ideals to win favor with the other side. You can't start fudging the science because people won't like what it really says. Imagine if Darwin had thought like you? Actually, for many years he did, which long delayed the publishing of The Origin of Species. Talk about POLARIZING.

Often times the truth hurts. People will need to just grow up and realize that the egocentricity of childhood is best left in childhood. But you want to enable the petulant child with candy and fond words?
Neither he nor I said anything about religious folk using "propaganda" to enrage atheists. The word used was "tactics"

I thought we were talking, in the broader context, about the picture above. Is that not considered propaganda? And if you re-read his sentence, he explicitely states that that using such tactics (and propaganda can be tactical, right?) is used by the other side by those who wish to enrage us.

Are we talking about the above picture or not? If the conversation has shifted, then I missed the offramp.


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