What are your thoughts on this billboard idea?

Comment by kOrsan on March 20, 2012 at 3:18pm

Having billboards is nice but couldn't you come up with something better than putting some text over generic stock photo models? Why not make a community contest and let TA members enter their ideas and vote?

Comment by Sophie on March 20, 2012 at 3:56pm

Yeah I am not sure why Morgan posted this is a picture, but there is a group for billboard ideas http://www.thinkatheist.com/group/billboard

Comment by John Kelly on March 20, 2012 at 5:26pm

I agree with Rob.   In addition, I think the majority of the people who read this sign will find it threatening and react with disgust to the invasion of atheism in their lives.  

So we need to work on helping them see it as just a different point of view, and not an attempt to steal something from them.  People react to religion as one reacts to a possession.  So we come across as thieves when we want to take it from them.

So we need something like "Seriously, atheists are just normal people.  Not all of us hate religion.  Those of us that do, have some pretty good reasons for it, that kind of thing...  But there are a lot of different kinds of atheists."  Perhaps dual campaign with different boards about being normal and "let's start a dialogue".  Addressing why many atheists tend to oppose religion in a way that is more about trying to be understood than proving we are right.  I think the reasons are understandable enough with the right kind of campaign.  I think that would help people not see atheism as an invasive hostile encroachment.  I would prefer they see us as misguided instead.  We can work with "misguided" a lot better than with "threatening" or "dangerous". 

There are a lot of prejudices we need to work through.  If we focus on that, then we can kill two birds with one stone (getting new people, and clearing misconceptions).  I think the best thing before proving our point right, is to prove that it is understandable for us to have that point.  Otherwise we are wasting a lot of energy.

We need to do what can be done to make things better, otherwise nothing will get better.  I think the one step at a time is the most effective strategy.    Think back to the "Slaves obey your masters" billboard fiasco.  It was on account of prejudice against atheism that people couldn't connect that the billboard was trying to say that the passage was really a bad instruction.

Comment by Gary Mueller on March 20, 2012 at 5:27pm

The simple ideas are always the best.

Comment by archaeopteryx on March 20, 2012 at 6:35pm

I find it hard to beat, "Good without God" - it's direct, to the point, and says it all in three words.

Comment by Mabel on March 20, 2012 at 8:30pm

Its fine but I would rather see one that brings across the point atheists are tired of being treated like 8th class citizens even though they are upstanding citizens. Something like "Atheists - What is wrong with logic?" Visit Thinkatheist.com."

I liked Rob's idea also.

Comment by John Kelly on March 20, 2012 at 9:15pm

Archaeopteryx, "Good without God" really underestimates society's ability to understand it.  Plus they will take it as aggressive as it is trying to dethrone God from morality which is an attack on some core principle of monotheist religion.    

They should have understood what was meant by "Slaves obey your masters" too.  It was so obvious.    They see us as being good just so that we can prove God isn't necessary for morals.  But they think we borrow our morality and accept the values associated with morality according to tradition alone.  They think they do as well, but that the tradition comes from divine sources.

Using evolutionary psychology, we can show that morals are not only philosophical positions but also have innate properties related to survival.  But first it seems that we have to get them to see why we are atheists in the first place.

As Flower/Mabel said, we are 8th class citizens.  At that point we need to get ourselves out of that hole first.  The way to do that is to elicit sympathy.  Otherwise our existence is offensive.  They aren't offended at us.  They are offended at their screwed up interpretation of us.  

Comment by Heather Spoonheim on March 20, 2012 at 10:32pm

No, John, they are just offended that we won't acknowledge their imaginary friend  - few of them can think past that; they are just too stupid.

Comment by Rob Klaers on March 20, 2012 at 10:34pm

John... The "Slaves Obey your masters" one would probably have received less attention had it not been in a predominately black neighborhood. The group that posted that one went for the least expensive price on a billboard, which happened to be in that neighborhood. .It's something we need to anticipate. 

I agree we want people to be receptive to our message and not putting up mental barriers the second the see the billboard.  If we set the bar high by showing we don't have to be confrontational, other Atheist groups will do the same which can only allow us all to break down those preconceived ideas people have about us being angry and hating the Sky fairy.

Something to keep in mind too, is that no matter how we approach this there will always be people who believe we're Satanists and/or hate God.. What we can do is inform everyone else we're just like them. People with morals, who have families, jobs, etc..But with one difference- we don't believe in a Supernatural power. We do that and those who think we're baby killers will be few and far between.  That was the mode of thinking behind my riff on the "Got Milk?" ads..

In the end, I feel if we don't learn from the mistakes of others we're certainly bound to repeat them.

Comment by John Kelly on March 21, 2012 at 12:17am

I totally agree Rob.  I think that a "Why I am an atheist" campaign might do that if it comes across as nonconfrontational and just "I want you to understand why".  Starting with "It is hard" "i have trouble", "this confuses me" or "I have to believe this because"  Eventually you can bring in the antitheist positions with a second campaign, Why I am an antitheist, which would be done more successfully with "I feel I need to oppose religion because".  This is leveling language, rather than attacking language.  I agree that some will just be critical, but what we are looking for is a shift.  And a lot of the people who aren't tied to a set organized religion would be more swayed over.  

But things like "I think" sound like elitism, which is something we want to avoid.  It implies "I think and you don't so I am better than you".  A position that is counterproductive to a goal of acceptance.  Once we gain acceptance, we will have higher deconversion numbers, because our position just makes sense.  That is why I am no longer religious, but I was a rare individual who actually fairly considered my opposition.  But my deconversion was largely influenced from genuine attempts to understand atheists.

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