Street Preacher Cage Match, Part 2

Here’s the other side of the banner. (Side 1 is here.)

Let me get your reaction. Do you think hanging out in a public square with this is too much? Have you seen Christians preaching in public? What was it like, and how did you react?

If millions of people say a foolish thing,
it’s still a foolish thing.
— Anonymous

About Bob Seidensticker
  • Jason

    There is a time for compassionate and gentle communication and there is a time for more aggressive antagonism. Each has a place in the big picture. I think I read that in Ecclesiastes. . .

  • JohnH

    “Do you think hanging out in a public square with this is too much?”
    Not any more then anyone else that does this is too much.

    “Have you seen Christians preaching in public?”
    Yes. I spent two years as a missionary so I have done a few variations on preaching in public before. Even actually preached in public in the sense you are thinking of once for a game over who had to buy pizza. In my experience it is highly ineffective at getting anyone to listen to you and hard to get anyone to take you seriously. I know of others in the past that were highly effective at preaching to the public like that but I don’t know of anything recent.

    Passing out flyers actually works fairly well at getting ones message across.

    “What was it like, and how did you react?”
    That completely depends on how the person preaching in public is doing it. Generally telling people they are going to Hell causes a defensive reaction that tends to shut down meaningful thought and discussion, unless the person already really thinks they are likely headed to Hell, in which case they either get fearful or angry (or both). I suppose making people angry and yelling at you by telling them they are damned is a good way of getting attention if one is attention deprived, it is certainly better at getting attention then holding a sign saying Jesus loves you or something similar.

    • Godlesspanther

      Do you really think that passing out flyers is effective? Every single religious tract I have ever seen is over-the-top ridiculous. People generally just laugh at them and toss ‘em.

      • JohnH

        I said flyers rather then tracts, like these (if I got the address right, sorry if not). I realize that the most common things to happen to them are 1. Tossed on the ground 2. Actually making it to the trash. 3. Lost 4. Being worshiped as miniature saints. However, they are cheap and take very little time investment to hand out so handing out hundreds is not hard and when someone actually follows up on the card then they clearly have some interest.

        In terms of figures for conversion rates cold knocking on doors leads to about one conversion for every 100,000 door answered; Following up on a flyer is something like 1 out of every 8 of those that respond to the flyer. I suppose that doesn’t take into account the time cost of handing out the flyers to get 8 people to respond but it is much more effective then going door to door. Conversion of people to atheism might follow different trends; maybe going door to door is most effective use of Bob’s time but in terms of the most effective use of Bob’s time for the intended purpose I doubt it.

  • Greg

    I think the first one could be misconstrued as hostile or aggressive, but it attacks the belief, not the believer. The other two state facts, and the last ask as question, too, which is what the discussion should focus on, I think. Yelling insulting words at a woman, screaming at her, blocking her way into a Planned Parent Hood clinic, to me, that is hostile, in-your-face, rude, aggressive.

  • Bob Seidensticker

    Thanks for the comments, everyone. Much appreciated.

  • Don Gwinn

    Flyers and signs are good for showing closeted allies and fence-sitters that they won’t be alone if they come out on your side. They’re not much good at converting people, but that shouldn’t be their purpose. If you’re walking around with a sign, your goal should be that everyone who sees it knows where you stand, and if any of them would like to stand with you but lack the confidence or the courage, they see one more person who’s doing it and, for lack of a better term, getting away with it.
    Signs and flyers are for saying “See? We’re standing up, we’re showing ourselves, and we’re OK. Wouldn’t you like to do this, too?”

    • Bob Seidensticker

      Don: Yes, I’ve gotten quite a few thumbs-up, smiles, or nods from people who seem to appreciate my being there, even if they don’t have the time or perhaps interest to stop and chat.

  • DrewL

    I was waiting for someone else to post this…the obvious response to Bob’s question

  • Phil

    I find the Robert Ingersoll qu0te a little obscure.

    That is, it wasn’t immediately obvious to me that it was referring to the flood–I actually had to google it. But maybe it more obvious to other people (and today wasn’t my sharpest day).

    • Phil

      A little more explanation:

      When I first read it, I kept thinking: “God had to drown his own kid? Wtf? Jesus was crucified. Not drowned.”

      • Bob Seidensticker

        The quote actually says “kids,” referring to the people of Noah’s day, but I can see how a reader might veer off with that one.

  • Darren

    Stick with Sagan, he has strong arguments and knows how to present them effectively.

    To borrow an election metaphor, you are shooting for the swing voters. The Sagan quote might engage them, the Ingersoll quote will most likely push them away.

  • Kodie

    The big difference between the flyer approach compared to holding a sign is that, for some unknown reason, being handed something tends to bring an automatic response of reaching out to take it. It could be coupons for a new pizza place, men’s suits, astrology. I try not to take stuff and I will actually say out loud, “I don’t take things.” I do my very best not to get button-holed or stopped to sign any petitions or pledges to donate or sign up to receive mail, and I say, “I don’t stop” and “I don’t sign things” while keeping in forward motion. I have no doubt some good organizations participate in these methods, but I have no access to information and I don’t want to stand there and be sold to by some emotional appeal, even if it’s something I could care about and may be legitimate. I’m not as good thinking on my feet if it’s a bad thing I definitely don’t want to sign up for, so I’d probably get hostile really quick in a world where most people are taught to honor such requests with polite listening even as doing so impedes one’s course of travel.

    I’m not extremely likely to walk over to anyone carrying a sign, and that person may be standing in front of a sign holding a stack of flyers or also shouting or trying to get signatures, but the difference is it would be me choosing to stop where I was going to hear what this might be about. I can read your sign from over here, and I don’t really mind “free speech” on the sign no matter what the sign says unless the police mind – if the person is disruptive because they are themselves behaving badly, I mind (for example, if anti-abortioners obstruct the pathway for people trying to enter or leave a PP), but if they are causing a disruption because people are causing a ruckus over a sign because it offends them, I don’t know how a sign can offend people, to me that’s their freedom of speech and maybe it’s designed to cause a stir (as in the WBC hoping to get beaten up physically), but people can calm down and not punch anyone or get into a mob thing. If Christians want to get equally mad because atheism offends them, I think that’s effing stupid, considering how much religion they parade in full view.

    Anyway, since I don’t like to stop and talk, I don’t have to so much with a sign-holder. And not talking to someone doesn’t mean the sign isn’t working. Just because it is a person holding a sign instead of an inanimate billboard or bus ad doesn’t mean I can’t think about what I saw and look into it at my leisure and get involved if I choose to. Sort of like Drewl implied – if it fits on a sign (etc.), I’m not huge into quotes and bytes perhaps out of context – the people say “Ah, that sounds nice/good/exactly!” without really investigating their own clear thoughts or possibly missing implications – but I don’t think people sum up their beliefs on a sign either. It’s meant to be eye-catching and thinky, not a thesis on the subject. Blogs are for theses on the subject, and I like to read blogs.

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