Catholic League launches “Adopt-an-Atheist” campaign

This year’s anti-Christmas billboard may have touched a nerve — but at least they’re responding creatively.

The Catholic League’s press release:

Catholic League president Bill Donohue explains why the Catholic League is starting a new initiative aimed at atheists:

Approximately 80 percent of Americans are Christian, and 96 percent celebrate Christmas. Of the 20 percent who are not Christian, non-believers make up the largest segment, though the number of self-identified atheists is tiny. David Silverman, president of American Atheists, knows this to be true, which is why he is frantically trying to inflate his base. “We want people to realize that there may be atheists in their family,” he told the New York Times, “even if those atheists don’t even know they are atheists.”

We think there is some merit in David’s idea, even if he has things backwards, as usual. Today we are launching our “Adopt An Atheist” campaign, the predicate of which is, “We want atheists to realize that there may be Christians in their community, even if those Christians don’t even know they are Christian.”

Here’s what our campaign entails. We are asking everyone to contact the American Atheist affiliate in his area [click here], letting them know of your interest in “adopting” one of them. All it takes is an e-mail. Let them know of your sincere interest in working with them to uncover their inner self. They may be resistant at first, but eventually they may come to understand that they were Christian all along.

If we hurry, these closeted Christians can celebrate Christmas like the rest of us. As an added bonus, they will no longer be looked upon as people who “believe in nothing, stand for nothing and are good for nothing.”

Atheists, naturally, are unimpressed:

Donohue provides a link in his news release that lists a number of American Atheist state directors in addition to President David Silverman and Director of State Operations Ken Loukinen. Also included on this list is the former Texas state director, Joe Zamecki, who finds Donohue’s campaign to be “bizarre on twelve different levels” mainly because “saying that state directors may by Christians is ridiculous because these are some of the most active atheists.” Zamecki says, “It sounds like The Onion wrote this.”

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  • cathyf

    Gee, I hadn’t noticed that atheists were generally that clueless. Perhaps it’s just those who aspire to be organized atheists…

  • kenneth

    Bill Donohue AND proselytizing atheists are both “bizarre on twelve different levels.” They richly deserve each other.

  • Deacon Norb

    You know — I take a very narrow view on all of this.

    My definition of an “atheist” is one who publicly DENIES that a personal God exists in any form. My definition of an “agnostic” is one who readily admits that he/she DOESN’T KNOW if a personal GOD exists or not.

    I have met a LOT of “agnostics” but have never met a committed “atheist.”

    Now I have met a lot of folks who CLAIM that are “atheists” but when I seriously question them about their beliefs and focus, they turn out to be “agnostics” in disguise.

    For what it is worth.

  • Melody

    Why couldn’t one “adopt” someone who struggles with belief in God in an unofficial way during Advent? Just pray for that person every day. We wouldn’t have to know who they are, God knows who needs the prayers. There’s no need to to involve American Atheists, just do it quietly on one’s own.

  • Oregon Catholic

    I’m really sorry that Bill Donohue claims to speak for Catholics. Is he trying to pick a public fight or just being his usual angry, obnoxious self?

  • Fiergenholt

    OC says. . . .that Bill Donohue is being “his usual angry, obnoxious self.”

    Never gave that much of a thought — but then the Catholic League lost all of my loyalty many years ago. I’m just assuming that Bill reflects their corporate identity.

  • naturgesetz

    Where’s your sense of humor, people?

  • pagansister

    That is just plain silly—if an Atheist wants to “find God” there are many places he can look. Expect many have already been to many houses of worship and found none to his/her liking. Mr. Donohue at least tried thinking outside the box.

  • Mark

    Sent me email off today offering to adopt one of these poor people in need. Bill I think is using his good sense of humor and the ongoing call for Catholics to get out and evangelize more in a very good way.

    Once again, I note some here who seem to have a strong dislike if not hatred for Bill Donohue and it is interesting to see some of those same names who called out for more tolerance and forgiveness and mercy on other posts. Interesting. He is filling a role in bringing attention to the ongoing bashing of the Catholic faith which others have tried to do as well such as The Anchoress and other blogs. Bill uses a different way that others, but if one does not see the ongoing attacks on the Catholic faith in our society today, they must not be paying attention.

  • FR FRANCIS

    Bill Donohue’s manner may not be the honey-type that catches more bees than vinegar, but he is a genius at stinging the bees. His work is very much needed and may his tribe prosper. I cannot understand the people who oppose him, but that is their right and privilege. The astute among you ought to see the all-out war there in the USA against the Natural law and its Public Defender the Catholic Christian Church guided by the Bishop of Rome. The current Pope is catching undeserved heck – hell from atheists and agnostics who may not really be non-beleivers- for being who he is and represents. Bill Donohue is an eloquent defender of all things Catholic. IF you were under attack would you want a Bill Donohue to defend you or a smiling Barach Obama who was trying subtly, but is more and more obviously seen, to be undermining every principle of Natural Law your culture has held dear? Including your fundamental right to freedom of conscience for his “health” care sexual ethics programme.

  • Henry Karlson

    The reason why people oppose him is simple: he often allows unjust attacks on Catholics if it fits his political agenda. He will even defend such attackers if they are political allies of his. As with many Catholics, it’s politics as Catholicism first.

  • Donal Mahoney

    There you go again, Henry, taking a position that I simply cannot understand, this time taking a whack at the only Catholic that I know of who speaks publicly against people who attack orthodox Catholicism.

    Donohue is needed because none of our clergy has the testosterone to do what he does. And no one on EWTN does what he does. If we had a bishop who would do on a regular basis what Donohue does, or a commentator on EWTN who does what he does, we wouldn’t need Donohue. But we do need him now, loud and obnoxious as he may be.

    For the same reason, Gingrich may get the GOP nomination. He’s a lot like Donohue. If he runs against pro-choice Obama, I will hold my nose, vote for him and go home and take a bath. I will probably do the same if one of the other GOP characters gets the nomination, except for Ron Paul. He might convince me to stay home.

    God bless you, Henry. You have a sensibility I have never encountered before in a Catholic or anyone else. Please understand that I do not understand your positions, try as I might. The nice thing is, those positions no longer infuriate me or lead to a rash.

  • Thomas R

    At first I was thinking/hoping this just meant “pick an atheist to befriend and answer any questions they have with charity.” Some atheists do have ideas of Christians that are highly weird so just being nice and, to be honest, not trying to aggressively convert them I think could impress some of them. (It has in my experience)

    But it sounds closer to, “pester some odd group that doesn’t really represent most atheists anyway.”

  • Henry Karlson

    He has been known to attack people defending the Catholic faith if they are discussing just war or Catholic Social Doctrine. He has often been seen as saying “well, that attack against Catholics is no big deal” when it is a “conservative ally.” He has done it many, many times. He is just a con-man. A big time con-man.

    http://vox-nova.com/2008/05/05/bill-donohue-is-back-showing-his-true-colors/
    http://vox-nova.com/2010/10/20/donohue-on-winters-on-sirico/ is another example

  • Donal Mahoney

    Atheists are an interesting group to talk with but let me tell you, from personal experience, that agnostics, especially lapsed Catholics turned agnostic, are quite another matter.

    I currently am doing the best I can to reclaim an old Catholic grammar school classmate, the father of many and a successful businessman, who now simply says he “doesn’t know.” How he lost his faith I don’t know because we have not seen each other in decades. But the two of us attended Catholic grammar and high schools in the 1950s when both were kosher and grounded in orthodox doctrine.

    If anyone knows of a book or an organization that might be able to help me communicate with him in such a way that might open him to the gift of faith once more, I sure would appreciate the help.

  • HMS

    Donal:
    Testosterone? Seems to me that he has an abundance of yellow bile or, in more modern terms, adrenaline.

  • Bill McGeveran

    If Bill Donohue is thinking outside the box I would like to see him get back in.

  • Barbara P

    I wouldnt want a bill donohue to defend me.

  • Barbara P

    I think the best that you can do is live out your faith like St Francis said: Preach the Gospel always, if necessary use words. When people see the fruits of the Spirit in you they will be attracted to that and seek to learn more. I think it is snarky, harsh and combatitive tactics that make people turn away. I do not see the fruits of the Spiriti in Mr. Donohue’s words or work. I would rather defend my faith by living the Beatitudes then by drawing the same sword that is used against me. Why not just put up a billboard that says “God Is.”

  • ecb

    I have met a couple of very committed “athesist”. At least in what they say. I cannot speak to their heart. We should pray for them publicly and privately. I am reminded of what God told Jeremiah, “you will seek me and find me; when you seek me with all your heart”.

  • http://twitter.com/iampiratex PirateX

    @Deacon Norb:

    I would consider myself a genuine atheist, not an agnostic.
    Consider my example:

    I am 100% confident of the fact that on the planet Earth, gravity always pulls things down. I have no doubt in my mind. I’ve formulated this opinion based on the repeated scientific studies performed on the subject. However, if a situation arose where it was discovered that gravity on planet Earth did not, in fact, pull things down but rather shot them up into the air, then I would reformulate my opinion. Until such time, however, I am not ‘agnostic’ about the effect of gravity on Earth. I am confident I won’t be flying up into the sky any time soon.

  • Keith

    Wow. I can’t wait for someone who thinks I “believe in nothing, stand for nothing and are good for nothing” finds me and starts to help me stand for something.

    Twenty years in military service, twenty four years of monogamy, kids now aged 17, 22 and 17, community volunteering, charity donations… All for naught because i lack a belief in a skybeast.

    Kinda reminds me of the people that offer women a gift makeover. I hadn’t thought i needed improvement until someone told me how ugly i look…

  • Carmelitaspats

    This is hilarious! I am an atheist and I volunteered to be “adopted”! What a hoot! I gave them my email address and my home address. I will post ALL responses on my blog. If I DO NOT receive a response, I will continue to pester and if they blow me off, I will be SO disappointed. I want them to tell me why I’m a still a Christian…Hell, I want them to make a case for their God, the virgin birth, transubstantiation, the pedophile scandal, Father Marcial Maciel, biblegod’s penchant for genocide, the crazy-ass tattoo that Jesus will sport on his thigh when he comes back (See Revelation 19:16) and who will get to go up close to Christ’s thigh to see the tattoo, Father Geoghan, the resurrection, 500 people seeing their dead relatives in Jerusalem after the miraculous death/resurrection, Padre Pio, the Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother Icaza aka “purple lips” (the nun who lived with an enormous HOLE in her sternum and now the sternum is worshiped in Mexico), the coagulated blood of San Pantaleon, Mary of Medjugorje, the holy prepuce (where is Christ’s foreskin? Two churches claim to have part of Christ’s penis), amputees that were healed at Lourdes (Oh, right…NONE), Archbishop Norberto Rivera’s refusal to cooperate with the authorities on matters of rampant pedophilia in the Mexican Catholic Church, and much, much, much, more…Let the FUN begin!

  • Steve

    I have a solution. We lock Donahue and Silverman in a room together and see which one kills the other first. No matter who wins, we all win.

  • Fiergenholt

    What I will say is this. The Catholic League supposedly modeled itself after B’nai B’rith — the Jewish anti-defamation league. It never met that high level of ethical credibility ever — and, even with that being stated, what little credibility it did have has significantly declined in recent years.


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