Look Who Covered the National Day of Reason

Unfortunately, there has been very little coverage of the National Day of Reason in the American mainstream media, which is unfortunate. But guess who did cover the event, using it as a starting point to discuss the rise of atheism in our country?

A British newspaper, of course.

The Sunday Telegraph manages to tie together the rise in atheist literature, the names of several national secular organizations, Pete Stark, a questionable quotation by George Bush Sr., and a picture of atheists in Idaho (!)… When discussing how atheism is becoming more popular, the article states:

Groups including Atheists for Human Rights and Atheist Alliance International – “Call 1-866-HERETIC” – are setting up summer camps and an internet recruiting campaign.

This isn’t accurate. Atheists for Human Rights doesn’t run any summer camps. The largest summer camp for atheists, Camp Quest, is run by various local atheist groups (depending on the location). For example, says August Berkshire, “Camp Quest of Minnesota was set up independently in 2003 by members of Minnesota Atheists and the Humanists of Minnesota.” And while Camp Quest West may have an association with AAI, it’s in name only. AAI doesn’t help recruit or run the camp.

Furthermore, there’s no official “recruiting campaign,” but certainly the Internet is the most potent force for change, and atheists will use blogs, discussion boards, etc. to discuss religious/non-religious issues.

Writer Tim Shipman also talks about the number of atheists in America:

Official figures show the ranks of the non-religious have doubled to 13 per cent, or 30 million people, since 1990.

That number varies depending on your source, but Shipman’s numbers are fairly accurate. It’s also worth noting that of all people ages 18-25, a remarkable 20% are non-religious!

There is one more excerpt that caught my eye…:

Blogger Hemant Mehta, 24, who writes under the pen name “friendlyatheist”, regularly debates with Christian fundamentalists online. He wrote: “We are not the bogeymen we have been made out to be for so long.”

Britain noticed this blog?! Awesome. And they spelled my name right… that’s unusual. Though I don’t recall debating fundamentalists on this site… meh. It’s not the most egregious mistake ever.

Yes, there are some corrections that should be made to this article.

Overall, though, this is the type of article I had hoped the American press would be writing after the National Day of Reason. Kudos to The Sunday Telegraph for publishing it. Anyone else upset that you have to read British papers to get a more accurate glimpse of what’s going on in America?

(***UPDATE*** Some additional corrections to the Telegraph article have been added to this post. Thanks to August Berkshire for pointing them out!)


[tags]atheist, atheism, National Day of Reason, mainstream media, Sunday Telegraph, Pete Stark, George Bush, Idaho, Atheists for Human Rights, Atheist Alliance International, Tim Shipman, Hemant Mehta, Christian, fundamentalist Camp Quest[/tags]

  • Cat

    I came across the aforementioned article earlier on freerepublic.com. Some of the responses were scary. Link
    Here’s one that’s in direct response to the quote attributed to you:

    “We are not the bogeymen we have been made out to be for so long.”

    “You may think so, but you DO serve the Ultimate “Bogeyman”, who is known as El Diable, Beelzebub,Lucifer, the Evil One.”

    Silly.

  • Darryl

    I’m not upset with having to go abroad to get the facts; I’m just glad someone is doing good journalism.

  • Siamang

    I’ve been in England for the last two weeks, and I have to say that the newspapers there are terrible, but feature more nudity.

    Really, even the Times didn’t carry any serious news. It was all tabloid stuff. I picked up the paper to try and find out what was going on in America while I was away… really nothing ever got reported except that Heather Mills got voted off Dancing with the stars (Front page story, btw) and that a freeway in San Francisco melted.

    Other front-page stories from the Times and the Standard:
    Boy in china eaten by crocodile.
    Hugh Grant arrested for throwing beans at a photographer.
    Kate Moss has an amazing new line of clothes she designed.
    A handbag with the phrase “This is not a plastic bag” caused a riot when it went on sale for five pounds and thousands of people had lined up to buy them.
    (Then two days later)Scandal: “Green” handbag made in Chinese sweatshops!

    (Stories about the Iraq war if they didn’t mention Prince Harry were relegated to after page 15).

    England print media was terrible. But their tv news was quite good.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com FriendlyAtheist

    Hmm… Not disputing all of that, but I’ve always found some really good political/news articles in the Guardian.

  • Anthony Rasmussen

    a picture of atheists in Idaho (!)

    Yay! I’m an atheist in Idaho!

    The saturation of Protestants and Mormons here drove me to atheism :) Well, that and sound logic.

  • Richard Wade

    Though I don’t recall debating fundamentalists on this site…

    Yeah, Hemant, I noticed that you leave the dirty work up to us, your evil minions. Which is fine, I like it.

    a picture of atheists in Idaho (!)

    That’s plural. You mean there are more than just Anthony??

    And what the heck is a recruiting campaign? Where can I sign up?

  • anti-nonsense

    Freerepublic.com is a haven for insanity. It’s rather infamous among the commenters at Fundies Say the Darndest Things. That kind of comment is par for the course with those folks. If they said anything intelligent I’d be hugely surprised.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    “Anyone else upset that you have to read British papers to get a more accurate glimpse of what’s going on in America?”

    Yeah, well this has been bothering me for years.

  • Richard Wade

    “Anyone else upset that you have to read British papers to get a more accurate glimpse of what’s going on in America?”

    Yeah, well this has been bothering me for years.

    Well maybe it’s like having to go into space to get a more accurate glimpse of what’s going on on Earth. Or like Christians getting a more accurate glimpse of what’s going on in their churches by reading reviews of their services written by a visiting atheist. Some distance can help.

  • http://lowmag.net eli sarver

    “You may think so, but you DO serve the Ultimate “Bogeyman”, who is known as El Diable, Beelzebub,Lucifer, the Evil One.”

    El Diablo had a sex change I guess. I’ve been proudly kicked from that particular site, when I was still a Retardicon.

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    It’s not surprising that the British press spelled your name right Hemant. They have a lot more Indians over there to begin with.

    As for these articles:

    A handbag with the phrase “This is not a plastic bag” caused a riot when it went on sale for five pounds and thousands of people had lined up to buy them.
    (Then two days later)Scandal: “Green” handbag made in Chinese sweatshops!

    Hard to imagine this kind of thing even making news over here. Most Americans are still too ignorant to know why plastic bags are evil or care whether they are made in sweatshops.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X