Tulsa Atheists

A simple, to-the-point ad recently ran on a local TV network in Oklahoma:

I feel like the WTC background makes a strong point, but generalizes all religions as violent and destructive as fundamentalist Islam. Obviously, not all religions are as bad, though they are all equally untrue.

Should the Tulsa Atheist Group get rid of the image for future ads?

Would it be more helpful for their own marketing if they showed positive images of atheists or negative images of religion?

(via erv)


[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

  • TolgaK

    They should definitely change it.

    While I support the use of that picture as a quick and shocking way to get people to think about the ramifications of fundamentalist belief, the last thing atheist groups need is bad publicity. In this case, one of the dangers is that the add will be pulled, or worse, replaced by an angry religious message.

    I don’t know what to put in its place, but I’m sure there’s something that can not only be inoffensive to religious folk, but inviting. The very least we can accomplish right now is to get on good terms with religious folk, so that should be among our short term goals (along with providing opportunities for atheists to be free from religious influence in their communities).

  • http://www.blueglowy.com Mike B

    It needs to go. A TV spot needs to show the friendly happy atheist, not the controversial atheist. That image does not help.

  • http://blueollie.wordpress.com/ ollie

    One question: are those the WTC in New York, or is that the Tulsa Skyline?

  • http://www.evolvedrational.com Evolved Rationalist

    Yeah…appease the theistards, prevent doing anything that could possibly offend them…shut our mouths and don’t tell the truth because it may hurt certain theistarded ears…..

    Appeasement. I want no part of it.

  • todd

    It doesn’t look like the Tulsa skyline to me, but it could be. The Bank Of Oklahoma tower downtown is actually a half-scale “replica” of one of the WTC towers, by the same architect. There are other buildings not as tall, but from the right angle, who knows?

    Anyway, even if it only looks like the WTC, it should go: I say this as an atheist, a Tulsan (of 11 years) and an ex-New Yorker (my other 33 years).

    I’m not worried about offending them, I just don’t think that our atheism has anything to do with 9/11. We rejected religion long before that, and most likely not simply because of the problems that religions have caused. We resisted religions for the only really important reason of all: because they’re not “true”.

    What also has to go is the logo: neglect to apply the scarlet A to both words, and you have Tulsa Theist. Somehow I suspect this is NOT what they were going for.

  • andyinsdca

    If it is the WTC skyline, then they were right to start with this ad. What will happen is there will be a shitstorm of controversy, lots of free play for the ads on news stations saying “ZOMFG, atheists are evil” along with a few preachers that will come out and say they aren’t like this, bla bla. Then, the Tulsa Atheists will issue an apology, get a bit more press coverage and come out with a less controversial ad.

    In the meantime, more atheists in Tulsa will get to see the ad courtesy of the news media and will be drawn to the TA group.

    It’s a win.

  • http://brentcliffe.blogspot.com Alex

    Religion is superstitious nonsense and saying anything less than that preserves the illusion that religion should be taken seriously.

    Even mainstream Catholic priests, e.g., have no problem saying all kinds of derogatory things about atheists, non-believers, and all people who don’t believe as they do.

    Virtually every religion purports to be the one true way.

    A pox on all of it I say!

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff

    To be honest, most religious people probably wouldn’t see the connection between the World-trade center towers and their own religion. They would probably just be confused as to why the ad was showing that image. It might have meaning for atheists, though, that have spent their entire life in the closet looking for some like-minded people.

  • Josha

    I think they should change the image because it doesn’t specify fundamentalist religion. Changing it doesn’t mean appeasement because it does offend with its generalization. Sure some may disagree but the point is to attract members so it’s better to be more moderate in an ad campaign.

    The group wants to attract atheist members and I think it could do so with a better ad. Maybe the one that says “Imagine no religion” in a stained glass motif. It asks the same question but without the inference that all relgions cause extremist violence.

  • Eliza

    It is the WTC – here’s another image showing the antenna on top of one of the towers, and the 2 buildings with rounded roofs adjacent.

    The TA site Hemant linked to shows a poster using the image. I think the image works well – not only the fact that it’s the WTC, which as Jeff said will have more meaning for atheists, but also that it captures the sun between the 2 buildings. (For me, a reference to the light of reason, an understanding that our existence depends on the sun, a reminder of all the Big Stuff Out There that’s not supernatural. But I don’t know whether the TA group had any of these in mind when they chose the WTC + sun image.)

  • http://keenabean.blogspot.com Kaleena

    definitely positive images of atheists!!

  • Pseudonym

    Obviously, not all religions are as bad, though they are all equally untrue.

    This probably isn’t the right thread, but since Hemant felt compelled to throw in the qualification, I feel compelled to the obligatory qualification to his qualification.

    For some religions, it is a meaningless question as to whether or not they are “true” or “false”. It’s just as meaningless as asking if the wearing of hats is “true” or “false”. It’s something that some people do. That’s all.

  • http://skepticalmonkey.com Ted Goas

    Yes remove it. Tulsa has nothing to do with the towers save the fact they’re located in the same country. I’m not so much offended as I am confused by them in this ad.

  • http://www.wordsfromtheway.com/between-the-trees Jake Meador

    Not to be snarky, but most of the comments from the atheists on here strike me as being every bit as arrogant as the fundamentalists ya’ll (rightly) condemn with such frequency.

    “Yeah…appease the theistards, prevent doing anything that could possibly offend them…shut our mouths and don’t tell the truth because it may hurt certain theistarded ears…..”

    “Religion is superstitious nonsense and saying anything less than that preserves the illusion that religion should be taken seriously.”

    Again, not trying to be an ass or anything, but are you guys listening to yourselves? You sound like atheist versions of all the conservative evangelicals you criticize with such frequency. I mean, if that’s what you want, I guess go ahead and continue with it. But if you want to be true to the site’s mission – promoting dialogue between theists and non-theists – a little civility wouldn’t hurt.

  • David Crespo

    Civility is therefore taken to mean speaking/writing so that your words are more tactful than your thoughts.

    Hey ma, I got me some civility!

  • http://www.evolvedrational.com Evolved Rationalist

    Yes Jake, put religion on the same level of criticism one usually provides to any other institution in human society and you’re immediately labelled ‘arrogant’ and ‘a fundamentalist atheist’. If placing religion on an undeserved pedestal just to keep it immune from criticism (for the so-called aim of ‘promoting dialogue’ between atheists and theists) is what you prefer; again, I want no part of it.

    Spin it all you want. Appeasement is still appeasement, and appeasers are still spineless pushovers.

    (shrug)

  • David Crespo

    Hey, Evolved Rationalist, you could use some civility.

    Did that seem overly sarcastic? Read it again, but think of me as a nice guy.

  • http://www.evolvedrational.com Evolved Rationalist

    Civility =/= Trying to avoid offending theistards at all cost

  • Pseudonym

    Yes Jake, put religion on the same level of criticism one usually provides to any other institution in human society and you’re immediately labelled ‘arrogant’ and ‘a fundamentalist atheist’.

    Free clue: Nobody used those phrases when Life of Brian came out. “Heretical”, yes. “Blasphemous”, yes. “Arrogant” and “fundamentalist”, no.

    Those who get the phrase “fundamentalist atheist” attached to them are not those who merely criticise religion, organised or otherwise. That phrase is usually reserved for those atheists who act like fundamentalists.

  • http://blog.crispen.org/ Bob Crispen

    Whatever happened to the atheist tradition of leaving people alone and encouraging them to make up your own minds?

    Decide on your own tactics, Tulsa atheists I love you folks, and thanks for standing up for me and my friends.

  • http://blog.crispen.org/ Bob Crispen

    Whatever happened to the atheist tradition of leaving people the hell alone and encouraging them to make up their own minds?

    Decide on your own tactics, Tulsa atheists. I love you folks, and thanks for standing up for me and my friends.

  • http://www.evolvedrational.com Evolved Rationalist

    So tell me, appeaser(s): How am I as ‘arrogant as a fundamentalist’ again? How does one be a fundie atheist when atheism is merely the lack of belief in a god or gods?

  • Pseudonym

    Evolved Rationalist:

    How does one be a fundie atheist when atheism is merely the lack of belief in a god or gods?

    I don’t use the term myself, but since you asked, let’s look into this a bit. Note that I’m not saying that any of this is true of you; I know nothing about you.

    First off, the word “fundamentalist” is a word that has changed a lot in the 20th century. It originally referred to a 12-volume set of books called The Fundamentals, published in 1915.

    The positions in these books are only superficially related to the beliefs of US Evangelical Christians, and not related at all to those of Islamists. So unless you are in the school of thought who believe that it’s only fair to call a religion or religious person “fundamentalist” if that’s how they describe themselves, it’s clear that “fundamentalism” doesn’t refer to The Fundamentals.

    Secondly, many religious people (i.e. the moderate and liberal parts) go one step further than this; they feel that those usually referred to as “fundamentalists” have no more claim to the “fundamentals” of any religion than anyone else. As such, they argue that fundamentalism isn’t a belief, but an attitude.

    For a moderate or liberal religious person, therefore, a “fundamentalist atheist” is an atheist who acts like a fundamentalist. Generally speaking, the sorts of things we’re talking about are:

    - An apparent unwillingness to examine ones beliefs or non-beliefs critically.
    - A tendency to accept fundamentalist premises. Sam Harris is particularly famous for this; his position is that extremist religion is, in a sense, “more correct” or “more authentic” than moderate or liberal religion.
    - A tendency to utopianism; the position that “X” is the worst evil in the world, and many problems would be magically fixed if “X” were done away with.
    - A tendency to engage in the sorts of tactics that fundamentalists would engage in. One atheist that I know criticised Richard Dawkins for maintaining that the existence of gods is a scientific question, and yet trying to settle the matter through popular books rather than scientific papers; a behaviour normally seen in pseudoscientists, not scientists. (I don’t think that this charge against Dawkins specifically is entirely fair, but it certainly made me stop and think.)
    - The use of 9/11 as a generic “proof by example”. Claiming that religion in general is all to blame for it seems, to many people, to be no different from Pat Robertson’s claim that feminists, homosexual people and the ACLU were to blame.

    Moderate and liberal religious people have a longer memory than many people give them credit for. They have bad cultural memories of people getting killed over who has the right and wrong religion. There is, therefore, something of a knee-jerk reaction when people act in an “I am right and you are wrong” kind of way.

  • David Crespo

    Well, “theistard” is probably even more offensive to retards than theists, so there’s a point to be a bit more civil.

  • J Myers

    A tendency to accept fundamentalist premises. Sam Harris is particularly famous for this; his position is that extremist religion is, in a sense, “more correct” or “more authentic” than moderate or liberal religion.

    Sam Harris does not believe that fundamentalist religion is “more correct.” He does point out that the fundies are more consistent than liberal believers (who seem to have no reservations making it up as they go, then claiming divine authority anyway), but this really is a trivial observation.

  • Pseudonym

    Sam Harris does not believe that fundamentalist religion is “more correct.” He does point out that the fundies are more consistent than liberal believers (who seem to have no reservations making it up as they go, then claiming divine authority anyway), but this really is a trivial observation.

    Trivial, yes. Accurate, no.

    Harris’ “observation” completely ignores the way that religions, and interpretations of their sacred texts, change over time. There’s a simple thought experiment to demonstrate this: Would a 1st century Christian would recognise modern US evangelicalism as being in any way “Christian”?

    Harris’ unquestioned assumption is that literal interpretations of sacred texts are the only consistent way to interpret them, as opposed to figurative interpretations. In this sense, he really does seem to think that fundamentalist religion is “more correct”.

    Just looking at Christianity for the moment, it’s very easy to find examples of the New Testament using the Hebrew sacred texts figuratively. Indeed, it’s arguably far more common for a New Testament use to be figurative rather than literal. So in that sense, a literalist interpretation of the Christian sacred texts is not even close to being “consistent”.

    (Incidentally, I did not mean to imply, by my use of quotes around “more correct”, that this was a quote from Harris. It’s not. Apologies if there was any confusion there.)

    Incidentally, your parenthetical comment is also false for the most part: very few, if any, liberal religionists claim very much, if any, “divine authority”. There are some moderates that do, of course, but you said “liberal”.

  • Pseudonym

    Oh, one more thing. Another reason why moderate and liberal religionists see some atheists as “fundamentalists” is that they tend to lump “New Atheists” together in one heap.

    Different atheists actually have quite different positions on religion. There’s actually very little in Breaking the Spell, for example, that a non-fundie could disagree with if they actually took the time to understood it. By contrast, God Is Not Great has stuff in it that everyone can disagree with, theist and atheist alike.

  • Pseudonym

    And more more thing before I head off for the evening. This op-ed by R.J. Eskow is an interesting take from someone who actually does use the term “fundamentalist atheist”. I disagree with a lot of it (particularly the use of the word “fundamentalist”!), but I found it enlightening as to why some people use that term.

  • Siamang

    That image with the world trade center and the line “Imagine no religion” was from ads for Richard Dawkins’ book “The God Delusion.” Tulsa Atheists didn’t invent it.

    http://img504.imageshack.us/img504/9307/goddelusionflyerel8.jpg

  • Kenny Nipp

    My name is Kenny Nipp, I’m the leader of the Tulsa Atheist and I am the producer of this ad. I appreciate all of you’re comments. I would like to enlighten all of you of the intention of this ad.
    I wrote this ad to accomplish one thing and one thing only; To find other atheist in the Tulsa area and let them know that we (The Tulsa Atheist) exist and to come join us. I wrote this ad on the premise that it is the first of three ads. This ad needed something to make the viewer ‘wake up’ and take notice of it. So I did in-fact contact Richard Dawkins people to get permission to use the ‘WTC Imagine’ ad shot. While at the TV studio finalizing the ad, the tech helping me placed the final cut on the master ‘on air’ system to where anyone in the building could see it. We then walked over to the master editing room, this ad was on one of a dozen monitors showing various commercials. ALL of the techs where looking at the monitor with my ad. They had seen it one time, and they were in a civilized debate on what the world be like without religion. -Mission accomplished-
    While some will say that the WTC shot is too controversial I say that if it was good enough for Richard Dawkins, it’s good enough for me and the TA.
    Now I’ll address those who saw the ad as not showing Atheist in good light.
    The next two ads will do just that. The second of the tri-series will be to educate the public that they live amongst many Atheist and have so for there entire lives so the statement; ‘I’ve never met an Atheist’ is simply not true. The last ad will educate the public that Atheist are good upstanding citizens who contribute to the community.
    I hope all of you visit our website; tulsaatheist.com
    Thank you all for your comments, and I hope I’ve shed some light today.
    If you’d like to leave a comment to me please email me at; email@tulsaatheist.com

  • David Crespo

    Plurals, man.

  • Pseudonym

    Kenny writes:

    I say that if it was good enough for Richard Dawkins, it’s good enough for me and the Tulsa TA.

    Fair enough. If all you were trying to do was generate discussion, then you succeeded. I didn’t spot the image reuse, but as I recall, it also strained credulity when Dawkins used it, and hence generated a lot of discussion.

    So well done!


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