Why Atheist Advertising is So Important

Last night, I received an email from a high school student named Cris.

I think it perfectly illustrates why the atheist bus campaigns and the atheist billboards are so important:

I’m a 16-year-old atheist who lives in the D.C. suburbs and goes to a Catholic school in D.C. Because you’ve been posting about the D.C. atheist bus campaign, I thought I’d share this story with you.

I was taking the Metro bus to school this morning when I had an interesting experience. I have to take two buses, and on the first one, there was a Creationist sitting across the aisle from me. He was talking loudly to the man who sitting next to him, explaining his creationist view of the world.

He went on and on about how the Earth used to have a roof, but then the roof was broken in Noah’s flood. When the roof broke, the ozone came through. Now we breathe ozone, which is why we only live for 70 years, instead of 900.

The poor guy sitting next to him spoke little English and could only smile and nod uncomfortably. The Creationist continued to speak loudly about Genesis and the evils of evolution until the bus route ended.

When I got off the bus to transfer to my next bus, I was annoyed and stressed — who wants to hear about Genesis at 7:00 in the morning? — but when I got on my next bus and sat down, lo and behold, in front of me were the words, “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake.”

The American Humanist Association mentioned that one of the reasons they wanted to do this ad campaign was because some atheists feel alone over the holidays. Well, this morning when I had to listen to a Creationist try to convert everyone in earshot while I was heading to a Catholic school where I am one of only a handful of atheists, I felt alone. That ad on the bus reminded me that even when I feel like I am the only one standing up for truth, there are others out there who are doing the same thing.

I am not alone.

No, Cris, you’re not.

Neither are the thousands of people who can’t (or won’t) admit they feel the same way.

It’s not too late to donate to the American Humanist Association ad campaign here. The money will be doubled if you contribute before the end of the year.

  • Ubi Dubium

    Wow, Cris, it’s good to hear from you. I’m an atheist mom with two atheist daughters, also in the DC suburbs. We may be spread out, but you are most definitely not alone. Thank FSM for the internet, so we can all find each other.

  • Josh

    That’s really, really cool. That brightened my day, to be quite honest.

  • llewelly

    This is exactly what the atheist advertising campaigns are intended to achieve. (Dan Barker has explained this several times on Freethought Radio.) This effect is far more important than all the self-centered whining and crying we’ve been hearing from the Christians who think this awareness campaign has something to do with them.

  • SarahH

    Hooray! This made my day :-) I’m a huge fan of the bus campaigns and the more recent billboards that serve as reminders that religion doesn’t have a monopoly on ethics, love, community or reasons to celebrate. We’re here, we don’t think god’s here, get used to it!

  • http://leyanlo.tumblr.com Leyan

    Donations will be doubled? Where does it say that?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    Donations will be doubled? Where does it say that?

    It’s on the main page of the AHA’s website.

    A donor has agreed to match the contributions of all new donors up to $1,000,000

  • http://www.doublesingledouble.com Amanda

    I really like the idea of secular groups spending money to reach new people.

    But on the other hand, there’s something about a one-liner on the side of a bus that seems to insult my intelligence. I guess it reminds me of people with some supposedly poignant bumper sticker … and I always wonder if they really think that that bumper sticker is going to change anyone’s mind?

    I’m torn. But I guess if the ads get someone to visit a secular group’s Web site and find a community they didn’t know existed, then good work.

  • http://www.doublesingledouble.com Amanda

    As a side note to my comment, the “BORN OK THE FIRST TIME” bumper stickers do give me a good laugh.

  • http://inthenuts.blogspot.com King Aardvark

    Wow, thanks for this. I think it really gets to the crux of the atheist advertising right now. It’s not necessarily about deconverting people, though that’s nice. It’s really about ourselves.

  • Jen

    The Earth used to have a roof? What? No, seriously, what?

  • Guest Pest

    Jen Said:

    The Earth used to have a roof? What? No, seriously, what?

    I’m pretty sure the person was referring to this:
    “The Vapor Canopy Hypothesis Holds No Water”

  • http://starseyer.blogspot.com Mikayla

    “The Earth used to have a roof? What? No, seriously, what?”

    If you take the the first creation story in the Bible very literally, than yes, the Earth had a roof. (Genesis 1:6-8)

    See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Firmament

  • http://www.otmatheist.com hoverFrog

    I would have laughed at the creationist…well, unless he looked like he might be armed.

    It’s a shame that the bus with the creationist didn’t have a sign on. I can just imagine him ranting and raving about cud chewing bunnies and a flat Earth being held up by pillars while sitting under an atheist sign.

  • Saint Splattergut

    That makes me happy. :)

    If we don’t feel so alone, more of us can start to open up and talk about our atheism. Well done!

    oh and,

    SarahH Says:
    December 3rd, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Hooray! This made my day :-) I’m a huge fan of the bus campaigns and the more recent billboards that serve as reminders that religion doesn’t have a monopoly on ethics, love, community or reasons to celebrate. We’re here, we don’t think god’s here, get used to it!

    you say it so well, Sarah…

  • http://www.meetup.com/beltwayatheists Shelley Mountjoy

    Cris –
    You’re totally not alone. :)
    Join Beltway Atheists! http://www.meetup.com/BeltwayAtheists

  • http://elisverse.wordpress.com/ Elis

    More than just let other atheist know they’re not alone, but also let theists know we are part of society.

  • Rex Sutherland

    I am Canadian. In Canada it is much less religious then the U.S. so I find this encouraging. I ended a relationship because of religion. I honestly thought that by using logic I could make her think about her faith in a more critical way. The last straw was when she told me she wasn’t sure if she believed in Noah’s Ark because of the dinosaurs. I knew then to walk away.


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