The Funniest Speech About Atheism You’ll Ever Read

Editor-in-Chief of The Onion Scott Dikkers spoke at last year’s Freedom From Religion Foundation conference. While he gave this talk back in October, it wasn’t online until now.

It’s one of the funniest speeches about the public image of atheists you’ll ever read.

Here’s one excerpt:

So, I saw this U. of Minn. survey that came out a while back. Perhaps you saw it as well. It asked Americans, who do you trust? And they broke it down into categories: Do you trust a Christian? Most said yes. In fact, Christians were at the top of the list. Do you trust a black person? A Muslim? A homosexual? etc.

The group that came out at the very bottom of the list — and I’m talking about below terrorists, below sexual predators, below the guy who skins babies alive and wears the skin as a mask and then dances in the moonlight while gargling the blood of his infant victim — after that guy, was atheists.

We are the single-most reviled group of people in the country. Maybe the world. By far.

What we have to ask ourselves is, what can we learn from the terrorists and the serial killers? Well, for starters we need to find out who does their PR. We’ve got to ask the racists and the rapists, what’s your secret? Child molesters, how did you get to be America’s sweetheart? Show us how it’s done. Maybe we could move up a notch or two if you’d share with us some of your winning people skills.

First of all it’s the name. Atheist. It’s a cold and prickly word, like Recidivist. Rapist. Terrorist. Anal cyst. It’s a terrible word. Agnostic is no better. It sounds clinical. It’s two letters off from diagnostic. “I’m sorry to have to tell you, Mr. Johnson, we got the results back from your agnostic, and we’re going to have to amputate your testicles.”

The rest of the speech can be found at Freethought Today :)

  • http://www.travisjmorgan.com Travis Morgan

    Oh! That was good!

  • http://www.juanformoso.com.ar Juan Manuel

    Well… you were right… I laughed =)

  • http://blueollie.wordpress.com ollie

    Actually, this is one of those surveys in which the respondents don’t know what the heck they are talking about.

    Since atheists and agnostics account for 93 percent of the academy of science (and 60 percent of all American scientists), these clowns actually DO trust atheists; they just don’t know that they do. :)

  • SarahH

    First, we need a mascot–a puppet, or some kind of lovable character.

    Thinking of applying, Hemant? :-P

  • http://ozatheist.wordpress.com/ OzAtheist

    thanks for bringing this to our attention,

  • http://www.baconeatingatheistjew.blogspot.com/ The Atheist Jew

    I thought I just read that Jeffrey Dahmer was an atheist. Holy Stalin!

  • Paul

    I think atheists should get busy thinking up a new name that genuinely sounds appealing. My own idea is based upon our denial of an afterlife. As we reject the idea of an other-worldly Heaven (or Hell), we should emphasize our eternal link with this realm by calling ourselves ‘Terra’ists (or people of this Earth). Terraist has a warm earthy sound that I think few people would find objectionable.

    • amycas

      Are you making a joke here? Because “Terraist” sounds, and looks, a lot like “terrorist”. Maybe you were joking though, and it’s hard to tell tone through text.

  • Lost Left Coaster

    Ollie said:

    Since atheists and agnostics account for 93 percent of the academy of science (and 60 percent of all American scientists), these clowns actually DO trust atheists; they just don’t know that they do. :)

    Excellent point! That definitely needs to be a part of the freethought community’s public relations strategy — let people know the critical role that freethinkers already play in making our world go ’round.

  • Rosangela Canino-Koning

    This speech is a mischaracterization of the study. The study didn’t include terrorists or sexual predators in the list of people you would/woudln’t trust. The groups ranked were:

    Atheists
    Muslims
    Homosexuals
    Conservative Christians
    Recent Immigrants
    Hispanics
    Jews
    Asian Americans
    African Americans
    White Americans

    Among this list, Atheists were at the bottom.

  • Geoff

    What makes you think these uneducated clowns trust scientists? We’re told a minority in the US accept even basic biology, so presumably the majority think scientists collude in some sort of atheist conspiracy.
    The problem would seem to be lack of public education rather than PR, a much harder nut to crack.

  • Richard Wade

    Geoff,
    Let’s not get carried away in our frustration and do the same kind of negative stereotyping that we suffer under. You are right, the real problem is education, and the low priority that too many Americans put on education in general and science specifically.

    But calling people uneducated clowns just doesn’t seem to work in getting them interested in becoming educated, or in supporting education for others. It just reinforces their negative stereotypes against educated people. They won’t encourage their kids to become literate in science if their impression of scientists is that they are a bunch of hostile snotheads. Humiliating them only makes them more defensive, not more open to new ideas.

    We have to reach out to the reachable ones, and respectfully show them how they already are benefiting from science, and how the gifts of science that they enjoy come with a responsibility to support science even if some of it may not flatter their vanity or soothe their child-like fears. Encouraging maturity from people works better than ridiculing their immaturity.

    I do this for a living; popularizing science, getting people, especially the young excited about it. I think I’m making a difference, but this is a generations-long process. I will not see the fruits of my efforts in my lifetime and I accept that. I do my small part to light candles in the dark, as Carl Sagan would put it, and hope that people coming after me find their way.

  • Dawn

    It is the funniest speech I have ever read, that is true. Thank you so much for posting it. BTW, I am one of those and the best thing that ever happened to me is running into a skeptic forum by “accident”. Now I am plugged in for life. Thank you all for your amazing efforts, for what I’ve learned and how my brain has been cracked up. NO, I disgree with what has been said about the approach, I think it should be kept as is: as in honest and real. I love it. Again, thank you.

  • SteveC

    As an incorrigible cynic, my favorite line in the whole thing was this completely uncynical line:

    1960s: Holy Shit; Man Walks On Fucking Moon

    I was born in 1968, so while it’s true that men first landed on the moon during my lifetime, there is not a time which I can remember when men walked on the moon. (I’m reminded of a cartoon showing a Saturn V rocket lying on its side at JSC in Houston, with a caption, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” (the cartoon quoted an old tv commercial for a medic alert braclet, targeted at old people, iirc.))

    Getting around to my point (if I have one). About the only time I can remember in my life being as proud — if that’s the right word, and I’m not quite sure that it is a big enough word — as those watching the TV coverage of the first moon landing must have been, is when I was watching the election returns in 2008, when Obama won. We landed a man on the moon in 1969, but didn’t have a black person as president for 39 more years, and still have not had a woman president (though at least, on the democratic ticket, it was either going to be a black man or a woman, historic either way.)

    Ok, so that has not a lot to do with the speech, and how funny it was… should I delete all this stuff I typed? Nah, I’ll post it.

  • Isabelle L

    Hi. I wanted to use this speech for a speaking contest at my school. The only problem is, this expert you have here is too short and when I click on the link, it says the page cannot be found. Could you help me? I need it in two days at most. If I don’t get it by then, I’ll be forced to do…. *shudder*….. Shakespeare instead of a speech about atheism.

  • Fairphantom

    “First of all it’s the name. Atheist. It’s a cold and prickly word, like Recidivist. Rapist. Terrorist. Anal cyst. It’s a terrible word.”
    …And what about the word Theist?

    I know this is an old discussion but, it’s new to me.  Hilarious, yet sad.


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