Reader Doug tried a little experiment (a la Omar Call) where he stood on a street corner in New Orleans during Mardi Gras and “preached” atheism.
Maybe preached isn’t the right word. He stood with a sign (which read “Atheism: All of the Mardi Gras, None of the Lent”) — on the other side of the street from the Christian preachers — and spoke with people about atheism rather than yelling at them about the horrors that would befall them if they remained religious.
I’m sure the fundamentalists were thrilled.
So how do you think this little experiment went down?
Doug says in an email that the response was better than you might expect:
… The overwhelming response was extremely positive. Many people told me that they were glad I was there to counteract and generally piss off the Christian fundamentalists. This message was true even for people that said they were devout Christians. I was also confronted by many fellow atheists with the general response of “I thought I was the only one!”
I would say about 80% of people that talked to me loved my sign and thought it was very funny. I had my picture taken many times with people, got given many beads, a guy bought me a beer, and one woman even flashed me her boobs! The remaining 20% of people didn’t understand the sign, and I would guess that half of them didn’t even know what atheism was. (I was also wearing a shirt that said ‘Atheist’ across the chest.)
I’m not in favor of pissing off the fundamentalists despite their rhetoric and beliefs, but I’ll admit feeling a bit satisfied that they’ve had a taste of their own medicine.
It wasn’t all fun and games. There were several serious discussions had — with people who rarely think about religion. If that was the norm rather than the exception, I’d be advocating this type of stunt a lot more.
Is this something I see myself doing? No. I don’t think it’s worth the time and I don’t know many people who would enjoy being stopped on the street to discuss religion — even with someone they agree with. But I don’t mind someone trying it out just to see what could happen.
Would you have spoken to someone like Doug if you ran into him on the street?
What advice would you give him if he tried this again?
What could he do to have the most positive interactions possible with Christians?