God Has Stopped Riding the Bus

Even Time magazine is reporting on the atheist bus campaign in Chicago (and beyond). It’s not an opinion piece; it’s just giving background on the bus campaign and what supporters hope to accomplish:

The aim, [American Humanist Association executive director Roy] Speckhardt says, “is to attract the interest of those who already believe as we do. We’re not trying to convert people.” Referring to a recent poll, he notes that more Americans view themselves as non- believers than the population of Jews, Muslims and Mormons combined. “Yet,” he says, “you don’t see that group having a caucus in Congress, or anywhere else. It’s a group that’s been in the closet. People are afraid to ‘come out’ to their families and say they don’t believe in God.” The ads are designed to show lonely atheists that they do not walk alone — and to go on disbelieving.

My favorite line has to be this one:

Apart from the predictable blogosphere chatter, Chicago has largely greeted the ads with a quick, curious look and then a shrug.

Which is what the response should be… from non-religious people.

I hope atheists (closeted or otherwise) would see it and get far more excited. Maybe they’ll even be encouraged to meet other like-minded people.

  • John Larberg

    Adverts like these have made my family and friends much happier. It seems so simple yet it’s uplifting to know that there are many more non-believers out there. It’s made it easier to put our beliefs out in the open.

    I think the most positive aspect of this humanist/atheist movement is that it lets people know that there are other choices out there. I think a lot of people follow religion because it’s the only choice given to them and it’s considered “normal”.

  • http://geekgrrrl.wordpress.com geekgrrrl

    I, for one, am quietly thrilled :)

  • Anonymous

    I hope atheists (closeted or otherwise) would see it and get far more excited. Maybe they’ll even be encouraged to meet other like-minded people.

    I think the main difficulty for organized atheism is that atheists are already a small minority of the population. Though I’m glad that they provide visibility for us, campaigns designed to foster atheist meet-ups suffer from the problem that they only appeal to a fraction of atheists, a minority of a minority.

    Christians can get away with appealing to just one kind of Christian, or have multiple subcultures appealing to different kinds of Christians, like Christian bikers in megachurches, because their numbers are so large to begin with.

    I doubt atheists can do the same except on the margins. And I have no solution; I don’t know what sort of thing would appeal to all or most atheists, probably nothing. My best guess would be for one atheist organization to offer as many different things as possible to different people, based on what people want. And here atheist organizations have nothing like the resources of Christian ones, for example, to provide free day care for megachurch members.

    Atheists fill out every imaginable segment of society: some have a lot of time on their hands, others do not. Some are college students without a demanding major, others are businessmen raising kids and working 60 hours a week. Some want to be part of larger communities, others have their hands full just dealing with close friends and relatives. Some are undoubtedly loners, or married to their work, or Jon and Kate plus 8 with too many things to deal with as is, or even volunteering for causes having nothing to do with atheism.

    There’s only so much time in a lifetime, and there are more ways to fill that time out than can possibly be tried, even if you were someone like Paris Hilton with money in the bank and the freedom to do what you want with your time all the time. And most of us aren’t that lucky!

  • llewelly

    My favorite line has to be this one:

    Apart from the predictable blogosphere chatter, Chicago has largely greeted the ads with a quick, curious look and then a shrug.

    Which is what the response should be… from non-religious people.

    “from non-religious people”? Doesn’t that directly contradict your next line:

    I hope atheists (closeted or otherwise) would see it and get far more excited. Maybe they’ll even be encouraged to meet other like-minded people.

  • Geoff

    Llewelly has beaten me to it, surely atheists are ‘non-religious people’ by definition.
    btw, have others found it difficult to access the blog for the last few days? Do you have a DOS problem here?

  • Tom

    Why is there always this focus of “we’re not trying to convert people”?

    WHY AREN’T WE TRYING TO CONVERT PEOPLE? After all the complaining we do about how evil religion is and how it’s destroying everything, the only responsible and moral thing we can do is to try to help people to atheism, unless we think it’s good that religion is running rampant and destroying the world.

    It’s time to stop apologizing for our (lack of) beliefs and start trying to help humanity out of its religious insanity!

  • Chal

    Tom, I think the goal is more to reduce religion’s influence over the general population. People can believe whatever they like, as long as it’s not hurting anyone.

    Pushing deconversion just puts them on the defensive and then we can’t get anything done.


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