How to deal with Christian-baiting

Well-played, San Antonio Christians!  You basically ignored this, making the atheists look bad!

A small group of students at the University of Texas at San Antonio spent two days last week sitting in the middle of campus next to bright red signs covered in large black letters. One said “Free Porn.” The other offered “Smut for Smut.”

The students, all members of Atheist Agenda, hoped to entice their classmates to turn in their Bibles in exchange for pornographic magazines – a provocative offer designed to shock and attract attention.

“The point is not to hand out porn, but rather the primary purpose is to get people to come talk to us so we can get our message out,” Kyle Bush, the group’s president, said. “We want to spread atheism and bring it more to the spotlight. We offer another alternative to people who might not fit in anywhere else.”

The event caused an uproar on campus in 2008 and made headlines around the world. But this year, few students took notice. During the four hours Atheist Agenda members spent next to their signs each day, only about 30 people stopped by to get information about the club or start a debate.

In addition to Bibles, the group offered to collect other religious texts, including the Quran, and any books written by prominent pastors, including Joel Osteen and Rick Warren. During the event, Atheist Agenda collected five Bibles, one Encyclopedia of Islam, and one Quran. The group plans to donate the books to a local library.

Despite the event’s ability in previous years to attract attention for atheism, Bush said the group didn’t have any financial backers outside its student members. The group raised all of the money needed to put on the event themselves, he said. One of the group’s fundraisers included selling popsicles.

“A lot of the money comes from members,” Bush said. “Like if we need posters, somebody will go and buy posters.”

The group purchased 140 pounds of pornographic magazines for $30 from a seller on Craigslist.

via Atheists offer porn in exchange for Bibles | World on Campus: news for college students from a Christian perspective..

In other words, the event fizzled.  The atheists looked pathetic, and the Christians were above the fray.  That’s the way to handle this sort of thing.  The thing is, the general public doesn’t much like it when Christians proselytize, but they don’t like it when atheists do it either!  The atheists are slow to realize that. And there is still shame in pornography, which is why people use it in secret on the internet and why the atheists could buy 140 pounds of pornographic magazines for $30.  Though we can be outraged at the blasphemy, we can note how few takers there were and how the atheists are so clueless about how to get their message across.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Pete

    You bet – give ‘em a seat at the Worldview Table but make sure it’s a high chair and they’re strapped in good.

  • Pete

    You bet – give ‘em a seat at the Worldview Table but make sure it’s a high chair and they’re strapped in good.

  • Michael

    I agree it’s a bad strategy for the atheists and opponents of religion. They should stick to mocking other proselytizing, because it allows almost everyone to join in. For example, when secularists mock the idea that Mohammad was carried up to heaven, or that Jesus came over to America and the Book of Mormon records it accurately, what’s to stop Lutherans from joining?

  • Michael

    I agree it’s a bad strategy for the atheists and opponents of religion. They should stick to mocking other proselytizing, because it allows almost everyone to join in. For example, when secularists mock the idea that Mohammad was carried up to heaven, or that Jesus came over to America and the Book of Mormon records it accurately, what’s to stop Lutherans from joining?

  • Tom Hering

    We can’t even be sure that those who traded in books were religious. If I want some free porn, I just grab the Quran I bought for last year’s World Religions class, or I first stop by a campus ministry to pick up a free Bible.

  • Tom Hering

    We can’t even be sure that those who traded in books were religious. If I want some free porn, I just grab the Quran I bought for last year’s World Religions class, or I first stop by a campus ministry to pick up a free Bible.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Just had a thought:

    Richard Dawkins, the Joel Osteen of atheism….

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Just had a thought:

    Richard Dawkins, the Joel Osteen of atheism….

  • WebMonk

    My favorite bit of christian baiting: “As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice. ”

    I always get a kick out of that one. It has been used often enough that people aren’t falling for it much anymore, but back in the earlier days of the Internet that was a sure-fire flame war starter. :-D

  • WebMonk

    My favorite bit of christian baiting: “As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice. ”

    I always get a kick out of that one. It has been used often enough that people aren’t falling for it much anymore, but back in the earlier days of the Internet that was a sure-fire flame war starter. :-D

  • Tom Hering

    Is that like the people who go to animal lover sites, and say they have no choice but to shoot five puppies, or drown five kittens, because the local shelters are full to capacity?

  • Tom Hering

    Is that like the people who go to animal lover sites, and say they have no choice but to shoot five puppies, or drown five kittens, because the local shelters are full to capacity?

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    “In addition to Bibles, the group offered to collect other religious texts, including the Quran, and any books written by prominent pastors, including Joel Osteen and Rick Warren. During the event, Atheist Agenda collected five Bibles, one Encyclopedia of Islam, and one Quran.”

    Might be a good time to dump ones dusty gnostic literature.

  • http://gslcnm.com Pastor Spomer

    “In addition to Bibles, the group offered to collect other religious texts, including the Quran, and any books written by prominent pastors, including Joel Osteen and Rick Warren. During the event, Atheist Agenda collected five Bibles, one Encyclopedia of Islam, and one Quran.”

    Might be a good time to dump ones dusty gnostic literature.

  • Tom Hering

    “… the Christians were above the fray.”

    Not exactly. The article says this is the second year a Christian group staged a nearby counter-event.

    “… we can be outraged at the blasphemy …”

    We can be, but why? What are the atheists offering that the world doesn’t tempt us with?

    “… the atheists are so clueless about how to get their message across.”

    True. It’s a bad idea to insult the people you’re trying to convert. (There might be a lesson in that for us – in our dealings with atheists.)

  • Tom Hering

    “… the Christians were above the fray.”

    Not exactly. The article says this is the second year a Christian group staged a nearby counter-event.

    “… we can be outraged at the blasphemy …”

    We can be, but why? What are the atheists offering that the world doesn’t tempt us with?

    “… the atheists are so clueless about how to get their message across.”

    True. It’s a bad idea to insult the people you’re trying to convert. (There might be a lesson in that for us – in our dealings with atheists.)

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I am not sure if this is a case of Christians rising up to meet a challenge or the fact it has become a part of the scenery. Note this event has been happening for a few years. It is expected now and has lost its shock value. A few years ago, it had its shock value, now after doing the exact same thing several years in a row, they blend in with the background as students go to class. It could also be a sign of how post churched t.u.SA is now.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I am not sure if this is a case of Christians rising up to meet a challenge or the fact it has become a part of the scenery. Note this event has been happening for a few years. It is expected now and has lost its shock value. A few years ago, it had its shock value, now after doing the exact same thing several years in a row, they blend in with the background as students go to class. It could also be a sign of how post churched t.u.SA is now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    ..And I thought that “atheism isn’t a religion,” but here they are proselytizing.

    A quote I’ve seen floating around goes, “If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby.”

    I agree.
    Especially when the non stamp collector goes out of his way to tell everybody how he doesn’t collect stamps, tells everyone how wonderful not collecting stamps is, encourages people to not collect stamps, mocks me and says I’m stupid if I do collect stamps, and offers me free porn in exchange for my stamp collection…

    I might be tempted to trade in my Joel Osteen books though. If I had any, that is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    ..And I thought that “atheism isn’t a religion,” but here they are proselytizing.

    A quote I’ve seen floating around goes, “If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby.”

    I agree.
    Especially when the non stamp collector goes out of his way to tell everybody how he doesn’t collect stamps, tells everyone how wonderful not collecting stamps is, encourages people to not collect stamps, mocks me and says I’m stupid if I do collect stamps, and offers me free porn in exchange for my stamp collection…

    I might be tempted to trade in my Joel Osteen books though. If I had any, that is.

  • http://thegospelcoalition.org Joe Carter

    The most interesting part of the story was this line: “The group purchased 140 pounds of pornographic magazines for $30″

    I never knew that pornography was now being sold by the pound!

  • http://thegospelcoalition.org Joe Carter

    The most interesting part of the story was this line: “The group purchased 140 pounds of pornographic magazines for $30″

    I never knew that pornography was now being sold by the pound!

  • Barry Arrington

    “Do not answer a fool according to his folly . . .”

    But then again, “Answer a fool according to his folly . . .”

    When to do which is not always clear and requires discernment.

  • Barry Arrington

    “Do not answer a fool according to his folly . . .”

    But then again, “Answer a fool according to his folly . . .”

    When to do which is not always clear and requires discernment.

  • Barry Arrington

    BTW, on the answer/don’t answer question, it seems to me that ignoring the atheists prods and pranks is best, because they absolutely rely on provoking outrage for effect. When there is no outrage they fizzle.

  • Barry Arrington

    BTW, on the answer/don’t answer question, it seems to me that ignoring the atheists prods and pranks is best, because they absolutely rely on provoking outrage for effect. When there is no outrage they fizzle.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    The Christians should’ve bought the atheists some lunch while they were out there at the table.

    Joe said (@11):

    I never knew that pornography was now being sold by the pound!

    You didn’t? It’s been that way for a long time! Remember from the Merchant of Venice:

    The pound of flesh which I demand of him is dearly bought; ’tis mine, and I will have it.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    The Christians should’ve bought the atheists some lunch while they were out there at the table.

    Joe said (@11):

    I never knew that pornography was now being sold by the pound!

    You didn’t? It’s been that way for a long time! Remember from the Merchant of Venice:

    The pound of flesh which I demand of him is dearly bought; ’tis mine, and I will have it.

  • formerly just steve

    Isn’t one of the things Christian missionaries have been criticized about over the years is their supposed practice of giving food or health care services or even money in exchange for having to listen to their message?

    I guess there truly is nothing new under the sun.

  • formerly just steve

    Isn’t one of the things Christian missionaries have been criticized about over the years is their supposed practice of giving food or health care services or even money in exchange for having to listen to their message?

    I guess there truly is nothing new under the sun.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “… the atheists are so clueless about how to get their message across.”

    Isn’t it really the absence of a message?

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    “… the atheists are so clueless about how to get their message across.”

    Isn’t it really the absence of a message?

  • Darren A. Jones

    I like tODD’s @14 suggestion. Maybe next year one of the Christian groups can take care of that.

  • Darren A. Jones

    I like tODD’s @14 suggestion. Maybe next year one of the Christian groups can take care of that.

  • Michael B.

    “A quote I’ve seen floating around goes, “If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby.””

    I partially agree, but people use atheism as a synonym for naturalism a lot of the time, and naturalism is a positive worldview.

  • Michael B.

    “A quote I’ve seen floating around goes, “If atheism is a religion, then not collecting stamps is a hobby.””

    I partially agree, but people use atheism as a synonym for naturalism a lot of the time, and naturalism is a positive worldview.

  • Earnest Worthing

    I think they missed the point. They should have expanded on the “smut for smut” theme and show more of the hate, violence, bigotry and so forth in the Wholly Babble. Talk about slavery, selling your daughters, forcing rape victims to marry the rapists, killing your children etc. Shown how awfully gory and horrible that vile text is.

  • Earnest Worthing

    I think they missed the point. They should have expanded on the “smut for smut” theme and show more of the hate, violence, bigotry and so forth in the Wholly Babble. Talk about slavery, selling your daughters, forcing rape victims to marry the rapists, killing your children etc. Shown how awfully gory and horrible that vile text is.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Earnest Worthing: Your comment above is neither earnest, nor worth anything.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    Earnest Worthing: Your comment above is neither earnest, nor worth anything.

  • Earnest Worthing

    @Mike. Really? Well, I would say that only I can tell for sure whether or not it is in earnest. Let me assure you it is.

    Whether or not it is worth anything is up for debate. I can tell you however, that there are many, many, many people who would say it is worth something. Clearly you are not the final arbiter in this matter.

    You sound like a typical xtian who will brook no contradiction or criticism of your bronze age fairy tale. Take heart however, its not just your particular fairy tale book that is bad. At least all of the great Abrahamic religion’s books are as bad. Indeed, yours includes five of the main books of its precursor.

    Have you actually ever read any of them?

  • Earnest Worthing

    @Mike. Really? Well, I would say that only I can tell for sure whether or not it is in earnest. Let me assure you it is.

    Whether or not it is worth anything is up for debate. I can tell you however, that there are many, many, many people who would say it is worth something. Clearly you are not the final arbiter in this matter.

    You sound like a typical xtian who will brook no contradiction or criticism of your bronze age fairy tale. Take heart however, its not just your particular fairy tale book that is bad. At least all of the great Abrahamic religion’s books are as bad. Indeed, yours includes five of the main books of its precursor.

    Have you actually ever read any of them?

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    “You sound like a typical xtian who will brook no contradiction or criticism of your bronze age fairy tale. ”

    LOL.

    As I wrote in my previous comment… Well, you can go read it again for yourself.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    “You sound like a typical xtian who will brook no contradiction or criticism of your bronze age fairy tale. ”

    LOL.

    As I wrote in my previous comment… Well, you can go read it again for yourself.

  • Earnest Worthing

    That’s the best you can do?

    Oh, never mind. I read your blog. I can see that it is.

    Well, my work is done here. Later mush for brains.

  • Earnest Worthing

    That’s the best you can do?

    Oh, never mind. I read your blog. I can see that it is.

    Well, my work is done here. Later mush for brains.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    “That’s the best you can do?”

    What more need be said about your silly, ignorant and arrogant assertions and sneers?

    Really, if you weren’t so apparently illiterate, you’d probably already know how ignorant you make yourself look when you issue statements like,

    Talk about slavery, selling your daughters, forcing rape victims to marry the rapists, killing your children etc.

    I do hope you’ll stick around this blog a bit and get familiar with the type of people who post here, and what we believe and don’t believe. You could hone your debating skills here, so that you don’t “step in it” making easily refuted assertions about what the Bible says or what Christians supposedly believe.

    I do realize that this may not be the blog for you if your main objective is to hurl cheap shots and engage in drive-by sniping.

  • http://facebook.com/mesamike Mike Westfall

    “That’s the best you can do?”

    What more need be said about your silly, ignorant and arrogant assertions and sneers?

    Really, if you weren’t so apparently illiterate, you’d probably already know how ignorant you make yourself look when you issue statements like,

    Talk about slavery, selling your daughters, forcing rape victims to marry the rapists, killing your children etc.

    I do hope you’ll stick around this blog a bit and get familiar with the type of people who post here, and what we believe and don’t believe. You could hone your debating skills here, so that you don’t “step in it” making easily refuted assertions about what the Bible says or what Christians supposedly believe.

    I do realize that this may not be the blog for you if your main objective is to hurl cheap shots and engage in drive-by sniping.


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