In an ironic twist in competing belief systems four separate groups of organized Atheists are expanding their efforts to draw new adherents by advertising on television, in magazines, on billboards and all over the Internet during the Christmas holiday season. Their marketing strategies run the gamut from traditional institutional type messaging to attack ads mocking belief in God.
The American Humanist Association is bankrolling new cable television ads shown via mainstream programming such as NBC’s Dateline on Friday November 12th that strip controversial texts from the Bible and spin them as barbaric. Though most of their efforts target Christianity they also have ads mocking passages of the Koran, validating their views with quotes from individuals such as Albert Einstein and Katharine Hepburn.
The New York Times provides a nice overview of the different campaigns and the thoughts behind the effort:
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom from Religion Foundation in Madison, Wis., one of the groups running advertisements, said, â€œWe feel the only way to fight the stigma toward atheists and agnostics is for people to feel like they know them, and theyâ€™re your neighbors and your friends. Itâ€™s the same idea as the out-of-the-closet campaign for gay rights.â€
The groupsâ€™ leaders say they are trying to marshal secularists at a time when the religious right and politicians who say America is a â€œChristian nationâ€ are on the march, thanks to the recent midterm elections when not only deficit hawks won seats in Congress, but many religious conservatives as well.
Several of the campaigns are pitched not just to nonbelievers, but also to liberal believers who might be alarmed about breaches in the wall of separation between church and state. The atheist groups believe that people who are religious and politically liberal have more in common with atheists and seculars than they do with religious conservatives.