Atheist Ads and Consistent Negative Religious Response

I ran across this story online and, like many of you I'm sure, I was like "yeah, atheist bus ad, cool, whatever." I mean honestly, is this news anymore? There are so many ads going up everywhere, and I appreciate the fact that there are so many cities with ad campaigns that the individual occurrences are becoming less surprising, but they are losing their interest for me as individual occurances. Then I continued reading the article and realized it IS news. It's news because the reaction from the religious communities in whatever area these ads are being displayed is always fascinating and often pretty irrational.

Bus Messages Try To Connect Atheists

The Detroit News - Atheists are taking their message to the streets.

More than a dozen SMART buses for the rest of the month will carry the message "Don't believe in God? You aren't alone" as part of a national campaign to raise the spirits of atheists. The nationally based United Coalition of Reason will pick up the $5,600 tab.

"We are not trying to insult anyone or to proselytize," said Detroit Area Coalition of Reason coordinator Ruthe Milan.

"This is a message from the heart to reach out to the atheist community; we want them to connect with like-minded thinkers. We have no interest in converting anyone to our way of thinking."

The SMART buses will travel as far north as Pontiac and Auburn Hills, as far west as Walled Lake, as far east as Troy and as far south as downtown Detroit, according to DetroitCoR.

The idea is not to destroy the faith of believers, but to let atheists know that they aren't alone, said Milan, who said the Bible-like term "you aren't alone" was purely unintentional.

This is a side note, but what the hell? The Christians have designated the term "you aren't alone" as theirs now too? Can't we somehow regulate the number of things Christianity claims as its own so they at least have to put some thought into what they decide to assimilate into their religion?

To date, similar ads have appeared in numerous U.S. cities, including San Diego, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Boston, New York and Baltimore.

While atheists don't believe in God, the Rev. Dr. Stanley Scott doesn't entirely believe in their ads.

"Their bottom line is that they want to engage more people to learn more about being an atheist," said Scott, of the Salvation Temple Church in Detroit.

"My first thought when I heard about this was that 'Wow, I sure am glad that there are more with us than with them.' "

Scott is a firm believer in free speech, "but my point and concern is that certainly the church should have the same opportunity to express itself; then from there we'll see which side wins."

OK. So..."Don't Believe In God? You Are Not Alone = come be an atheist? The phrase on the atheist ad makes you feel threatened? It's a factual and obvious statement. I don't understand this trend with religious people where a statement as vanilla and inoffensive as this inspires a defensive reaction.

When I read reactions like this, I imagine people who lack confidence in their convictions/beliefs/opinions/whatever. It's not a game of risk. We're not not trying to amass an army to fight you. Calm down.

As for having the same opportunity for expression, how are these ads keeping him from doing anything? Take out some of your own bus ads or get involved with a religious organization that can help you do so.

Of course, this isn't the only reaction that religious people have to these ads, and there are voices of reason that make me feel more at ease with my religious brothers and sisters. Like this guy:

Detroit Archdiocese spokesman Joe Kohn downplayed the advertisements.

"These kinds of advertisements speak more to the people who take them out than to us, the ministry and the church," Kohn said.

"They speak to their beliefs, not to ours."

According to DetroitCoR, the advertisements will be on the outside of the buses with the words "Don't believe in God? You aren't alone" superimposed over fluffy clouds in a blue sky.