"Spreading the Good News About Atheism": Why We Need Atheist Ad Campaigns

“Are you good without God? Millions are.”

“Imagine no religion.”

“There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

Atheist ad campaigns are everywhere. Around the U.S. and around the world, atheist organizations have been buying space on billboards, buses, TV and more, with messages ranging from the mild-mannered “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone” to the in-your-face “You know it’s a myth.” The current “Living Without Religion” campaign from the Center for Inquiry, letting the world know that “You don’t need God — to hope, to care, to love, to live” — is only the latest in a series of advertising blitzes: from American Atheists, the Coalition of Reason, the American Humanist Association, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and many other organizations. Even local student atheist groups have been getting into the act, using buses in their college towns to spread the good news about atheism.

And whenever they do, they are almost guaranteed to garner resistance. Conservative religionists often object vehemently to the very concept of atheist advertising: in many cases trying to get the ad campaigns stopped altogether, and frequently even vandalizing the billboards. (In what has to be the irony of the year, some bus companies have stopped accepting all religious-themed ads, simply so they don’t have to accept ads from atheists.) And while moderate and progressive believers have never (to my knowledge) tried to stop these atheist ad campaigns from moving forward, many are still baffled and even offended by the ads. They see them as proselytizing, evangelical… and they don’t understand why people who are opposed to religion would be proselytizing and evangelical.

So why do atheists do this?

Why do atheists spend substantial amounts of money and resources to let the world know we exist, and to get our ideas across?


Thus begins my latest piece for AlterNet, “Spreading the Good News About Atheism”: Why We Need Atheist Ad Campaigns. To find out why atheist ad campaigns are both valid and necessary — and what the hostile reactions to them says about religion — read the rest of the piece. Enjoy!

"Spreading the Good News About Atheism": Why We Need Atheist Ad Campaigns

7 thoughts on “"Spreading the Good News About Atheism": Why We Need Atheist Ad Campaigns

  1. 1

    Greta, this isn’t a substantive comment on your argument, but it always brightens my day when you have a new article for us to read. Thank you for another wonderful argument to add to our rhetorical quiver.
    I hadn’t heard about the “There’s probably no cod, now let’s stop overfishing & think of the future” Greenpeace billboards. I wish more billboards were so adorably cheeky. I understand why atheist billboards are generally bland (to make the inevitable hostile reaction seem even more disproportionate), but it’d be nice to have a bit more humor, like FFRF’s “Sleep in on Sundays” ads.

  2. 2

    Good analysis, Greta. We need to be as outspoken as possible. Religion has had a free ride so long, they think it is their due. Every stupid religious holiday that comes along gets unlimited free press everywhere. The myths are presented as facts and the average person doesn’t question.
    That’s why you and I blog. At least we don’t have to just grumble in the background and be basically ignored. We don’t reach as many as we wish we could, but at least we’re a little less marginalized.

  3. 3

    “…it always brightens my day when you have a new article for us to read.”
    I agree with this sentiment entirely.  I love this site.

  4. 6

    Hello from the UK. Here we have an altogether different problem from the US. We have countless millions who are either atheists or completely indifferent about religion who nevertheless put ‘Christian’ on their census form. We don’t have a secular constitution so these people effectively give the government carte-blanch to pour public money into religious schools and to consult with ‘faith’ groups before deciding government policy.
    A recent poster campaign by the BHS* carried the slogan “If you’re not religious then for God’s sake say so” to encourage the chinos** to fill in the religion question honestly.
    *British Humanist Association.
    **Christian in name only.

  5. 7

    From the full article:
    I think the case for atheism is better than the case for religion… by several orders of magnitude.
    I think you are absolutely right about the intellectual case, but the religious case is far stronger emotionally (if you have been exposed to religion as a child).
    Not everybody is inclined temperamentally to prioritise rationality over emotion. Sad but true. So I believe (argh! the B word!) if you wish to remove religiously motivated ‘thought’ from public life you’re going to have to come up with some other emotionally satisfying motivation… and there are some risks associated with that.
    Unfortunately I have no answers.

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