I’m back with a little less caffeine in my system but the same passionate blogging fury to correct misconceptions about those God damned billboards that haven’t even gone up yet. My View From the Center started off their post nicely (oh, and I have to thank them for linkage too because that’s merely polite blogger manners), but then went off and said this:
It seems that atheism is now also a business — that’s the only motivation I can find for these billboards and for organizations like Metro State Atheists and PhillyCor. Well, I can’t deny anyone the opportunity to make money off of their religion (or non-religion) but I certainly don’t intend to join in to ‘get my share’ of the profits. The atheists who put up billboards, form organizations and try to tear down peoples beliefs in their religions are the “noisy” atheists — to them atheism is a profit-making business that has little to do with faith or a lack of it. These “noisy” atheists are also the ones who have trouble sustaining their non-belief, so they desperately need the company of other atheists as a support system.
People who are comfortable with their belief in a deity, or in the non-existance of one, don’t need support systems — but I guess we are in a vast minorty.
I took that personally since I personally know the members of COCORE and of Metro State Atheists so I think I’ll start off with something along the lines of…
The members of COCORE that I know haven’t quit their day jobs. They are hard working people who set up social meetups and fight the occassional local anti-secularist political moves in their spare time. They aren’t wearing nicely-tailored suits, shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue, or wearing Rolex watches. I can personally say that COCORE is not a profit making scheme because I’m a part of it and I know the people who run it.
And Metro State Atheists is run by freaking college students! They aren’t unlike other college students. They have to eat and pay their tuition just like the rest of them. Shame on you for equating them with making as much profit as televangelists.
How in the Hell do people jump to a conclusion like this anyway? Are billboards for Breast Cancer Awareness Month also directly linked to being a money-making scheme just because they’re an advertisement? Ads are used to get products out there, yes, but they’re also used to send messages like “You know, there’s a lot of people in this country who don’t believe in God and are perfectly moral, perfectly happy people in case you haven’t noticed.”
Now, I’ve made a short list of not and is to make the rest of what I want to say easy for you.
- An attempt to offend religious people.
- An argument against the existence of God.
- An attempt to restore faith in Not-God.
- A scheme to get COCORE more money.
- A way to raise awareness that there are perfectly moral, perfectly happy non-believers in this predominantly Christian country. In case you haven’t noticed, Atheists are the second most hated “religious”-group next to the Scientologists. The only way to solve that is to make people aware that we’re here and they’re stereotypes about us are wrong.
- A way to let non-believers get together with other non-believers. No, we don’t need to have other people to reinforce our disbelief in God, but perhaps you’ve heard of something like the very human need to have community? This may be hard for you to grasp, but people like to hang out with like-minded people, and what seems to be only in the case of freethinkers, especially when like-minded people disagree. That’s something I like about meeting up with other Atheists. We don’t sit around talking about Not-God. That of course would be narrow and there’s not a lot to be said there about it that hasn’t been said before. We talk about all sorts of issues in secularism.
- A way to help organise people for secularist activism because really that’s all we want. We’ll argue with the occasional theist who walks up to us and have a good civilised debate, but the main thing that COCORE is all about is not changing people’s beliefs but countering fundamentalism (a local holistic medicine newspaper said that about them for peat’s sake).
What’s wrong with a support system? It’s not that we need a support system to continue not-believing, but in a country as pious as ours it definitely helps to be around people you can be perfectly frank to when it comes to addressing religion. People need to express themselves.
Another thing is I find it fun to get together simply because ultimately we’re all intellectually-minded people who happen to be Atheists and we tackle all sorts of broad issues within the huger umbrella of secularism (really, it’s not just about Not-God).
Okay, do we get it now? Good.