Permission to Shock and Anger


Chris Stedman has done a good job advocating for atheists recently, which made his opinion piece for CNN this Saturday all the more disappointing. What did he do with his opportunity to speak to a national media audience? He told Dave Silverman and American Atheists to stop waging their War on Christmas. Specifically, he objected to this ad, which ran in Times Square in New York City this month:

Stedman gives several reasons for his suggestion, and even aside from the fact that I oppose limiting our types of activism on principle, I disagree with them all. Let’s start with his basic statement of the “problem”.

In recent years, one organization, American Atheists, has claimed the mantle of prime atheist promoter of the tired “War on Christmas” narrative.

Not exactly. David Silverman said once, regarding the 2010 “You KNOW it’s a Myth” billboard campaign, ”
If they want a war on Christmas, we’re going to make sure they know what one looks like.” Comments elsewhere suggest that statement was limited to that campaign. Even after saying that, however, Silverman denied that his purpose was to attack Christmas.

The ones who are saying, “You can’t say ‘happy holidays’. You have to say ‘merry Christmas’, because this is our season – this is the Christmas season.” Well, it’s not the Christmas season, it’s the solstice season. And that’s why it’s not a war on Christmas. It’s a war on the solstice, and the Christians started it.

Otherwise, Silverman has been very consistent in describing the purpose of these billboards. In 2010, he said, “The intent here is not to convert Christians. The intent here is to get atheists going through the motions and pretending to be religious to stop, come out of the closet, and be honest with themselves.” This year:

Dave Silverman quote printed over a blue Christmas tree.

We know that a large population of ‘Christians’ are actually atheists who feel trapped in their family’s religion. If you know god is a myth, you do not have to lie and call yourself ‘Christian’ in order to have a festive holiday season. You can be merry without the myth, and indeed, you should.

This idea has been in every speech I’ve seen Silverman give. He brought it up when I interviewed him for Atheists Talk. He said it again in the profile Stedman linked in the CNN piece. There are millions of non-believers in America who identify as anything but atheists. He wants them to identify as atheists.

This is nothing like promoting the War on Christmas, which is (these days) the idea that Christians aren’t allowed to say, “Merry Christmas”. This ad is saying that Christmas itself is secular, which appears to be true for a third or more of the people who celebrate it. I did a whole radio show about celebrating as atheists last year, asking people to tell me about their unholy holidays.

Stedman’s view on that sort of thing?

Which raises the question: If the goal truly is to reach isolated atheists, why does the advertisement read as a dig at Christians? A better billboard for American Atheists’s stated aim might read: “Don’t celebrate Christmas? You’re not alone.”

Nope. That would be a better billboard if the idea is to suggest that we atheists are alone in the dark this time of year. It would be a better billboard if someone wanted to send the message that you have a choice between religion and taking part in Christmas. Me? I celebrate Christmas. I have all my life, and I’ve never been a Christian. Saying that I’m an atheist is not the same thing as saying I don’t celebrate.

The beautiful thing about this billboard is how accurate it is. The Puritans were dead right to reject Christmas as a non-Christian holiday. Do people include Christ in their Christmas celebrations? Yes. Does Christ need to be part of those celebrations for those people? Only to the same extent that Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph, or Hermey and the Bumble are needed. That is, without those elements, Christmas doesn’t feel like Christmas for some people, while others are perfectly content with different signifiers (not to mention those who feel no desire for any of it).

For me, it’s not “really” Christmas without Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney, and snow, both in four-part harmony and on the ground. Nonetheless, I had a good Christmas this year without ever quite finding the time for the movie. Maybe I’ll watch it this weekend. Maybe I won’t, and the family and friends and food and giving will be enough for the next year. After all, White Christmas may define my holiday, but when it comes down to it, there is so much more that makes it what it is. Nor am I alone in this.

“But”, I hear someone arguing, “those are characters from a movie.” Yes, they are. And Christ is a character from a book, or multiple characters from a book, depending on how you view contradictions between the gospels. And it is all right to say so. Despite what some people will tell you, voicing your opinions on the topic of Christmas is not an attack. Nobody has to order their holiday to their liking any more than you have to order yours to theirs.

This brings me to my strongest point of disagreement with Stedman.

As atheists become more visible in our society, the entire “War on Christmas” back-and-forth feels ugly and unnecessary. Worse still, it seems to do little more than offer ammunition to those claiming atheists are just mean-spirited grinches. Bill O’Reilly—one of the major “War on Christmas” soldiers—made that clear when he and I discussed the “War on Christmas” a couple of weeks ago.

First of all, I don’t care what Bill O’Reilly thinks of me. I don’t grant him the status of someone whose opinion of me I should allow to affect my self-image. I’m not sure why any other atheist would, or why anyone would allow his opinion to affect their view of another atheist. It’s his job to dislike atheists. He is, quite literally, a pro at it. If it weren’t these billboards, he’d be making hay of solstice services or equal time for atheist and humanist displays at town halls and state capitols. Frankly, I’d rather have it be these billboards.

Why? Because Stedman’s view of how visible we atheists are is skewed. That’s not terribly surprising. Stedman put out a book about his beliefs this year. He’s tied to one of the largest humanist groups in the country, in an area dominated by nonbelievers and very liberal believers, at an institution that doesn’t get ignored. He has a column that’s distributed through a religion news service. He can talk about atheism for CNN if he so desires. Everywhere he looks, he has people helping him get his words out.

My perspective is a bit different. While I have a strong platform at Freethought Blogs and on Atheists Talk, both of those put me in regular contact with people working very hard to be heard. The atheist who turns down a radio appearance, even on a small show like ours, is rare. The number of atheist authors I talk to who haven’t come across common debates within organized atheism is large. We don’t even have the media penetration we need to effectively influence each other. We’ve made progress in getting our views out there, but to generalize from Stedman would be a big mistake.

This was driven home once again this past Sunday. I was interviewing Sarah Morehead of Recovering from Religion about some of the difficulties atheists face over the holidays. She said two things that made me think about this article. The first was predictable: Atheists and others questioning their faith need the most help this time of year. That’s true for most people. The combination of high expectations and family conflict are not easy to deal with. People leaving the religion of their parents, then spending time with them when religion is considered to be highly relevant, simply adds one more stressor.

It was what she told me when we were talking about the kind of calls Recovering from Religion receives, though, that was heartbreaking. Do you know what the most common thing they hear is? “I thought I was the only one. I thought I was alone.” Still. Now. A decade into this atheism boom, despite the vastness of atheist internet, people still think they’re the only atheist out there.

Some of that is our tendency to associate atheism with being smart and educated, with white collars and universities and science. Our “spokespeople” don’t look a lot like the bulk of atheists, so it’s easy for blue collar or rural or less educated atheists to think they’re on their own.

A big part of it, however, is that there are broad swaths of religious people in the U.S. who restrict their worlds in order to hang onto their political and religious beliefs. Anti-anti-theists like to point out that plenty of religious people in the U.S. are not fundamentalists. This is true. However, it is also true that plenty still are. The current Pew data shows evangelical Protestants at 26% of our population. They’re not all fundamentalists or isolationists, but a large chunk of them are, and they’re very hard for most of us to reach.

They are also the major audience for Fox News. This makes the relationship between American Atheists and Fox News not just “mutually beneficial” as Stedman notes (leaving out that Fox would not have invited Stedman onto the network if they thought it was bad for them), but also beneficial for atheists and people questioning their faiths in repressive, authoritarian families and religions. Putting atheists on Fox News regularly is a service to those atheists who have it hardest in our society.

That is particularly true for an atheist like David Silverman. If I had it in my power, I’d resurrect Christopher Hitchens in order to stick him on Fox every month or two, but since I can’t, I can’t think of anyone better suited to the role than Silverman.

That probably seems counter-intuitive, but it’s still true. If people, particularly children, in authoritarian traditions are going to be exposed to just one atheist, I want it to be someone confrontational enough, someone staking out strong-enough positions that I want to quibble with them. (And yes, I have quibbles with the American Atheists’ press release on these billboards.) I want people to see someone arguing with Bill O’Reilly and the rest in strong terms–contradicting them, outraging them, shocking and angering them.

Then I want them to see that same person invited back again. And again. I want them to come across pictures of everyone smiling together once the cameras are off. I want them to sense that there’s a relationship there that includes grudging respect alongside all the disagreement.

I want all that because that is what gives people permission to disagree with others in their family or community of faith. It gives them permission to say what they believe, when everything and everyone around them tells them they must not. I want them to know that, even though people around them may say that an atheist like Silverman is doing the devil’s work, he’s respectable enough to keep hanging out with people they’re told are respectable.

The message that Silverman carries is one of the more extreme in movement atheism. It also reaches places a more liberal, friendlier, more accommodating, more soothing message about atheism can’t go–because it is more extreme. It carries a stronger lesson about the ability to survive disagreement–because it is more extreme. That makes it an effective message for reaching atheists who don’t identify as atheists, particularly those otherwise underserved by our organizations.

So count me a fan of this strategy.

Stedman is not a fan because this strategy doesn’t suit his goals.

But does this relationship benefit atheists more broadly? Does it accurately represent the sentiments of nontheists in this country?

Maybe it doesn’t serve the majority of atheists. I’m okay with that if it meets the needs of a constituency that is otherwise left to fend on its own, as I’ve argued that it does. Not everybody has to be a crowd-pleaser when they’re doing good work.

Does it improve atheist-theist relations?

Does it lessen the widespread stigma and distrust that exists between atheists and theists, which enables atheist marginalization across the U.S.?

I am not willing to improve atheist-theist relations at the cost of leaving other atheists trapped. I am not willing to suggest that atheists must spend all their time and attention and communications dealing with stigma and distrust that is not at all their fault.

Does it invite Christians to think critically about religious privilege?

I’m trying to remember the last billboard I saw that had the encouragement of critical thinking as a primary goal. This one, however, being animated, has more time and space for its message, and I think it uses it well. The simple reminder that there are many common elements to Christmas that are not religious provides at least an opportunity to think.

I’ll also note that this post of Stedman’s did nothing to invite Christians to think critically about religious privilege. Again, this is not something atheists have to spend all their time and attention and communications on.

Many atheists, myself included, suspect that there are more effective approaches to tackling these important issues.

That’s cool.

No, that’s not sarcasm. I am genuinely happy that there are atheists who are interested in and motivated by these problems and solutions. Because I’m fundamentally a dilettante, I spend some of my energy on these things too.

However, I work hard to recognize as I do that I can spend time on these things because I’m fundamentally privileged, even as an atheist. My biggest problem as an atheist in the last year was (what I’m pretty sure was) a passive-aggressive “Merry Christmas” from an evangelical family connection. I smiled, returned the favor, and walked away. Then it was done. That pales in comparison to the treatment I’ve received as a feminist.

But that’s just me. Not every atheist is in my situation, and people working for atheists who don’t have it as easy as I do are doing important work. The last thing I want them to do is stop because it makes it harder for me to make my cushy atheism cushier.

Atheists didn’t start the War on Christmas. But as long as theocratic evangelicals and Catholics continue to insist that the last two months of the year belong to them and no one else, as long as they have the political and cultural sway to put those views across as the only acceptable views to a large portion of this country, as long as the only casualties are people whose television sets aren’t the soothing bigotry they wanted–I want to see us fight it. Otherwise, we’re giving too many people up for lost.

Comments

  1. Stacy says

    Go ahead and do things your way, Stedman. But don’t forget that it’s the loud and unapologetic New Atheists who’ve won the visibility we now enjoy in the wider culture. That visibility allows you to go on Fox News and play Good Cop to Silverman’s Bad Cop.

  2. Jeff Engel says

    I do wonder – Is there a way to play the good cop role there effectively, and to get the attention Stedman does, without calling out the bad cop the way he does, even when it’s not actually appropriate? There’s at least a tension between wanting to see a whole range of approaches in atheist activism and creating Deep Rifts in places where there shouldn’t be more than different preferences. I don’t seem to hear much from or about Chris Stedman except when he’s throwing other atheists under some bus.

  3. Al Dente says

    Stedman remains a religious apologist who hates New Atheists. He claims, despite all evidence*, to be a superior communicator. However he’s not good at communicating to other atheists who don’t respect religion the way he wants it to be respected. Granted, we’re not his intended audience. He’s preaching to theists: “Look how nasty those other atheists are. Not like me, I’m a good atheist who’s on your side.”

    *Read his Salon article “Toxic Atheism Drives People Apart”. His writing is terrible. The dialogue he supposedly quotes sounds like it comes out of an Ed Wood movie: “We have the superior perspective; everyone else is lost.”

  4. UnknownEric the Apostate says

    Agreed completely. I’ve had my disagreements with David Silverman, but honestly, if there’s anybody I want arguing with blowhards like O’Reilly and Hannity, it’s him. Sharp, confrontational, unafraid.

  5. Adamo says

    I’m still hunting for evidence of any war on X-mas. Are celebrants persecuted? Perhaps only by creditors after they over-spend on their shopping. From before Halloween, providing there’s room for it, stores promote gifts and decorations, scheduling sales events around it. TV is full of X-mas stories of all fantastical kinds. Houses all over the country are garnished with lights. Radio stations devote whole days to nothing but X-mas music. In this country it is impossible to ESCAPE X-mas wherever you turn. “Happy Holidays”, rather than negating X-mas, includes X-mas as well as any other holiday in the season which holds out the hope to all that yes, Virginia, the sun will once again return to it’s high point in the sky and long dark nights will disappear for a few months.

    Let’s end the wars on Muslims, Jews, Atheists, gays, women, the unemployed and underemployed, education, sane gun regulations, and a host of other people and ideas. X-mas is doing just fine by itself, thank you very much.

  6. Gothicrosie says

    I find this whole war of the roses thing funny and have never felt the pull of others to change my views. I became an atheist in high school when my school taught a class about the origins of the books in the bible. I enjoy Christmas with all it’s variety of traditions. It is still a pagan holiday though no matter how much they complain about it being about the birth of Christ it is really about how one religion used this holiday for much needed recruits, and boy did they get them! ;)

  7. says

    It does not seem that Stedman is actually saying there is a war on Christmas (let’s call it Wach), but that there is a perceived Wach. So he’s not saying that Silverman is really engaging a Wach, but merely being perceived (by Christians) as engaging in one. This is suggested when Chris Stedman writes:

    Let’s not kid ourselves: There is no war on Christmas.

    We live in a culture that privileges stories of conflict, so it’s understandable that this narrative would gain traction—with or without billboards. Much of this narrative is a manifestation of religious fears about our increasingly secular society, and it reflects widespread anxieties about atheists and religious differences. But it doesn’t reflect reality.

    Rather, as religious diversity in the U.S. has become more recognizable, Americans have largely broadened their approach to this time of year. According to new data from the Public Religion Research Institute, the percentage of Americans who prefer the inclusive “Happy Holidays” or “Season’s Greetings” has now exceeded the percentage that prefers “Merry Christmas.”

    It’s not that Christmas is under attack; instead, our society is becoming better at embracing its religious diversity and challenging the notion that a single majority religion should dominate public expressions of belief.

    So why does the “War on Christmas” narrative persist?

    Stedman’s argument seems to be not that Silverman is engaging in objectively Wach-like behaviour, but that Silverman is purposefully making a fair point at a sensitive time. Stedman suggests this in writing:

    Based on how much play they give it each December, the “War on Christmas” narrative seems to be good for Fox News ratings. And American Atheists has openly admitted that it is good for their pocketbooks, as their talk show appearances bring in a swell of donations.

    The timing and imagery of the American Atheists’ advertisements would seem to agree with Stedman’s suspicion that they’re not so much targeted at closeted atheists as much as implicitly poking self-identifying believers (whether the “feeling poked” is reasonable or not).

  8. Beth says

    I agree with Stedman that the AA ad was basically a dig at Christianity. Further, it was a gross exaggeration to say nobody needs Christ in Christmas as many people feel they do require that. I felt it was yet another attempt by AA to piss off Christians. Such ads are one reason I prefer not to identify as atheist, but as an agnostic or freethinker. I have heard many reasons expounded at FTB for why it’s important to get more people to accept the label of atheist and it’s clearly a goal of many atheist organizations to increase the number of people who self-identify as atheists. It’s not uncommon for actions/tactics to have conflicting results with respect to different goals. Since such ads have the effect of distancing folks like me from being willing to claim that label, I want to ask which goal do you feel is more important?

  9. says

    Mavaddat, I read Stedman’s post. I’m not sure why you’re quoting him at me rather than engaging with why I said I disagreed with him. For example:

    The timing and imagery of the American Atheists’ advertisements would seem to agree with Stedman’s suspicion that they’re not so much targeted at closeted atheists as much as implicitly poking self-identifying believers (whether the “feeling poked” is reasonable or not).

    This is true–right up until you realize that believers aren’t the only people who exist in the month of December. In order to say this, you have to ignore all that stuff I wrote about nonbelievers being needing extra support this time of year. You have to ignore all those nonbelievers. So why are you doing that?

    Beth, you’re doing the same thing as Mavaddat in suggesting that the only people AA could be talking to are believers because they’re talking during December. If the cost of your identifying as an atheist is that atheists can’t talk to other atheists in need, but instead have to spend their time and energy speaking to theists, I’m not sure what’s gained by you identifying as an atheist. Those restrictions still make atheists second-class citizens.

  10. Beth says

    Stephanie,

    I’m not saying or even suggesting that the only people AA could be talking to are believers. In fact, my opinion is that the only people AA ads are aimed at are already atheists. So I’m certainly not saying that atheists can’t talk to other atheists, whether they are in need or not. I’m not sure why you would think that is the case.

    What I am saying that I find the tone of such ads so deliberately offensive that I have no desire to be associated with the group that sponsors them. This affects my desire to self-identify as atheist. Whether or not my choice of self-identity is something of concern to you, I don’t know. I’m perfectly happy with the label agnostic, so it doesn’t make all that much difference to me. However, I was under the impression that you have a goal of encouraging more people who don’t currently self-identify as atheist to accept that label and ‘come out’ to others as atheists.

    Whether that goal is more or less important to you or to AA than the goal of reaching out to other atheists with such messages, I don’t know. Personally, I don’t think such ads are effective at reaching out to other atheists who do not already identify as atheists, but I can’t say what the intended purpose of them is. My impression from such ads is that AA is far more interested in angering Christians and getting on FOX news than they are interested in improving the general image of atheists in our society and/or encouraging people to self-identify as such.

  11. says

    Beth, if you can’t say what the goal of the ads is, why do you have such a difficult time listening to Silverman tell you, over and over again, what their purpose is? Why do you keep insisting he’s not telling the truth?

    For that matter, why are you comfortable being that offensive to another atheist but not comfortable with one atheist talking to another in non-coded terms simply because believers are listening?

  12. Beth says

    Excuse me, but when did I say Silverman wasn’t telling the truth? What have I said that you find offensive to another atheist?

  13. says

    Quite a bit of this post is dedicated to Silverman talking about the purpose of the billboards. You say that isn’t his purpose, that his purpose is instead to anger Christians. You’re telling me he’s lying about his purpose. Whether or not you intend that to be offensive, it is.

  14. Beth says

    No, I’m not accusing him of lying. Lying is a deliberate deception and I have neither accused him of that nor do I believe that he is deliberately lying about the purpose. However, I don’t accept a stated purpose as a true statement when the actual effect does not match the stated purpose.

    Since I feel that his stated purpose is not well aligned with the actual effect and given the long history of the AA in producing ads that appear to be designed for the primary purpose of offending religious believers, I don’t accept his stated purpose as being the primary purpose of such ads. This doesn’t imply I think the person is lying.

    I don’t intend to be offensive by simply stating my opinion. I do understand that stating an opinion is often perceived as offensive by those who disagree so I can understand that reaction. Thanks for providing the feedback. If you would prefer that I not post my opinion here because you find it offense, I will stop.

  15. says

    Actually, you don’t know whether the actual effect matches the stated purpose. You simply have a feeling about it based on the fact that the billboards don’t appeal to you, a feeling that doesn’t match the outcomes reported by American Atheists and mentioned by Stedman.

    On top of that, you’ve assigned purpose where it’s not remotely necessary. No one needs to have a purpose of offending believers. In fact, I don’t know of an atheist group yet that has managed to advertise without offending believers. These billboards simply state an atheist opinion of Christmas celebrations–which I happen to agree with, as explained at length in the post–without regard for whether believers are offended or not. Yet you’ve decided that offense is the primary purpose of the billboards, telling me you know better than the people who put them up what they’re intended to do because you can tell the difference between believers being offended on purpose and those being offended incidentally. And you tell me you can judge what’s in David Silverman’s head because you’ve been making this same exact judgment of their billboards for years–all while Silverman has been contradicting you.

    I don’t much care whether you’re “offensive” here or not. It’s a word I really don’t see as having any good purpose, particularly as it confounds two separate phenomena. When believers are “offended” by a billboard, it makes them feel bad for a moment or two. When I talk about your statements about Silverman being “offensive”, I’m saying that they’re damaging to him. Not at all the same thing. Really no comparison.

    So hurt my feelings all you want, but if you start making claims about Silverman that are damaging, you’d really better have something better to back that up than, “I think this will hurt believers feelings and that that’s more important than anything he’s had to say about it.”

  16. Beth says

    Thanks for the response. It’s been a pleasure chatting with you this afternoon.

    Actually, you don’t know whether the actual effect matches the stated purpose. You simply have a feeling about it …

    Yes, that was why I added in such indications as “I feel” or “my perception” to those statements.

    …. based on the fact that the billboards don’t appeal to you, a feeling that doesn’t match the outcomes reported by American Atheists and mentioned by Stedman.

    No. My opinion is based on the fact that the stated purpose is “The intent here is not to convert Christians. The intent here is to get atheists going through the motions and pretending to be religious to stop, come out of the closet, and be honest with themselves.”

    Since I’m a church-going agnostic and my reaction to the ad is to recoil just a little bit more from the idea that I would self-identify as an atheist, I think it’s a reasonable stretch from there to the opinion that it isn’t terribly effective for that purpose. Still, I do recognize that’s an opinion, not a certainty. Though perhaps I am not included in that target audience as I’m not in closet about my agnosticism nor am I not honest with myself about my beliefs. I’m quite clear about my uncertainty, how much uncertainty I assign to various common definitions of god it applies to, and lots of other similar such questions.

    On top of that, you’ve assigned purpose where it’s not remotely necessary.

    Yes, I’ve stated my assessment of the purpose behind such ads. When these AA ads are produced year after year and the common characteristic of them - in my perception - is being offensive to religious believers and the actual result is that the sponsor gets invited to be on lots of TV interviews. Couple this with my assessment being that I’m presumably one of his target demographic and it leaves me repulsed by his organization, my opinion goes with the idea that the actual effect is the true purpose of those ads. This doesn’t mean that he doesn’t believe his stated purpose.

    No one needs to have a purpose of offending believers. In fact, I don’t know of an atheist group yet that has managed to advertise without offending believers.

    Quite correct. I am willing to agree that most of the atheist advertising I’ve seen is as innocuous and inoffensive as possible. But that doesn’t mean that atheist ads can never be deliberately offensive.

    These billboards simply state an atheist opinion of Christmas celebrations–which I happen to agree with, as explained at length in the post–without regard for whether believers are offended or not.

    We disagree here. To me, many of the AA billboards do not simply state an atheist opinion, they seem designed to deliberately offend religious believers.

    Yet you’ve decided that offense is the primary purpose of the billboards,

    Yes, I’m telling you that is my perception of many of the AA ads. You don’t have to agree, but if you want me to change my mind, you’ll have to explain why my perception is incorrect.

    Dave’s purpose as you stated it in your post seems problematic to me. OTOH, I think he’s stated that their revenues go up. If revenue generation is the purpose of the ad, that’s not quite the same thing is it? It’s also possible that being deliberately offensive is a strategy that works toward the goal of increasing donations. They are not mutually exclusive. I would bet that getting on FOX helps his donations regardless of why he’s invited on. If deliberately offensive billboards get him that, it’s a winning strategy.

    telling me you know better than the people who put them up what they’re intended to do because you can tell the difference between believers being offended on purpose and those being offended incidentally. And you tell me you can judge what’s in David Silverman’s head because you’ve been making this same exact judgment of their billboards for years–all while Silverman has been contradicting you.

    I don’t think I’ve said any of this. How could I have phrased my opinion differently so that it did not lead you to this erroneous reading?

    I don’t much care whether you’re “offensive” here or not. It’s a word I really don’t see as having any good purpose, particularly as it confounds two separate phenomena. When believers are “offended” by a billboard, it makes them feel bad for a moment or two. When I talk about your statements about Silverman being “offensive”, I’m saying that they’re damaging to him. Not at all the same thing. Really no comparison.

    “Damaging”? I don’t agree, but feel free to elaborate on the damage stating my opinion on your blog has done Mr. Silverman and how, in the future, I might avoid such “damage” when I state my opinion on such things.

    So hurt my feelings all you want, but if you start making claims about Silverman that are damaging, you’d really better have something better to back that up than, “I think this will hurt believers feelings and that that’s more important than anything he’s had to say about it.”

    Have I hurt your feelings? I’m sorry if I have. I’d also appreciate advice on how I could have phrased my opinion differently so that it did not offend you or hurt your feelings?

  17. says

    Stephanie @ 16
    “In fact, I don’t know of an atheist group yet that has managed to advertise without offending believers.”

    While is pretty much an outlier that doesn’t particularly undermine your point, Skepticon did put up a billboard last summer to try and push the boundary on how inoffensive a billboard could be. The ‘kittens are cute’ billboard was up a few weeks and last I’d heard they didn’t get any response on it. But then, it never got a lot of attention either.
    I’m not aware of any cases of billboards with any actual atheistic messages not ‘offending’ believers, of course.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>