Come out!

A while back, I floated the idea of a logo for the godless. There was a lot of enthusiasm for the idea, and a lot of good design ideas came out of it … maybe too many good ideas. And being a mob of atheists, there was absolutely no consensus on what was the best symbol to use. Finally, I didn’t want to impose a logo on anyone, so I just let it drop to see if anyone would simply start using one of the suggested designs, that maybe a consensus might coalesce. I saw a few of the logos on scattered sites, but there wasn’t much of a spontaneous response, and alas, every single site used a different logo. Typical atheists.

Now, though, there is one possible option: the RDF has started the Out Campaign, an effort to get atheists to publicly and proudly declare their status. It has a slightly different meaning — it’s not exactly a symbol of atheism, but more a symbol of the willingness to come out about your disbelief — but it’s nice, it’s simple, it’s clean. It’s a simple red Zapfino “A”, the scarlet letter.


Go ahead, use it. I’ve got one on the sidebar to testify to my openness about my ideas of the nature of the universe, we should all spread it far and wide. I’ll even make it easy for you: you can use this code to put one on your website, if you’re one of us loud and proud atheists.

<div style="text-align:center"><a href=""><img src="" border="0" alt="image" width="143" height="122" /></a></div>

One weird thing about this development, though, is that it sure
brings out the whiners and concern trolls. I’m a little bit surprised at the response at the Dawkins site, with far too many rushing to complain. You’ll see two kinds of negative reactions.

  • The nay-sayers who complain that this is too much like Christianity, it’s a uniform, it’s Dawkins trying to enforce conformity. How ridiculous. It’s a freakin’ t-shirt or bumper sticker, not the High Holy Cathedral of the Sacred Letter A. You can wear it or you can skip it. You can use it to wipe the sweat off after a workout. You might wear it to a barbecue at the park. Wear it while you’re doing the dishes. It’s casual wear. It’s a nice shirt that sends a straightforward message about your willingness to be unafraid, nothing more, with no other deep significance. It will not be part of the dress code.

  • The shrinking violets who complain that it’s too bold, it’s too in-your-face, it’ll make us a target. Talk about missing the point: yes, it’s supposed to be bold. You are supposed to be bold. Begging for a tiny little delicate bit of subtle embroidery on a shirt pocket means this movement is not for you. Don’t wear the shirt. Don’t put the bumper sticker on your car. Don’t say a word — it’s easy to pass as a Christian or a Muslim, you know.

    Just don’t try to claim that you’re helping.

The Myers family ordered a few t-shirts, and my car will have the bumper sticker on it. We aren’t afraid. Especially not to make such a trivial commitment.


  1. inkadu says

    What if Christians start wearing the Scarlet Letter on the seat of their jeans as a sign of disrespect?


  2. says

    Atheists could wear them on the seat of their jeans, too. We could also get toilet paper with the symbol printed on it, with no worries.

  3. Christian Burnham says

    The Christians have a backwards alpha, and the atheists now have the letter A. Harmony at last.

  4. inkadu says

    But the Christians have the alpha AND the omega! We’d be crushed in the bumper sticker war! Like the time Darwin Fish got eaten by Truth! Oh the humanity…

  5. halcy says

    I have a different negative reaction for you there… It’s a frakin “A”! It looks way to boring, we need more whizbang decoration fuzzies!

    Ahwell, guess it’s pretty neat.

  6. Arnosium Upinarum says

    Looks good to me. First letter of the alphabet and clean and simple. LIKE it.

  7. tacitus says

    It’s a good idea, but the text below the “A” should be something more than That just makes it look like a promotion for his web site.

    Either it should be the URL, or better still, the slogan “STAND OUT”, maybe with the campaign’s URL on the back.

  8. says

    Well, being an atheist is all well and good, but it doesn’t say really a whole lot about me. I prefer to label myself with my atheism as a secular humanist. I have thought about getting a tattoo with the atheist atom with the happy human in the center. I haven’t found a logo online with this mix yet, but I hope to soon. Am I the only one that thinks that saying I’m an atheist just doesn’t say enough?

  9. says

    Thanks for the “heads up” and for providing the convenient code PZ. The atheist ‘A’ now proudly resides in the sidebar of my humble little publication as well.

  10. inkadu says

    Jamie —

    How about a yellow smiley face with an “A” tatooed onto his forehead?

  11. mss says

    Very nice. Much better than the last round, which, though clever, looked too much like an attempt to extend the Zapf Dingbats typeface. This is elegant, a little funny, and a bit more artistic.

  12. inkadu says

    It’s more likely that the scarlet a will be useful for identifying other in-the-know atheists; I don’t imagine 99.6% of the population will have any idea what it means.

  13. says

    It looks sharp.

    Now, I know this might sound presumptuous, but do you think that someone might tweak together a spinoff that reads ‘Friend of A’? Because, you know, I am friendly: “Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”


  14. Divalent says

    I’ll pass. I’m not one for message t-shirts that advertise things, and the addition of the in pretty bold letters (and it’s also on the sleeve!) makes it more than just a personal statement of your lack belief in the magic man.

    Instead it seems to say “I’m a brand atheist”, whatever that is. Actually, to most people you would just be claiming some affinity for, since the meaning of the “A” is obscure.

    Not that the red “A” is a bad symbol. If it was pocket sized and located where the pocket would be, and if it didn’t have the ad …

  15. M. Loftus says

    Jamie G.,

    I think the same. However, I think that since it’s the atheism aspect of secular humanism and similar that (mainly) draws the ire of many of the religious it’s good to proudly identify that we are, in addition to being adherents of our various ethical systems, atheists.

  16. minusRusty says

    Yo! Godfrey Temple!!!

    Time to make a variation on Affinity, don’tcha think?!?


  17. says

    I don’t dislike Richard Dawkins, but I really don’t feel like spending money to advertise for his website. Other than that, I think the t-shirt is pretty cool.

  18. Chayanov says

    Lots of whining going on at Dawkins’ site. Clearly the thought about visibly standing out from the theists makes some of those posters rather uncomfortable. A t-shirt with a red A on it is a lot less over-the-top than all the pagans I know who wear clothes, accessories, and visible tattoos with pentagrams, Thor’s hammers, and goddess figures on a daily basis.

  19. says

    It’s a nice shirt that sends a straightforward message about your willingness to be unafraid, nothing more, with no other deep significance.

    A shirt that said “THERE IS NO GOD” on the back and “OUTSPOKEN ATHEIST” on the front would do that. This shirt gives you the chance to safely get away before the outspoken theists find out who Richard Dawkins is. :)

  20. says

    Maybe it’s a European thing or something, but for me a red, capital ‘A’ is already well and truly taken as a symbol for anarchism; you see it used with and without a red circle on graffitti and pamphlets in public spaces everywhere. A bit of “marketplace of ideas” prior-art searching might have been in order.

  21. says

    I’ll add myself as one with the negative reactions that
    1) It’s not in-your-face enough, as the A could stand for Anything, and
    2) While I like Richard Dawkins I don’t feel the need to advertise his site particularly, especially since it is now distinct from the Richard Dawkins Foundation.

    I may add the scarlet A logo to my site, but the t-shirt doesn’t work for me. It’s not like I don’t have a drawer full of atheism-oriented t-shirts already, anyway.

  22. K. Engels says

    At least a hammer & sickle looks looks cool… Wearing this large red letter A would make me feel like I was a Nathaniel Hawthorne fanboy, or something…

  23. says

    The biggest problem for me here is the same that I face with the Brights merch – it all looks terribly bad. I’d be willing to support the cause, and I’m far from shy about any of my beliefs, but I don’t want to look like a cheap schlub while I’m doing it.

    For instance, remove the damned URL. You might as well be printing it across a meshback cap. If it’s going to look that bad, I have to avoid it merely on the principle that it’s not aesthetically pleasing.

    But thanks for the repository of atheist logos – I’ll probably take one of them over to or, and construct something I can consider wearing outside my home.

  24. foldedpath says

    Janne got there first, but yeah… hasn’t anyone here seen the Anarchist symbol? Not only an “A”, but a red “A” (circled)?

    Wiki dates it back to 1868 or so. Gotta try harder. Personally I like the other end of the alphabet, except it doesn’t naturally tie in with anything godless and rational. Still, all the cool bad boy letters are there…. Z for Zorro, V for Vendetta…

  25. SteveC says

    Added the image (and link) to my (pathetic little) website.

    For those that don’t like it, well fine.

    I think Nathaniel Hawthorne’s idea is a damned fine one, well worth co-opting. It’s the red badge of courage. Wear it proudly. (Yeah, I know that’s Stephen Crane, ancestor of Frasier and Niles Crane.)

  26. Rien says

    Meh. Boring. Why doesn’t it say “Atheist” instead of Or is that too much out for most people?

  27. TW says

    Are there no atheists in non-english speaking countries? It’s not generic enough. A “symbol” is just that, a symbol for something else. A big red A is too literal and has meaning only in english.

    Also, most of the complaint a lot of people have with religion is with religion. So I’d rather see the red circle with a slash over the universally recognized symbols of religion. Hard to embroider though. ;-/

  28. says

    I’ll make some “A” necklaces if anyone wants them. People might think that’s one of your initials or something, though. You probably should’ve gone with the “no” symbol over a cross, because let’s face it, that’s the only religion you care about being against.

  29. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says


    I still think is distinguishable from the anarchist symbol, and symbolizes putting all traditional theist worldviews on their head. Also, it’s use in logics is “for all”. :-P

    But it has better chances than the term “Bright” has. We will see how it plays out.

  30. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says


    I still think is distinguishable from the anarchist symbol, and symbolizes putting all traditional theist worldviews on their head. Also, it’s use in logics is “for all”. :-P

    But it has better chances than the term “Bright” has. We will see how it plays out.

  31. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says

    Um, the “it” that has better chances is the new Zapfino proposal, obviously.

  32. Torbjörn Larsson, OM says

    Um, the “it” that has better chances is the new Zapfino proposal, obviously.

  33. rob says

    I find the size of the A rather obnoxious, and the big url totally classless.

    If you want to be bold about it, why not actually say what the A stands for? Most people passing you on the street won’t know.

    Personally I think the Darwin fish with legs communicates way better. On the one hand it is slightly mocking, but it also is funny enough that it is disarming.

    I think people should keep working to come up with a logo that actually is effective.

  34. says

    I, for one, am proud to display this on my blog. I am not concerned that people won’t know what it means. I’ll know what it means, and other atheists will know what it means.

    The key is to raise alarum through the Christian sites, and soon it will be as recognizable as a pentagram, as a symbol of fear and loathing. The thing is okay, too, as his book really raised the level of conversation (to a din, sure, but raised) for atheism over the last year or so.

  35. Paguroidea says

    It sounds like we’ll never all agree on a common symbol. There are other symbols that have been previously mentioned that would have been good as well.

    The classy “A” works for me. I just ordered my t-shirt. I’m willing to proudly wear it, and I live in a very conservative rural town.

  36. says

    If you are comfortable with your life and your beliefs, you don’t need a billboard in front of your house or a letter in your blog sidebar saying so. The deluded can keep slapping hawnk if you love jayzus on their bumpers. Just ignore them and keep along your silent path.

  37. says

    Nice idea, but my enthusiasm diminishes with each criticism (though granted Godfrey Temple’s effort is much appreciated). Lack of uniqueness is a problem, a cross has only one meaning. The englishism is a problem too. This will be meaningless to a chinese atheist.

    How about this: we like to remind the Christians that we believe in one less god than they do. So instead of an A, how about some artsie version of -1? Maybe a big red one with the negative line through it. Or maybe put a little negative one inside PZ’s A. Sorry I’m not techie enough to make one, but surely someone here is.

  38. ben says

    You can wear it or not wear it, it doesn’t matter — then why is it so important to you? Will you recognise people by it or not? Will you use it or not? If so, then it’s important, if not, then it isn’t, so leave it.

    I won’t just pass, I won’t just skip it, I’ll ask you what you think you’re doing and why. Are you forming a club that I’m not a member of, now? A Latin-alphabet-based club to whom the letter “A” is uniquely important? I want no part of it. Is there a split between Letterites and non-Letterites now? Am I now not one of you? Is your group better than mine? I didn’t know I had one. I wear the Ogham symbol for “F” in Lincoln Green on a grey background, instead. Fancy a Crusade? What’s the point of all this? Was the having-a-special-symbol-by-which-we-recognize-each-other the one part of childish religious stupidity you couldn’t live without?

    With your spiffy new logo, you can put it on the top of your headed notepaper and put a trademark symbol after it and you’ll look almost like a church or other corporation. And you acknowledge that you have created a split by trumpeting about your new logo, and you’ve alienated and turned away your friends and allies because of your new logo, but you’re still crowing about your new logo. Good job. Terrific. You must be proud. Keeps the focus where it belongs, eh? On the logo. Given that you shrill and squawk like John Knox or Increase Mather at the thought of people shaving their pubic hair or playing poker, I don’t want to sign up for your whole package of views and I find your promulgation of a cultish symbol more than a little suspect.

    And don’t call me a bloody “Bright” either. I don’t want a label, a logo, or a club to belong to. Most of us don’t.

  39. Jazmin says

    I’m too sleepy to read all the comments, so it’s probably already been said: My mother always warned me that someday I would be wearing a scarlet letter. At least it matches my first initial and I can pretend to be doing a retro “Laverne” thing. Oh screw it, I’m an ATHEIST and proud of it!

  40. says

    What if Christians start wearing the Scarlet Letter on the seat of their jeans as a sign of disrespect?

    We just change the symbol to one with six inch studs.

    PZ’s suggestion about toilet paper might have to be dropped, though.


  41. minusRusty says

    Godfrey Temple:

    I’m all over it.

    Share and enjoy.

    Hmmm. I was thinking more along the lines of altering the red Zapfino “A” with the ∞. Though I understand th’t that might reduce the reference to Lambda.

  42. Patrick says

    And don’t call me a bloody “Bright” either. I don’t want a label, a logo, or a club to belong to. Most of us don’t.

    Don’t worry, after your little rant there, I can’t imagine anyone calling you “Bright”.

  43. says

    ben wrote:

    With your spiffy new logo, you can put it on the top of your headed notepaper and put a trademark symbol after it and you’ll look almost like a church or other corporation.

    People do like to feel they belong to some larger group.

    And you acknowledge that you have created a split by trumpeting about your new logo, …

    The logo didn’t create any “split,” whatever that means.

    …and you’ve alienated and turned away your friends and allies because of your new logo,…

    Exactly which friends and allies are turned away? Just you?

    Given that you shrill and squawk like John Knox or Increase Mather at the thought of people shaving their pubic hair or playing poker, I don’t want to sign up for your whole package of views and I find your promulgation of a cultish symbol more than a little suspect.

    Shrill and squawk like John Knox or Increase Mather? Where the hell did that come from? I think you’re getting delusional, Ben.

    No, my only complaint — you want me to spend $20.00 to advertise your website, Richard?

  44. says

    If my Mommy and Daddy see the bumpersticker on my car, can I tell them it stands for “agnostic”?

  45. Warren Terra says

    There is a *fantastic* monologue from Marcus Brigstocke in this week’s edition of BBC Radio 4’s ‘The Now Show’ in which he performs as an evangelical atheist. It’s comedy, of course (and preceded in the monologue by a number of Britain-, BBC-, and Brigstocke-specific references), but the core atheist, humanist message is brilliantly delivered.

    You can hear it by Realplayer through This Link.

  46. Stephen says

    Are there no atheists in non-english speaking countries? It’s not generic enough. A “symbol” is just that, a symbol for something else. A big red A is too literal and has meaning only in english.

    Only English? You seem to have overlooked French, Spanish, Dutch, German, Polish, Serbo-Croat, Turkish …

  47. says

    Whine, whine, whine people.

    I’m not sure whether I actually want one of these T-shirts or not, but I think the logo looks great. I’d have preferred it without the URL, which is just a tiny bit tacky, but I love the scarlet letter symbol: it’s meaningful at many levels and looks classy. I applaud the whole idea.

  48. Louis says

    Ahhhhh! Fear the T Shirt of Division!

    1) If you don’t want to wear the T shirt with a big A on it, don’t. It really isn’t compulsory. There is no stigam for being a non-A wearer or an A wearer. Again just like with the “bright” thing, the motivation behind the label is what’s important, reservations can be dealt with in the manner suggested below (and boy do I have reservations).

    2) The point is not about herd behaviour (although as others have mentioned grouping is a natual part of human behaviour, for some people it might have this added benefit) the point is that a) atheists are, in some parts of the world, thought of by many as second class citiziens (or not even citizens at all). Openly acknowledging one’s atheism is one way (by no means the only or even the best) to show that atheists are not some shadowy minority group, but real people (i.e. neighbours, friends, family) who are just as “normal” as everyone else except that they lack god belief. It’s a stage on the road to acceptance and making the whole “problem” a non-issue, it’s not the whole journey, and b) there is a general, social stigma against discussing religion rationally and submitting it to the same scrutiny that other ideas recieve (this is by no means universal, just very common). Openly acknowledging one’s atheism in some overt fashion is one way (by no means the only or even the best) to generate discussion and to break this social “taboo”. If this “taboo” is broken to a greater extent then we incrementally move away from pre-Enlightenment magical thinking as a society. Social change happens at the level of dinner party conversation, discussions between friends and in articles etc. Gradually the point gets through. Will it destroy religion? Is it meant to? No in both cases.

    3) Alternative images, fonts, graphics and statements are all well and good. I can think of a couple of dozen right now. They aren’t on the market, this is. This suggests four possible courses of action for those who don’t like the shirt because the logo is crappy and hate the concept etc (as opposed to those merely discussing possible alternative logos/designs): a) see point 1) above, b) do something! It’s hardly difficult to design a logo and send it to a cheap T-shirt printer and get your logo on a T-shirt vending site like cafe express (IIR the site correctly). It’s also cheap as chips with the right T-shirt vendor. This approach has 2 advantages: i) the plurality of different symbols/fonts/graphics/logos all pointing in the SAME direction is a good illustration of the diversity of atheists, a good data point AGAINST the false charges of “atheism = just another religion” and “it’s all groupthink”, and ii) it might make you some cash. c) Join in, help or shut the fuck up! It’s quite simple, either make a constructive helpful contribution (criticism is always welcome, everyone sensible learns from well thought out, rational, constructive criticism), don’t join in (after all it isn’t compulsory), or simply go away. Irrational, whiny sniping and bitching from the sidelines helps no one, if it isn’t your thing, great! It isn’t particularly mine either, but at least have the decency to say so sensibly and come up with a decent, rational criticism or alternative. “Waaaaaah I don’t like it” or “Waaaaah Evil Dawkins gets a rake off” don’t count. d) Support this project regardless of the quibbles you have with its design etc because you support the motivations behind it. I fall into d) btw, with a few ideas for b) I might put into practise.

    So rather than an appeal for support of Dawkins’ A campaign (which I support in principle, if not necessarily in concordant artistic tastes!) this is an appeal for rational dissent. The guy is trying to do something constructive, and it is THAT I support, and THAT which everyone should support. Not out of some group mentality or desire to herd but because this guy is actually doing something constructive and rather than whine from our comfy armchairs we should all be out doing something similar, ignoring him, supporting him, or offering constructive and useful criticism above the level of “DO NOT LIKE. WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!”.

    Oh and for those of us who are from the UK, these alternative T-shirts might suit your (and indeed my) tastes better.

    National Secular Society Shop


  49. says

    I guess while I applaud the effort, I’ll be damned if I’ll be pasting a Zapfino “A” with a drop shadow on anything I own, much less my own body (which belongs to the bank).

    Is it too late to campaign for ITC Bauhaus Demi? It’s clean, futuristic, readable, and if you squint the A kinda looks like a cross that’s been bent in half.

    Better yet, something in the Deutsche Gothic calligraphy line — heavy, elaborate, and dangerously pointy-looking. An “A” you could grate hard cheese on.

  50. says

    Well, having read a couple humdred comments on the subject here and at, I’ve changed my mind. I’m going to buy one of these to support the Richard Dawkins Foundation, if for no other reason, and besides I can wear it in my less confrontational moods.

    I also like Louis‘s suggestion in #64, and I’ll be designing a few similar-but-different versions with the same basic concept but more precisely to my taste.

  51. Carlie says

    I can see the point of letters #51, but I think that it is important for people to see that there are indeed atheists out there. Most conservative Christians will assume that anyone who is a “nice” person must love Jesus – I didn’t think I knew a single atheist when I was growing up, and of course I must have. With that mindset, it’s very easy for them to swallow the line about atheists all being little Stalins-in-training, because they don’t think they have any counterexamples. Advertising your own atheism now and then does serve a greater good of at least making theists realize that not everyone agrees with them, and a lot of “those” people are perfectly normal.

  52. Richard harris, FCD says

    What am I supposed to do? I don’t wear T-shirts. They don’t have pockets for all my pens & other stuff.

    Seriously though, I wish we didn’t have so many ways of describing ourselves. Mostly, (if you’re an Atheist of the philosophically inclined sort, not the feckless ‘god’s for sissies’ punk type), then Atheist, Bright, Humanist, Rationalist, Secularist, all fit the bill. To religionists, only ‘Atheist’ probably conveys something meaningful, but it’s a negative term. ‘Bright’ conveys something positive, but it’s probably not very well known by none-atheists. Maybe that’s the one that we should promote, on the grounds that it might catch on, just like ‘gay’ did for homosexuals, with positive consequences?

  53. hooptyhoo says

    My only concern is that someone might think I’m a fan of that Nathanial Hawthorne novel and not an athiest…

  54. Dahan says

    I agree with some of the other posts here. The addition of the thing makes it unacceptable to me. I’m happy to stand out, and it’s an OK emblem, I like Dawkins, but I don’t pay to advertise for others.

  55. Todd says

    I’m afraid I have to concur with the dissenting view. First, having “” on the T-shirts puts this on the same level as Golden Palace; is the message you’re an atheist or an advertisement for Dawkins?

    As for the use of the letter “A” – it’s so ubiquitous it’s almost meaningless. As several have stated it could be interpreted to mean adulterer (not something I want to be associated with), anarchist (ditto) or an Atlanta Braves fan (ditto). Let’s also not forget that “A” is the symbol used by Atom Ant and Captain America (although he had it on his forehead like Inkidu’s happy face).

    I give Dawkins an “A” for effort but I think it fails in the advertisement A-rena.

  56. Wrought says

    I know, just so we don’t get called another “religion” by theists, why don’t we all wear the same clothes, boots, caps so that we can exert a political presence. Oh, and call ourselves the Dawkins’ Youth.

    Or… accept that atheism isn’t a group movement, but a dismissal of bad thinking about the supernatural and the world.

    Hell, I’m not afraid to be an atheist. I’d rather wear a t-shirt saying “Jesus Shags Dinosaurs” than this nonsense.

    It’s just the Bright movement in disguise, anyway. I’m with Christopher Hitchens on this one… the Bright movement is just nonsense.

  57. says

    Is that how you feel about we atheist bloggers who remain anonymous because we live in the American bible belt and fear for our safety – that we’re not helping? I sincerely hope not.

  58. Firemancarl says

    I will be getting one. I’m not worried about what it may or may not do/say. I get so tired of seeing misguided fundies wearing their jesus t-shirts. At least now i’ll be able to counter. Plus, I think the blue one will go great with my baby blues.

  59. says


    1) If you don’t want to pay to advertise Richard Dawkins’ website, why not make your own shirt with a paintbrush?

    2) This idea actually seems a far cry from the “Bright” deal, because quite plainly, it’s not afraid of the A-word.

    3) We’re not going to see Pharyngula merchandise, are we? I would go out of my way to wear (say) a T-shirt with a zebrafish embryo on the front and the words “GODLESS. LIBERAL. BIOLOGY.” superimposed atop it.

  60. says

    Hmmmm…that’s a tempting idea. Marketing my web site? Has anyone else in the history of the world ever done that?

    Maybe I should doodle up something on CafePress. Is everyone going to get peeved if it says “” on it?

  61. Caledonian says

    Is everyone going to get peeved if it says “” on it?

    No, they just won’t wear them.

    This is the age of online search engines. Just putting the name ‘Pharyngula’ out there, in association with your name, will be enough for people to find the site.

    Better to put more content on the shirts that will get people interested enough to look for it, than to take up space giving people the means to get here that they already possess.

  62. TW says

    Are there no atheists in non-english speaking countries? It’s not generic enough. A “symbol” is just that, a symbol for something else. A big red A is too literal and has meaning only in english.

    Only English? You seem to have overlooked French, Spanish, Dutch, German, Polish, Serbo-Croat, Turkish …

    Atheist is spelled with an A in Turkish? Huh. Anyway, I still don’t think people as a whole will concede the letter. Heck even in English it’s one of only a handful of vowels. It would really shred the holy books to cut them all out. Hey, wait a minute…

  63. plunge says

    It’s only going to confuse believers more. The whole point of atheism is that we are not on THEIR team, not that we atheists are a team.

  64. K. Engels says

    Atheist is spelled with an A in Turkish?

    There are some words in Turkish that mean atheist that do not begin with A, but there is also a ‘borrowed’ word, ateist, that is used.

  65. Todd says


    I think Pharyngula merchandise would be great – as long as you spelled everything out so there was no ambiguity.

    If you do an “A” shirt be sure to put it in front of “GODLESS, LIBERAL BIOLOGIST”

    I agree with Caledonian – don’t put the link on them so people will get curious and look it up.

  66. Jeffy says

    I am an atheist, but I’m not wearing no fuckin A.
    Why not a symbol for No Santa, No Unicorns, No Tooth Fairy?

    By drawing attention to something that isn’t real, it gives the believers strength in believing.

    Atheists aren’t a ‘team’ that is against religious folks, we ARE on THEIR side. We just want them to see the truth.

    You’re causing a division when we should be uniting. It’s hard for folks to accept that they’ve been wasting their time every Sunday all their lives, if you divide into ‘teams’ it’ll just embolden them to their beliefs. THey love the idea that they are ‘crusaders’ or are being persecuted/put down for their ‘God’.

  67. MAJeff says

    Below, PZ wrote about atheism and civil rights concerns, and here he brings back the notiono of the closet and visibility as social movement activities. In the earlier post, he made a comparison to gay movements that continues here in the use of closet. I think there are similarities, although weak ones, beyond these.

    One of the things Dawkins and PZ are trying to do here is start a social movement. They would be in the phase directly preceding gay liberation, if we were to draw an analogy. They’re the early folks who decided to push the homophile movement out of the closet and into its first, tentative, public actions. They’re the radicals moving the window and making it easier for others to come out, both by example and by creating social spaces where being out becomes less stigmatized.

    Part of the problem in the movement sense is that the target–religious belief–doesn’t lend itself to civil rights claims, although the state very definitely favors the religious over the non. The openness more closely resembles liberationist action of simply claiming public space as ours to occupy. That was a radical claim for queers to make (still is a lot of the time) and in most parts of society, it’s still a radical claim for atheists to make. (it’s a little reminiscent of those “we are everywhere” buttons. We had some made up for Mpls Pride one year that said “We are everywhere–even Mankato.”

  68. lithopithecus says

    instead of the advertisment, why not tagline the graceful character with something like,
    “because you can’t be a part-time rationalist”…
    …or something more clever?

  69. Jon says

    I don’t know. I have as much enthusiasm for wearing an atheism shirt as I have for wearing a shirt announcing that I like zucchini. It’s not about conformity or shrinking away from it, it’s just.. why? My friends and family know I’m an atheist; I couldn’t care less if random people on the street know.

  70. Tom says

    Originally posted on the forums:

    I want to say I am SICK and TIRED of all the naysayers using piss-poor logic to rationalize their own fears and insecurities about this campaign. These comments about “herd like behavior” are the most hypocritical of all. So, we’re like sheep eh? I ask, what happens when the shepherds group together? You are hypocrites in your own right, being here at By your own logic, you and the rest of your wussy ilk have “herded” here because of the “buzz” Dawkins has made for himself. I ask you, what makes it more special to hang around here then at any other forums?

    It’s been said nonconformists are conformists in themselves. It’s the same emotional reaction: one feels vulnerable and looks for security, some in groups, others in themselves. Those here are sociophobes and withdraw into themselves for protection.

    No wonder the rest of the world lives in ignorance with cowards like you

  71. eric taylor says

    i have to admit that the A, artistically it just sucks, it’s awful.

    The darwin fish on the other hand! THAT is the symbol I love.

    That’s really the true atheist symbol. Because merely disbelieving in god isn’t any good if you don’t believe in science. What good does it do you to become an atheist if you don’t understand evolution.

  72. David says

    I think the big A is an excellent idea. However, I really do not wear Ts. How about an A in gold or silver to wear on a chain. Bet it would sell like hotcakes.

  73. kevinj says

    for #60

    the previous weeks is on youtube. covers most of the main points in a tad unsubtle, but funny, way

    the weird thing is apparently people wasted their time writing to complain.

  74. Dahan says

    OK, way down the post list now, but one more thing. The “A” is also being used for those who support the Arts and Artists in general. I already have their big red “A” in my window here in Saint Paul. It’s from “the A project” (.org) Sure, it’s a different font, but still…we can do something else.

  75. qedpro says

    I don’t mean to be rude, but the first thing that came to mind when i saw that symbol was “Asshole with a capital A”. Now if the shoe fits, i say let’s wear it “P”roudly as if it were Prada. Because quite frankly, i’m proud to be an atheist, and i’m tired of being nice. Nice and respectful got us george w bush.

  76. poke says

    Can’t we just get t-shirts with “GOD DOES NOT EXIST, MORON” written on them?

  77. philos says

    Would I spend my money to wear a t-shirt that generally stated the planet Yip-yip didn’t exist, that millions of others believe in (and not withstanding all the other people out there that believe in other, separate planets that guide their lives, that also have a high probability of not existing)?

    If there wasn’t such a hostile A and a self-serving direction to this website, and funds going towards a non-for-profit organization in the Promotion of General Science & Reason, YES.

    *** Otherwise, as the shirt exists & if it were free, I’d wear it mowing the lawn or something. ***

    If I was making $$$ hand over fist like Dawkins or promoting a website that employed me (like Josh) because of the shirt, I’d love the t-shirt too.

    The people that buy t-shirts like this are no different than the goth kids at the high-school or the lazy stoners that wear t-shirts with rude/obscene comments- just wanting a reaction and attention. But with only ~150 shirts sold in a day, good luck. Yawn. Nothing changes. Change the world by example and not by being elitist, annoying and confrontational.

    Why invite argument and a punch in the nose arguing with the deluded? Will the RDF pay my medical bills or will Michael Moore take care of that, too?

  78. philos says

    ERIC TAYLOR: you hit the nail squarely on the head! Unfortunately, alot of strong agnostics or people that call themselves atheists (which is not credible in the least logically) haven’t a clue about evolution, which sadly is not emphasized more but just lost in the shuffle.

  79. Crudely Wrott says

    Never have seen the utility of words on clothes. (Exceptions for “Police” or “FD” or “Security” or “Do Not Bleach” and the like; this would be information immediately useful.)

    Words in the air though, in other people’s ears and as part of the general cacophony of speech are much better. In a conversation, subtle meanings can be spelled out explicitly and questions both general and specific can be profitably answered. Not so with a slogan, no matter how few letters are involved. Or how many.

    When I encounter someone bearing logos, images, confessions, protestations or exhortations emblazoned publicly on their clothes, accessories or skin I am struck by the notion that they are possibly confused about language and the mechanics of communication.

    I would rather speak than pose, would rather act than advertise,

    Regardless, I think it is a spanking good symbol, as symbols go, and that those who display it in any fashion have their own good reasons for doing so. I’ll know what you mean.

  80. Thomas Carlyle says

    Somehow, at least from what I’ve read here, I doubt that many of you folks need any regalia to draw attention to yourselves.

    You realize of course, that everyone is going to inevitably think that the big red “A” is for “asshole” don’t you?

    To think that a man of “knowledge” would even consider the disturbed behavior PZ is contemplating, well it’s a very sad personal story but an even sadder one for the state of academia.

    Carry on.

  81. Sam says

    I’d buy it if it said:

    is for atheist.

    But I don’t hang out on nor am I likely to, so I’d feel a bit dishonest, which isn’t really the point.

  82. raven says

    The A lacks something.

    1. It is Ambiguous. Could be anything.

    2. More importantly, it is not cute. It is too serious.

    Need something cute. I nominate a logo of The Flying Spaghetti Monster. An oval or circle with noodly appendages and a smily face inside or just a simple FSM.

    That’s why the Darwin fish works. BTW, the Darwin fish won’t work for atheism. Evolution is a scientific fact, explained best by modifications of Darwin’s theory. They have nothing to do with each other.

  83. bernarda says

    pz, “Is everyone going to get peeved if it says “” on it?”

    Not if it has a picture of some creature putting tentacles in every orifice possible.

  84. k says

    Still don’t like it. The scarlet A is a joke referring to the story and I don’t feel that my life has anything in common with christians disapproving, even if it is in jest. I just feel that this gives them the opportunity to snicker and say, “Glad to see you’re so willing to wear your shame for us.”
    If I was going to wear a shirt, it would have to be one that gives no doubt to my meaning, does not hint at any scarlet letters, and bright enough to start that fight that I would have every second I wore the shirt:

    But, I just want to go out and buy groceries, not defend myself and I have zero intention of having my pimped-out truck keyed by a dirty christian so I don’t wear clothes like that or have bumper stickers like that. I have a sushi-fish on my truck. That’s obscure enough that every Atheist gets it and the dumb christians have yet to figure it out. I wouldn’t mind getting a sticker that says an Atheist touched that money for the dollar bills but I’ve strived my whole life to get to the point where I can be completely left alone by the general populace. I don’t want anyone talking to me when I go out, yuck! I’ll likely never buy a shirt like that.

  85. Salt says

    [Zapfino] A. It works. Though so many might think of the lower bodily orifice, but yep, it works.

  86. Mai says

    Any symbol and outright statement works for me. I am proud to be atheist, and if someone is offended by that, that’s their problem. I’m not offended by those stupid fish, and I have to see them everywhere!

  87. Paguroidea says

    BT Murtagh – That classy red “A” looks fantastic on your site! It’s a nice contrast with the black background.

  88. Justin Moretti says

    The shrinking violets who complain that it’s too bold, it’s too in-your-face, it’ll make us a target. Talk about missing the point: yes, it’s supposed to be bold. You are supposed to be bold. Begging for a tiny little delicate bit of subtle embroidery on a shirt pocket means this movement is not for you. Don’t wear the shirt. Don’t put the bumper sticker on your car. Don’t say a word — it’s easy to pass as a Christian or a Muslim, you know.

    Just don’t try to claim that you’re helping.

    “When the time comes to choose between what is right and what is easy…

    …remember Cedric Diggory.”

    – Professor Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

    Or you could remember Giordano Bruno. Or Hypatia. Take your pick.

  89. says

    I have to hop on to the I’m not getting one band wagon. It’s a little too close to the Atlanta Braves logo, and I expect that most people would assume that it was a braves shirt rather than an atheist shirt.

    I might make me a shirt with the upside down A though, maybe along with an anarchist symbol, as I’m an anarchist as well as an atheist.

  90. The Physicist says

    Since you people have the selfish gene, I don’t wan6 you in charge of anything.

  91. Paguroidea says

    I loved a comment by PZ on the Dawkins thread so I’ll repost it here in case you missed it.

    170. Comment #59485 by pzmyers on July 29, 2007 at 8:14 am
    Here’s a constructive suggestion.

    The point of the Out campaign is to get people to stop being so shy about publicly admitting their disbelief; don’t get hung up on the fact that the RDF is offering a t-shirt to encourage people to open up. If you don’t like the t-shirt, don’t get it — just follow the spirit of the campaign and get out there and make your ideas known.

    If you like the t-shirt the campaign is selling, wear it.

    If you like some other t-shirt that promotes atheism or ridicules religion, wear that.

    Design your own: I had a thread with lots of suggestions for a godless logo. Steal liberally.

    If you want something with more depth than a simple slogan, go talk to people. Stand on a soapbox on a streetcorner. Attend a UU meeting. Organize your own local atheists group.

    Write on a blog. Write a book. Make a youtube video. Sing a godless song.

    Everyone is getting stuck on the shirt, which is just one outlet for getting the message out. Seriously, you don’t have to wear it. But find some way to help the cause instead of carping pointlessly.

    Damned atheists. You can be so self-defeating.

  92. says

    There seems to be two sides to this Out Campaign. Ones who embrace it at face value and others who practice rather than wear their thoughts. I like what this person had to say about it. That the shirt isn’t needed, but less tolerance for religion is.

    It’s like that line from Return of the Living Dead, the punk guy goes something like, “This isn’t a costume, it’s a way of life!” I think we need to focus more on the way of life than the costume.

  93. Paguroidea says

    Florn – you are right that less tolerance for religion is needed. When I read the post at your site it made me think back to the days when I was asked about religion and would say my childhood religion rather than that I was an atheist or didn’t go to church any longer.

    Maybe some of the planned OutCampaign activities will pertain more to “It’s a way of life!”. At the link they say “We have many exciting activities and plans for the OUT Campaign, so be sure to watch for the latest developments.” Now I’m gettting really curious.

  94. Steve_C says

    Try READING the selfish gene “may be a” Physicist.

    Then you’ll know how completely idiotic you sound.

  95. Willo the Wisp says

    Simply put, it looks rubbish. Ugly font, and absurdly over-italicised. It’s not a good logo.

  96. Chris says

    Meh, not particularly impressed with the choice of logo. Seems like its really tricky to come up with one though, atheism being lack of belief in something. I’d be on board with the previous suggestion of the null set symbol were it not for the fact that we always get tarred with the accusation of nihilism.

  97. llewelly says

    If I were wearing the ‘A’ shirt, and someone asked what the ‘A’ stood for, my sense of humor would force me to reply “It’s a scarlet letter A. It means I’m an adulterer, of course.” …

  98. Dale Austin says

    “how Many colleges and hospitals were built by atheists?”

    Two words:

    Soviet Union

    Unless, of course, you’d now like to argue that the USSR wasn’t run by the evil atheist cabal?

  99. says

    “Simply put, it looks rubbish. Ugly font, and absurdly over-italicised. It’s not a good logo.”

    “This “A” is right up there with the last Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker for really lame graphics that look like they were done on a Mac circa 1992.”

    Seconded. There is no way I’m putting that logo anywhere, and not because it’s too bold. Rather, because it’s ugly as sin, so to speak. Whoever is in charge of this campaign, PLEASE hire a real designer next time.

  100. Carl says

    Thought this shirt was very nicely done and I think it is a very good idea. And those atheists who don’t like wearing shirts and proclaiming there freedom from dogma thats your choice but don’t condemn us for standing up for your rights from religious oppression. As long as there is churches and televangelists preaching there dogma along with there crosses and churches every wear blaring Jesus and god signs I will wear my t shirts and have bumper stickers.

  101. says

    I like it. Could we do better? Maybe. But who cares? The point is to stand up and say what you are and if most go along with The Scarlet A then it will become KNOWN. It’s not much of a statement if a million atheists have a million different ways of showing it, because the average person won’t recognize the symbol. If we can rally around one, even if we disagree whether it’s the BEST, it will have impact. I’m in. It’s already up.

  102. travc says

    Don’t particularly like the “” ad aspect. Nothing against Dawkins, but it seems to overspecify the message a bit.

    Though, assuming that there would be no legal crap to deal with (I sincerely hope they haven’t trademarked that), one could always do the same basic idea and vary the font and/or tagline. Pharyngula shirts with a bit red A and a cephalopod would be fun.

  103. says

    Well hell, I’d love to get a t-shirt, but apparently there arn’t any fat atheists because the largest size for women is a 10. The Baptists would’ve had my size.

  104. says

    The red A is alright, but I’m happy with my American Atheist necklace. Most people don’t recognize it, but it so obviously stands for *something* that I get asked what it is quite often. And that give me some practice in being a bold and open atheist :)

  105. Jester says

    Haha, you wear one of those under your suit, take important calls on your cell during class and then run out and change in a phone booth and fly off to persecute some Christian.

    You’d be a superhero! Now you just need a name… how about the A-hole? lol.

  106. slut says

    I haven’t read all the comments but I just want to say that my complaint is NOT that it’s too “bold” – on the contrary, it’s that it’s too fucking subtle. I’ll wear one that says “ATHEIST” before I’ll advertise Richard Dawkins website. Nothing against the guy, I admire him greatly, but it’s totally missing the point and actually kind of elevating him in a weird hero-ass-kissing kind of way.

  107. says

    minusRusty: Hmmm. I was thinking more along the lines of altering the red Zapfino “A” with the ∞. Though I understand th’t that might reduce the reference to Lambda.

    Yeah… I tend to be really picky about fonts. But, that said, I am wholly behind any sort of cohesive symbolic program (even if it’s loosely cohesive). Of course I’d like to go with the Affinity because it’s more distinctive than a simple “A” regardless of how it’s drawn (and I’m personally biased). It was designed to shed baggage, and does not rely upon being red, even though I did it in red earlier in the thread. I think that it can be taken as a new symbol, as english doesn’t usually do this with an “A”.

    More importantly, I’d like to echo PZ’s quoted comment from post 120. Pick something. Use something. Express yourself. I have the Affinity on a baseball cap. I wear it about. I’ve got a Food Fish on my car. You can get them from Ring Of Fire (the Darwin Fish people). You want more ideas… Steal one from my link.

    So go out there and get a Flying Spaghetti Monster or a Null. It’s a good campaign. So just get OUT.

  108. Andrew says

    “A” can also mean Anarchy which is not what I’m into! Could also be dangerous to wear around the police???

  109. says

    I have my own logo. A Darwin fish with “Welcome to the Evolution” inside. It’s a pun based on a blog I wrote entitled “Welcome to the revolution”.

    I like the irony of the scarlet letter. For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, go read the book.

    And I had a little sniping match with someone who disagreed with a symbol, said we were apeing religion, that such exclusive grouping started wars… Actually, think I’ll do a comic strip on that…

    Where was I? Oh yeah, Go Scarlet Letter, can they do a transfer? I’d like one on my jeans…

  110. says

    Some people may think the A is ugly. Some will like it. But remember to look at the big picture: raising awareness and showing our numbers is a good thing. I think anyone with an atheist t-shirt design should go ahead and make them. Atheism unites only as far as agreeing to get religion out of our lives. Beyond that, we can all have radically different viewpoints.

  111. says

    I’m in, even if only to show our number. Any other way (logo, t-shirt, public declaration etc.) would be equally good. Let’s get out. That’s all.

  112. Phy says

    From # 44: I still think ∀ is distinguishable from the anarchist symbol, and symbolizes putting all traditional theist worldviews on their head. Also, it’s use in logics is “for all”.

    It’s a good idea, but I fear that the more well-known application of the ∀ symbol among the internet-savvy may be a fictional giant robot, the Turn-A Gundam. It’s a personal favorite among the vast canon of giant Japanese robots, to be certain, but I think the potential for confusion is greater with a relatively uncommon symbol than with a specific stylized letter A.

  113. Mark Lavous says

    Wanna be defined by your non-belief in a non-existent god? Matter for you. Wanna be a complex, multi-layered individual? Then reject this quasi-religious tribal nonsense.

    Many muslims feel a connection with all other muslims. Many christians feel the fellowship of other christians. I thought atheists were supposed to be above this arbitrary pigeon-holing and artificial kinship.

    You change the world through inclusion, not by excluding people and appealing only to your “kind.”

    This cat-herding is not about “swallowing a bit of pride” it’s tribalism of the worst (religious) kind. Appalling.


  114. says

    The fanfare Dawkins offers re the Out Campaign at is all about “rational thinking,” liberation, “beacons of enlightenment,” and demolishing stereotypes. So how does one accomplish these laudible goals for the good of all humankind? By buying t-shirts. Really. To benefit Dawkins and his organization of course. Dawkins logo included. Major credit cards accepted.

    You can’t make stuff like this up.

  115. says

    Well, I ended up buying one … and I like it. It even fits. Now I just need some warm weather, since it’s mid-winter here.

    It’s beyond me why so many people are so worried about making a small political gesture, which is what this really is.

  116. Anonymous says

    These t-shirts really should say instead of In case Dawkins is craving for attention he would still get it, as the out campaign is closely linked to him, but at least it wouldn’t look like the shirt wearers are supporting his personality cult instead of the campaign.

    Otherwise I think the shirts are fine. I guess the logo could be better, but the references to the out campaign would explain what it is about.

  117. Anonymous says

    …I mean, the Out Campaign isn’t a bad idea. If the shirts did clearly advertise the Out Campaign, then you could wear one of these not only to show you are an atheist (as if that is so special), but to show you support the Out Campaign and more importantly support the atheists who are afraid to come out because of persecution and social pressure. If the shirts had a slightly different design, it would look like you are supporting oppressed atheists, but now it looks like you are just supporting Dawkins.

  118. says

    I just don’t care enough about whether there’s a god to be in your face about it. And making a religion of intolerance for religion doesn’t strike me as a great idea.

  119. says

    A first instinct says, F@#K THAT!, we don’t need no stinking symbol! But I also understand how necessary it can be.

    We have many, though, but nothing as obvious and prominent as the pride rainbow. There’s the Invisible Pink Unicorn, FSM, the American Atheist’s symbol (atomic symbol missing the bottom piece), plus the scarlet “A”, etc..

    Yet the scarlet “A” only reminds me of negative things, such as adultery and being a pariah. So I don’t know about that one…

    What else are we going to tattoo on our bodies? LOL

  120. Rey Fox says

    Just had an idea. Have the scarlet A, and then just to the right in small letters “theist”. I think it would come across well enough and not get read as “a theist”, because few people ever refer to themselves as theists (typically they do only to distinguish themselves from atheists, ironic, no?).

  121. Frescard says

    The “A” is ok. The URL is not. It only muddles the message.
    Since the A can stand for anything, it’d be much more appropriate to have a clear message underneath (instead of advertising).
    Something along the lines of “A | There is no god” or “A | God is dead”.

  122. says

    I quite like it, and I don’t dislike Dawkins, but I’d rather not advertise his website where ever I go. I think I’ll just be stealing the A and printing my own tshirts, thanks

  123. noncarborundum says

    A big red A is too literal and has meaning only in english.

    Only English? You seem to have overlooked French, Spanish, Dutch, German, Polish, Serbo-Croat, Turkish …

    … Greek …

  124. says

    I’m generally fine with the idea of a scarlet A for atheism – though with certain reservations having to do with its specificity of colour and typography, and its apparently exclusive link (via the t-shirts, at least) to Richard Dawkins’ website.

    However, not all of us want to define ourselves as atheists, which denotes the absence, rather than the presence, of beliefs. With this in mind, I’d like to suggest a symbol that all of us with a rational worldview can use to identify ourselves:

    More details at

  125. Steve_C says

    The magnifying glass isn’t very elegant.
    Plus, it looks like an armless and legless stickfigure.
    Someone isn’t doing well in hangman.

    Why are people such wimps about their atheism?

  126. Serge Ledan says

    I have read all the comments. They are all good. Go ahead: whine, rage, blog, babble… But do something. Wearing the scarlet A shirt is doing something. Or do something else.. But do something.

  127. says

    I’m glad to see someone use the scarlet letter idea. I suspect those who find the allusion a problem have either never read the book, or not read it as an adult. For more on that topic, go back to the Pharyngula archives to the original discussion on a symbol, and read my comment, #279.

    Meantime, I am also a little reluctant to do the whole t-shirt with URL thing. But I have been wearing handpainted shirts of my own for months. If you wear the letter alone, no has to know what it means unless you want them to. That means you can pick your battles, always the wisest course and the most likely to secure victory. Plus, you can adapt the symbol to your own tastes and add whatever twist you like.

    The Scarlet Letter allusion makes it easy to generate conversation with anyone who asks about the symbol; there is plenty to discuss there. Also, there is an obvious opening for humor. If someone asks if you’ve committed adultery, just reply “No, but I am guilty of infidelity!” –which pun leads naturally to a discussion of religion.

    By the way, I noticed somebody else also thought of my favorite way to refer to this symbol–the red badge of courage. :-) Don’t tell me atheists have no sense of humor!

  128. says

    Hey, I’m trying to contact Godfrey Temple (I really do like the affinity logo and wanted to get it on something he doesn’t have as an option in his cafepress store). Problem is, cafepress has no way to contact merchants that I can find. Does anyone know how to get in touch with him?


  129. Paul says

    Dunno about this PZ…it’s a bit like the Scarlet Letter. I think this is a near miss akin to the “Brights” fiasco in reverse.

  130. zoe says

    I also noticed its similarity to the anarchist symbol, so its probably not a good thing