On Atheist Strategy

I feel that some of the strategies employed by some atheists, especially formally organized atheist groups, leaves a bit to be desired.

Lawsuits over Nothing:  A private restaurant in Pennsylvania offered discounts on Sundays for anyone who brought in a religious bulletin http://tinyurl.com/cj96asd and http://bit.ly/KXPJyR  John Wolff, a local atheist, is suing them for discrimination.  Several churches made it clear that anyone was welcome to enter into their church lobbies and pick up a bulletin for free, and the restaurant says they are setting no requirement that anyone believe anything or actually attend services.  That’s not good enough for John.

Is this the way to make ourselves liked?  Can we sue our way to popularity?  Can we expect the rest of society to react positively to being confronted by yet another god damned militant, touchy minority that exudes a sense of entitlement and a victim mentality?

We seem to be faced with an ever-expanding circle of groups about whom honest opinions cannot be expressed, who must be treated with kid gloves no matter how harmful their actions.  It’s gone further in Europe; in Germany it’s illegal to call a convicted murderer a murderer once he’s served his time:  http://tinyurl.com/7vupdad

There are some things that shouldn’t, and can’t, be just given as a gift, that have to be earned.  Admiration is one of them, and liking is another.  If we want people to like us, we should do good deeds, not file annoying lawsuits.

The War on Christmas: The American Atheists have been choosing Christmastime as a good time to run billboard campaigns against religion.  Is that the best time to be complaining?

It’s like, if you’re trying to discourage kids from going to the doctor, you make your pitch when he’s giving them a shot, not when he’s giving them a lollipop at the end of the visit.  Good luck turning kids off on lollipops.

For ethnic Christians, whether they believe or not, Christmas is a fun time.  It’s the lollipop!  It’s when they visit their families and exchange gifts.  There are much better times to complain, such as:

  • When the American head of state started a trillion-dollar war in Iraq because he thought God told him to.
  • When clergy who make unhealthy, sexually confused vows wind up molesting children.
  • When Israeli Jews spend US tax dollars harassing and killing people to assert their claim to the West Bank, a claim which makes no sense unless you believe in their religion.
  • When governments of poor, overpopulated countries like the Philippines refrain from providing birth control because the main church in their country doesn’t want them to.
  • When we read things in religious scripture that make us want to vomit.

David Silverman, the president of American Atheists, went on Fox News to discuss his billboards protesting Christmas, and one of the Fox correspondents had a field day telling him to “seek professional help” for his issues about the holiday.  It was not a good day for atheism.

When religions change, people find ways to keep the old holidays.  Many of the traditions of Christmas and Easter were inherited from pre-Christian European Pagan festivities.  In the atheist former Soviet Union, they had a “Father New Year” in a red suit giving presents to children.  Even if the atheist movement is successful beyond our wildest ambitions, Americans will keep celebrating Christmas, one way or another, and we should resign ourselves to that.


  1. xyquarx says:

    As a result of Wolff’s lawsuit, the restaurant is now doing booming business on Sunday: http://bit.ly/P2cDpd

  2. David says:

    I think the private restaurant is doing a booming business as a result of anyone bringing in the church bulletin and not because of Wolff’s lawsuit,unless of course you have evidence to prove otherwise.

  3. xyquarx says:

    David, It is an old cliche about marketing that you do four things to promote a project, and you have no idea which one worked. So is the promotion itself or the lawsuit boosting business for the restaurant? It’s hard to tell. The statement by the owners of the restaurant in the article I posted http://bit.ly/P2cDpd seems to suggest that the promotion would have gone largely unnoticed were it not for the lawsuit.

    One thing is established: John Wolff is coming across as a prick.

  4. Reap Paden says:

    What’s established is John Wolff is a prick , in your opinion. Pennsylvania is a tough place for atheism. They have the year of the bible and the school voucher issue. Now they have gone from the year of the bible to the year of religious tolerance. One of the state reps said “Even atheists have respect for religious texts” One billboard ad on buses was turned down as “too controversial” by the COLTS management. The billboard had one word on a blue background “Atheist”. that’s it. The bus line is now strapped for cash and is going to raise ridership fees and still they wont accept the revenue from a atheist billboard. I can see how John Wolff may be fed up and that’s why he fights against things like discounts for believers only. I’m not saying I think it is the best method or even a good one but it does make it clear there are some atheists in PA and making that known makes other atheists feel safe about being open when it come to their beliefs, or lack of. I don’t know John Wolff so I can’t speak to his personality. I’ll see if I can get him to talk to me about the issue, that would be interesting. FYI I think it’s important that you continue to speak out about actions you have issue with but the personal attacks will kinda hurt your argument in the eyes of some people.

  5. xyquarx says:

    Raep, I think you have a point. i was over the top calling John Wolff a prick and I take it back. However, I don’t think his tactic is productive. I am sure there are other ways to draw attention to atheism in Pennsylvania without obstructing people from going about their daily business and just being themselves.

  6. xyquarx says:

    NOTE TO PIQUE READERS: Note that John saw fit to remove several hyperlinks from the ‘Pique’ article — see the hyperlinks in the article above before commenting.

  7. cjcorliss says:

    It was nice meeting you. I agree that strategy is very important. I would go further and say that there is no strategy and that the tactics are bad. The civil rights movement in this country spent a long time looking for the perfect Rosa Parks. We would do well to follow their lead.

  8. xyquarx says:

    @cjcorlliss: I think we have a *LOT* less to complain about than Rosa Parks did. We can easily avoid discrimination in most contexts by keeping our mouths shut. Rosa Parks didn’t have that optioh.

  9. Rosa says:

    I think the person who wrote this article does NOT any ANY information about Israel’s situation regarding its self defense from the “poor” “palestinians”. I also read some of his other articles here and my opinion is this person just learned a little bit here and there about a subject, then goes to complain and destroy it. I KNOW HE’LL BLOCK THIS POST.

    1. Rosa says:

      Sorry, it should read: “does NOT have ANY information about”

  10. xyquarx says:

    Rosa, you communicated nothing except that you disagree with me. Why should US foreign aid be spent on a country roughly as rich as we are, especially a country involved in some morally controversial activity like violating the fourth protocol of the Geneva Convention, when there are lots of poor countries who could much less controversially make better use of the money?

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