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October 21, 2009

Hope and Change. Hope and Change. Repeat after me.


Doug Mataconis at Below the Beltway introduces us to the newest publicity campaign in The Big Apple.

Starting Monday, New Yorkers will have a new ad to look at on the way to work:
NEW YORK (CNN) — Some New Yorkers may want to reconsider exclaiming “Thank God” when arriving at their destination subway station beginning next Monday.

Or at least that’s what a coalition of eight atheist organizations are hoping, having purchased a month-long campaign that will place their posters in a dozen busy subway stations throughout Manhattan.

The advertisements ask the question, written simply over an image of a blue sky with wispy white clouds: “A million New Yorkers are good without God. Are you?”

On October 26, a dozen bustling New York City subway stations will be adorned with the ads as “part of a coordinated multi-organizational advertising campaign designed to raise awareness about people who don’t believe in a god”, according to a statement from the group, the Big Apple Coalition of Reason.

New York City’s subway system is one of the busiest in the world with over 5 million riders per day and over 1.6 billion total passengers in 2008, according to the Metro Transit Authority.

Recognizing this, the Big Apple Coalition of Reason decided the “best bang for the buck” was to place posters in popular subway stations to capitalize on the amount of potential viewers, says Michael De Dora Jr., Executive Director of the New York Center for Inquiry, one of the associated atheist groups.

De Dora says the ambitions behind the advertisements are threefold.

First, the coalition hopes the promotion will enhance awareness of New York City’s secular community. He explained that the coalition also hopes to encourage “talking and thinking about religion and morality,” as well as support involvement in groups that encourage a sense of a social community for non-believing New Yorkers.

John Rafferty, President of the Secular Humanist Society of New York, another member group of the coalition, said the ads are in no way an anti-religious campaign. They are looking to reach out to more people who have similar feelings, but might not be aware of an outlet to express their beliefs, he said.

Rafferty and De Dora cite the American Religious Identification Survey, released earlier this year, as evidence of a shift away from organized religion. Those checking “none” for religion rose from 8% of the population in 1990 to 15% in 2008, effectively making “no religion” the fastest growing religious identification in the United States.

De Dora said that the “million” New York nonbelievers mentioned in the advertisements is the result of an extrapolation based on the survey’s findings. With over 8 million residents living in New York’s five boroughs, the organization projects over a million potential atheist New Yorkers.

De Dora said individuals “don’t need religion to be good people and productive members of society” and ultimately he feels that groups of nonbelievers are “adding to cultural life of NYC.”


As an addendum to this post, visit TF Stern at TF Stern's Rantings. TF's piece: Classic Good vs Evil in 2009 is readable and important.

23 comments:

Opus #6 said...

If atheists are not relogious then why are they proselytizing.

Anonymous said...

Why do the irreligious need to proseletyze? I am confused. If there is no God, there is no reason to evangelize (or to do anything else, but that's another discussion). Besides, if those secularists are so smart, why do they need a respite from being accosted by troglodytes como yo.

Anonymous said...

Opie, our comments "crossed in the mail". Funny. Good to know I have a great mind.

Anonymous said...

Opie, Rhod would probably say they are exceptionally religious... I'd say good luck to the infidel who knows not the Marxist truth.

Anonymous said...

DC, they proselytize because they fear people will look beyond government for inspiration and leadership. You know... like those founding father guys.

Dillinger said...

I'm not religious and I don't even see a point in this. Honestly who cares, if people want their religion they can have it. Most of the time it causes no harm. I'll admit that I do think it's slightly silly but that's not my issue. I won't push lack of religion on somebody if somebody won't push religion on me. Now, if your religion tells you to blow up things such as the subway, during rush hour, then we have a different story.

Dillinger said...

I've lived in NY, if I cared about religion at all I might be inclined to ask something such as the following: 2 million New Yorkers are also batshit crazy in one way or another, shall we also aspire to be batshit crazy?

Rhod said...

Nick, I think they're "religious" if they're seeking converts...which means they think they hold some final truth that will improve the life of the convert.

Whenever I see that this or that campaign is designed to "raise awareness" about something, I know it's organized itself to overcome irrelevance.

Anonymous said...

Rhod, exactly. They admit there is a final truth, which shows they are wrong. It's a matter of will, not faith.

Dillinger, that's an excellent and funny point. I bet some smartass New Yorker will make the point, as well.

Rhod said...

Ah,DC. You raised the matter of "will". There's a few years of discussion on that alone.

Lynnae said...

If I just saw that poster I would assume it's PRO religion, because my thoughts when I first read it were "NO, Thank goodness" and I think a lot of people like me would have the same, if less colorful, response as Dillinger.

Bungalow Bill said...

The Devil's greatest feat in convincing the world he doesn't exist. The more we see these things, the meaner the world gets.

Janie Lynn said...

This campaign also corresponds with a book (of the same name) being released. I was disturbed when I saw this - so I did a couple of searches. The author, Greg Epstein, calls himself the "chaplain" of a humanist group at Harvard. He is also a humanist Rabbi. Okay ...

Anonymous said...

Humanist Rabbi?? That was DC's favorite pick-up approach at the Bratskellar just off campus. He was also pretty successful with his "angry misunderstood cellist" routine.

Anonymous said...

Nick, you need to throw out that batch of salami you have been hittin' tonight.

The_Kid said...

Are the atheists actually spending money on this campaign?
What is the payback?

Anonymous said...

The payback? Eternal death!

The_Kid said...

Well, in a sense, that is Rest in Peace.

Do you think it's the afterlife they're focusing on?

I thought maybe they wanted to eliminate all guilt here on the rock.

They Say/We Say said...
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They Say/We Say said...
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T. F. Stern said...

Thanks for the link, hope some folks got a chance to think about what was offered.

Soloman said...

George Washington said in his farewell address:

"Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports... And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion... Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail to the exclusion of religious principle.

It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government."


Sorry to be so wordy, but the point Washington was making is that in order to have a strong government that functions in the best interests of the people, the people must maintain morality.

As we all know, there has long been a movement to eliminate religion from our society, and that movement has become particularly emboldened now that they have a full fledged Marxist in the White House.

Strange Days have found us.

Anonymous said...

Sol... Great comment. Thank you so much.