Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Atheist Proselytizing: A good thing or a bad thing?

Just like last year, http://friendlyatheist.com/2009/02/26/atheist-proselytizing-it-leads-to-boobies/ motivated by Omar Call, http://friendlyatheist.com/2008/12/26/anti-preaching-should-atheists-proselytize/ I took to Bourbon Street, New Orleans during Mardi Gras to provide the alternative point of view to the Christian Fundamentalists.

The response again was overwhelmingly positive, even more so than last year. The majority of people didn’t concern themselves about religion at all and just wanted to have a good time. (They were in New Orleans during Mardi Gras – Duh!) However, I was bought many beers and even, for the first time, I was also offered money which I politely refused and ask them to turn it into a beer instead. One has to be careful to not let the atheist side down and get drunk. Luckily, I had a rigorous year long alcohol consumption training regime prior to this event. (I’m so dedicated to the cause!) Also, being seen with a beer in my hand and a smile on my face made me more approachable than the loud Christians with their megaphones and message of ‘fire and brimstone’. I was also given many beads, showed many boobs, (even though I would say that’s more to do with Carnival than atheism), and had hordes of hot babes throw themselves at my feet and demand sexual favors. Okay, I exaggerated a little on that last one, (especially as my wife was with me) but there were many women that complemented my being there and wanted their picture taken with me. So much so that one of the fundamentalists accused me of “not really being an atheist and just doing it for the attention”! WTF?

For the conversations I had with the general public I went out of my way to not be pushy with atheism. I never stopped anyone and I would definitely never use a megaphone. There were a significant number of people that approached me and mentioned they were religious but didn’t appreciate the way the Christian fundamentalist were trying to shove religion down their throat. If the conversation seemed appropriate, I took the opportunity to inquire about their religious beliefs and ask, as politely and unassertively as I could, why they believed what they believed. Then, if the person seemed interested in the conversation, I would bring up questions like, if your religion is right, then is everyone else’s wrong? What about all the inconsistencies, contradictions and abominations in the Bible/Koran? Do you really believe the irrationalities like original sin, being born of a virgin, 72 virgins in paradise, etc.? And why does god allow suffering such as Haiti? etc., etc. I would try to finish the conversation by suggesting that they may be interested in attending a freethought group meeting, and if they were local, specifically the New Orleans Secular Humanist Association, NOSHA, http://www.nosha.info/ .

For my "interactions" with the ‘Fred Phelps/God Hates Fags-ish’ (see photo) Christian fundamentalist however, I had a completely different strategy that basically consisting of accusations of harm caused by religion, allegations of ignorance, and, my favorite, ‘ridicule’! I was sometimes joined in this endeavor by the general public as almost always the conversation/argument drew a crowd. Did I think I made a difference in the fundamentalists thought processes? Almost certainly not. Maybe I did in the minds of the onlookers, but anyway, I enjoy it! Is that wrong?

This year I was joined by some people I didn’t even know. One guy had a megaphone that was just yelling “blah, blah, blah, blah, blah” over everything the Christian was yelling, and some had make shift signs that said, “This Guy Sucks!” and “Who Invited This Guy?” pointing to the fundamentalists. As these weren’t positive messages, I wouldn’t have approved them, but there was one sign that said, “And Jesus said, Show Your Titties – John 3:15”. I loved it! It gave me an idea for a competition for you blogers. I got the slogan, “Atheism: All of the Mardi Gras and none of the Lent” from a comment on http://www.friendlyatheist.com/ by Siamang. I only have a message on one side of my sign and would like ideas for the other side. It would be great if it had something to do with Mardi Gras, New Orleans, Louisiana, Hurricane Katrina, whatever, but above all it has to be pro atheism instead of anti-religion. The ‘prize’ would be me displaying it next year. Waddya say?

1 comment: