Friday, December 16, 2011

Seattle Atheists goes outside the bus

In 2009, Seattle Atheists decided to run a visibility campaign with a few varieties of interior bus ads. They featured freethinking quotes from famous figures like Carl Sagan, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson. Besides outreach to other non-theists, the ads' intent was to educate the public about the legacy of skepticism and critical thought in American history. Despite what religious fundamentalists would like to believe, America was not established as a Christian nation, but rather founded on secular principles that included, for good reason, the separation of church and state. The campaign got a lot of great feedback, so our goal for the next round was to take it to the next level and try for a few ads on the outside of the buses. Two years and some generous donations later, we were finally able start working on that project.

Thanks to a lot of intense work from our dedicated volunteers, our new bus ad campaign launched this week. Twelve local buses are now displaying banners with photos of regular folks in different everyday scenes. The theme: "1 in 4 Washingtonians is an atheist," a stat is based on the 2008 ARIS (American Religious Identification Survey) report. The key idea, again, is visibility. As the website points out:
Many of your friends, your family, and your coworkers are atheists. We help build your bridges, deliver your mail, and heal you when you're sick. Whether you realize it or not, you know plenty of atheists. We'd like to be open about who we are. An atheist is someone who doesn't believe in a god. So open up, come out, and get to know us.

While I recognize that there's been a bit of chatter trying to nitpick the "1 in 4" number (some want to argue that being agnostic, irreligious, having no religion, etc., doesn't necessarily mean you don't believe in god), which is fair, the real message is that those without a god belief do, in fact, make up a noticeable portion of the population, especially in the greater Seattle area, and we deserve to be heard. If you're an atheist, we simply want to say that you're not alone. If you're looking for information about atheism, humanism, skepticism and the like, we can provide you with those resources. And if you're a theist, we just ask that you don't discriminate against others based on religion, and if there's something you don't understand about atheists, feel free to ask us! We're an open book. This campaign is about encouraging dialogue and dispelling myths that surround a perfectly healthy and wholesome worldview.

In closing, I especially want to thank our photographers (Josh and Mike) and graphic design artist (Kyle) for an outstanding job on these ads. Amazing work, guys!

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