Question of the Week: The Impact of Non-Believers

Mar 4, 2014

Non-believers make up one of the largest minority groups in the United States. How do you suggest we make the largest political impact?

Deadline for the contest is March 11, 2014
Winners receive a copy of An Appetite for Wonder by Richard Dawkins.

Written By: RDFRScontinue to source article at

81 comments on “Question of the Week: The Impact of Non-Believers

  • 1
    EricTheRed says:

    How about starting a new political party called e.g. ‘The Reason and Science Party’ which actually puts candidates forward for election?

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  • 2
    Cairsley says:

    Mobilize skeptical freethinkers (including all the -ists) to write and email their parliamentary/congressional/etc. representatives asking them to clarify their stance on religion-related matters, like the separation of church and state, secularism in politics, and moral matters like genital mutilation of babies, availability of abortion and contraception, protection of children against indoctrination, the integrity of science education in schools, and so on. I.e. let the political representatives know, by the regular volume of queries, that there are all these unbelievers out there checking on their positions on these important social matters.

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  • 3
    fergie123 says:

    We must grow our numbers – I like billboards – like “Don’t lie to your children. Let them grow up with the best wisdom of mankind.” – this may move fence sitters to re-think their positions and maybe a few home schoolers too.

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  • 4
    bigterguy says:

    Support freedom of AND FROM religion. By identifying philosphical/political areas of agreement with believers we can best break down the stigma of atheism. Show atheists as caring and moral people as much as possible. That’s the big hurdle for believers to overcome – without someone setting the rules, how can one know what is right. We need to emphasize that we also observe the golden rule – do unto others – because that makes for a more peaceful and livable world.

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  • 5
    Chikkipop says:

    We should identify and back a candidate for president who will openly declare that he or she is an atheist. Of course this person need not be a single-issue candidate, since atheists in general are pretty well informed and have much to say on the entire spectrum of issues a presidential contender would be asked to weigh in on.

    Think of the excitement! Atheists throughout the country would work together to fulfill the necessary requirements to get this candidate on the ballot to enable participation in the debates, and for the first time Americans would hear someone who does not hold absurd beliefs, does not sugarcoat, and does not fear losing because they tell the truth about themselves.

    This isn’t about winning an election, but about gaining exposure and being a part of the big conversation. It would “soften the ground” for future atheists in public life.

    Let’s have a “convention”, where we meet to select the ideal candidate, whose qualities would change the public perception of atheists and bring many more of us into the public eye in the process!

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  • Here in the United States there are seven states where it is illegal for an atheist to run for office.

    Although these are state laws these states must not be allowed to overlook the US constitution and continue their prejudice.

    Furthermore, it is very difficult for a Democrat to be elected president. When it happens it is usually a knee jerk reaction to a bad president (Obama because of George W Bush, Clinton to George H W Bush, Carter to Nixon). It has been that way since Lyndon Johnson (from Texas) signed the 1964 Civil Rights Act into law. He so much as predicted this would happen.

    Furthermore there is the fact that about 54% of all Americans would even vote for an atheist. While this is significantly higher than even 5 years ago it is still pathetic. With the knowledge that their chances are slim at best, atheists who are very qualified either do not run or claim to be Christian. Obama is the first president who even mentioned one’s right to “not believe at all”. He is likely an atheist who attends a Unitarian church for appearance. More need to follow Peter Stark’s example and not conceal their atheism.

    For those who are not politicians we need to “come out”. We need to show that the United States is not a Christian country. It certainly was never intended to be. It was merely seized by the Christian Right who gained increased numbers and power. Atheists need to show their numbers and take our nation back and run it the way George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and our founding fathers intended after escaping the religious oppression of 17th/18th century England.

    If the US wishes to remain a leading nation this is a must. Our children are far behind in Science and Math. Students who are being taught about God rather than truth. In 1925 a biology teacher in Tennessee was arrested for teaching evolution (see movie Inherit the Wind). How soon is it going to be before we have another Scopes Monkey Trial?

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  • Excellent ! It would also unite atheists since funding a political campaign is very expensive. Perhaps to run for office in a state like MA or VT may also be an option.In reply to #5 by Chikkipop:

    We should identify and back a candidate for president who will openly declare that he or she is an atheist. Of course this person need not be a single-issue candidate, since atheists in general are pretty well informed and have much to say on the entire spectrum of issues a presidential contender wo…

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  • We have to learn from the religious and do what they do … set up regional haunts for atheists who come together in their regions for friendship. By being involved in community events flagged as atheist eg, fun runs, charity events, golf fund raising etc, we will spread the good word that atheism works and that people don’t need faith-based nonsense to have happy lives.

    The one good thing religious groups do is gather people together for a common cause. It works well and we should use it as an exemplar.

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  • 10
    x15gal says:

    A suppressed minority is one that stays silent and invisible. This is what the LGBT community learned 40 years ago, and what the atheist community needs to learn today. We all must come out of our closet and not be afraid to tell people who we are and what we believe (or don’t believe, in this case). Religions hold sway over us all by dominating the conversation. We need to take back the conversation, and the first step is to let everyone know we exist. We are constantly amazed at how many people we know who are atheists, but it has always been something treated as being a secret that should stay in the closet. It is time to share, time to stop hiding in the shadows, and time to take visible and vocal action to bring rationality to the lives of everyone.

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  • 11
    ericag says:

    Also as our homosexual friends taught us by latching on to the term queer and turning it into gay pride, a negative can be made a positive. We have euphemisms such as humanist, non-believer, not religious, not affiliated, and the list goes on forever. If we can just call ourselves atheist it will not only make ourselves more identifiable but also show that we are not scared of who we are. This is one of those lingual semantics I spoke of. Perhaps English being such a beautiful language, offering so many ways to say something is our disadvantage this time.
    .In reply to #10 by x15gal:*

    A suppressed minority is one that stays silent and invisible. This is what the LGBT community learned 40 years ago, and what the atheist community needs to learn today. We all must come out of our closet and not be afraid to tell people who we are and what we believe (or don’t believe, in this case)…

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  • 12
    Reckless Monkey says:

    We need to get more Atheist characters in TV shows and movies (not just scientist and geeks). This would give us the ability (if the producers are bold) to really say something about thesism. House is a good start, but as they have made him an unpleasant character (and slightly socially deranged – broken, needs fixing if only he could find some faith…) we need to show well adjusted atheists battling ignorance.

    How’s this our hero a prop builder at a Ken Ham style creationist museum begins asking akward questions after doing some research for a dinosaur display he was working on this leads him to a university where he meets a sassy paleotologist (future love interest) who he has an arguement with but gets him thinking. His world falls apart when upon expressing doubts based after his incident at the university his wife leaves him taking the kids, his family shun him and he looses his job. He begins night school and starts classes in science and philosophy where he is introducted in each episode to critical thinking which he then begins appling in his life. He begins to question everything…and we follow the drama as he fights to gain visitation rights of his children and re-build his life in a majorty Christain community. Each episode focuses on a new aspect of science and critical thinking from philosophy to cosmology to evolution, while in his real life we see him shifting from guilt to knowledge and confidence in his own humanity and ultimately a happier life.

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  • 13
    GoddLess says:

    We atheists must all “come out!”! Including atheist elected officials whose silence lets constituents assume they believe in a God. If you’re politically active, as I am, don’t use mushy terms for yourself like , ” not religious”, or other common ambiguities used to avoid offending believers. Unless atheists openly challenge the widespread opinion that we are unelectable, we will forever fulfill that prophecy.

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  • 15
    bluebird says:

    In reply to #13 by GoddLess:

    …common ambiguities to avoid offending believers

    Right now they’re just trying to avoid the guillotine!

    I think “atheist candidates / politicians” becoming a norm needs to be a gradual easement. Clay Aiken just filed to run for Congress in NC, same area where RD is having the dinner thing. Clearly he is comfortable putting his hat in the ring (a good thing), whereas atheists, in general, aren’t there yet – baby steps might be prudent.

    We need someone who is the antithesis of Pete Stark, for starters.

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  • 16
    Livers says:

    In reply to #5 by Chikkipop:

    We should identify and back a candidate for president who will openly declare that he or she is an atheist. Of course this person need not be a single-issue candidate, since atheists in general are pretty well informed and have much to say on the entire spectrum of issues a presidential contender wo…

    The former Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, is widely known to be an atheist. She let the fact emerge quite naturally, as with other personal details such as that she had determined in her teens never to marry or have children so that she could dedicate herself to public life. As Prime Minister she continued to live in a de facto relationship with a man who had once been her hairdresser. His occupation aroused sneers in certain newspaper columnists and he was shamefully burlesqued as her consort in a satirical comedy on the couple that ran for an extended period on the national broadcasting channel. She was also unapologetically left-wing and made no bones that the mining companies were to be super-taxed on their super profits.She once spoke at a public meeting of carers and told them that looking round the hall she noticed all of them were women and that she considered their low wages a disgrace. Her government was going to attend to that. She was lambasted unmercifully in the press and subjected to comments so misogynistic that she eventually denounced their injustice in Parliament in an impassioned but controlled speech that cowed the males in Parliament, and attracted well over a million hits on You Tube, many from American women. She never lost her self-control or her dignity. Using text-book Keynesian theory hitherto deployed only once before by Roosevelt during the Great Depression, her government got Australia through the GFC with barely a blip.Her intelligence, her tact and above all her humanity allowed her not merely to take her minority government to a full term but to win over independents not originally sympathetic to her ideals and with their support get radical policies through Parliament, an extraordinary political achievement. I don’t think it’s necessary to have an atheist’s political party, or to make a fuss about being an atheist, but simply to oppose irrationality wherever it breaks out, inside or outside Parliament or the courts, keeping in mind that we are all subject to being irrational when our emotions are aroused. Geoffrey Robertson’s impressive book, The Case of the Pope shows just how powerful assembling evidence and shaping a clear argument can be. That the religious wars in Europe were ended pretty by the sheer exhaustion of the belligerents. We don’t ever want to regenerate the horrors of that period.

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  • Believe it or not, I think we need to learn a bit from religious zealots & vegetarians (sorry vegs for the grouping! ;):

    • Setup tables in parks, public places, events, fairs, and distribute literature, short, concise & fun science information, mostly youth-oriented (this is the future)

    • (veg idea here) Have videos playing all the non-sense & idiocies religious zealots (or hypocrites) say themselves, in their own images & voices; countering it right after with actual facts & data. Here is a fun one, Arizona State Senator Sylvia Allen, arguing the Earth is 6000 years old, talk about low hanging fruit here! This one is even better, US Rep. Paul Broun, Member of the House Science Committee, I repeat: Member of the nation’s F$#%&^$#@% SCIENCE Committee!!! People who are elected to drive science policies in our country, in his wise & scientific words: “… that I found out as a scientist… the earth is 9000 years old,… created in 7 days”

    I do believe (or hope) they will debunk & ridicule themselves when most people see this, out there in public, outside their little brain-dead group. These videos likes/dislikes counts are clearly & overwhelmingly in our favor, so let’s put them out there even more.

    • Stress how (all) religions have been holding us back! How they are even robbing us of intellectual potential, by having people spend time in their absurdities, instead of researching, creating, inventing, trying to (really) help each other, using real data, trying to solve our real problems & enhance life. Imagine if we wouldn’t have wasted so much time & talent because of religion, we might have that cure for a dying child (tell that to a mother! were religion cannot & will not cure it), we might still be able to enjoy our grandmothers well into our (currently considered) old age. Let’s say religions have held us back a couple of thousand years, or even just one thousand years; now consider this: how would the world be in a thousand years? That could & should have been right now! Ok, in case we didn’t blow the whole thing up, cancer would be cured, dementia cured, green & endless supply of energy, interstellar traveling, … Viagra with a half-life of a year!… ok, ok, no need for that last one, but endless arguments here

    • I join others who proposed this: Seek & support public figures who are openly atheists; musicians, actors/actresses, “cool” people, recognizable smart people (NASA is a great & respected source), politicians (not in the “cool” nor “smart” category, but hold power). Invite & incite them to openly talk about atheism, about the built–in cruelty and unfairness of religion, how we do not need religion to be “good”. The movie “The Unbelievers” attempts to do this, for a very short time, but I think it was very effective

    • “Infiltrate” Democrat & Republican parties to seek these politicians, to show there is a “market” out there for atheists Dems or Reps; to try to break the link between “good” & religion, between “country, patriotism” & religion

    • Create “support” groups, chapters, community centers, gathering or safe places, etc, to help people break the chains of religions and come out. Give them psychological assistance, hobbies, jobs, sports, fun. Help them find other meanings in life

    • Throughout all this, argue over & over that at the end of the day, if someone is “good” or tries not do do “bad” because of religion, that person is not good nor moral; is just a coward, greedy or hypocrite, playing it to avoid “punishment” or get “rewards”. True goodness comes from within, from believing in it by oneself, no need for Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, god, or the Cookie Monster to show or force us.

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  • 18
    Red Dog says:

    In reply to #16 by Livers:

    In reply to #5 by Chikkipop:

    The former Prime Minister of Australia, Julia Gillard, is widely known to be an atheist. She let the fact emerge quite naturally, as with other personal details such as that she had determined in her teens never to marry or have children so that she could dedicate herself to public life

    One of my favorite examples of tea bagger stupidity was many of them threatened to move to Australia if Obama won, not realizing they had an atheist president and social policies that many Americans would equate to communism.

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  • 19
    crzylmy says:

    This may not be political but …….
    I read an article in CTNS 3 popes have accepted evolution.. the Church teaches that the process of evolution is a planned and purpose-driven natural process, of course guided by God
    It also said in the same article .. There is no obligation to teach the new acceptance of evolution as Gods creation in Catholic schools here in the USA ,how deceitful is that and why ? I think it is quite obvious why.. the kids of today would certainly figure out ..there’s a big difference between two microscopic organisms and a fully grown man and woman. So there goes the story of a talking snake and an Apple.. No Adam and Eve.. No Cain and Abel No sin.. That was the beginning of catholic religion .. now that has been proven untrue everything else collapses..
    So as long as children of the future are still being taught Adam & Eve !!!!!!

    .I also noticed there’s been nothing on mainstream television about the frontline documentary Vatican Secrets, in the first 15 minutes it shows Pope JP 2 embracing a pedophile and praising him for his good works. Using contraceptives is a sin but hugging a pedophile makes you a Saint. in April .. It seems like it has been swept under the carpet, I think Catholics would be up in arms about this, I don’t know if the news channels are deliberately avoiding it or if they are not allowed to show it because it was on PBS may be they are rules. It needs to go viral worldwide that would make a big difference, it was just by chance that I saw it there was no commercials.
    Well that’s my suggestion the more that goes public the more unbelievers.

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  • 20
    sseldogeno says:

    Hi! and thank you once again for all your work.

    In my opinion, any impact that is strong enough socially will be, at least in the long run, strong enough to affect policies and induct change.

    That said, we should see by now sports, perhaps on TV, where the teams are formed by the beliefs of the group. We could call them FactGames or something to that effect. Result:

    It will show that god has no power controlling or influencing results.
    It will have a greater reach than a national event.

    When theses events become popular and big enough, the consequences will probably be enormous.

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  • The best way is to elect a non-believer to political office, to Congress or the mayor of a major city. This need not be through starting a new political party, but as an independent, since most people are tired of the usual Democrat/Republican choice.I submit that this candidate be a woman and/or ethnic minority. Separation of church and state, and advocacy of science education must be the main points of her political platform.

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  • 22
    Omegatron says:

    Money is what makes the world goes round. Why do you think theism needs OBEDIENT SHEEPS? Where else to fleece them? Theism preaches that we need god and nothing else. This is a very good way to close people mental capacity to think and reason while making sure that the $$$$$$$ and support and power goes to one common place. If there is to be a political impact… must be an impact that affects financially. Asia is fast rising as a theistic region. Once again…..Asians have proven to us that whatever the West leaves behind….the East regards them as treasures.

    Religion is just another extra label which sets man against man that we have no need for. For an idea….religion kills which deny them of the very values they should uphold.

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  • 23
    SomersetJohn says:

    In reply to #5 by Chikkipop:

    We should identify and back a candidate for president who will openly declare that he or she is an atheist……

    First, I admit to being one of those “Furrin Bastids”, interfering in American matters. I do however consider the Constitution, together with the Bill of Rights, to be among the greatest products of human intellect and the greatest social advancements in history.

    Going for the presidency, I think, is a tad too ambitious, though a marvelous target. Rather aim a little lower. Choose candidates to support for the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate.

    Who would be suitable? The most important characteristic must be that the candidate is avowedly secular. Not, of necessity, atheist, agnostic or even humanist; there are, after all, strongly secular theists. There may even be an advantage to supporting a secular believer, in that it demonstrates secularism does not exclude believers.

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  • 24
    SaganTheCat says:

    take part in politics. make sure you vote, moake sure you question your local politicians ruthlessly. many use religion as an easy vote winner, let them know it’s not just homophobes and gun toting wingnuts who decide, make them publicly follow up their references to god in terms that speak to people about what really matters, not what ehy’re conditioned to believe matter.

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  • 25
    Light Wave says:

    I think secular activism could be the way in the door of politics for atheists and would be a more palatable option for possible religious converters….

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  • 26
    CallMeGod says:

    Get them while they are young.

    It is very difficult for religiously indoctrinated adults to let go of what shackles their brains and limits their intellectual mobility. I know it took me years and lots of multi-descipline education to do the trick.

    So, early education is THE key to enlighten future generations and foster a yearning for learning and innovation.

    And since we are on the subject of education, perhaps organizing some seminars and interesting conventions for open-minded adults could also prove helpful.

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  • 27
    holysmokes says:

    Make the word “Faith” one of the most embarrassing words in the English language. Make people ashamed to admit that they have it. Continually expose it for the obvious vice that it is. Lets make it a cuss word.

    NBC news ran a segment last evening about the newest generation. It they reported that only 58 percent of 18-33 year olds are certain there is a god. Can we get the 42 percent rolling our way? Yes, if we start by making “faith” a dirty word.

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  • 30
    FreeRangeRadical says:

    We need to formulate a short list of questions that we put to each candidate in every race for every post and every position. Our questions need to be crowdsourced, agreed on by the majority along with a general range of answers that we would find acceptable (possibly, or we could weigh in after getting their responses and vote for the best answers), and drilled down to a handful that demand thought – politicians won’t answer a laundry list’s worth, but we should at least ask them to reach down and answer from their hearts, not spew the party line.

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  • 31
    NeoTechni says:

    We need to do more to combat the lies/idiocy of the religious parties.
    Like how they use religion to say global warming doesn’t exist cause the bible has god promising never to flood the world again.
    They keep making ridiculous laws that infringe on people’s rights, like anti-abortion laws. Then there’s how gays only have equal rights in some parts of the world. We need to remind people about separation from church and state, and how they violate everyone’s rights by bringing their bible to work with them (metaphorically) Christians wouldn’t like it if muslim politicians based laws around the quran.

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  • 32
    tmeuph says:

    There must first be a single unified organization/coalition that represents all atheists. This is imperative. This organization must be visible and active in our communities. We must be seen as good and friendly neighbors and helping in our neighborhoods. This would begin to remove the stigma associated with atheism today. When this happens we will have a voice and influence in political discussions and decisions.

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  • I suggest we stage a mass assembly, such as a show, for some charity or positive purpose. A different cause each year. We raise a ton of money for it, so people grow to look forward to it, and so people cease viewing us as evil. We could stage some entertainment, so people would enjoy watching it. Even non-atheists would be welcome on our stage, because they would be helping the charity. The Pope might even agree to make an appearance, knowing him. Only a part of the show would focus on atheism, pro-reason, or whatever we want to call our movement. We could have people who have been harmed by religion tell their stories. We could have amazing scientific demonstrations to turn people on to science. And we could explain what science has to do with the charity we’re supporting that year.

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  • 35
    Nature-nut says:

    The non-believer movement needs to be rebranded
    To make the largest political impact you have to reach the youth. Obama used this with his use of social media. A mere drop in the bucket, but effective. The entire non-believer movement needs the same style makeover that Apple went through. The young, cool, not your parents computer model. Young celebrities speaking out and a few ads showing how science and reason just makes sense. Then you will have yourself a future changing movement. Once the movement seems to be gaining popularity the politicians do what they do on their own. Jump on the band wagon.

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  • 36
    Privacy says:

    By making our presence known in educational institutions, in research institutions, in the public forum. Become teachers and professors. Write books. Form alliances. Create an alternative to church for like minded individuals to attend.

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  • 37
    Cooks_08 says:

    Large scale gatherings like Rallies for Reason. Putting these on throughout cities and showing strength in numbers to potential voters. Making people feel safe for their non-beliefs will spur forward adequate candidates that will feel safe to be honest about their views. Huge impact is hard to do, rather a snowball effect would be more realistic. Get it rolling and let it grow.

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  • 38
    steam1901 says:

    It is amazing the quality of the comments on this website… The contrast with the ”average internet comment section” is enormous.

    Just wanted to point that out…

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  • 39
    G2DARONIMO says:

    Free thinkers and non-believers should take a stance on the first amendment and taxes. If the government creates laws which make churches tax exempt, then they have created a law respecting an establishment of religion. “Congress shall pass no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibit the free exercise thereof”. It’s time to tax the churches….

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  • 40
    Stonius says:

    The difficulty atheists face in creating a political movement is that atheism is defined by what it *isn’t, rather than what it *is. There are many different types of atheism. They key to any political movement is cohesion, which is difficult to achieve amongst a movement of free and independent thinkers. I would suggest attempting to create a manifesto that encompasses the largest group of atheists and move forward based on those principles and stated aims. Perhaps these might include; advocating science based teaching in schools, achieving true separation of church and state and eradication of theistic discrimination.
    Unfortunately, all political movements at some point need money to fund awareness, campaigns and lobbyists. While I’m sure there are people keeping a keen eye on this, it may be worth promoting the fact that you can donate to the cause to the more philanthropically minded atheists, or organise some joint events with celebrity atheists, or have them as ambassadors for the cause. The more money the cause has, the more power it has, and the more legislators will listen.
    But perhaps the best way to gain political influence is by becoming a politician. In my home country of Australia minority parties with enough support do find seats in the senate as the voter base is national, rather than seat – by seat. This enables small parties to have a large impact as they control the legislation put forward by the lower house (as we have seen with the greens).

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  • Would it be possible to present an image of being the cool group? I know younger people are much more likely to be atheists than the middle aged and older groups, so maybe they could be roped in with the environmentally aware. The Greens Party in Australia seems to fill the niche that takes the moral high ground on every issue. This party would be the most likely to embrace an out-and-proud atheist leader as their last was quite openly gay ( and probably an atheist as well if remember correctly.)

    Another approach could involve looking to Scandinavia so see how it is managed over there. Not only do they produce thought provoking films and television programs, but they always appear to be one step ahead in matters of equity and social policy.

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  • 43
    nlib12 says:

    A few strategies immediately come to mind:
    1. Women are unfairly represented within the United States in many aspects, and political events in recent years clearly reveal religious beliefs as the foundation and justification for this unfair treatment. Launching an awareness campaign pointing out the religious based discriminatory treatment of women could prove highly persuasive in elections, with the added benefit of freeing women from religious torment.
    2. Create Web search strategies to populate the first search page pursuits by the general public with atheistic and scientific views; as an atheist it is extremely frustrating when every Web search brings up religious hokum as the top search results.
    3. Minority groups will likely continue to gain voting influence in the US. Strategies aimed at educating the public of the true nature of skin color can be extremely liberating with the realization that race are nothing more than geographical and evolutionary adaptation. Pointing out that religious views advocate and sustain racism can have a large impact in the political arena.
    4. Believing that children with a solid foundation in science will be the eventual downfall of religious nonsense on capital hill, enlisting atheists with a solid science background to volunteer in elementary schools will both promote science and prevent teachers with a religious agenda from poisoning children at an early age. This recommendation is inspired by a confrontation that I personally had with my daughter’s public school teacher who tried to promote a young earth agenda.

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  • 44
    lordclaude says:

    It would be good to have a survey of all persons in politics. One survey open and the other anonymous. One question “do you consider yourself religious”. I’m sure the results would cause an impact. Not too sure how this could be used for change, but would great if 97% of politicians were Atheists, as opposed to 97% saying they were religious.

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  • The fundamental issue is what we should highlight and promote. When boiled down the biggest threat to reason is the use of faith, instead of evidence, as a basis for a persons actions. Theologies have used a bastardized standard of virtue for thousands of years. It’s time we stop allowing religions to use the argument of a moral high-ground.

    It isn’t virtuous to tell a child they are broken, to threaten misbehavior with eternal torture, and to take away any sort of personal responsibility for their actions.

    My suggestion is to advertise on every medium how detrimental actions based on faith are vs. actions based on evidence. Make the “faithful” drop this over-used veneer of virtue.

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  • I think that the most important contribution any non-believer can do is to warn the others about the dangers of idea that somebody great and mighty will come and settle everything. If he will feel like doing it.
    The modern life, of course, is based on the delegating tasks to those that are more competent, however there is no reason to give up the right to make choice, is there? Including whether to look for the fellow non-believers and try to discuss with believers effects of faith on the life on individual and society in general.
    My country, Latvia, has greatly suffered from the conviction that we are small and thus we should better serve the mighty well, maybe they will throw a scrap or two from their table. But they never do. Mass deportations of 1940 and 1949 (and many smaller), ethnic cleansing of 1937 in USSR (all Latvian males above 11 killed), 70000 Latvians fighting in the WW II together with the Soviets, even more –with Germans. Many of the latter are now telling that they hoped: USA and United Kingdom would come and defeat Soviet Union. It might even be true. But it is another trait of servile mentality- don’t blame me, that I did not try to evade conscription in the Waffen SS, blame Americans and Brits! The problem is that it has been passed on to the Young generation.
    So the 16th of March, the Latvian Legion day is coming, we have more than enough young fools, which Russia can use to send in its Army to protect loads of Soviets (non-Latvians that do not care about their origins). And the question is how to preserve dignity in these circumstances?

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  • 48
    Philip Pinckney says:

    I Think at this point we need to play thier game against them. If we had lobbyists backing the opposition it couldnt hurt, and would be more immediate. However It almost feels for me as if its gotten so wrapped up by our govt. that its to late so no one can really do anything about it. The true way to fix things is with our children so that 20 or so years from now though that seems like a long time will benefit us the most because somday they will be old and in power.The problem in my opinion is the public school systems, and I say this because they arent aloud to teach our kids true history for fear of scaring them. A kids mind can percieve so much more than most of us give them credit for, and if we helped them understand the difference in mentality from 16th centry or any time period for that matter I think the context would be more invigorating and understandable in a way that would make them question why we did what we did back then. Remember folks our kids are our future and if we keep giving them the wrong data how much will this set them back for future discoveries? I say all this because it seems to be are only “in” with the goverments. stance because, even the worst of them want to help our children first and formost and understand that thier the key to the future!

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  • 49
    Ignischan says:

    Reach out to celebrities with the goal of showing the public first that we are not a minority of baby eating immoral heathens, but a largely misunderstood group of skeptics that have many intersections of behavior.

    Christianity has mega churches that promote en masse. Celebrities have a large audience as well; their fans. There is a wide range of celebrities that could potentially be open to such a movement, even if it’s simply wearing a set of matching t-shirts to the next grammy award. While unable to bring our beliefs into theaters because “atheism isn’t good for hollywood”, we can still promote via the actual celebrities. Movies such as the passion of christ and noah exemplify that the religious right has figured this out already. They may have the movies, but we can enlist the celebrities themselves to our cause. Below is a list of outspoken atheists and potential candidates for a celebrity based movement.

    If this doesn’t work out, there are plenty of atheists and agnostics through history with vibrant back stories. We can educate the masses how the United States was actually founded as opposed to the putative claims of many Christian activists, starring a movie with our forefathers. Einstein was an atheist towards the personal god of christianity, but agnostic towards his own concept of god. Several others in the following list can be tapped for potential narratives. It is a small list but there are so much more to be explored. Robert Ingersoll, one of the bravest atheists I have ever known comes to mind as well. His story is wonderful.

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  • If social media campaigns can bring down extremist governments it can bring down religion, we just need a spark! and we need our numbers counted properly, freethinkers might just be the largest majority group if we have a truthful “reality or religion” referendum on social media. Politics cant ignore the majority forever.

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  • 52
    onyourside says:

    We can’t go forward without being aware of what we know from history. Frederick Douglas and Martin Luther King Jr. fought the fight. Intelligent and strong people like Harris, Dawkins, Dennett, Fry, Gervais, Maher, Maddow and many others, I think, have made a big impact on attitudes toward the dysfunctional beliefs of religion. We need people like them to continue speaking out and writing books to change more attitudes and eventually change laws. I think an increase in good leaders will come as a result and naturally the number of people who stop believing for no reason will increase as well. Douglas and King didn’t do it overnight, but it happened.

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  • 53
    AllusiveAtheist says:

    Billboard suggestion: “If you don’t believe in magic you might be an atheist.”

    This reminds me of the Jeff Foxworthy “You might be a redneck” schtick. So apologies to Jeff for the unfortunate similarity might be kept at the ready. But as most believers don’t believe in non-religious magic and don’t identify religious miracles as magic, it might give some people food for thought.

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  • I don’t think celebrities or movie stars etc will get on board because Jews run Hollywood and influence governments so i don’t think free thinking atheist characters will get any air time, and their work will probably dry up particularly if they are not mega stars in their own right. We need to recruit the people that religion/governments discriminate against the most like woman and homosexuals, surely they represent more than 50% of the worlds population…

    In reply to #12 by Reckless Monkey:

    We need to get more Atheist characters in TV shows and movies (not just scientist and geeks). This would give us the ability (if the producers are bold) to really say something about thesism. House is a good start, but as they have made him an unpleasant character (and slightly socially deranged -…

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  • 55
    onlydraven says:

    Big things start small. While I applaud the idea of an atheist President, starting with local and state government is where the focus should be. Any idea or concept must grow starting with strong roots. We need to build a political wave of change starting on the ground floor and working our way up. We need strong candidates that can offer support to other minority groups as well as work towards our goals. As we are not limited by faith and pre-programmed concepts it should not be difficult to find common ground with many other minority groups. Offering a candidate who can offer them hope and gaining their support is imperative to move forward.

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  • 56
    MTMyerscough says:

    Ironically, it is precisely because we have the freedom of religion that Americans to be so religious. In countries where there is a State sponsored religion, people tend to either belong to the state religion or no religion at all. This encourages people to look outside the State for the answers they seek and science tends to be where they go. It is not a religion so there is no fear of persecution by the State for not believing what the State preaches and thus, over the generation, rational thought is allowed to flourish. Here in the United States, we have the freedom to believe whatever myths we choose without fear of persecution so religions run-a muck.

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  • 58
    Ergewirtz says:

    The US is a government “of the the people, by the people, for the people. One of the things that makes the US Constitution one of the most brilliant documents in history is its capacity to evolve, thus meeting the needs of the majority.If atheists in the South continue to stay in the closet out of fear, the impact will continue to be nominal.

    Atheists are coming out in states like MA, NY, VT and Obama’s home state ol IL. This has a minimal effect since these states are already liberal states. Someone mentioned Holltlywood- again a liberal crowd. In order for a real impact to be felt we need atheists in TX, FL and throughout the Bible belt to bare their teeth. Christian fundamentalists are likely not as numerous as their impact suggests. With the fervor equal to religious fervor of the Middle Ages, they get done what they want with fanatacism and political clout. Atheists in the South and across the country need to develop that clout. I believe it needs to start in the South because there the atheist views will actually make a difference. Here in MA same sex marriage was legalized under Mitt Romney’s govenorship. Would a Republican Mormon have done this anywhere else but MA?

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  • 59
    edwardflick says:

    Use pathos to make religious people feel like their contentious value is aligned with your value system for the most part, but show subtely the personal advantages of shifting their perspective to something that is compatible with reality. A religious person’s perspective has to be maleable to fit in the modern world. You just have to find out how hard to strike the hot iron each time. Once they’re effectively aligned with that aspect of your perspective, appeal to their sense of proselytization to get others, and then encourage them to vote.

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  • 60
    Jean-Daniel Nicol says:

    How about rolling up our collective sleeves, helping out young homeless people who have been kicked out of their parent’s homes because of their lack of belief and managing to get as much media attention at the fact that we do it in the name of atheism, or more precisely to help out other fellow atheists?

    I know all about the “herding cats” metaphor but, at least, there are shelters for cats to be fed and well taken care of…

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  • 62
    Sabiente says:

    This question kind of “scares” me. This is the kind of thinking religions do. Is there a difference between making a non believer to believe or a believer to not-believe? Don’t they too have to make “a leap of faith” to believe scientific evidence? Do you really expect something so dramatic to occur in such a short period of time? Take the time to educate and do not force your beliefs. We may think non-believers are a big minority but the number has grown exponentially in the past years. Continue to remind how important it is to have proof about everything you believe and please do not start a “crusade” especially if your goals are mainly political.

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  • 63
    Travis J. Wells says:

    Well whatever we do it must be a multifaceted approach. I would say first we need to redirect out efforts as a whole away from debating and flaming pro-theist pages to writing our representatives en mass. Show them exactly how numerous we are. Smaller minorities wield immense political power just because of how active and outspoken they are.

    It also wouldn’t hurt to get a few very vocal atheist candidates competing for office, yes I know they won’t win right now, but that isn’t the point. Its giving us a public face to get behind that is the point.

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  • 64
    marty.susman says:

    Make a TV commercial with the following, that should attract them…

    A. Both PORN & RELIGION rely 100% on fantasy, not facts.
    B. Both PORN & RELIGION rely on belief of the actors, not proof of anything.
    C. PORN pretends to be enjoyable as well as acceptable.
    D. RELIGION pretends the same things as above.
    E. PORN shows people having fun, smiling & being happy.
    F. RELIGION shows people happily believing in a god thing as well.
    G. PORN is seen, used by very lonely people in need of companionship.
    H. RELIGION is used by frightened people searching for something that does not exist.
    I. PORN pretends the man is in charge & the lady is his slave.
    J. RELIGION teaches men are in charge & the female is his to do with as he wants.
    K. PORN is 100% fantasy being watched by people in need of sex.
    L. RELIGION is 100% fantasy being practiced by people also in need of sex.
    M. The religion of peace gives 71 virgins to killers & butchers combining the two.
    N. American Taliban Christian right wing Republicans have a need to put females back into sexual slavery & control their bodies as well as their sex lives.
    O. Sexual attacks on young boy’s by priests, sex workers being used by right wing preachers & nun’s giving birth to children as well as religions desperate need to control female sex.

    I could go on but maybe you all might want to add more examples of the similarities between the two, PORN & RELIGION.

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  • 65
    JHP.Phillips says:

    Everyone needs to come out. Bring attention to it and let your friends and family know that we exist. The more numbers, the more powerful we are.

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  • 67
    jesse.ft says:

    An angle non-believers could take to gain significant political clout would be to take a neutral stance on equal rights. We need to compell believers that we accept and embrace them while fostering a cooperative relationship between them and the secular community. To do this, our message would need to be grounded in common human needs, while staunchly avoiding any spiritual and religious (or lack-thereof) subjects.

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  • The sad truth is that, if we want to have an impact, the best way to do it is through lobbyists. With lobbyists for a group representing 20% of the US population, we could have an enormous impact considering elections are usually won with just over 50% of the vote.

    I know we all think lobbyists are evil and i wish that there was another way, but there is not. Another party just simply wont work. The system is rigged too much in favor of 2 parties. An atheist candidate wont have a shot at winning an election for the majority of offices. But a lobbyist? That we can do. We need to show politicians that there are a lot of us and that we are willing to spend money. Those are the only things that will have an impact.

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  • 69
    christian.forestell says:

    Create an Atheist Burial standardized protocol
    1. Market the beliefs of the group to make them known to a wider audience.
    2. Marketing intangible notions, such as belief and disbelief, are inherently difficult actions (for numerous and obvious reasons).
    3. Thus, find simple, common ground with which to filter in “non-believer” ideals.
    4. The common ground is that we all die, and what happens afterwards is the main cause of rift between groups. I say use this to our advantage and create an ecologically efficient, “green” Atheist Burial protocol that turns the body back into nothing without wasting so many resources on ritual or burning.
    5. The marketing of an Atheist Burial protocol becomes the political foot-in-the-door for other services, and therefore rights, granted to Atheists.

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  • 70
    rahighfield says:

    Atheism should not be synonymous with being a Democrat. I’m a Brit, so perhaps I think differently, but I loathe Socialism and yet I see no conflict with my atheism.

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  • 71
    rahighfield says:

    I support Chikkipop below, nominate a Presidential candidate. Preferably not a Socialist one. Standing as an independent Republican Atheist would be my preferred type.

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  • 72
    CharlotteH says:

    Have a national coming out day. Promote it as a way for atheists to see how they are not alone. Make the reality of agnosticism and “nones” part of the event. Everyone who identifies as one of those 3 distinctions should fit into the “coming out” event. It could be a Facebook event.

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  • In reply to #73 by rahighfield:
    I can understand your confusion. The Christian Right gains its power in the US via the Republican Party. Hence the name Christian Right. They are the conservatives of the US ranging from moderates to ultra conservatives. The Christian Right leans closer to the ultra end.

    Democrats are the more liberal side both economically and in favor of governmental control. More control is favored by Democrats.

    Since the 1950’s until fairly recently the term “socialist” was completely taboo. Through Joseph McCarthy’s Communist witch hunts of the 50’s (no I don’t remember them:))socialism and communism more or less meant the same thing.

    In the past 5-10 years socialism has been reborn. Now it includes those in favor of equality between races, gender, fertilization freedoms, pro choice, sexual orientation, freedom of religion though they seem to be heading towards freedom from religion. As you would expect their primary concerns are environmental protection, anti-war, raising of minimum wage, etc. I believe it is their hope to have the US pull out of NAFTA and free trade in general (I am honestly not certain what their views/stance is there). At this point in time they are not even close to any real influence. In my views they mean well but their views are too much of a utopia. Perhaps by British standards this all seems reasonable but I fear they want it too qyickly. They are going to have to join us in reality before they aquire sufficient influence but we’ll see what happens in the future.

    Generally speaking and of course I can’t give you exact figures, atheists are liberals therefore Democrats. This is especially considering the overwhelming view Republicans have on abortion, same sex marriage and other things that one might be against because the Bible says no.

    Atheism should not be synonymous with being a Democrat. I’m a Brit, so perhaps I think differently, but I loathe Socialism and yet I see no conflict with my atheism.

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  • In reply to #11 by ericag:
    Hi, we do have to resolve the semantics issues. Humanism is not a euphemism at all and is a long standing, positive and distinct term used by Humanist movements around the world. ‘Atheist’ on the other hand means ‘without god’ and I personally do not feel I am without anything. The ‘Brights’ use ‘Bright’ as an alternative to atheist for that reason but unfortunately without understanding why that term was chosen it would appear to be elitist and condescending to others. So what about a new name?

    We have euphemisms such as humanist, non-believer, not religious, not affiliated, and the list goes on forever. If we can just call ourselves atheist it will not…<

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  • 77
    gretchen.prichard says:

    Support scientific and educational television, newsprint, and museum programs that help to put evolution and the scientific method into mainstream media – for children, teens, and adults. I am very excited to see Neil de Grasse Tyson’s “Cosmos” on prime-time TV. We need more of that! Also – the college years are important years when children raised under the dogma of religious-zealot parents can finally step back and think about truth and science. Build and target programs specifically for this age group.

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  • 78
    Ignischan says:

    How do we know who wins and if anyone won? What is the purpose of the question of the week, and a promise of reward, if moderators fail to communicate those who gave thoughtful answers? This appears to be a waste of all our time and energy.

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  • 79
    functional atheist says:

    Take a cue from gays and lesbians and come out of the closet as an atheist.

    Hearts and minds are changed one by one. Just as gays and lesbians were slightly scary and freakish (and easy to demonize) when they were mostly discreetly closeted, so too are atheists perceived as alien and weird (and easy to demonize) when they are not out and proud in their atheism.

    So let your sweet but batty Aunt Ruth know that you’re an atheist. Let the slightly dim co-worker know they work with an atheist. And so on. If they’re nonplussed, or concerned for the fate of your immortal soul, or don’t really give a damn–regardless of the reaction you receive–you will have educated someone a little bit and maybe helped one more person realize that atheists don’t have horns and a tail.

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  • In reply to #5 by Chikkipop:

    We should identify and back a candidate for president who will openly declare that he or she is an atheist. Of course this person need not be a single-issue candidate, since atheists in general are pretty well informed and have much to say on the entire spectrum of issues a presidential contender …

    I think we should start with candidates who decline to identify with a religion, when or if asked — and if pressed, point out that they believe in separation of church and state. We should also start at lower levels with very likeable people.

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  • In reply to #6 by ericag:

    We need to show that the United States is not a Christian country. It certainly was never intended to be. It was merely seized by the Christian Right

    ‘The much-ballyhooed arrival of the Pilgrims and Puritans in New England in the early 1600s was indeed a response to persecution that these religious dissenters had experienced in England. But the Puritan fathers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony did not countenance tolerance of opposing religious views. Their “city upon a hill” was a theocracy that brooked no dissent, religious or political.’

    [ from Smithsonian article at ]

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