Atheist advertising: Holiday outreach by humanists

Several nontheist organizations have launched holiday-themed advertising campaigns aimed at winning followers to their movements or at least blunting criticisms that nonbelievers can’t be good without God.


Atheist-themed advertising has been growing in recent years, with campaigns in Great Britain attracting wide notice, for example.

As regards the advertising blitz in the United States, this Nov. 9, 2010, New York Times article notes that there were at least four significant public relations efforts by secularist groups that were tied to the winter holidays. The campaigns varied in their approach, with some challenging religious belief directly and others taking a more neutral stance, opting instead to underscore the rationality of humanism and the positive outlook of everyday nonbelievers.

  • The largest initiative was a $200,000 campaign by the American Humanist Association that included television spots for the first time, and featured advertisements in national and regional print media. The campaign was called “Consider Humanism,” and it juxtaposed violent or sexist passages from the Bible and the Quran with quotations from nonbelievers like Albert Einstein and Katharine Hepburn, as well as AHA statements.
  • The Freedom From Religion Foundation in Madison, Wis., spent $55,000 on an “Out of the Closet Campaign” that featured atheists announcing their views. It ran on 150 billboards in about a dozen cities.
  • American Atheists sponsored a billboard above the Lincoln Tunnel in New Jersey heading into New York that features a picture of a Nativity scene with the inscription, “You Know it’s a Myth. This Season Celebrate Reason.”
  • And the United Coalition of Reason, based in Washington, sponsored bus ads that say, “Don’t Believe in God? Join the Club.”

In addition to The New York Times’ story, CNN’s Belief Blog has a Nov. 9, 2010, item on the AHA campaign.

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