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November 9th, 2010
03:59 PM ET

Humanists launch huge 'godless' ad campaign

The new humanist campaign cites holy books

The Bible and the Quran contain "horrific material, and to say  you get your morality from there" is a problem, the head of the American Humanist Association said Tuesday as the group launches what it calls the  largest, most extensive advertising campaign ever by a godless organization.

The group is putting ads in newspapers across the country - and  advertising on NBC - in the $200,000 campaign, AHA head Roy Speckhardt told  CNN.

The point, he said, it to "challenge the fundamentalists" who "spout  their backward ideas," he said.

The target audience is people who may not realize they are humanists,  Speckhardt explained.

"We're targeting for criticism those who read the Bible literally, not those who pick and choose what they like," he said. "We're telling (people who  pick and choose), 'You're more like us.' Biblical literalists and Quranic  literalists are holding us back.

"We know that you can be good without God, but many folks in America don't know that," he said.

The campaign features violent or sexist quotes from holy books,  contrasted with more compassionate quotes from humanist thinkers, including  physicist Albert Einstein.

A screen grab from the new humanist campaign

"We're calling it like it is," Speckhardt said. "It's quite obvious that  the Bible contains horrific material - and the Quran - and to say you get  your morality from there" is problematic.

"We don't expect to convert people from the billboard signs," he said.

But, he said, "there are millions of people - approximately 34 million  people - who are unaffiliated" with a religion in the United States.

Only one in 20 Americans does not believe in God, according to the Pew  Forum on Religion & Public Life, and of that group, only a quarter call  themselves atheists. The rest say they are agnostic, "nothing in particular" or members of a faith.

More than half of all Americans pray every single day - as do more than  one in five Americans who say they're not affiliated with a religion, according to Pew's U.S. Religious Landscape Survey.

Speckhardt knows the numbers.

"There has only been one member of Congress in the history of the United  States who has come out and said he doesn't believe in God," Speckhardt said, identifying the legislator as Rep. Pete Stark, D-California.

The Secular  Coalition for America said Stark responded in 2007 to an inquiry from that  group by saying he was a "nontheist."

"We feel those (unaffiliated) folks don't yet know they can admit that  they don't believe in God," Speckhardt said.

Marketing guru Allysen Stewart-Allen thinks the campaign has potential.

"They will certainly get people talking," she said.

"One of the things that the humanists need to articulate is what success  looks like for the campaign - if it's converts, I wouldn't think that is a realistic measure," said Stewart-Allen, the director of International Marketing  Partners.

"I would hope what they want is for people to talk about faith in the  widest sense, and I think they will achieve that," she said.

"If your objective is to shape the conversation, I think it can't hurt,"  she added.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Atheism • United States

soundoff (346 Responses)
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    April 10, 2013 at 12:05 am |
  2. Mustard Seed Thoughts

    Im not against anyones beliefs or rights to think and speak freely.....But to blindly follow another just because they speak well and know how to reach their demographic is in essence a religion in itself....Just a thought......Knowledge is power and in this world power is everything, seek and you shall find......Dont get absorbed in someone else's rantings without doing your own research....GOD Bless you all.....
    “Islam is about being meticulous in everything we do. That is also the key to success and excellence in this world.” (Dr. Pasha)

    December 8, 2010 at 8:44 am |
  3. MikeBell

    Apparently the Atheist and Humanist are pushing the administration's 'Collective Salvation' doctrine.

    December 6, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
  4. sc

    Anything that promotes the discussion of religion is a good thing. Any discussion that causes people to think is good. I am confident in the ability of God and the Bible to win out in the arena of truth among those who are able to think and understand. The more the Atheist protest, the more they will win people to God.

    December 3, 2010 at 8:46 am |
  5. Louise

    Compassionate quotes from Albert Einstein? He left his wife with a mentally disabled son, married his first cousin and
    moved to another Country. Is that compassionate? Even the smartest man in the world does not know everything. God's
    thoughts are higher than ours. Every human being on earth eventually comes to the end of himself and will either have to
    humble himself and pray to God and admit that Jesus Christ came to earth as God in the flesh or reject him and live eternally
    apart from God. God's word tells us that there is only one name in Heaven and earth whereby we must be saved and that
    is Jesus Christ. Believe it or not.

    December 1, 2010 at 8:58 pm |
  6. Mariano

    Such atheist ads should be welcomed as they do a great job of showing atheism to be an anti-Christian support group and demonstrating their illogicality (their well within the box atheist groupthink talking points).
    This ad has been dissected:
    http://www.examiner.com/christian-apologetics-in-albuquerque/happy-unholidays-american-humanist-association-contra-judaism-christianity-a

    November 29, 2010 at 10:30 pm |
  7. tom

    of course the bible is a terrible book.For it declares the creaters hatred against evil.But if you want to know the caracter of God
    read the ten commentments this is a good law.It is also stated 'accursed is every one who does not do every thing what is written
    in the book of the law.That is that we are cursed by the law.Although this is not all what we should know.Read your bible may be the Lord will help us from our fears.Humanist,secularist..catholics.take heed. tom

    November 23, 2010 at 6:15 pm |
  8. Derrick

    @jesus is lord: "you think your gonna get an excuse on the day of judgemnet because some people who werent really christians did somehting claiming to be christians?" I love how people play that card EVERY time historical atrocities committed in the name of God are pointed out to them. Well...uh...those guys weren't REALLY christians. That's rich. And by the way, why would an atheist need ANY excuse on the "day of judgement" when he or she doesn't believe in such a thing? lol

    November 23, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
  9. Luke

    Hahahahahaha, most dumb group ever! You'd sooner have us on the trains to the death camp than you would attempt to reason for yourselves. Read some history, understand what humans really are, and it will become evident that humanity is not a static object. It is a battleground of choice which has been raging in war since as far back as we can remember. To say that you have the answer is arrogant. And to proclaim that your way is the better way is ignorant. Go ahead and remove the collar that binds humanity. For it will be like unleashing a rabid dog, all while saying that the dog is perfectly normal and the world will be a better place if we only release it. Know that when released, that dog will be the end of you, and so is true of humanity.

    November 23, 2010 at 1:07 pm |
  10. Jose

    @ Brandy Bucktook – I don't understand your point about -if there is no God why do we punish murderers?-
    It's almost like saying Atheists have no morals at all or like saying that our glorious prison systems are proof of God's existence.
    And the whole Good and Faithful servant thing – telling someone they might not go to heaven is the same as telling them they might go to HELL.
    If we are created in HIS image then why CAN'T I find a moral reason to toss a child on a fire, BBQ pit, fireplace, etc. yet your version of GOD can do it and then call it righteous?

    November 23, 2010 at 10:59 am |
  11. EMT420

    I can't wait to see the utter crapstorm that erupts from this ad campaign.

    I've got my popcorn ready.

    November 19, 2010 at 1:55 pm |
  12. Ken

    As a mountain guide, I can tell you that most atheists quickly change their views when death appears imminent. I am religious, tolerant of all. I claim the privilege of worshiping God according to the dictates of my own conscious and allow all others the same privilege, including atheists, who worship themselves. As storms have lashed the various mountains I have climbed in Asia, Alaska, and Europe, those who have no faith have often cried and begged for their lives, more so than those with at least belief in a Supreme Being. I am in no hurry to die, I believe God is more liberal and forgiving than anyone on this earth, and will one day embrace and teach the atheists in our midst. Please do not think I am ignorant, I am a patent lawyer with a degree in animal science. I believe in evolution and have 12 patents of my own. I love science, but my belief in science does not contradict my faith in God.

    November 18, 2010 at 8:54 pm |
  13. Brandy bucktook

    I think if Santan had a message. This is exactly what it would be. I understand if you don't want to believe in God. But I do not understand the outward professing that there is no GOD. What if there is? And he asked you, why did you tell everyone I do not exist? What are you going to tell him? He may ask did you spend every living day trying to understand the purpose of living on this earth? If there is no purpose, why does right or wrong matter? Why do we punish murderers? Why punish anyone for murdering someone by mistake? Surely, it was a mistake. The person that is dead is gone and they no longer care if they are dead. Why not try to believe in God? Cause if there is a God and you are wrong. Do you honestly think he'll say. Well done though good and faithfull servant. Thanks for telling everyone I don't exist. Come join me in heaven.

    November 16, 2010 at 5:12 am |
  14. Brandy bucktook

    Let me just say. If there is a God. He would literally be my Father. The reason I live and breath. Wouldn't it be my best interest to find out if that was in fact true. Cause if there Is. I want to tell him thank you and I would like to be faithful to him and receive the reward for that service. I want him to know I prayed to know if he was there. Surely I'm better off for trying. You're honestly out there trying to tell people there is not a God. For what purpose to tell people to think of themselves more. Be selfish. Is that your message. It's great to empower someone. I build peoples confidence who's confidence is low by putting their trust in man. That's all Jesus taught. Put you're burdens and worries on him by repenting of your sins. This will provide a peace and happiness and empowerment beyond any promise of man.

    November 16, 2010 at 4:59 am |
  15. truth

    none of my comments go through lol did some one report one?

    November 15, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  16. fishkitty

    Oh and "Hitler" can say anything he wants to about "the Creator telling him to defend himself against the Jews" ...anyone can say anything and can call themselves anything. Jesus certainly did not advocate slaughtering millions of Jews did he?

    That is like saying if someone claims to be an atheist, and they go out and murder people, that proves that atheists are murderers. Is that the logic you want to use?

    I try to follow Jesus......not Hitler.

    November 14, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
    • Know What

      fishkitty,

      Jesus could just "say anything" too, you know.... as could the 1st century evangelists who were promoting their new religion by writing a 'new testament'.

      November 14, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
  17. fishkitty

    As for trotting out the good old Old Testament Jewish laws which included what we see as (and are) barbaric practices such as stoning, Jesus in the New Testament said that he came to succeed the law. Perhaps if this world were to survive another 1000 years the people then would look back on what we deem acceptable today and call US barbaric. Those who read the Old Testament and ignore the New simply don't get it. The Bible doesn't tell us to go out and stone people, ok? It is an account of the Jewish legal system several thousand years ago.
    Jesus came to earth to die on the cross (also a barbaric death sentence for that day and age) for our sins so that we could believe and be saved. Understand this? No I don't. Believe it and accept it? I certainly do. And as a result I want to live a good life that honors Him and is good to others. Could I do this if I were an athiest? Maybe, but it's more likely I'd just be a bitter, selfish old woman trying to get "mine" and the heck with others. Do I always succeed in my mission to do good? Of course not.
    But to put up ads that mock me is pointless and does nothing to improve society...and I find it to be sad.

    November 14, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
    • Travisg

      Actually Im an atheist and I probably give more than you selfish Christians. Its a ridiculous stereotype to think that atheists are selfish; selflessness and selfishness are human actions they were not invented by "God" or the by-product of no "God". Want to talk barbaric? Look up the Spanish Inquisition and the "Holy Crusades" those will give you an accurate view of barbarianism. Also the people who committed those acts were not only backed by their respective Pope's, which I assume read the New Testament, but they themselves read the New Testament.

      November 14, 2010 at 4:28 pm |
    • jesus is lord

      ok so u can point your finger, point it at yourself so what about the inquistion and the crusades, you think your gonna get an excuse on the day of judgemnet because some people who werent really christians did somehting claiming to be christians? you still get judged for not believing wether they did it or not, and as for the i give more then christians, your probably lying and how much do you know about how much we give, considering i give 10% every week, added offerings, including a 100% offering i saved up to give, and feeding homeless people on a regular bases when i ride the centro bus downtown everyday to go to OCC, also when people cant afford somehting in a store i cover it, and i only make 100 a week thats about average in my church, if the truth was told u prolly horde your money

      November 15, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  18. fishkitty

    So how do the creators of this ad measure "success"? How many people they can convince to abandon any belief in the Bible? How many people they can convince to be "good", just do it without believing in God?

    What is their point? Because they care so much about people they can't stand it when we believe in God? Or just the usual knee-jerk despising of those of us who DO believe in God and the Bible? Have they somehow convinced themselves that the great and noble human spirit will somehow achieve utopia, free of base desires and crime if we could just rid ourselves of this pesky Bible business telling us that Jesus loves us and wants us to believe, and love each other?

    November 14, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
  19. free at last

    محمد يلعق والأحمق من الكلب
    القرآن هو كتاب من الأكاذيب الخطرة.
    الإسلام هو الشر تماما

    November 13, 2010 at 4:40 pm |
  20. Muneef

    -God is perfect & Created all perfect.
    -Quran is perfect than no created kinds can bring as perfect even if worked together for it.
    -Muslims are not so perfect therefore as a practiced religion might not be as complete and as perfect since it became shuttered and scattered in to many branches and paths??
    Example given here for Quran : 
    -Quran Sura 07:155
    -Quran Sura 85:21-22
    -Quran Sura 56:75 to 96
    Example given here for Prophet Muhammad SAW :
     -Quran Sura 96:01to 05
    -Quran Sura 36:01 to12
    -Quran Sura 06:49 to 52
    -Quran Sura 10:107 to 109
    What ever happening to Islam today:
    -Quran Sura 06:17 to 19
    -Quran Sura 67:20 to 30  
    The message of God from the Quran addressed to all humans and non humans:
    -Quran Sura 35:01 to 45
    -Quran Sura 05:01 to 120 
    http://www.quranexplorer.com/quran/   

    November 12, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.