I am a freethought activist at the Kenyan Campuses and I have been using humor to introduce students to ideals of freethought. I run a humor column, Me My wife and Kids, at the Universities blogs, they can be accessed at: www.uonfreethinkers.webs.com, and www.masenofreethinkers.webs.com.
Do you think humor can work out best in spreading the ideals of freethought mostly in religious nations?
It might under one very critical condition: that all parties have the capacity to laugh at themselves and by extension, what they believe. Given that, you might get believers to at least consider the foolishness of some of the things they believe and therewith take a second look at them. The problem is that, at least from my experience, belief is something they have been taught to take VERY SERIOUSLY, especially the "going-to-hell" business. Let's keep in mind that a lot of the power that irrational belief holds over believers derives from FEAR. Such fear isn't conducive either to lightheartedness or to laughter, and no great surprise, either. These people treat this business as a life-and-death matter.
If someone is going to laugh at something, they have to think it's funny. Certainly, comedians such as Robin Williams and George Carlin poked fun at religion all the time, but typically, they were preaching to the choir. The audience you're talking about tends to equate themselves with their beliefs, and if you're laughing at the belief, you're laughing at them.
If you are making jokes about being an Atheist while at the same time showing people that Atheism really is the way to go, that might work. I'm not clever enough to think of ways you could be humorous like that, but maybe you can. It would still point-out though, that what they believe is silly. So I don't know how that would go. Maybe a few people would get it, but I believe the majority would not.
Thanks so much for the reply Loren and Booklover. Consider this. You come from a highly religious place where most people would not even dare to look at a book trying to criticize religion let alone even touch. You are aware of this, but realize that you can lure the same people by presenting the same ideas written in the same books by using humor. Then in the end, some open up their minds and start looking skepticaly at what they believe in. Don't you think that is a step.
I think you need to tread VERY carefully. We have a saying in the US:
Watch that first step - it's a DOOZY!!!
I agree with Loren. I would be careful!