I am going into churches with the atheist message. I have already talked to pastors and scheduled meetings. I know, sounds crazy but it's true. The goal is to tear down common misconceptions between us and open a respectful dialog between believers and non-believers.
What are some ideas from you all about type of approach, format, follow-up and a catchy title?
Any input would be greatly appreciated.
I think that the best way, as you already imply, is to start by eradicating misconceptions about atheists from the outset. There's so much misinformation circulating!
You should be ready for the classic anti-atheist misconceptions/errors to be thrown at you and have simple answers:
Off the top of my head:
- Atheists have no morality
- Atheism is just another kind of faith/religion
- Hitler and Stalin were atheists
- You can't disprove god's existence
- You're just angry at god
I'm sure there are more.
Because of this my approach would be something like "I'm not here to tell you what an atheist is but what an atheist isn't"
@David Raphael - "I'm not here to tell you what an atheist is but what an atheist isn't"
Actually this is not a good approach. Psychological studies show that repeating a statement will reinforce it in a listener's mind, even if you are trying to refute it. So if one says, "atheists are not immoral", people who are already used to thinking that way will pick up on the ideas of "atheists" and "immorality" as being connected.
Repetition is the key to what people remember.
So a better approach is to try to transform denials into positive statements. The "good without god" catchphrase is a good example. Of course sometimes it's unavoidable.
The Washington post article Persistence of Myths Could Alter Public Policy Approach discusses the issue.
Stalin was an atheist though, so be careful not to make errors in your quest of correcting them ;)
I would try to communicate Sam Harris' sentiment: "Atheism is simply the set of noises a rational person makes when confronted with dogmatic religious claims."
The key is showing that you're really not that different from anyone else in the way you think, you have simply applied rationality to religion as well, and suspended judgement for that reason.
I'm impressed! I'm not sure I could bring myself to do such a thing. I have entered churches lately, but only to attend an event such as a concert. To actually approach the clegy is something else again.
What is your success rate? Have there been any bad experiences? Have you tried any frnge groups like pentacostals?
Richard, I have met with pastors and scheduled meeting but have yet to host my first one. So excited to see what happens!
I used to be a teacher and worship leader so I feel comfortable in the church environment.
David, I love your quote, "I'm not here to tell you what an atheistis but what an atheist isn't".
Thanks for the ideas.
Keep us in the loop about this...Interesting approach.
It is so good to see people in the trenches.
Zach Moore has done this kind of work before. He is one of the leaders of the Fellowship of Freethought in Dallas.
Here is a video of Zach meeting with a Sunday school class - Inside the Lamb's Den
Our local group in Frisco TX used to have meetups with local pastors - we might start again before too long. Send me a note if you'd like to talk about this or if you need to get some info from Zach.
Mark, I would love to get more info from you and Zach.
...jiggle your keys... LOL
Wow, I can't wait to hear the feedback from this. I am so happy to hear that you are doing this! A catchy title...perhaps "We Have Something In Common". We are normal, productive members of society. We work, we have families and friends that we love, we cry when we're sad and laugh when we're happy, etc..
Take care. They necessarily have convoluted minds and often seem unnatural. They're struggling between who they are and what they should be and this causes misunderstanding with others. Likewise they say one thing but mean something else and this makes them awkward. They are insincere, two-faced morons and inclined to judge people. They are hateful, vindictive and cowardly and, be careful, might think of you as a sinner and stitch you up in an underhanded manner. They don't share your values.