American humanists take on religious fundamentalism in ad campaign

American humanists take on religious fundamentalism in ad campaign

By staff writers
9 Nov 2010

Humanists in the USA are launching a national multimedia advertising campaign directly challenging fundamentalist Christianity and its misuse of the Bible.

In what is being described as the largest, most extensive ever publicity initiative by a consciously non-religious organisation, the campaign will include a spot on NBC's 'Dateline' on Friday 12 November 2010, as well as other television advertisements.

The campaign, sponsored by the American Humanist Association (AHA), also features advertisements in major national and regional newspapers and magazines seeking to show that secular humanist values are consistent with mainstream America and that fundamentalist religion has no right to claim the moral high ground.

The adverts juxtapose notable humanist quotes with passages from religious texts, including the Hebrew Scriptures, the Christian New Testament and the Qur'an. The ads then ask the audience to "Consider Humanism."

One example is the juxtaposition between a biblical text "The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open" (Hosea 13:16, New International Version) and a 1930 New York Times quotation from Albert Einstein: "I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modelled after our own - a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty."

A theological commentator told Ekklesia: "This campaign will be helpful to thoughtful religious believers in challenging simplistic understandings of sacred texts. The book of Hosea actually shows the triumph of loving kindness over a vengeful understanding of God's will, for example. And many Christians and others will recognise in Einstein's comments an authentic rejection of human fabrications substituting for a genuine vision of God the merciful."

Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, said: "Humanist values are mainstream American values, and this campaign will help many people realise that they are already humanists and just did not know the term."

"Humanists believe in and value love, equality, peace, freedom and reason - values that are comparable to those of moderate and liberal religious people," he added.

In addition to the television advert on NBC, advertisements will also be displayed on cable channels. Print advertisements will appear in major newspapers, including USA Today, the Seattle Times, the Village Voice, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Independent Triangle, and the San Francisco Chronicle, and magazines, including Reason and The Progressive. Further advertisements will appear on Metro trains in Washington DC, on billboards on I-95 near Philadelphia and in Moscow, Idaho, and on buses in select cities.

"We want to reach people in every corner of the US, from all walks of life, to raise the flag for humanists and show others that they have more in common with us than with biblical literalists," said Speckhardt.

"It's important that people recognise that a literal reading of religious texts is completely out of touch with mainstream America," he continued. "Although religious texts can teach good lessons, they also advocate fear, intolerance, hate and ignorance. It's time for all moderate people to stand up against conservative religion's claim on a moral monopoly."

All quotes from religious texts were checked by scripture scholars to ensure accuracy, context and proper translation.

The Stiefel Freethought Foundation was the primary sponsor of the Consider Humanism campaign with a $150,000 donation. Another $50,000 was raised from supporters of the American Humanist Association for the launch of this campaign, bringing the total advertisement purchase to $200,000 so far.

The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington DC, its work is extended through over 140 local chapters and affiliates across America.

Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God, says the AHA.

More information about the campaign is available at: http://www.considerhumanism.org

Also on Ekklesia: A research paper on 'Facing up to fundamentalism' - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/content/article_07021fundament.shtml

[Ekk/3]

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