Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Humanist advertising campaign launches in America

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The American Humanist Association yesterday launched the largest atheist advertising campaign in history, with $200,000 going towards billboards and bus banners in major cities, as well as newspaper, magazine and TV advertisements throughout the country. The campaign, called "Consider Humanism", juxtaposes quotes from religious texts with quotes by well-known humanists.

For instance, on the subject of violence, the AHA campaign compares the following:
Islam: I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.” Qur'an (8:12)

Humanism: “The American Humanist Association, in support of the creation of a global community, affirms the aim of avoiding the use and distortion of creeds, beliefs, ideologies, and worldviews as a justification for violence (or even for the threat of violence) in pursuit of a goal” AHA Resolution on Global Community and International Affairs, 2008
 And on women's rights, these two quotes are contrasted:
The Bible: “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.” I Timothy 2 (New International Version)

Humanism: “The rights of men and women should be equal and sacred—marriage should be a perfect partnership.” Robert Ingersoll, in a letter dated April 13, 1878
The AHA acknowledges that the chosen quotes are examples of the more extreme statements contained in religious texts, as the campaign is intended as a challenge to religious fundaemtalism, as its executive director Roy Speckhardt explains:
“It’s important that people recognize that a literal reading of religious texts is completely out of touch with mainstream America. 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.”
In addition to all the other exposure, a TV ad airs during major national news programme NBC Dateline this Friday, November 12, so the campaign is sure to become a talking point across the Atlantic. What do you think of it? Is it likely to have an impact? Will the religious claim offence? Are they right to focus on extreme quotes from religious texts? How does it compare to the humanist advertising campaigns we've had here in the UK, which posed less of a direct challenge to religion?

As ever, thoughts appreciated in the comments.
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