Herding atheist cats

You don’t say.

Atheists “are talking to a very small slice of the population,” said Mathew Staver, a leading Christian conservative and law-school dean. “In some ways, they’re really just talking to themselves.”

Well no kidding. And what does Mathew Staver think theists are doing? In some ways, all groups are just talking to themselves; and in other ways not. But at least atheists aren’t also just talking to an imaginary friend, and we’re also not constantly invoking an imaginary friend when talking to other people, unlike some people I could name.

In rural Chambersburg, Pa., one Christian group responded to an “Imagine No Religion” billboard with a giant sign of their own, asking: “Why Do Atheists Hate America?”

Let’s sponsor a giant sign asking: ‘Why do theists ask such stupid questions?’

“Atheists can act very much like Christian fundamentalists from time to time,” said James Webb, president of the Community of Reason in Kansas City, which includes both believers and skeptics. “It’s important not to be in-your-face with people.”

Well, it depends what you mean by ‘in-your-face’; it also depends on how in-your-face theists are being; it also depends on what theists are doing to people. It depends on a lot of things. Sometimes it’s important to be in-your-face with people.

[L]eading activists say nonbelievers tend to be just as wary of organized atheism as they are of organized religion — making it tough to pull together a cohesive movement. “A pastor can say to his flock, ‘All rise,’ and everyone rises. But try that in an atheist meeting,” said Marvin Straus, co-founder of an atheist group in Boulder, Colo. “A third of the people will rise. A third will tell you to go to hell. And a third will start arguing….That’s why it’s hard to say where we’re going as a movement.”

And that’s why atheists are a more fun group. (Plus I don’t think one third will rise; I think none will rise. Who would say ‘all rise’ and apropos of what? The entry of the judge? No. The entry of the Head Atheist? That’s a somewhat anomalous concept, and even if it weren’t, who rises for the Head Atheist? Even if Dawkins parachuted in for a surprise guest visit, I don’t see anyone saying ‘all rise’ – and I can imagine no response to such a suggestion but noisy hoots of laughter.)

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