July 22, 2008

Picketing Churches

Worshipers at Phoenix First Assembly of God, a...
Worshipers at Phoenix First Assembly of God, an AG megachurch. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I think atheists can generally agree that Christian extremism is a problem. The hard part is agreeing on tactics to oppose it. I have a question for the atheist readers today, one I'd like you to think about before responding. As atheists, should we consider picketing the Christian extremist churches in our communities? Let me elaborate a bit before you answer in case this idea strikes you as absurd on it's face (which it still might be). My goal is not to sell you on the idea but to find out what you think about it.

Suppose that there is a fundamentalist Christian church in your community that could rightly be considered to be of the Christian extremist variety. Should atheists consider picketing such a church?

Sounds risky doesn't it? If you are imagining forming picket line in front of the church with the 2-3 other local atheists you know, think bigger. What if the effort was organized so that atheists from around your state and perhaps even neighboring states joined the picket? Perhaps the picket is not even happening in your community but a nearby one where you are unlikely to know anyone.

It seems to me, and I am merely speculating here, that picketing such a church could have several dramatic effects:
  • Due to the nearly unprecedented nature of such an action, it would likely generate great publicity. The media would almost certainly consider it newsworthy. Coverage might provide atheists with a forum to educate the public about atheism and about Christian extremism.
  • An action like this could motivate atheists in other communities to undertake similar efforts, having a viral effect.
  • It would show the world that atheists were through pretending to respect dangerous falsehoods.
Of course, the whole thing could backfire horribly as well. Effective organization would be essential, and even then, there would be no guarantee that the desired effects would be attained. Is picketing churches something atheists should seriously consider? What do you think?

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