July 25, 2012

Religious Groups Spend Vast Sums to Promote Their Faith

Mormon missionariesWhen you see a church on every corner, find religious literature on your windshield or in your mailbox at least once a week, and see vans filled with well-dressed people cruising your neighborhood regularly, it is natural to find yourself wondering about how much this all costs and why anyone would bother. Isn't there something far more useful that could be done with all that money, time, and energy? Come to think of it, wouldn't almost anything be more useful?

The following passage from an article about Mormons and Southern Baptists competing for converts in the Religion News Service caught my attention:
Every year, the Southern Baptist Convention and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spend tens of millions of dollars to spread their takes on Christianity. They rely heavily on thousands of faithful volunteers willing to spread out across the country to share their faith.
Tens of millions of dollars to spread their belief system. Not tens of millions to help the poor or improve their communities but to promote their faith, increase their political power, and fill their coffers. Where does the rest of their money go? It sounds like quite a bit of it goes to building new churches, but plenty is left over to support anti-gay bigotry, oppose reproductive rights for women, and other pet causes.

How can we atheists ever hope to compete with this? Sure, we have reality on our side, but is that enough? We are a bit like the company with a great product who decides not to do any advertising because our product will speak for itself. Assuming our competitor has limitless funds to promote an inferior product, we've got an uphill battle. Then again, I'm not completely sure how to effectively market reality when it seems to be the last thing many people want.

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