That's the claim of David Silverman, president of American Atheists and quite possibly the most obnoxious atheist thought leader in the U.S.
We know that a large population of 'Christians' are actually atheists who feel trapped in their family's religion.And, you know this how?
In the same way that Gnu Atheists assume all "nones" are atheists, I guess. Since they always assume that most if not all of the surge in "nones" is due to a surge in atheism, that's the most charitable assumption I can make.
So much for the superior reasoning and critical thinking powers of Gnu Atheists, eh?
(Note to hardcore Gnus: I can certainly make less charitable assumptions if you want, like the idea that Silverman is simply pulling something out of his ass.
And, speaking of pulling things out of his add, add to that his March 2014 lament that Democrats are too liberal.)
Meanwhile, that's not the only stupid claim of Silverman's. Zvan also points out this:
“The intent here is not to convert Christians. The intent here is to get atheists going through the motions and pretending to be religious to stop, come out of the closet, and be honest with themselves.”Really? Putting up offensive billboards across the country, and even less than 100 percent offensive ones, which are clearly designed to say "eff you" to Christians, followed by possibly converting some of them, has as its actual goal getting atheists to come out of the closet?
And, as for "saving the lost," there's other alternatives that Zvan overlooks or tacitly dismisses, like atheist/freethought equivalents to churches, which, at least in larger urban areas, even exist, already, right now, and even in red states. The North Texas Church of Freethought, in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, has been around 20 years.
Note that name: "Freethought."
Silverman's approach, if it is trying to convert believers (and given that atheists are still just 2 percent of the population, that's surely its focus and Silverman's lying out some orifice in all likelihood) reminds me again of the old "if you want to catch flies, honey is better than vinegar" approach.
(Speaking of, Peter Manseau has some good spreading honey thoughts.)
If you're trying to get closeted atheists to come out, they're probably not the people who want to explain to Grandma at Christmas why they're associated with a nutbar like David Silverman.
Heck, people who have been atheists for some time — many of us don't use the word "atheist" in part precisely because of people like Silverman. Call us secularists, metaphysical naturalists, or per the community in Dallas "freethoughters."
Speaking of, there's one other issue, about one other word in that place's title: "church."
I don't know about Silverman, but I do know that many a Gnu Atheist, no matter how much "atheist evangelism" power such places might represent, furiously reject the idea of anything even close to an "atheist church."
Fine. Suit yourselves. Keep spraying vinegar rather than honey in the air. Just don't moan in public about the lack of results, or lie about the results by claiming "nones" are all "atheists," because I'll smack you down in public.
And, speaking of, let's be more honest on Silverman's behalf about one other thing.
Ultimately, this isn't about getting secret atheists to come out of the closet. It's about getting the money of open atheists to come out of the wallet and head to Silverman. It's a PR scheme for fundraising.