The President of the American Atheists Seems Pretty Mad At Movie Tavern For Refusing To Run Atheist Ads

Categories: Religion

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Last week we told you about the Dallas Fort-Worth Coalition of Reason's tiff with Movie Tavern. Once more, briefly: DFWCoR signed a contract to pay Movie Tavern three grand to show a pro-atheism ad as part of the coalition's new campaign, "Our Families Are Great Without Religion." But Movie Tavern decided sometime in the last couple days that no, they were definitely not showing that ad, that they would never show an ad "of a religious nature," in the words of their spokesperson, and that atheism, per se, has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

Dave Silverman, the president of the American Atheists, isn't buying it. "If the theater is actually discriminating against atheists because they simply don't like us, that's bigotry, it's horrible and it's not something for which we will stand," he told us in a recent phone conversation. But, he added, "the jury is still out over whether they're actually doing that."

His suggestion to Movie Tavern? "I would recommend the theater reverse its decision and allow atheists to put up an ad. It's the civil and American thing to do."

Here's why it's a big deal that Dave Silverman is sounding so cranky: The American Atheists, who are currently based in New Jersey but were founded in Austin by Madalyn Murray O'Hair herself, are themselves a rather big deal. (Silverman even has his very own Internet meme). AA also has a very long history of suing institutions, public and private, that they believe are discriminating against atheists or violating church-state separation.

Silverman made it clear to us that the AA isn't thinking about suing just yet. But that said, "We have to fix this, OK? The theater is a private organization. They can be bigoted if they want to. There's not a First Amendment issue, or a separation of church and state issue, but there is something called equal protection and antidiscrimination laws in the state of Texas, and we're looking into it."

Silverman wants to send a message to private businesses, he said. "It's important to make sure businesses know that we care when they discriminate against us. Yes, they have the legal right to do so, but it's not something we as atheists are going to laugh off anymore. We're not going to keep quiet and go to the movies anyway. We're going to organize.They can hate blacks too. They can hate Jews. They can discriminate against anyone they want, but that doesn't make it right, that doesn't make it ethical, and it doesn't make it without repercussions."

Silverman said that a protest or a letter-writing campaign is also a possible course of action. As for Movie Tavern's insistence that they've never shown a religious ad before either, he says, rather dryly, "If they don't take religious ads, I'm sure they won't mind giving us their customer list. Bigotry is ugly, and cloaking bigotry in religion doesn't make it more palatable."


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Spencer
Spencer

The idiot who compared believing in a God to believing in Santa Claus is delirious. If you don't believe in something, then go on with your life without it and shut up. The entire purpose of Christianity is to spread a message, so that is what people who believe in God do. If Atheists are so comfortable in themselves with no God, what is the point of banding together and trying to recruit others to their way of thinking? Sounds awfully a lot like a religion to me, or just insecurity.

misscasanova
misscasanova

It's because of the many harmful things people use religion to do. Sure there are some good messages in different religions, but think of the saying "guns don't kill people, people with guns kill people" it's the same if you replace "guns" with "religions." Not everyone uses religion to harm others, but say people like those of the Westboro Baptist Church who spread extreme hate, members of the fundamentalist Christian KKK or other super mega fundie groups that use their religion to hurt others they don't like instead of spreading a message of love. That is the reason atheists, agnostics and freethinkers feel compelled to spread how they are perfectly normal, good people without following any religion (especially not to the tee).

harleyd1958
harleyd1958

oh yea we don't need no movie for our proof it's in your heart not some crazy movie you gotta sue over and hey if you'd like we do have a couple of dvds on some of the missions our fellow friends have taken part in of now that would be nice we'll even provide the popcorn   yeeee hawwwwwwwwwwwww for Christ      Happy easter too forgot to tell you all and just because we love you hey were going to take you to the best Church Buffet on Easter you'll have ever seen and will enjoy to the fulliest so just come on over no hard feelings discussion left open  you'll just leave so much different   on my yes you will with the Praise of Christ in your heart

harleyd1958
harleyd1958

Hi all yea it's me again  I have a very good reason to be writting today I would love to invite any and all Athiests to attend our Church come easter Morning we would love to fill your hearts not minds with the Love of Christ so if all you angry Athiets would love to become so Happy and Filled with Joy please come and sit  Our Church is located in LINCOLN, ARKANSAS  in the TOWN SQUARE it's easy to find were the CHRISTIAN FAITH FELLOWSHIP big letters on the window don't be afraid just come on in  I'm the big biker guy with the big mustouche lol you'll love me I'm one them you can't not so please do come and attend  I do believe you'll leave a whole different person so please COME ON DOWN  LOVE YA ALL    Don... God Bless to you and all your families from all of us  

Jack E. Jett
Jack E. Jett

The Lord Jesus (adult version) came to me and was very specific.  He said that Movie Tavern and ALL Dallas Movie Theaters should LOWER the price of concessions by 75%....NOW.

No exceptions or you will burn in hell.   Also...free Raisinettes to Jack Jett for life.

Anna Merlan
Anna Merlan

Raisinettes are bullshit. Clearly the product of the Devil. Are you sure Grown-Up Jesus didn't say Junior Mints? 

DoubleOJoe
DoubleOJoe

Junior Mints?  You're embarrassing yourself.  Goobers are clearly the one true snack of faith.

Guest
Guest

Man, I wish iI ran a sue happy church. I'd hire American Atheists to advertise and PR for us to help me draw more people to Christ. AA has a good campaign going on with all this.

Mean Green
Mean Green

I'm a strong atheist that has no problem with the ad not being run. If they started showing a bunch of ads for various religions but rejected an atheist add I might be a little off-put, but I'd just chose to watch my movies elsewhere. 

Kate T.
Kate T.

Agreed. If there's discrimination in that they will show religious ads, but not nonreligious ones, that's incredibly wrong and unfair. However, I'd just rather they not show any fucking ads. I hate ads.

Justin Julian
Justin Julian

Oh man.  What a joke. "Why yes, Mr. Atheist, I'll run your ad in my movie theater which will instantly piss off the vast majority of people that pay my bills."  It's not a matter of belief or disbelief, bigotry or acceptance: it's a matter of survival in an industry that's already struggling.  Look at the percentage of Texans that believe or attend church, and it'd be suicide to run that kind of ad.

westley
westley

Using that justification, do they refuse to run ads for, say, black civil rights organizations?

dallasmay
dallasmay

Yeah, I imagine they probably would. As they would probably refuse to run most any political ad. Justin is right, if this theater got caught up in a Ad sales religious war, they would lose customers. 

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Evangelicals and this group are two sides of the same coin: Selfish, all-knowing, forceful and fast on the call to sue or scream discrimination. Get a grip, atheists.

Customer list? Come again? Do you mean, "advertising accepted list?" I am sure you don't mean that you want a listy of patrons, right?

Do they accept ads for puppy mills? Strip clubs? Junkyards? Have they taken one ad for one gardening center, but not another? Is it not their right to choose what goes on at their own place of business?

I have no beef with your faith, yes, faith.

Not to decide, is to decide. Not to act, is to act. Not to believe, is to believe. You  believe that religions are wrong. Got it. Good. You put up with a lot of crap for your beliefs, and I think that it wrong. You are entitled to think what you want.

But if your group  become as obnoxious as those who believe they do know God's Will, then you have accomplished nothing. Accept it and move on. Be of higher class than this.

kubush
kubush

Atheism is not faith. "Not to decide, is to decide. Not to act, is to act. Not to believe, is to believe." Actually, those are all logical contradictions.

RTGolden
RTGolden

Could the Theater decide to not run an ad for Exxon, because the theater management disagrees with Exxon's excessive profit-taking and price gouging?  Could the theater decide not  to run an ad for Burberry, because management is a bunch of animal activists and disagrees with using leather to make clothing?  Exxon and Burberry are also 'not religious' organizations, and should, therefore be protected Constitutionally as well, right?

No, running an ad in the movie theater, or on a billboard, or on TV is not a religious act, but a commercial act (probably why they're called commercials on TV).  Every business has a right to choose who it does business with and who it does not do business with.  AA does not have a right to have their ad run.  They can pay to have it run, and the theater can take the money and run it, or refuse the money and not run the ad.  Now, if the theater keeps the money already paid, or if AA spent money producing the ad after a contract was signed, then AA has a good case for breach of contract or, damages resulting from contract negation.

Max from the Sandspit
Max from the Sandspit

Sounds like they've got access to MMO's gold stash, didn't think them yahoos had found it all.

John Perry
John Perry

Who knew atheists could be obnoxious a$$holes like religious fundamentalists?

kubush
kubush

I don't get it. They are "a$$holes" because they don't want to be discriminated against when putting up atheist ads???

Justin Julian
Justin Julian

Atheists ARE religious fundamentalists, the hardcore guys like this, anyway, not the agnostics who don't understand the difference between the two.

westley
westley

An atheist is someone who is not a theist; this does not imply certainty.

unicornsandfrillytutus
unicornsandfrillytutus

I'm mad as hell...of which I don't believe in. Damn it! Now i'm confused.

Jerome Haltom
Jerome Haltom

Me too. I guess I can no longer say that my girlfriend is sweet as an angel. Or that she's cute as a button. Because those don't make sense, do they? Oh, my poor brain. Not really.

kubush
kubush

Satan is an angel. XD

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

This is pretty humorous.

Athiests claim that they aren't a religion and that they don't need religion, but they are looking to invoke protection against discriminiation on the same grounds as religious discrimination.

Are the Athiests willing to finally admit that they are, indeed, a religion?

DFW Heathen
DFW Heathen

Discrimination based on the lack of religion is as bad as discrimination for religion. What is your point? Do we have to make up a god to worship in order to get some freakin' rights in this country?

PlanoDave
PlanoDave

Just curious about the law against discrimination based on the lack of religion...

Discrimination is a fact of life.  We are all flawed people and discrimination lets us rest our tiny little minds a little bit.  Laws are in place to keep us from doing so in the majority of cases, but not all.  For example, there are lots of ordinances in place discriminating against smokers.  And to a certain extent, discrimination against fat people is becoming quite the fad.

Granted, in virtually all cases discrimination is bad. But illegal?  I think not...

Anon
Anon

I disagree that discrimination is bad. It's only when we start doing it on the basis of things that cannot be controlled that it becomes a negative. I don't actually even believe that people should be free of discrimination based on religion. It is within your control, just like smoking or obesity. Gender, sexual orientation, race - these are things that truly cannot be controlled. I suppose some people disagree on sexual orientation but it seems like most rational people have settled on the fact that it's a born trait. The only people who seem to disagree use religious background as the basis for that disbelief. Which actually brings me back to my point about why I think you should be able to discriminate based on religion. Calling institutionalized hatred a "religion" shouldn't be a protected class.

GusMitchem
GusMitchem

That only works if the god you make up is all edged to have been white and named Hay Su Es

Jerome Haltom
Jerome Haltom

Religious discrimination means you can't discriminate against somebody based on the status of their religious beliefs. Having no religious belief is a status of religious belief.

This is pretty simple, really.

I don't think they are discriminating, if they deny ALL religious ads. I'm simply correcting you.

RTGolden
RTGolden

If you're calling the ad a religious ad, then your complaint is about religious descrimination, not about a religious status.  If Atheists' message is that they are not a religion, not religious, then it cannot be a 'religious ad'.

Doesn't negate the fact that the ad should be allowed to run.  Just seems like the AA needs to straighten out it's message.  

Henry McFadyen
Henry McFadyen

 People who honestly thing atheism is a faith don't understand what either word means.

Jonathan Figdor
Jonathan Figdor

"Atheism is a faith like abstinence is a sex position" (Bill Maher).

Kate T.
Kate T.

I believe in one fewer god than most of the rest of the world. I don't believe in Zeus or Dagda, the Olmec gods or the Egyptian ones, Vishnu, etc. You probably don't either. And, no, I don't believe in God/HolySpirit/Jesus, which is probably where we go our separate ways. Does it truly require that much more "faith" (lack thereof) for me to believe in one fewer god? Really? Do you actively "have faith in a lack of" Zeus? I'm guessing not.

I think you assume most atheists deny all possibility of a god. Very few do, in fact; most are "agnostic atheists", those who think it's highly probable that there is no god, but that it could happen. Most of us think a god and afterlife is unlikely, given increasing explanations for the world around us, but most of us also agree we'd change our opinion if real evidence could prove something else. We simply see no reason to believe in something that has no evidence, in the same way everyone stops believing in Santa Claus when they realize Mom and Dad are behind those toys on Christmas morning. Or did you still believe in Santa, or expect the children you knew to do so, after discovering said evidence? That'd be rather silly, I think.

Until there's substantial, consistent evidence for a god, there's probably no solid reason to go through life pretending to know for sure if there is one, much less pretending to know which one is the "right" one or which way is the "right" way to worship the "right" one. On the other hand, there is a lot of evidence that much of religion, particularly the more extreme versions of it, has no idea what it's talking about (e.g., flat earth, planets and sun revolving around Earth, behavior and illness caused by demons instead of neurological issues or disease or genetics, etc.). Surprise, Iron Age understandings of the world and the people on it don't stand the test of time all that well. Believing it does, as many Americans do: now that does indeed take faith.

westley
westley

"The biggest lie about atheism is that it's not a faith, when it requires MORE faith than any other religion."

You're right; saying atheism takes MORE faith is the biggest lie about atheism.

kubush
kubush

I don't know of any atheist that says they are "sure" that god doesn't exist. If you don't believe in a god, whether or not you are sure or not, you are by definition an atheist.

And no, not believing in a magical deity in the sky does not take more faith than doing so.

Justin Julian
Justin Julian

Good luck.  You're never gonna find an end to that loop.  The biggest lie about atheism is that it's not a faith, when it requires MORE faith than any other religion.  The only truly non-religious people are agnostics, who are willing to say they don't believe in anything because they can't be sure.  As soon as you say you're SURE, you believe, and that's faith.

RTGolden
RTGolden

I wasn't disputing the discrimination claim.  I was disputing his claim that Atheism isn't a religion, then calling the ad a 'religious ad'.

westley
westley

Discrimination based on atheism is religious discrimination, just as (say) discriminating against someone for not being the same religion as yourself is religious discrimination.

Chums
Chums

Ridiculous... this has zero 2 do w/ discrimination & everything 2 do w/ selfish activism for privatised affirmative action. we don't see Christians, Hindus or Muslims suing the THEATRE of all places. jokes

Jerome Haltom
Jerome Haltom

Last I checked nobody is suing the theater. Have you misread the article?

Justin Julian
Justin Julian

Yes, because the leader of a sue-happy group dropping references to state anti-discrimination laws and saying 'we're looking into it' certainly don't suggest that's where they're headed.  

Kate T.
Kate T.

The article doesn't suggest they'll sue unless there's evidence of discrimination, which is why they're "looking into it" by asking for the customer list. That seems fair to me. If there is discrimination--as has happened against atheists many, many times--that deserves to be known, discussed, and perhaps legally pursued, don't you think?

That said, this article is unfortunate and sensational, really, because early reporting of an issue can be, and often is, faulty. If there's no wrongdoing here, none of this matters but may leave believers with a poor opinion of nonbelievers and nonbelievers with a poor opinion of a theater that actually doesn't take any "provocative" ads of a religious or political nature, which is within their right as a private company. 

I'd like to think that if discrimination was discovered to be at the root of this, people who say they believe in freedom of religion--regardless of faith or lack thereof--would want to uphold equality and lessen discrimination. One way of doing the latter is to make it clear that people who don't believe the same things aren't "evil", and it is indeed hard to do that if you're not afforded the same rights to present your opinions.

Texbardog
Texbardog

Make that "indignant," not "indigent." Danged computer.

Flawd Bleever
Flawd Bleever

One of the problems with being an indigent and angry athiest is you feel silly looking somebody in the eye and telling them to go to hell.   

IslandAtheist
IslandAtheist

How do Christians feel when they're "looking somebody in the eye and telling them to go to hell"?   

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