One of the largest Catholic civil rights organizations in the United States is asking Christians this Christmas season to “adopt an atheist.”
The new initiative created by the Catholic League began on Thursday aiming to, in the words of the organization’s director of communications, Jeff Field, “bring a little joy into the lives of the poor atheist that has nothing this time of year.”
Field explained to The Christian Post in an email that the latest campaign was organized as a response to comments made by American Atheists President David Silverman to The New York Times.
Silverman was interviewed by the newspaper on Wednesday in regards to the group’s latest $25,000 atheist holiday billboard, which he revealed sought to “call out” closet atheists.
The billboard features four images, including a statue of the Roman god Neptune, a portrait of Jesus, Santa Claus, and a devil in a suit, and states, “37 million Americans know myths when they see them. What do you see?”
“[The holiday season] is when the closeted atheists go to church to be viewed as Christians, and this is when we want to call them out to stay home and enjoy the holidays,” Silverman said. “We want people to realize that there may be atheists in their family, even if those atheists don’t even know they are atheists.”
The initiative “is a light-hearted response playing off of Silverman’s words,” Field told CP.
“We think there is some merit in David’s idea, even if he has things backwards, as usual,” the Catholic League’s president, Bill Donohue, added in a statement.
Donohue wants atheists to realize that there may be Christians in their community, “even if those Christians don’t even know they are Christian.”
For that reason, the Catholic League launched the “Adopt an Atheist” campaign, asking participants to contact their local American Atheists affiliate in their area, and let them know of their “sincere interest in working with them to uncover their inner self.”
“They may be resistant at first, but eventually they may come to understand that they were Christian all along,” Donohue declared.
When asked for a response to the campaign, Silverman told The Christian Post, “I’ve gotten a few emails, some of which are vulgar. We just reply by asking them to read their Bibles (that’s how you make atheists).”
But the Catholic League said they were not taking responsibility for the vulgar emails sent to Silverman.
“If you would like to see vulgarity, see what some atheists are doing in Loudon County, Va., with a crucified skeleton dressed as Santa Claus or what atheist PZ Myers did to the Eucharist a few summers ago,” Field pointed out to CP, though it was made clear that the student who put up the anti-Christmas display was attacking commercialism and materialism, not religion.
“It’s obvious from some of the responses we have received from some of AA’s state directors, as well as those of Mr. Silverman, that they are lacking a sense of humor,” he added.
The Catholic League provided no immediate comment to The Christian Post when questioned about whether or not they thought their campaign was a wise approach to help atheists understand Christianity.
Instead, Field later offered this response: "Our response was done in a tongue-in-cheek fashion. We are even getting some responses from atheists looking to be 'adopted.' At least some of them have a good sense of humor."