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article imageAmerican Atheists set to air atheist television channel Special

By Megan Hamilton     May 9, 2014 in World
Stanford - Move over, Pat Robertson, Benny Hinn, and Ray Comfort. You've got competition. American Atheists has got your number, and its going where it hasn't gone before: To a fully-fledged television atheist television channel.
With this new television channel, American Atheists hopes to break new ground and reach out to closeted atheists and others who are curious and hoping to break free of the status quo.
"We're going to TV because it’s part of our strategy of going to where we are not,” said American Atheists President David Silverman in a speech at Stanford University. “There is a lot of potential here. From televangelists to Christmas specials, there is a plethora of religious TV programming to choose from. With Atheist TV, we’re filling a void: There are a lot of atheists and closeted atheists who are curious and want more. We have it, and the next step is bringing it to them.”
Closeted atheists can have a difficult time accessing information, especially if they live in communities that are deeply religious or with a religious family, says Dave Muscato, the public relations director of American Atheists, Inc.
The Washington Post notes that there are more than 100 Christian and four Jewish television stations broadcasting in the United States. With these shows being so pervasive, it’s no wonder that some atheists have a difficult time coming to terms with being who they are in a world full of dogma.
“Humans are social animals and we function best when we’re part of a group with a coherent identity. Humans are also curious animals and like having answers to questions,” Muscato says. “For much of our history, unfortunately, we had very wrong answers to a lot of those questions. Religion may provide simple answers but it doesn’t provide correct ones nor healthy ones. These people have charisma and they know how to sell.”
People want to believe and televangelists know how to play right into that, Muscato says.
“It’s sick, it’s unethical, and they should be ashamed of themselves. The people who support these types of people do themselves and humanity no favors and further, actively fund bigotry.”
The best way to subvert the influence of televangelists is through education, adding that religion requires isolation from opposition.
“It requires ignorance. By helping people understand that televangelists are lining their pockets while they rip off their viewers in exchange for saying a few magic words to a nonexistent entity in their imagination, we can make the world a better place in more ways than one,” he says. “Imagine if all those people and all that money and effort went to fund teaching people about science, or the political process, or any number of other productive things.”
Atheist TV will be available through Roku, an internet streaming player that attaches to a television in a fashion similar to a cable box. It is available worldwide, Muscato notes.
“Our channel will feature all sorts of different content, from debates to interviews with scientists, philosophers, historians, and others, to more entertaining content depending on the partners who sign on by the time we launch this summer,” he said. “The more you know, the easier it is to let go of the lie that is religion.”
In addition, there will be talks from past American Atheists conventions, interviews with people at events, footage of protests and other activist activities and anything else content providers wish to provide, as long as it’s related to atheism and of interest to an atheist audience, Muscato says.
The organization hopes to educate, entertain and raise awareness about atheism in order to help more people learn about it and the TV channel offers an outlet to atheist content providers so that they can reach an atheist audience without feeling like they have to worry about offending religious viewers. Content providers also won’t have to censor themselves in any way over fears of public relations with religious sponsors, Muscato said.
“If a content provider’s show makes jokes about Muhammad, our audience has no problem with that,” he noted. “We’re all atheists here, be yourself.”
Muscato says he hopes that non-atheists will also tune in to get an idea of what atheists are about.
“By breaking down some of those barriers and myths about who atheists are and what we believe about the world, it becomes easier and less stigmatized for all atheists.”
Silverman estimates the channel, as yet unnamed, will reach 7 million households. It’s believed to be the first channel dedicated to nontheism. It will run atheist content 24 hours a day, seven days a week, he said. Silverman’s remarks were met with enthusiasm amidst a small crowd of about 100 people — a mixture of local atheists, humanists, free thinkers and other nontheists in the chemistry lecture hall where he spoke.
The channel will even air segments of a show produced by Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the deceased founder of American Atheists, and the plaintiff in a landmark Supreme Court Case that banished Bible readings in public schools.
The channel will be launched in July and content will be free, Silverman noted.
More about american atheists, Pat robertson, Benny hinn, ray comfort, Washington post
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