Sunday, January 23, 2011

Atheist smart Car: An Aftermath

In October 2009, I bought a used smart car because I've always thought they were neat. I also got a good deal on a trade in and the cost of the car was well below its Kelly Blue Book value. Also in October, I stepped down as president of Minnesota Atheists after only serving for 8 months. I did so for a number of different reasons and I still think it was the best decision for myself and for the organization.

In the spring, I decided to commission Dan Norte of Dark Dan's Window Tinting in Owatonna to cut and apply Out Campaign decals on the smart car. Since I had a Ford Focus, I've had decals on my cars. The first time I had a Pac Man decal on my hood to cover a paint chip from road debris. I figured it was cheaper than repainting and the decal would protect the metal. What I found out, was that cars with nerdy decals get a lot of attention and that was cool. It was so cool, I did it again with a new car.

August Berkshire, long-time organizer of Minnesota Atheists, owns the vanity plate, "Atheist," for the state of Minnesota. When deciding how I wanted to participate in breaking down stereotypes of atheists, I thought something similar to a license plate would be a good, non-invasive option.

Over the last 10 or so months, my car has been blazoned with giant red "A's," the website for the Out Campaign, a plug for Camp Quest of Minnesota, and a slogan, "Don't Believe in God? You are not alone." The result? A handful of conversations at gas stations and parking lots and a few thumbs up on the highway. I'm sure most of the people I work with have no doubt how I view the God issue, but no one has brought it up. My goal for having the decals was to gain awareness, just as the Out Campaign is supposed to do. I think to some degree, that happened.

So, is it dangerous to have atheist decals stuck all over your car? For me, it wasn't. Though, I'm a sample of one. It you feel compelled to wear your atheism on your sleeve, seek out your local sign maker, get a decal cut, and slap it on! Of course, anytime you wear your religious views on your sleeve, you risk being "that guy." How would you feel if someone felt so compelled to put giant Ichthys fish on their car? Even if to some people I was, "That Guy," I still think it has been a positive experience. The smart car will likely be retired in the next week for a new car.


Nick said...

Why are you getting a new car? I presume, from your post, that it is not because of the decals.

Bjorn said...

The smart car is a cool car, but I get bored with cars too quickly. It does get annoying that I can't give anyone a ride or buy a bunch of junk from Ikea. Plus, now is the time to sell it. Sales of smart cars in the US are way down this year and I don't think many dealerships will stick around.

aerie said...

In the south, it's risky business. I've heard some nightmares - road rage incidents; food smashed on the windshield; tires/keying; even a girl who was summarily fired from her long-time job after a co-worker reported her atheist car (darwin eating jesus fish) to their boss.

The Christianistas cannot be trusted. They can wreak real-life havoc when armed with such information, esp if you're in the atheist closet & most of us are.

I live in rural small town & if I were to be outed my highschool daughters would suffer consequences. Hell, I wouldn't be surprised if CPS paid me a visit (women around here use CPS for revenge on ex-hub/bf & other women they hate). So, I refuse to give those cretins any ammunition. Too much at stake.

I doubt the NC DMV would approve personalized atheist plates. Atheist is an obscene word..sigh.

Panamint Joe said...

Don't be surprised if you get rougher treatment during a traffic stop, like the cop approaching with holster flap open and hand hovering over the butt of his sidearm. Can't blame them: It's been statistically shown that people with decals plastered all over their cars are more likely to be involved in road rage incidents and violence toward law enforcement officers. My choice of decal is a single, small AAA auto club sticker at the corner of the windshield or the corner of the rear window, nothing more, and that's only to provide easy identification for road service if I should need it.