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.