SAN DIEGO — A group of atheists in San Diego, California has taken to the streets to speak to the public about their denial of the deity.
According to local news outlet KPBS, the San Diego Coalition of Reason has been setting up a booth every other weekend in Balboa Park, a location that features a variety of religious messages on any given day. A banner is spread out across the booth that reads, “Relax, Hell does not exist, Heaven either. Enjoy your life,” and smaller signs are displayed on the table, such as “Ask an atheist.”
The group also comes prepared with a stash of pretzels and Cheez-Its, which they use as props to help deliver their message.
“These are what we call theistic pretzels,” one of the men told reporters. “And a theistic pretzel, as we can see, is made with actual twisted logic. But some people have a little more hunger in their souls, they’re looking for maybe a little more than that, so we will save them with the power of Cheez-Its.”
The coalition admitted that it is “evangelistic” in its approach.
“We’re constantly fighting to get religion out of our schools, constantly fighting to get the teaching of creationism out of our schools,” he said. “So if we can de-convert people away from these religious ideas that keep them stuck in this dogma that forces them to believe these things, that’s a moment of pure joy for us.”
Atheists in San Diego have recently launched a chapter of Sunday Assembly, a gathering that mimics the Christian worship service, but with a completely godless focus. As previously reported, in January of this year, stand-up comedians Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans launched the first Sunday Assembly in the UK, and embarked last month on an international tour to establish more assemblies around the world, including in the United States.
“It’s part atheist church and part foot-stomping show,” Jones told reporters. “We just want people to feel encouraged and excited when they leave.”
The gathering features secular music, a weekly message and fellowship, including games and food. Other chapters have launched in Nashville, Chicago and other cities nationwide.
Reaction to the evangelical atheists has been mixed.
“This is just backlash for the constant religious propaganda that is shoved in our faces on a daily basis,” one commenter wrote. “While I disagree with all proselytizing, in this instance, I understand the need to push back a little.”
“The irony, of course, is that atheism has become a religion with missionaries on the street, organized Sunday services and even a scism between these new evangelic atheists and the traditional atheists who don’t feel the need to recruit new non-believers or engage in formal activities with fellow non-believers,” another stated.
“[W]hen they finally realize how empty are the assertions of the atheist proselytizers, the Church will still be here, ministering to those in need, and ready to give them a reason to have hope for tomorrow,” a third said. “For the Christian, there is no fear of Hell. There is freedom from shame and guilt, and victory in Jesus. I hope that everyone can know that, too.”