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Children who front Richard Dawkins' atheist ads are evangelicals - Comments

God fearing Atheist's Avatar Comment 1 by God fearing Atheist

Was that deliberate, naughty, naughty BHA/RD?

A few thousand quid for 4 billboards, and yet more column inches for free.

What is the leverage we get in advertising - 1:5, 1:10?

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 12:06:00 UTC | #415273

cherryteresa's Avatar Comment 2 by cherryteresa

They're obviously still missing the point. They aren't evangelical children. They are the children of evangelical parents.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 12:10:00 UTC | #415274

Tritovore's Avatar Comment 3 by Tritovore

Their parents and people from the church are all scurrying to label them as 'evangelical' - but I wonder how the children would describe themselves?

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 12:21:00 UTC | #415277

mmurray's Avatar Comment 4 by mmurray

It's not Richard Dawkins' attack of course.

More responses to the billboards are here


Sat, 21 Nov 2009 12:22:00 UTC | #415278

Jos Gibbons's Avatar Comment 5 by Jos Gibbons

How stupid can an argument get? These children have Christian parents, therefore they're only happy because of that background, therefore it's OK to label children automatically with the religion of their parents, therefore Richard Dawkins sucks? (Even though, like everything else out there, this wasn't his idea. RD is just a shorthand for every non-religious person who isn't getting trodden on any more.) I would have thought the fact that the children of arbitrary parents are eligible for consciousness-raising photos was the whole point. I guess there are some people too thick to reach.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 12:29:00 UTC | #415279

Max of Earlobes's Avatar Comment 6 by Max of Earlobes

Jos Gibbons is absolutely right.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 12:40:00 UTC | #415281

Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 7 by Steve Zara

These aren't children - they are babies. I would suggest they look happy because they haven't yet started to understand the fear and guilt and dread that can come from religion.

I assumed that the idea of the poster was to present unformed minds, which had not yet been influenced by dogma. It succeeds.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 12:44:00 UTC | #415282

Stonyground's Avatar Comment 8 by Stonyground

It was a rather fortunate thing to have happened I think. As a result, those in the Christian camp has rushed to advertise their utter block-headed stupidity. Many have demonstrated how they don't get it by passing comments that have missed the point, but the dopy Ruth Gledhill manages to miss the point in a sort of precision targeted kind of way. She actually makes the point with her comments but seems to be too dim to realise it.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 12:48:00 UTC | #415283

FSM?'s Avatar Comment 9 by FSM?

The title of this article makes our point exactly. These children should not be labeled evangelical children.

The article considers the fact that these kids are being brought up in a religious household a blunder on the part of the 'Don't label me' Campaign. Quite the opposite in fact. Very surprised that this was not obvious to the author of the article.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 12:53:00 UTC | #415285

Koreman's Avatar Comment 10 by Koreman

.. as like 'devote communist children'? Sounds like oldskool USSR.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 12:57:00 UTC | #415287

Ivan The Not So Bad's Avatar Comment 11 by Ivan The Not So Bad

The implicit suggestion behind this self-satisfied critisism is that the BHA should have chosen "atheist" or "humanist" children.

This only shows how they have missed the point or are incapable of taking it on board.

Such stupidity is nothing to be self-satisfied about. Unless you are religious. Then you can glory in it.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 13:03:00 UTC | #415288

weavehole's Avatar Comment 13 by weavehole

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 13:04:00 UTC | #415290

JemyM's Avatar Comment 12 by JemyM

That might be one of the greatest blunders I have seen for awhile... They thought they had a point, and they ended up proving the value of the message...

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 13:04:00 UTC | #415289

black wolf's Avatar Comment 14 by black wolf

I suggest the fact that Christian adults are rushing to confirm the labelling illustrates their desperation, and it also reflects the ideology they adhere to.
They live every day of their lives with the thought 'will person X go to heaven, what happens if he's run over by a bus, or if she has a stroke right now? Are they saved?'. Evangelicals of the born-again stripe raise this to ludicrous levels by insisting that anyone who ever left Christian faith behind was therefore never a Christian to begin with, but only religious, a False Convert. They use the label religious to distinguish those who are just 'going through the motions' and don't have 'a relationship with Christ'.

According to even mainstream Christianity (correct me if I'm wrong), there is a consensus that after our body dies, our soul travels away to meet judgment. After the moment of death, repentance is futile, as Christian ideology insists that we must repent as long as we're alive. This makes no sense whatsoever in light of the claim of a loving and forgiving God, who knows everything including our deepest feelings, and yet regards it as improper to extend forgiveness after our physical life ends. It only makes sense in light of the cultish desire to incorporate as many people while they live - a direct claim to earthly influence, demographic pressure on politics, wealth and possessions.

It's sad that so many submit unthinkingly to emotional blackmail and drag their children along, afraid to confront their own motives, the fear of death and the fear of being alone, the delusion that an ideology grounded in supernatural absolutism will provide a failsafe morality for our species.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 13:12:00 UTC | #415291

Shane McKee's Avatar Comment 15 by Shane McKee

People, it's a beautiful thing. Do not despair; there are stacks of evangelicals haemorrhaging from belief to rationality every day. Since I "came out", I have spoken to very very many people who don't believe - but none of the people in their church know about it.

The kids in the ad are lovely cute bambinos, and I'm sure they're a credit to their parents; the argument is not going to be made in a few posters, but the seeds will be sown, and Ruth Gledhill is helping spread them. Be happy. This could not have turned out better if we had tried :-) Well done, BHA.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 13:37:00 UTC | #415293

Davechoc's Avatar Comment 16 by Davechoc

I try and avoid reading comments at the bottom of articles such as this: I know the inanity of the arguments and self-righteousness of them will only irritate me, especially because there isn't really an effective way to deal with all the wrong-headed ideas, they're just left hanging there, undemolished.

The article itself was breathtaking as an example of complete point-missing, from the very headline onwards. Other commenters here have pointed much of this out, but I was particularly amused by:

'He said that the children’s Christianity had shone through. “Obviously there is something in their faces which is different. So they judged that they were happy and free without knowing that they are Christians. That is quite a compliment. I reckon it shows we have brought up our children in a good way and that they are happy.”'

What exactly is different about their faces?! That's the most ridiculous thing I've heard in a while. The BHA and Dawkins have never said that the children of religious parents won't be happy - a child brought up in an extremely closed community of Jehovah's Witnesses would probably be much loved and cared for, and therefore very happy, but that's not to say it is right that he/she has had a very narrow brand of religious thinking subtly forced upon them from birth, to the exclusion of other points of view and unbiased information about the world.

It's the same as when apologists say if everyone were Christian the world would be a better place: this says nothing of substance, only that if everyone believed the same thing there would be no conflict, which could apply if everyone were Muslim or Hindu - it wouldn't make those beliefs true, or indeed fair.

I had a very happy childhood brought up by liberal Catholic parents. If you'd asked me at 7 or 8 what I believed I would have happily said I was a Catholic and believed in all the relevant elements of doctrine, insofar as I understood them at the time. I experienced a gradual and very happy slide to atheism as an adult, which made me realise how it's not true to say I really believed when I was 7 or 8; I just went along with a generally benign system which I was too young to care much about challenging.

That doesn't mean I don't resent the religious elements of my childhood. They were unnecessary (I wish I'd been introduced to philosophy sooner, though that probably would've made me think too much about my parents' religion), but the key point is I don't resent them because they were mentally abusive, as they weren't - it is the fact that I was sheltered from other information and points of view (and this from pretty liberal parents), purely in order to maintain a system of dubious factual merit. It is this dubious nature of religion which is the nexus of difference between those who advocate for religious upbringing, and those who don't. It is not inculcating values in children which is the problem: it is that for atheists religions are very unlikely to be true (though taught as though they are), they inhibit children's critical faculties, and the values they offer are unthinkingly ancient at best and dangerous and divisive at worst. Apologists will disagree with such an assessment of course, and therein lies the central point of the disagreement.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 13:54:00 UTC | #415296

MrPickwick's Avatar Comment 17 by MrPickwick

I'm beginning to think that this campaing has been a mistake. It assumes religious people do have a functioning brain and are able to use it in a basic way. Something that is clearly not the case, beginning with Ruth Gledhill...

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 13:57:00 UTC | #415297

scottishgeologist's Avatar Comment 18 by scottishgeologist

According to the article

"Charlotte, 8, and Ollie, 7, are from one of the country’s most devout Christian families"

WTF is that supposed to mean? "Most devout" Like they get up at 6 am for 2 hours of fervent prayer, eat cold porridge then sing "Shine Jesus Shine" until lunchtime when they get "beaten with the rod to save their souls from hell" for not eating more cold porridge. Followed by a whole afternoon of fervent prayer and bible study ... and so on

Preusmably the father has a beard and a cutaway body acoustic guitar (they all do, ever noticed this?) And the mother is a homeskooling baby machine who presumably has 22 more pregnancies to look forward to "she will be saved in childbearing"

"Most devout" ? What a load of utter pish

Just means that they have the God Delusion in terabytes, or whatever "units of delusion" come in.... sigh.....


Sat, 21 Nov 2009 13:59:00 UTC | #415298

Bluff_King_Hal's Avatar Comment 19 by Bluff_King_Hal

Major fail by the faith-heads,not that they know it. Children of Evangelicals are exactly the *right* kind of children one would pick to emphasize that children should not be labelled by the religion of their parents. ...and how should they be photographed, looking miserable??

They wont be looking so happy "through Christianity! if they turn out to be gay with their fundie parents and all that homophobia they'll have been brainwashed with...

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 14:16:00 UTC | #415300

Kubrick's Avatar Comment 20 by Kubrick

Painful. Just painful. How is it that the author of this article keeps referring to the children at Christians? Did she not bother to read the goddamn ad?

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 14:18:00 UTC | #415301

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 21 by Border Collie

And what is the point of this meaningless article, Ruth? Advertising uses stock photos of all sorts all the time. Furthermore, there's a program out there now called Photoshop which can do all sorts of miraculous things with photos just in case the stock photos don't quite have enough fantasy appeal. Good grief. Oh, and I almost forgot, FYI ... Did you know that advertisers and movie makers also use body-doubles at times. So, you see, these children might actually be the children of happy Satanists or atheists and you'd never know it.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 14:25:00 UTC | #415302

Mr Blue Sky's Avatar Comment 22 by Mr Blue Sky

I just hope they look as happy in 10-20 years time!

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 14:29:00 UTC | #415304

Border Collie's Avatar Comment 23 by Border Collie

Steve, you left out shame, angst and paranoia.

Scottish, good reply, after reading the article I was going back to bed and have depressed dreams. Now I'm laughing my ass off.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 14:31:00 UTC | #415305

JammyB's Avatar Comment 24 by JammyB

That's it, I'm so sick of this shitty celeb-obsessed tabloid masquerading as a serious paper. It's overwhelmingly obvious to anyone who has read her before that Ruth Gledhill has the same critical thinking skills as a squashed plum, but it beggars belief that this kind of reporting can get past the editor, filed under "news" and go to press.

Just had a word with the family now and we're cancelling our Times subscription.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 14:51:00 UTC | #415308

Friend Giskard's Avatar Comment 25 by Friend Giskard

This Ruth Gledhill is obviously retarded. Way to miss the point, Ruth.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 14:55:00 UTC | #415310

DeusExNihilum's Avatar Comment 26 by DeusExNihilum

Surely these levels of Irony would be toxic to any human being? Was the author of this article not satisfied with shooting herself in the foot? That she had to stab it, bomb it, and pour acid in the wounds as well? Does she hate her feet?

Non-sequiturs aside, It's a ridiculous Article. She's criticizing a campaign for people to stop labelling children (such as Christian children) by Labelling the Children as Christians.

Ruth Gledhill must have a Degree in missing the point.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 15:14:00 UTC | #415312

Orangutan's Avatar Comment 27 by Orangutan

One does not expect much from Ruth Geldhill but this is truly an appalling piece of news journalism.

Firstly, the headline brazenly and controversially commits the very error to which objection is being made. As a news item, the headline should be neutral - at the very least the word "evangelicals" should have been placed in inverted commas. (As I see it, the preventable problem is precisely the unthinking religious labelling of children by third parties, especially journalists; parents who are religious will not doubt do what they do anyway). Secondly, the campaign is not Richard Dawkin's but that of the British Humanist Association (albeit supported by, amongst others,Professsor Dawkins). Thirdly, Professor Dawkins' work is not an "assault on God" - what a tired old chestnut! He argues that on the basis of the presently available evidence and arguments, there is no adequate reason to believe in the existence of any deity. Saying that there is no good reason to believe that X exists is not an "assault on X". This sort of talk side steps the issue of existence, as if everyone already agrees that Gledhill's deity exists, and it presumably warms the hearts of religious believers by using a negative word about Richard Dawkins; but it is very bad journalism because it crucially misrepresents the views of the person being written about.

Such intellectual slipperiness might be just about forgivable in a polemical comment or editorial piece, but Ruth Gledhill's column masquerades as news. The editor should not allow her to introduce her prejudices into a news item. She does it time and time again - as if being a reporter about religious affairs exempts her from ordinary journalistic standards. Only the other day she said in an article on the alleged "Cardinal Newman miracle" that "Miracles still occur" and stated categorically that many miracles had occured at Lourdes. I suspect that a lot of educated and professional readers of the Times, of the type that that Mr Murdoch presumably wishes to attract, will be increasingly alienated by such low intellectuual standards.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 15:15:00 UTC | #415313

lordpasternack's Avatar Comment 28 by lordpasternack

Just made this comment on the site, pending a Times moderator viewing and publishing it:

How is it ironic? Is it not especially PERTINENT that these children, children from a strongly Christian family, should not to be labelled, and should be to be allowed to grow up and formulate their own opinions on the matter, rather than having it assumed that they'll follow suit with their parents? Isn't that the point?

Would it also be 'ironic' if they had been the children of proclaimed Marxists, Post-modernists, racists, Socialists or conservatives - or any of the other labels on the billboard? Would this article proclaim "children on billboard are Marxists"?

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 15:48:00 UTC | #415319

Aztek's Avatar Comment 29 by Aztek

This article made my irony meter go "Spoing"!

Absolutely ridiculous! How is it possible that this Ruth Gledhill wrote this without realizing how much she is missing the point?? The headline is "Children who front Richard Dawkins' atheist ads are evangelicals" and right after that there is the sign with "Please don't label me". How can you miss the contradiction?

And what was this: "It is quite funny, because obviously they were searching for images of children that looked happy and free. They happened to choose children who are Christian. It is ironic." Uh, no. That's not irony. The fact that you find pictures of smiling kids (not that difficult) who just happen to have parents with religious beliefs is called coincidence.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 16:19:00 UTC | #415323

Pidge's Avatar Comment 30 by Pidge

How sad that people are going to the lengths of ascertaining the religious beliefs of parents of child models to make a 'na, na, na-na-na' point at Richard Dawkins. Get a life - or get the point! Anyway, all publicity is good publicity.

Sat, 21 Nov 2009 16:39:00 UTC | #415326