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In Support of Smut for Smut

A University of Texas San Antonio student group called The Atheist Agenda has created a program on their campus called “Smut for Smut.” The atheist group is giving away pornography in exchange for Bibles. This apparently has caused quite a stir both among Christians and surprisingly among other atheists.

I get why Christians are up in arms. For one thing, most Christians haven’t read their Bibles and don’t realize that there are a few passages in Psalms which are very smutty. Those passages are of course at odds with the passages in Corinthians and other parts of the Bible which are very anti-sexuality.

So with one “stroke” so to speak, the Atheist Agenda encourage Christians to read the best book to de-convert people from Christianity (the Bible), expose the smut of the Bible, expose the prudishness of the Bible, and expose the contradiction to that same inerrant Bible. Oh, and it gets a lot of attention and is a fun and entertaining program.

It’s a win in every which way. Yet for some bizarre reason some friendly atheists (I’m looking at you Hemant) are very angry at the Atheist Agenda for this program. Yesterday I was commenting on a popular atheist blog debating this topic. But why debate it there when I can debate it here?

The cons of this program appear to be that it offends Christians. Oh shit, we don’t want to do that. Do I have to remind my fellow atheists that Christians got offended by the “Don’t Believe in God” billboards and the “Good without God” billboards? So if Christians are going to be offended no matter what atheists do, why not make it entertaining and have fun with it?

I support the smut for smut campaign and hope that they have a large variety of porn to give out. I think it would be particularly helpful if they had some gay porn too since fundamentalist Christians in Texas seem to really hate that type of thing. It will get them good and offended. Plus, the gay community is a natural ally to the atheistic community. So that too would be a win/win.

What do my fellow Dangerous Talkers think about this campaign? What other creative campaigns do you think atheist groups should consider?

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  • http://avangelism.com Vince @ Avangelism Project

    I really wish I’d thought of this.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      You and me both Vince. That would have been a lot of fun at college. I had to settle for my program called, “Do You Agree With Staks: How I Got Over God.” The Smut for Smut campaign is way better.

  • PRG

    It’s certainly more attention getting!

  • littlejohn

    Hate to disagree with a guy who was nice enough to friend me on Facebook today, but there it is. I object to the “Smut” exchange not because it offends Christians – as you noted, everything offends Christians. I oppose it because it would add support to the popular stereotype of atheists as the sort of immoral slobs who of course are overly fond of porn. It’s kind of like serving chitlins at an NAACP dinner. The “fiction for fiction” alternative seem preferable to me. It’ll still offend them, trust me.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      I object to the concept that porn is immoral. So I don’t think I am reinforcing a negative stereotype. On the contrary, I think this campaign opens the door for that larger conversation.

      • littlejohn

        Point taken, but I didn’t mean to suggest porn is immoral. It’s normal and probably healthy as a sexual outlet.
        But most Christians don’t see it that way, and I assume they’re the ones we’re trying to influence.
        Honey vs. vinegar, and all that.
        Of course, if all you’re trying to do is offend them, then by all means give them porn.

        • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

          Like I said, I think the pron opens the door for the conversation. I don’t think that is trying to be offensive, but I do see as edgy. Whether Christians get offended or not is a whole other story. But the important thing is that it opens the door for the conversation.

  • Ben Finney

    > Yet for some bizarre reason some friendly atheists (I’m looking at you Hemant) are very angry at the Atheist Agenda for this program.

    I don’t see Hemant being angry. Criticism is not the same as anger, as you should know very well being in an atheist group.

    You say “some bizarre reason” as though Hemant had not explained carefully what the reason is, when the linked article does exactly that.

    > The cons of this program appear to be that it offends Christians. Oh shit, we don’t want to do that.

    No, the distinction you seem to be overlooking is that we don’t want to *go out of our way* to offend religious people.

    If you want to encourage people to read their holy book critically, expose its contradictions, then you need to do so with a message that has a reasonable chance of being accepted.

    If you want to point out the prudishness or smuttiness of a holy book, you can’t reasonably expect to do so in a public place and have religious people accept your message. So, if you can’t expect that, then it’s offensive merely for the sake of being offensive.

    Being *deliberately* offensive is not going to encourage what you say you want to encourage. There’s nothing wrong with causing offense by doing something that you would do anyway, or by spreading a message that you can reasonably expect people to connect with. Where this crosses the line is that it appears to be offense-provoking *for the sake of* being offense-provoking.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Ben, I do see Hemant as being angry here and maybe that is a false impression, but when he says, “Who’s joining the group over stunts like this? Probably people I wouldn’t want to be in a group with in the first place” I sense a bit of anger and well, not friendliness.

      As I pointed out both on his blog and mine, I see this not just as offense-provoking, but as a tool used to get a message out and to start the journey of doubt.

      I also don’t care if it offends people or not. People choose what offends them and I can’t control what other people choose to be offended by. This campaign uses people irrational offendedness to begin the conversation. I don’t have a problem with that.

  • Jim McCann

    Just hope they don’t use child porn, The catholics would be queueing up with sacks full of bibles,

  • Donna

    Just so you know, what the Atheist Agenda is up against… there are 28 designated religious clubs on a campus of approximately 29,000. Now, one of those is the Atheist Agenda and one other is for a non-mainstream religion (I am assuming Wiccan by the name, the description says very little).

    http://www.utsa.edu/sa/so/orgdirectory.html

    There are just as many sports organizations (And we all know how Texas is about its sports…). And even fewer service organizations.

    As I said on Hemant’s blog, this school is very conservative and very Christian. While I was there, I saw that the Young Conservatives group had invited Chris Simcox to speak at an event. If you are not familiar with Chris Simcox, he was one of the leaders of the Arizona Minutemen. Personally, I find that much more offensive than the Smut for Smut campaign.

    I believe that in this case, the only way for the Atheist Agenda to be heard is to pull a unapologetic act such as The Smut for Smut Campaign. This particular campaign has been going on for years as it gets everyone’s knickers in a twist. If the Christian groups and Faux News talking heads would just ignore it, the campaign would wither on the vine.

  • http://www.thesilurian.info Kid

    I totally support Smut for Smut. I’m an erotic porn writer, I have a book these atheists smutters can have! Where do I send it?

    Sex is good; sex is natural. It is not a crime to have it, and it certainly isn’t a ‘sin’ to have sex and enjoy it. Neither is it a crime or wrong to enjoy sex purely for sex, for it’s own sake. Or to write about it graphically, to get pictures of it and make movies of it. Pornography, for the most part, is just people having sex, seen in a graphic way.

    There’s an opinion, even amongst non-believers that there is something wrong with people who enjoy sex merely for its own sake, as if it’s ‘soulless’ or merely gratuitous. Well, so what if it is? People eat food for the sheer enjoyment of food and eating, and that’s ok, but to have sex and indulge in it for its own sake is seen as some kind of degenerate act that erodes a person’s life, and they become psychologically damaged by it. That might be true if you enter into the criminal side of forced sex, rape and forced prostitution through drug dependency and so on; but these acts are criminal, not for sexual pleasure and sheer enjoyment of a blood good fuck.
    Go for it!

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      I’m with you Kid (although I am hoping you aren’t really a kid). Religious has made sex into a dirty thing and the fact is that it is not.

      On a side note, I don’t know where to send erotic books to get to the Atheist Agenda, but feel free to send me a copy ;-)

  • http://www.myspace.com/andrewtheatheist Andrew the Atheist

    Pure genius!! I finally have use of that old dusty bible!! When I was younger, and reading the bible cover to cover, I remember turning to certain passages for my porn. Do you think they’d take a bible with the song of solomon all stuck together?

  • littlejohn

    Just to set the record straight, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with porn, as long as it involves consenting adults.
    I am merely pointing out that religious people routinely try to make the point that atheists lack a moral compass, and are therefore more likely to indulge in porn. Of course their argument is baseless: Porn is harmless, atheists are no more likely to view porn than theists (we just feel less guilty about it), and so forth.
    I just don’t see the advantage of handing them a weapon they will use against us, no matter how bogus.

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  • http://www.atheistrev.com vjack

    I’m all for it. I haven’t had time to write about it yet, but I think you are absolutely right to defend it.

    Other creative campaigns to consider? I wrote a post or two about picketing churches awhile back. If there is anything that would get more attention than porn for bibles, it would probably be that.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      That’s a great idea vjack, but we would need a lot of people to do it at once otherwise it comes off as weak. We saw it not long ago when Prop 8 passed. That was a strong showing.

  • eheffa

    I would commend this group for its creativiy but I have some difficulty with the notion that Atheists are somehow supportive of porn. Admittedly, both the holy books and the porn share the denigration and exploitation of women in common, but that’s the problem…

    This campaign unfortunately plays into the stereotype that Atheists are amorall anarchists who have no problem disseminating literature that is exploitive to women & children.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      First, the group made it very clear that they were not advocating porn. The group was clear that they were equating the Bible with porn.
      Second, I am supportive of porn and I don’t see how it necessarily denigrates or exploits women. I can see an argument that it denigrates and exploits people in general. But even that is a weak argument since everyone involved is aware and consenting of their “exploitative” role it ceases to be exploitative.
      Third, the only real reason society is anti-porn is because Christianity is anti-sexuality. We have all been influenced by Christian values rather than real moral values.
      Forth, any porn which features children is considered child porn and it is illegal. That is not mainstream porn. It is in fact just an red herring which has nothing to do with this actual topic because children are not of the age in which they can consent to anything.

  • im-skeptical

    Christians love to hate Dawkins. I think they see him as a threat. His biggest problems seem to be that he sometimes says things that make people uncomfortable (based on information that he believes to be true), and he’s not trained as a philosopher. He doesn’t make false accusations or gratuitous derogatory or slanderous remarks, that I know of. So I agree that he is a world apart from the likes of Pat Robertson. If they want to throw his statements in my face, that’s fine with me. Its truth that makes them feel so threatened.