Atheists have ramped up their efforts to gain greater respect and prominence in American society. While there are some non-believing organizations and groups that seek to have respectful debates with religious peoples, there are others that simply seek to poke fun at and incite the faith community.
Take for instance the Atheist Agenda, a student group at the University of Texas at San Antonio. The group setup a table on campus and promised to offer an exchange to anyone interested: Hand in a Bible or religious text and receive a pornographic magazine. They dubbed the event "Smut for Smut," in an apparent effort to frame the Bible as a book with comparable connotations to pornography.
The annual event, which can be traced back to 2008, is typically carried out to bring attention to the group. However, Kyle Bush, the president of Atheist Agenda, claims that the effort is also setup to spark conversation, while spreading freethinking sentiment.
"The point is not to hand out porn, but rather the primary purpose is to get people to come talk to us so we can get our message out," Bush explained. "We want to spread atheism and bring it more to the spotlight. We offer another alternative to people who might not fit in anywhere else."
While the event has been well-covered in the past, it barely attracted attention this year. While one can certainly argue that exchanging Bibles for pornographic material is an attention-getter, there are certainly less controversial ways of sparking debate and discussion.
WORLD on Campus has more about the somewhat cool response the campus group received this year:
The event caused an uproar on campus in 2008 and made headlines around the world. But this year, few students took notice. During the four hours Atheist Agenda members spent next to their signs each day, only about 30 people stopped by to get information about the club or start a debate. [...]
In addition to Bibles, the group offered to collect other religious texts, including the Quran, and any books written by prominent pastors, including Joel Osteen and Rick Warren. During the event, Atheist Agenda collected five Bibles, one Encyclopedia of Islam, and one Quran. The group plans to donate the books to a local library.
Despite the event's ability in previous years to attract attention for atheism, Bush said the group didn't have any financial backers outside its student members. The group raised all of the money needed to put on the event themselves, he said. One of the group's fundraisers included selling popsicles.
Considering that organizers needed to purchase signs, pornography and other essentials, the students had to pitch in to make the event happen. The group apparently purchased 140 pounds of smut magazines for only $30 on CraigsList.
There was mixed reaction to the Atheist Agenda's anti-Bible effort. While some disagreed fervently, many still felt as though it was the students' right to hold an event based on their beliefs (or lack thereof). Nearby, members of the school's Victory and Praise Choir sang worship songs and prayed in an effort to make their presence - and stance against the event - known.