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The Out Campaign
is a public awareness initiative for freethought
Freethought is a philosophical viewpoint that holds that opinions should be formed on the basis of science, logic, and reason, and should not be influenced by authority, tradition, or other dogmas...
Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...
. It was initiated by Dr. R. Elisabeth Cornwell, Executive Director of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science
The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science is a non-profit organisation founded by British biologist Richard Dawkins in 2006.-The foundation:...
, and is endorsed by Richard Dawkins
Clinton Richard Dawkins, FRS, FRSL , known as Richard Dawkins, is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author...
, who is a prominent atheist. The campaign aims to create more openness about being an atheist by providing a means by which atheists can identify themselves to others by displaying the movement's scarlet "A". It encourages those who wish to be part of the campaign to come out and re-appropriate, in a humorous way, the social stigma
Social stigma is the severe disapproval of or discontent with a person on the grounds of characteristics that distinguish them from other members of a society.Almost all stigma is based on a person differing from social or cultural norms...
that in some places persists against atheism, by branding themselves with a scarlet letter.
R. Elisabeth Cornwell has stated that the gay rights movement
Gay liberation is the name used to describe the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement of the late 1960s and early to mid 1970s in North America, Western Europe, and Australia and New Zealand...
was a source of inspiration for the campaign.
The campaign, however, encourages one to "out
Coming out is a figure of speech for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people's disclosure of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity....
" only oneself; it invites atheists to:
- Reach out and talk to others about atheism and help spread a positive view of atheism
- Speak out about their own beliefs and values without feeling intimidated, thus helping people realize that atheists don't fit stereotypes and are a very diverse group
- Keep out, meaning to promote the idea that religion should be kept out of public schools and government, and that nobody's religious agenda should be allowed to intimidate
- Stand out and become visible in their communities and become involved.
The campaign produces discreet attire that is centered around the scarlet "A", and the term "OUT" which is usually typographically isolated from the rest of the containing phrase. There is no overt mention of atheism other than the use of the symbols. The "A" is one of the most popular symbols for atheism in current usage. Nonetheless, American Christian organizations have begun to respond: the campaign has even been called "a wake-up call" for Christians.
The campaign currently produces t-shirts, hoodies, bumper stickers, stickers, and lapel pins sold through Richard Dawkins's online store, with the proceeds going to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.