Atheists are taking another page from the Christian playbook, announcing the launch of a new secular TV network akin to faith-based television initiatives that have enjoyed popularity over the past few decades -- but with a starkly different message.
American Atheists president David Silverman told TheBlaze Thursday that Atheist TV, likely the world's first atheism-themed television channel, will premiere this summer.
"At it's start it's going to be mostly non-original programing created by [atheist organizations]," Silverman said. "We're going to have movies that have been produced by Richard Dawkins and [his foundation]."
The network will offer its content free-of-charge, delivering it through Roku, a streaming video service that brings Internet programming to customers' TV sets.
David Silverman, president of the American Atheists, addresses the American Atheists National Convention in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
He continued, "We're going to be adding in bloggers and local shows … and we're going to have bloggers from all over the world that will be adding blogging content."
American Atheists, a secular activist organization that has been around for more than five decades, recently digitized years of TV appearances and original content, which will likely be included in Atheist TV programming.
As for Silverman, he believes the launch of the network is an important step forward.
"This is about atheist normalization. This is about being where we're not," he said. "We're not on television. There's lots of Christian programming … but there was nothing for atheists."
The atheist leader said that the movement can't call itself "normal" if there are societal spaces where nonbelievers don't have a presence.
"I wanted to bring atheism to television one way or another … to bring atheism into the realm of normalcy to a greater extent by bringing it into the living room," Silverman added.
He said that Atheist TV is being funded by a "major donor," but declined to name the individual. Launching a TV network isn't cheap. American Atheists will need to pay Roku as well as a third-party for data storage, Silverman explained.
So far, he said the reaction has been "overwhelmingly positive," noting that many have voiced their excitement over the project -- one that he said will only be the beginning.
Image source: American Atheists
"This is only a first step. We do want and intend for this network to groom and grow," he said, noting that Atheist TV could one day make its way to cable.
Considering nonbelievers foray into TV, filmmaker Phil Cooke recently penned a piece for Charisma News, asking whether Christian leaders are closely watching -- and fearful -- of the development.
"Are you worried? Will this channel find an audience?," he asked. "Will it have an impact on the culture?"
These questions remain to be seen and only time will tell how Atheist TV fares. But one thing is for sure: the atheist movement continues to borrow from religious traditions and tactics in an effort to build cohesion among its ranks.
(H/T: Phil Cooke via Charisma)