I can't imagine anything scarier than standing on the street, preaching to passers by. I might not agree with the Christian evangelicals with their microphones and posters who occasionally spread their message at noon at the Kennedy Plaza bus terminal in Providence, but I recognize that it takes guts to risk the approbation of the public in this way.
There's nothing in the definition of street preaching that makes it a purely Christian concern, so Simon Clare, an atheist in England, decided to try his hand at Atheist Street preaching.
One person doing this is clearly not enough, so I think it would be good to copy the Plymouth Brethren’s model, which is this:
1. A group of 4 or 5 people get together.
2. Each one speaks for about 3 minutes.
3. No signs, no props, no amplification.
4. They go away.
In total, the group will give about 12-15 minutes of speeches, short and concise and then they leave.
What I would really like is for groups of a few atheists to get together and give 15 minutes of short talks. Having a bit of support really helps.
I know that I can’t demand that atheists say or don’t say certain things, but here are the restrictions I placed upon myself in a bid to make the speech a completely positive event.
1. Don’t slag off religions. Ideally, don’t even use the word God.
2. Give an account of the positive aspects of atheism from your own perspective.
3. Don’t use the standard, glib atheist catchphrases. Use your own words.
4. Don’t instigate any form of confrontation. Be passive in the face of heckling.
Secular humanism has plenty to offer people without just going over the old arguments about why we don’t like religions. We can have those arguments elsewhere. When it comes to preaching in the street we must not end up causing confrontations or criticising the philosophies of others. I think those methods are not only fruitless, but unnecessary. Let’s provide an alternative to religion, not just criticism of it.