The volunteer that the Metroplex Atheists have chosen is one of their high profile members, Mr. Terry McDonald. I really like Terry and have met him a couple of times (once at a MA business meeting.) But I have to say something here that some fellow atheists aren't going to like.
To me, this tactic doesn't seem like the right approach to further the cause of atheism. This little press release seems more like a childish gimmick rather than a means to get religious people to really think critically about their own religious beliefs.
We, as atheists, have to realize that we cannot openly setup this kind of senseless, emotional circus because it only gives the religious a chance to point condescending fingers at us, and shout, "See? You see how they are??!?"
Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for confronting the religious and pushing back against their dogma. Anyone that's asked me about my feelings toward religion or religious leaders will hear as much. But I want to be the group that's acting like adults, not callow toddlers trying to setup another person (or group in this case) for failure. Let's be the group that remembers that there have already been studies attempting to prove the power of prayer. Let's be the group that reminds religious people that recent studies have shown that prayer has no statistical significance whatsoever. As a matter of fact, for a religious patient, the thought of others praying for them can cause undo pressure as they wonder why God has forsaken them.
I don't know, maybe it's just me... But doesn't this call for proof of the power of prayer seem a little... immature and silly?
The local CBS affiliate picked up the statement from the Metroplex Atheists and ran a story on their 10 o'clock news last night. As usual, the religious leaders got the last word, claiming that, "The bible promises that God will answer every prayer that is within his will." Well, that's what I was afraid of.
The message that the Metroplex Atheists were trying to send to the religious community got lost in the hype of the story itself. I completely agree that we are constantly bombarded with messages from Christians claiming, "the power of prayer." Yet when openly and properly tested, god can always count on its Christian (or any religion for that matter) followers to have an excuse at the ready when the prayers consistently fail.
I believe that this is the real message that the Metroplex Atheists were trying to communicate to the public. I just think they may have gone about this the wrong way. They gave the local churches a way to set themselves up as the more mature group. And what a shock, that's exactly what the church leaders did in their interviews. Furthermore, the Metroplex Atheists gave the reporter an opportunity to dictate what message they were sending to the public, so they shouldn't be surprised that their message got lost in the hype.
Here's the video, in case you're interested: