The world’s first Atheist TV Channel will be released in the summer of 2014.
American Atheists, an atheist group based in Cranford, New Jersey, has announced it will launch the world’s first TV channel aimed at promoting atheist programming for members of America’s secular community. The channel is expected to be made available by the summer of 2014.
The announcement was made at a gathering at Stanford University on May 6 by American Atheists president David Silverman, who noted that his group is interested in partnering with similar organizations like the Richard Dawkins Foundation, as well as popular atheist video bloggers who currently operate via channels on YouTube in order to collaborate on content production.
The channel, which will be available to over 7 million households, will provide content seven days a week, 24 hours a day and will feature footage of previous American Atheist events such as the 2012 Reason Rally held in Washington D.C., as well as The Atheist Viewpoint, a show which was originally produced by American Atheist founder O’Hair, currently in its 20th season.
The atheist TV channel will be distributed through Roku, a popular streaming device that operates via wifi and which allows users to stream from the Internet directly to their TV. While viewers will have to pay to purchase a Roku player, the channel itself will be free.
Roku currently airs almost 400 religion and spirituality based TV channels, the majority of which cater to Christian broadcasting, and Silverman feels that atheists are victims of a gap in programming which he hopes his channel will help to fill.
Addressing the audience in regard to his organization’s decision to turn to television, Silverman advised that “it’s part of our strategy of going where we are not.”
Indeed it would seem that Atheism is on the rise in America; the Secular Student Alliance has reported that the number of “freethinker” groups among students has increased from 100 in 2007 to over 350 in 2014 while a recent Pew poll has indicated that approximately a third of Americans in the 18-29 age group now report having “no religious affiliation;” this number is up from fewer than the 10% reported only two generations ago.
Silverman’s Stanford announcement was met with keen applause; Silverman was asked by a member of the audience if the group would consider an atheist radio station, to which Silverman responded that radio may be a future possibility.
American Atheists’ spokesperson Tom Muscato has indicated that the channel will feature shows based on philosophy, science and history aimed at providing viewers with “a critical examination of the facts.”
Muscato also expressed his hope that the channel will provide support for those Americans who currently find themselves “doubting their faith” and encourage them to come out as atheists.
American Atheists was founded in 1963 by Madalyn Murray O’Hair who filed suit in 1959 to protest her son’s forced participation in Bible readings at school; in 1963 the Supreme Court decided in her favor and ruled that state-mandated religious rites such as prayer and bible readings were a violation of the Constitution.
O’Hair subsequently went on to establish American Atheists and the organization has been active ever since.