Recently I saw something pop up in a few Atheist forums which took my interest. Atheist shoes. A small company in Berlin have started producing shoes for Atheists complete with slogans on them such as ‘Ich Bin Atheist’ and ‘Darwin Loves’. They’re a bit pricey starting at around €129 but they look comfy and are easy on the eye with a nice retro look. Yet the cynic in me has come to the surface, maybe because I’m naturally questioning or maybe it’s because my partner is a marketer but these ‘Atheist shoes’ don’t sit well with me. While I don’t want to rain on anybody’s parade or have a go at a small business who seem to be working very hard I don’t like the idea of Atheism as a fashion accessory. Religion has long been a fashion accessory with crosses hanging around the necks of millions around the world but as an Atheist I would like to think that my rejection of religion includes this advertising of beliefs through fashion. I don’t need to wear something around my neck or on my feet to identify myself. It reduces Atheism down to a fad, a fashion and does a disservice to Atheism by making it shallow. This has obviously been thought of by the makers of the shoes who go to great lengths to argue their point. I agree with their making an alternative to big corporation shoes but the link to Atheism makes no sense to me. The more I read the more I realise there is little difference between these shoes and those nasty shoes by big corporations who often try to sell us shoes by presenting them as sexy.
“We’d love it if more atheists were to “come out” and to find each other. Maybe our shoes will make it easier to spot the sexy, free-thinking people you like to hang with? No more hours wasted chatting up a pretty stranger only to discover they believe some invisible, magical sky-daddy is looking down and holding a view on whether they should sleep with you or not.”
Ah…there it is…find Atheists to fuck! So these are sexy Atheist shoes! But surely these Atheist shoes are not that shallow? Not at all! They donate to Secular charities. This is good and I can’t really bash giving to charity can I? Well I can when I think the aim is to make a little more money by appearing to be moral. Big companies do this all the time and it’s a well tested marketing technique. Buy our product and we’ll give to charity! Why not cut out the middle man and give the money direct to the charity? Maybe I’m being overly cynical on that point but further reading brings me back to sex and undersells their main selling point…Atheism. A hot Christian girl is shown wearing the shoes as well…because it’s ok to be a Christian and wear Atheist shoes and why it that? BECAUSE THEY MAKE YOU HOT! The site reassures worried Christians “…if you’re not an atheist, please don’t worry… we’d be delighted for you to wear our shoes!” I’m sure all those worried Christians can sleep well after reading that. Obviously the point of any business is to make money and this final appeal beyond Atheists illustrates that and I have no problem with seeking to make money…just don’t hide behind Atheism in the process reducing it down to a fashion accessory. They look like nice shoes to me but I’d never wear them as I don’t want my Atheism trivialised. They’re just shoes, yes, but I’ll wager that most Atheists would have a laugh at Christian Shoes where they say “Not only are Scripts good for your soul – they are also good for your soles!”
But it’s not for me to tell you what to buy and what not to buy so go and have a look for yourselves at Atheist Berlin.