If you wanted to visit the website for the Atlanta Freethought Society, all you have to do is go to AtlantaFreeThought.org.
It was brought to my attention recently that if you typed in AtlantaFreeThought.com — maybe you didn’t know any better — it would redirect you to the website for nearby North Point Community Church:
Typing in the website for Atlanta Freethought Society, and used ".com" instead of the proper ".org". Leads to a local church. Sneaky sneaky!
— Ross Llewallyn (@Boss1000) November 29, 2013
It even shows up that way in Google when you look up “AtlantaFreeThought.com”:
Your call: Savvy marketing ploy or total dick move?
I contacted North Point a few days ago to find out if they seriously purchased the atheists’ domain name just to trick people looking for their site to visit the church’s instead. Chris Ames, the leader of their web team, was quick to get back to me with a definite denial:
First and foremost thank you for bringing this to my attention. Tactics of this nature are disingenuous and disrespectful, and I’d like to find the person behind it.
A WhoIs lookup didn’t offer much insight, either, but suggested to Chris that it didn’t originate from the church since they didn’t use Domains by Proxy to hide ownership of their domains. There was an email address on file with the URL, though, so Chris sent a message asking the person behind it to just get in touch with him.
Without a conversation, whoever received the email has already changed the redirect. Now, it goes straight to a video of Richard Dawkins at the Reason Rally telling the crowd to ridicule believers… along with a response from Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias.
Chris was quick to tell me:
I was very discouraged to see that this person has changed the redirect, and he seems content on moving in a belligerent direction. I just wanted you to know that I do not condone his actions.
The world needs more peacemakers, and fewer polarizers.
I appreciate his response. It’s good to know the church’s staffers didn’t purposely pull a move like that, but it still leaves up in the air a lot of questions.
Who did it?
Does that person really believe someone wanting to learn more about an atheist group would suddenly become a Christian after getting redirected to a church’s website?
And who the hell still types URLs directly into their browsers instead of just going to Google?
If any of you get to the bottom of this, please let me know!