The McCarthy like putsch to derail Christmas has become an annual obsession. Some Christians accuse atheists and humanists of attempting to deny Christians the joy of a co-opted Pagan holiday that promotes the nation’s addictiveness to consumerism.
The non-religious will put up billboards challenging the faithful. “Christmas is a myth” billboards are making their way onto highways and well-traveled roads. Every year a handful of vocal Christians will be outraged by perceived attacks on their faith. They will create problems where none exist while agitating other Christians. This year is no different.
American atheists released a new, provocative billboard that will no doubt get the dander up of many Christians. It features Jesus with Santa, Satan, and Neptune with the caption that “37 million Americans know myths when they see them.”
Ongoing Christian misunderstanding of atheists and atheism will cause needless spiritual indigestion for many of them. An atheist is someone without a belief in God. He or she is not anti-God, but someone without faith in something that others think exists. Atheism isn’t a religion. At best it can be described as a philosophy subscribed to by some of the greatest thinkers in history.
Persons of faith benefit from the perspective of atheists. They’re often compassionate, law abiding, deep thinking individuals that take a different view on faith and religion. Unfortunately, faith and religion all too often get lumped together. Religion with its rituals, ceremonies, and double-standards by clergy can make belief in a higher authority seem illogical and even primitive at times.
Billboards that can be viewed as challenging one’s faith or an American right to free expression should draw the believer into a deeper reflective state. “What is it I believe?” “Why?” “Is it nothing more than upbringing?” “Do I feel threatened by someone’s free expression on a billboard?” “If so then how deep is my faith?” “What’s there to be threatened about when my faith is strong and comes from within?” “Why am I offended if a store uses ‘Happy Holidays’ instead of ‘Merry Christmas’?”
These billboards can offer a reality check. Getting shaken up in one’s spiritual comfort zone isn’t a bad thing. There can be a fine line between faith and superstition. Being open to a challenge often leads to stronger, deeper faith because of the searching and questioning that accompanies it.
© Paul Peter Jesep 2011