***Update***: Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation wrote this to me in regards to the onslaught of publicity:
… we’re still processing paypals, emails, new members and prospects. We’ll have many more over the weekend so we’re too busy to know [how many new people have become FFRF members] right now. I’ve just spent 4 hours trying to get through today’s email pileup after hours, and I still haven’t finished, and [a staffer] held most of the “hate” mail to spare my inbox! The positive response has been phenomenal.
How come all the exciting news happens while I’m at work and not near my RSS feeds?
So, the Freedom From Religion Foundation poster was lost and found all within a couple hours — all due to a (currently unknown) thief.
- If the thief was trying to promote Christianity, he has one hell of an idiotic way of acting Christ-like.
- Speaking of “Christian love,” check out how Rev. Ken Hutcherson handled the stealing of the atheist sign:
The controversy over the anti-religion sign prompted Rev. Ken Hutcherson, pastor of the Antioch Bible Church in Kirkland, to post a pro-religion sign about 15 feet from where the athiest sign was located.
It reads: “There is one God. There is one Devil. There are angels, a heaven and hell. There is more than our natural world. Atheism is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.”
The sign is a toned-down version of his first draft, which, according to Hutcherson, was to read, ‘”Hey, I believe in Jesus Christ and if you don’t, that’s OK because you’re going to fry like a Jimmy Dean pure pork sausage on Judgment Day.”‘
“But that would be just as derogatory as the atheist sign,” Hutcherson said.
Makes you want to get baptized immediately, no?
- I agree with PZ: There’s no reason for us to play the thief’s game and start stealing nativity scenes. Retaliating would be wrong. Let this person’s actions speak for him and his faith. It was during another incident just this year when we held the moral high ground before f@#&ing it all up. Let’s not go through that again.
- Look at this image of the full display — FFRF’s sign, a bust of George Washington, and a Christian nativity scene — and you’ll see how “harmful” the sign appears to be:
*Gasp* Not words! How anyone is getting worked up about either of these displays is incredible. Both displays are legal according to Washington law and more are coming. Let’s talk about the messages, not who should be allowed to have a display there.
- Dan Barker used to be a fundamentalist Christian preacher before he became an atheist. Which is why it’s funny to read right-wing bloggers attack him:
I have to wonder, has this guy ever even read the Bible?… You sir, are a sad little man who is ignorant about religion. Your dogma (ironic huh) blinds you to what it is that most Christians really believe.
- Calling the Baby Jesus a “dictator” doesn’t win you points in the minds of religious Americans. Dan should know better than that:
Barker: Christians basically stole this season from us human beings by using the hate speech of the nativity scene which damns all of us to hell if we don’t bow down before that little baby who became the dictator. What a horrible insult to what it means to be a human being!
An explanation of why atheists need to be heard this time of year — especially this time of year — is much more likely to get some attention from the people who need to hear that message the most.
- The “nativity-as-hate-speech” argument won’t have many supporters, either. As one reader wrote to me,
… calling the nativity scene “hate speech” when NOT all xians believe in hell or damnation (or even that Christianity is the only way to heaven/happiness) is just shooting himself (and his organization) in the foot.
- I don’t know the numbers, but I’d guess that FFRF’s membership has grown quite a bit in the past week. I’ll try to get an exact number on that from Dan.
All that said, my favorite exchange over this topic has to be the debate between FOXNews’ Bill O’Reilly and Megyn Kelly over whether the sign should have been allowed to be placed in the Capitol building in the first place. O’Reilly wants to argue that FFRF’s placing of the atheist sign in a Christmas display is akin to KKK members putting up a racist sign on Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday:
O’REILLY: Big picture of Martin Luther King in the state capitol in Olympia, Washington, right?
O’REILLY: Honoring a federal holiday honoring Dr. King. Klan comes in says, “Hey, I want to put a sign there that says, ‘I hate blacks. We hate blacks. Blacks are bad.'” Are they allowed?
KELLY: That’s a closer case.
KELLY: Because certain categories of speech are not protected by the First Amendment, including — let me finish — including fighting words. And if it would…
O’REILLY: See, they worded it just as the atheist worded it, just as they did. Black people are bad. They are hard-hearted. The same wording, just take out religion and put black people in.
KELLY: They didn’t say Christians are bad.
O’REILLY: They — but religion is bad.
KELLY: They said religion — there are no gods, no devils, no angels. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens the heart and enslaves mind.
O’REILLY: OK, take out religion and put, “Dr. King is just a myth and superstition, and his words and ideas harden the heart and enslave minds.”
*sigh* That’s quite the orgy of stupidity in one sentence.