American Atheists is finally putting up their first billboard, and this one’s pretty blunt compared to the happy Humanistic ones we’re used to seeing:
The billboard will go up near the Lincoln Tunnel in New York City on November 23rd and it’ll stay there for a month.
Dave Silverman, President of American Atheists, said that the billboard will target people who “go through the motions” of celebrating the holiday but don’t believe in the Christ myth.
“Many people follow religions and observe rituals in which they do not believe,” said Mr. Silverman. “They go along to get along, which simply leads to more prejudice and bigotry. Closeted atheists hurt themselves and others like them by remaining silent about what they know to be true.”
Silverman added, “None of the traditional Christmas seasonal practices originate with Christianity. What we call Christmas has its origins in secular events like the Winter Solstice and the change of seasons, as well as Pagan holidays like Yule. This season was celebrated long before Christianity usurped it.”
The obvious question is: How effective will this campaign be?
Will it get attention? Absolutely.
Will it get positive attention? Not so much.
Will it change anyone’s mind? Doubtful.
Even if a closeted atheist “knows” it’s all a myth, how exactly would one “celebrate reason”? You all know I’m not a closeted atheist, but even I’m not sure how to do that. The meaning isn’t clear.
Not only that, even if people agree that the Nativity story is a myth, I don’t think anyone wants to change how they celebrate the holidays. Does celebrating reason involve giving up trees? Presents? Telling children about Santa Claus?
Good luck with that.
Dave Silverman can say the targets are closeted atheists, but it’s pretty clear that this is about getting the attention of Christians and letting the billboard pay for itself through all the media attention it’ll create.
I suppose he can’t say that out loud — and I don’t blame him — but I wonder if this type of billboard could be more effective with a slightly different message.