When I first saw the ad American Atheists was putting up near the Lincoln Tunnel in New York City, I questioned its effectiveness:
But now that it’s getting all sorts of media attention, I’m hearing a lot of reactions I wasn’t expecting, like this one from (feminist blog) Jezebel:
… is it necessary to attack people’s beliefs in the process? Why not just focus on celebrating your own beliefs rather than pissing people off by putting theirs down? Ridiculing a belief system that, for many people, is the basis for their entire life philosophy is not a way to win friends or influence people; it’s a way to act like a stereotype.
And look at the reactions that a local CBS affiliate got for their piece:
“I don’t think it’s any good for the kids. I’ve got a 7-year-old daughter — she believes in Christmas,” one woman told 1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan.
“I don’t think that’s right. We don’t go around telling them what we think about [atheists], so why should they put up something like that,” another man said.
To the lady with the daughter, that girl can keep believing in Christmas. Christmas exists. The biblical story behind the holiday? That’s the myth.
The other arguments would carry so much more weight if religious people weren’t saying *exactly* what they think about atheists on a regular basis.
It’s not only that. The billboard is right. Those stories are myths. The Virgin Birth, for example, never happened. There are different accounts of the story as well. Even church leaders don’t believe everything happened the way we typically hear the story
Look, if someone put up a billboard that said “Santa doesn’t exist,” I’d probably be upset, too. But I’d be upset because I want kids to enjoy that myth while they can — they’ll learn the truth soon enough.
What are these parents trying to protect others from? They just want to keep lying to themselves.
Let’s keep in mind what the billboard says and doesn’t say.
It’s not saying, “Screw all of you who are Christians.” That’s certainly not AA president Dave Silverman‘s style.
It’s also not saying, “Screw Christmas.” A lot of atheists love spending time with their families and having an exchange of gifts.
It’s simply saying, “We know some of you don’t believe this Bible stuff, so just admit it!” And it’s also a reaction to those Christians who want to make this a Christian-only time of year even though it’s not. Like those people who refuse to say “Happy Holidays.”
Silverman did a nice job of explaining all this on FOX News :
As for the complaint that the billboard is trying to convert anyone… If your faith is so weak that a billboard is going to destroy it, then your faith wasn’t worth keeping in the first place.
You want to see atheists really go after Christianity?
Just wait till we start using the rhetoric your pastors constantly use against us.
Then let’s see how politely you respond.