Anyone walking through New York City’s Times Square today, near M&M’s World, will be greeted by American Atheists’ latest billboard pitting Santa Claus against Jesus.
It reads “Keep the merry! Dump the myth!”
(I know, I know, Santa is also a myth, but you get the idea.)
David Silverman, President of American Atheists stated, “We know that a large population of ‘Christians’ are actually atheists who feel trapped in their family’s religion. If you know god is a myth, you do not have to lie and call yourself ‘Christian’ in order to have a festive holiday season. You can be merry without the myth, and indeed, you should.”
… “We encourage people to be honest with themselves and their families this year. If you don’t believe in God, tell your family — honesty is the greatest gift, and they deserve it.”
The billboard is a direct rebuke to anyone who believes atheists are trying to ruin the holiday season for everyone else. No one’s trying to do that. Atheists (on the whole) love this time of year just as much as religious people do. We just don’t put any stock into that whole Jesus thing. As Dan Barker said so eloquently:
The real “reason for the season” is the natural astronomical holiday. We all like to honor the shortest day of the year with lights, food, gifts, fun, music, and family gatherings, as it signals the return of the sun for another year. While everything in the upper northern hemisphere is dark and colorless, the evergreen signifies hope for a returning spring. None of this is supernatural. It has nothing to do with the birth of a god.
In America, Christians are welcome to celebrate whatever they want. We are happy to share the season with them. They just can’t use the government to privilege their party over everyone else’s.
Nobody should have to stay home for the holidays. We atheists love this time of year like everyone else, and we actually know what we are celebrating: the rebirth of the sun, not the birth of the son…
The billboard, which was paid for by a donor who wishes to remain anonymous (and is undoubtedly one hell of an expense), will be up through January 10th.
It also marks the third year in a row that AA has put up controversial Christmas-time billboards. Last year, AA paid for a digital sign at the foot of the Lincoln Tunnel encouraging atheists to come out to their families:
They also had a similar billboard up prior to that one:
In 2010, AA began this holiday billboard trend with this image, also at the Lincoln Tunnel:
Their current billboard, though, may be the most controversial yet due to its location, message, and timing (right in the middle of the fake “War on Christmas”). It’ll be tough to ignore, both physically and conversationally. And no matter how much FOX News Channel anchors complain about it, the message is bound to reach a bunch of closeted atheists who didn’t know there were others like them out there. That alone is cause for celebration.
All those who say atheists are trying to ruin the holidays have no clue what they’re talking about.