How to respond to the Atheists’ holiday ads

Atheists are expanding their advertising campaign, but Christians are developing a positive response:

The American Humanist Association is expanding its “Godless Holiday” advertising campaign to five major American cities this Christmas — taking its message of a holiday season without religion nationwide for the first time.

The ads read: “No God — no problem! Be good for goodness’ sake. Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God” and feature several people in red and white Santa hats. The new ads come on the heels of an AHA campaign last year which asked “Why believe in a God?” and featured ads on public transit in Washington, D.C.

Previously, the atheist campaign had been confined to the Washington, D.C., area, with signs and advertisements featured prominently on the city’s Metro subway trains and buses.

The expansion to four new cities – New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco – marks the first-ever national atheist advertising campaign and the first time the Humanist group has taken its anti-religious holiday message outside of the nation’s capitol. . . .

A pro-Christian conservative group, meanwhile, told CNSNews.com that despite the AHA’s anti-holy day message, religious Americans shouldn’t be intimidated – and have every right to continue to celebrate Christmas proudly. But Christians also shouldn’t treat the atheist campaign with contempt.

“People of faith should view the Humanist displays at this special — even holy — time of year, with compassion,” said Kristi Hamrick, president of the Campaign for Working Families and spokeswoman for Gary Bauer’s American Values.

“Because of the blessings of liberty we enjoy as Americans, they certainly have the right to their strident displays of antagonism to faith. But at this time of year when so many of us are thanking God for our blessings, especially the blessing of his only Son come to earth for us, we need to pray for them.”

Hamrick pointed out that the “eternal truths” of Christianity do not require validation by atheists and Christians especially should feel “empowered” to celebrate the Christmas holiday openly and proudly.

“I hope people will take a moment to pray for others when they see the (Humanist) displays,” Hamrick said. “Eternal truths are not dependent on the permission of the Humanists to be (true.) And I hope that people of faith will feel equally empowered at this time of year to express their own beliefs.”

If atheists can forthrightly express their beliefs at Christmas time, then surely Christians can too! And praying for our adversaries and expressing compassion for them is surely a more Biblical response than just ranting and raving and trying to ban the other side. This shows a maturity that may eventually start bearing cultural fruit.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • Rose

    The problem is not that Christians are attacking the secularists but that they find the Nativity “offensive”. Take a look at Mary and Joseph in (protective) police custody:
    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2006/dec/06121501.html

  • Rose

    The problem is not that Christians are attacking the secularists but that they find the Nativity “offensive”. Take a look at Mary and Joseph in (protective) police custody:
    http://www.lifesitenews.com/ldn/2006/dec/06121501.html

  • Jonathan

    I agree, prayer is best medicine for responding to atheists. But, I would buy and display bumper stickers that are equally “in your face” to respond to their campaign, something to the effect of “Christians-pray for humanist atheists this Christmas”.

  • Jonathan

    I agree, prayer is best medicine for responding to atheists. But, I would buy and display bumper stickers that are equally “in your face” to respond to their campaign, something to the effect of “Christians-pray for humanist atheists this Christmas”.

  • Kirk

    This is something I can get behind! It’s encouraging to see a Christian engaging culture and addressing controversy with the gospel, and not with moral idioms or condemnation. Hopefully other “culture warriors” will take a cue from Ms. Hamrick.

  • Kirk

    This is something I can get behind! It’s encouraging to see a Christian engaging culture and addressing controversy with the gospel, and not with moral idioms or condemnation. Hopefully other “culture warriors” will take a cue from Ms. Hamrick.

  • jrr

    “Always be ready to give a defense for the hope that is within you.”

    What a great opportunity for use to be prepared to answer the question, “Why believe in God?”

  • jrr

    “Always be ready to give a defense for the hope that is within you.”

    What a great opportunity for use to be prepared to answer the question, “Why believe in God?”

  • http://www.shempel.blogspot.com Sarah in Exile

    I think that this campaign is laughable! To spend money to take out ads to talk about a diety that one doesn’t even think is real- it’s laughable. Christians ought to take it in humor and compassion. Our God is bigger than some stupid ad.

  • http://www.shempel.blogspot.com Sarah in Exile

    I think that this campaign is laughable! To spend money to take out ads to talk about a diety that one doesn’t even think is real- it’s laughable. Christians ought to take it in humor and compassion. Our God is bigger than some stupid ad.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    “The expansion to four new cities – New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco – marks the first-ever national atheist advertising campaign and the first time the Humanist group has taken its anti-religious holiday message outside of the nation’s capitol. . . .”
    Why do I get the feeling these Atheists are uncomfortable preaching to anyone but there own proverbial Choir?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    “The expansion to four new cities – New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and San Francisco – marks the first-ever national atheist advertising campaign and the first time the Humanist group has taken its anti-religious holiday message outside of the nation’s capitol. . . .”
    Why do I get the feeling these Atheists are uncomfortable preaching to anyone but there own proverbial Choir?

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Their own proverbial choir, not there. hate when I do that.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Their own proverbial choir, not there. hate when I do that.

  • Jonathan

    Sarah #5
    I would have thought as you do about their ad campaign. But I witnessed it last year, and it was very “in your face” as it appeared on lots of buses and in the subway. It got lots of exposure and drew a lot of attention for sure. And it irritated me. So their campaign did well exactly what it was designed to do. Of course, God is bigger. But where was the visible Biblical expression of compassion for them in response? There certainly wasn’t a united effort. Wouldn’t it be a great Christian witness if there were such a response?

  • Jonathan

    Sarah #5
    I would have thought as you do about their ad campaign. But I witnessed it last year, and it was very “in your face” as it appeared on lots of buses and in the subway. It got lots of exposure and drew a lot of attention for sure. And it irritated me. So their campaign did well exactly what it was designed to do. Of course, God is bigger. But where was the visible Biblical expression of compassion for them in response? There certainly wasn’t a united effort. Wouldn’t it be a great Christian witness if there were such a response?

  • Kelly

    Maybe the question “Why believe in a God?” is a rhetorical one directed only to other atheists to express their kinship, but to me it still sounds rather like a challenge and accusation to those who are theists. In that case, comment #4 all the way! It would also be a great opportunity for us to start explaining and demonstrating that Christianity doesn’t hinge on “behaving morally.” Of course you can practice morality and not believe in God. That’s not the point. It goes to show just how the church is perceived by unbelievers today.

  • Kelly

    Maybe the question “Why believe in a God?” is a rhetorical one directed only to other atheists to express their kinship, but to me it still sounds rather like a challenge and accusation to those who are theists. In that case, comment #4 all the way! It would also be a great opportunity for us to start explaining and demonstrating that Christianity doesn’t hinge on “behaving morally.” Of course you can practice morality and not believe in God. That’s not the point. It goes to show just how the church is perceived by unbelievers today.

  • dave

    We can say Merry Christmas all we want, but the fact that most Christians who make the news and might say “Merry CHRISTmas” oppose any government help to the poor, are pro-life until the child is born –then screw them, they are on their own. Many of them will simply make fun of gay people, because, oh, I don’t know, I guess God approves of Christians making snide jokes about people if they are gay…and the list goes on.

    So go ahead, take over Best Buy and slap Merry Christmas on every ad and sign in the store. And when that happens and the employee is paid a poverty wage of $8/hour, no health insurance, none or limited sick leave, don’t pat yourself on the back that you communicated Christ’s message.

    When Christians are widely known to justify this kind of behavior and treatment of people, it’s probably better if none of us said Merry Christmas at all.

  • dave

    We can say Merry Christmas all we want, but the fact that most Christians who make the news and might say “Merry CHRISTmas” oppose any government help to the poor, are pro-life until the child is born –then screw them, they are on their own. Many of them will simply make fun of gay people, because, oh, I don’t know, I guess God approves of Christians making snide jokes about people if they are gay…and the list goes on.

    So go ahead, take over Best Buy and slap Merry Christmas on every ad and sign in the store. And when that happens and the employee is paid a poverty wage of $8/hour, no health insurance, none or limited sick leave, don’t pat yourself on the back that you communicated Christ’s message.

    When Christians are widely known to justify this kind of behavior and treatment of people, it’s probably better if none of us said Merry Christmas at all.

  • http://atheismisdead.blogspot.com Mariano

    The ads are mere propaganda that answers to an argument that no one has made. The claim is not that atheists lack of morals but lack of moral premise, lack of ethos.
    It is also a reprinting of their ads from last year: http://atheismisdead.blogspot.com/2008/11/another-atheist-charity-huge-success.html

    Yet again, during a time of the year when people are generally more inclined towards charity—peace on earth and good will towards non-gender specific personages—atheists are busily collecting hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of dollars during a time of recession not in order to help anyone in real material need but in order to purchase bill boards and bus ads whereby they seek to demonstrate, to themselves, just how clever they are—need any more be said?

  • http://atheismisdead.blogspot.com Mariano

    The ads are mere propaganda that answers to an argument that no one has made. The claim is not that atheists lack of morals but lack of moral premise, lack of ethos.
    It is also a reprinting of their ads from last year: http://atheismisdead.blogspot.com/2008/11/another-atheist-charity-huge-success.html

    Yet again, during a time of the year when people are generally more inclined towards charity—peace on earth and good will towards non-gender specific personages—atheists are busily collecting hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of dollars during a time of recession not in order to help anyone in real material need but in order to purchase bill boards and bus ads whereby they seek to demonstrate, to themselves, just how clever they are—need any more be said?

  • http://uest fws

    “The ads read: “No God — no problem! Be good for goodness’ sake. Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God” ”

    Gosh! Lutheran christians can start by fully AGREEING with this message and emphasizing that this is good christian doctrine.

    ausburg confession, article 18 “of Free Will”:

    “…man’s will has liberty to choose civil righteousness… to work things subject to reason…. in works of this life….”Good” I call those works which spring from the good in nature, such as, willing to labor in the field, to eat and drink, to have a friend, to clothe oneself, to build a house, to marry a wife, to raise cattle, to learn divers useful arts, or whatsoever good 6]pertains to this life. ”

    It goes on to say that the ONLY thing the free will (aka “willpower”) cannot do is have faith in Jesus Christ, which is true INNER righteousness.

  • http://uest fws

    “The ads read: “No God — no problem! Be good for goodness’ sake. Humanism is the idea that you can be good without a belief in God” ”

    Gosh! Lutheran christians can start by fully AGREEING with this message and emphasizing that this is good christian doctrine.

    ausburg confession, article 18 “of Free Will”:

    “…man’s will has liberty to choose civil righteousness… to work things subject to reason…. in works of this life….”Good” I call those works which spring from the good in nature, such as, willing to labor in the field, to eat and drink, to have a friend, to clothe oneself, to build a house, to marry a wife, to raise cattle, to learn divers useful arts, or whatsoever good 6]pertains to this life. ”

    It goes on to say that the ONLY thing the free will (aka “willpower”) cannot do is have faith in Jesus Christ, which is true INNER righteousness.

  • http://uest fws

    I might point out also, that the atheists are making the same point as the Lutherans make with their teaching on the 3rd use of the law: both christians and pagans look to be outwardly righteous and civically good using the same methods, tools, and standards (2nd table of the law and one´s conscience and reason).

    so DO be good for goodness sake! Be good for the sake of one´s neighbor. Be good for the sake of love. this is , as our athiest friends are pointing out to us, the fulfillment of the Law.

    Don´t be good for God. He does not need your goodness. Beside, the opposite of sin is not goodness is it?

    Luther and the Lutheran teaching of the Third Use of the Law simply tells us this:

    “as soon as our outward works turn vertical, they become a form of idolatry.”

  • http://uest fws

    I might point out also, that the atheists are making the same point as the Lutherans make with their teaching on the 3rd use of the law: both christians and pagans look to be outwardly righteous and civically good using the same methods, tools, and standards (2nd table of the law and one´s conscience and reason).

    so DO be good for goodness sake! Be good for the sake of one´s neighbor. Be good for the sake of love. this is , as our athiest friends are pointing out to us, the fulfillment of the Law.

    Don´t be good for God. He does not need your goodness. Beside, the opposite of sin is not goodness is it?

    Luther and the Lutheran teaching of the Third Use of the Law simply tells us this:

    “as soon as our outward works turn vertical, they become a form of idolatry.”

  • AnalogEpiphany

    I would like to start off by saying two things both of which are essential to the point of my post. First, I am an atheist, I have always been an atheist, I will probably continue to always be an atheist. Second, I find both this article and most the response to it to be enlightened and laudable.

    I think the idea of a campaign to promote atheism is both rude and absurd. When other religions have campaigns it is because they are trying to save peoples soul. Atheism has no such obligations because it has no penalties enacted upon non-believers, so there is really no point in trying to convert others.

    That being said, I would like to convey to you how important the views expressed in this article are. There is a Christian conglomerate, because you are the majority. Before reacting to offensive material with hate I ask you to consider all the hateful things all ready done in the name of Christianity (Crusades) and all the hateful things that could result from future vendettas.

    One of the boys at school cracked me over the head with a geography book, when I was twelve because I was a “Jesus-hater.” I’m seventeen now, but just as much of a weak nerdy girl as I was back then and to be candid sometimes I am scared for my life.

    Please be a Christian this Christmas, because every time I turn the other cheek I just wind up with a punch to the jaw.

  • AnalogEpiphany

    I would like to start off by saying two things both of which are essential to the point of my post. First, I am an atheist, I have always been an atheist, I will probably continue to always be an atheist. Second, I find both this article and most the response to it to be enlightened and laudable.

    I think the idea of a campaign to promote atheism is both rude and absurd. When other religions have campaigns it is because they are trying to save peoples soul. Atheism has no such obligations because it has no penalties enacted upon non-believers, so there is really no point in trying to convert others.

    That being said, I would like to convey to you how important the views expressed in this article are. There is a Christian conglomerate, because you are the majority. Before reacting to offensive material with hate I ask you to consider all the hateful things all ready done in the name of Christianity (Crusades) and all the hateful things that could result from future vendettas.

    One of the boys at school cracked me over the head with a geography book, when I was twelve because I was a “Jesus-hater.” I’m seventeen now, but just as much of a weak nerdy girl as I was back then and to be candid sometimes I am scared for my life.

    Please be a Christian this Christmas, because every time I turn the other cheek I just wind up with a punch to the jaw.

  • Jerry

    Let’s get real here. This is not some broad innocence “No God? No Problem!” campaign that focuses on any god, but on The One True God! Why are they campaigning these messages during the Christmas season? Because at the core of this is Satan’s work. No matter how you want to disregard this, it is an attack on Christianity.
    Yes we as Christians are to be Christ like to everyone, even non-believers. We are to show love and compassion to those who are lost. However, again lets get real here, this is not some person who is lost and does not know they are lost; this is an attack on God Himself. An attack as old as mankind that Satan used to deceive man that God wasn’t really who He said He is. Therefore, you can be like Him. You can be your own god. All you have to do is denounce Him, believe that you do not really need Him. When is the church going to stand up and stop sugar coding the truth of the gospel that there is only one God and if a person rejects this they will spend eternity in hell. The church is so concerned with offending people that they would hide behind statements like, “it is a free country and people can believe what they want to believe” instead of standing up for Jesus, and most of the time that means we are standing on the front lines, and defending their faith. There are times when Christians need to be the soldiers of Christ and storm the gates of hell in stead of holding them open for the lost to just walk right through.
    We have to acknowledge that our Christian walk means that we stand in the gap for God when the world will not. The Old Testament is full of evidence that God’s people were to stand up for Him. And if you’re thinking that Christians are not under the Old Testament covenant, well, in the New Testament, when do we see Jesus taking a stand and defending His Heavenly Father? When His heavenly Father was being attacked (cf. Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; John 2:13-22, John 2:17). His anger was pure and completely justified because at its root was concern for God’s holiness and worship.
    Now before you start throwing darts at me for saying this, I am a Christian saved under the grace of God. And that same grace is available to everyone who asks for it. However, I also know that, like Jesus, like the Apostle Paul, like thousands of other through out history, there are times when I must stand up and defend my King! I do not mean to go out and attack others because of what they believe, but to stand up for what I say I believe in.

    In Christ, Jerry Garner

  • Jerry

    Let’s get real here. This is not some broad innocence “No God? No Problem!” campaign that focuses on any god, but on The One True God! Why are they campaigning these messages during the Christmas season? Because at the core of this is Satan’s work. No matter how you want to disregard this, it is an attack on Christianity.
    Yes we as Christians are to be Christ like to everyone, even non-believers. We are to show love and compassion to those who are lost. However, again lets get real here, this is not some person who is lost and does not know they are lost; this is an attack on God Himself. An attack as old as mankind that Satan used to deceive man that God wasn’t really who He said He is. Therefore, you can be like Him. You can be your own god. All you have to do is denounce Him, believe that you do not really need Him. When is the church going to stand up and stop sugar coding the truth of the gospel that there is only one God and if a person rejects this they will spend eternity in hell. The church is so concerned with offending people that they would hide behind statements like, “it is a free country and people can believe what they want to believe” instead of standing up for Jesus, and most of the time that means we are standing on the front lines, and defending their faith. There are times when Christians need to be the soldiers of Christ and storm the gates of hell in stead of holding them open for the lost to just walk right through.
    We have to acknowledge that our Christian walk means that we stand in the gap for God when the world will not. The Old Testament is full of evidence that God’s people were to stand up for Him. And if you’re thinking that Christians are not under the Old Testament covenant, well, in the New Testament, when do we see Jesus taking a stand and defending His Heavenly Father? When His heavenly Father was being attacked (cf. Matthew 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-18; John 2:13-22, John 2:17). His anger was pure and completely justified because at its root was concern for God’s holiness and worship.
    Now before you start throwing darts at me for saying this, I am a Christian saved under the grace of God. And that same grace is available to everyone who asks for it. However, I also know that, like Jesus, like the Apostle Paul, like thousands of other through out history, there are times when I must stand up and defend my King! I do not mean to go out and attack others because of what they believe, but to stand up for what I say I believe in.

    In Christ, Jerry Garner

  • Egill

    The one true God is Odin! Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise, like the serpent-tongued Jerry Garner above, is surely an agent of Loki sent to earth to confuse and sow discord among Odin’s children!

  • Egill

    The one true God is Odin! Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise, like the serpent-tongued Jerry Garner above, is surely an agent of Loki sent to earth to confuse and sow discord among Odin’s children!

  • Sean

    Who the heck is Odin? And if this is the one true god then why has noone ever heard about him? There is only one true God and that is the God of Abraham,Isaac, and Jacob!

  • Sean

    Who the heck is Odin? And if this is the one true god then why has noone ever heard about him? There is only one true God and that is the God of Abraham,Isaac, and Jacob!


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