With Friends Like These, Who Needs Enemies?

So apparently an atheist[1] in Leesburg, Virginia decided to erect a “holiday” display which consists of a skeleton dressed as Santa being crucified.


Pictures of this stunt are also available in your local neighborhood library’s encyclopedia, under the following entries:

  • Offensive — unnecessarily offensive, to be precise
  • Stupid
  • How Not to Win Friends and Influence People

Seems to me that someone needs to relearn the lesson about “just because you have the legal right to do something doesn’t make it a good idea.” Also, I think an introductory course in marketing or public relations would be helpful. Because I can guarantee you that, if the community in Leesburg thinks that atheists sanctioned this, the clown who did this has just damaged the image of atheists in that community for a long, long time.


[1] It’s not clear if this was the work of a single individual or if this was sanctioned by an atheist organization.

About Jeffery Jay Lowder

Jeffery Jay Lowder is President Emeritus of Internet Infidels, Inc., which he co-founded in 1995. He is also co-editor of the book, The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond the Grave.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10509401627805923739 SWBTSguy321

    Another interesting story Mr. Lowder. I appreciate your interaction on the previous post about the FFRF’s banner display. You showed an appreciation for that discussion that really made me want to bounce some more thoughts off you here.
    My first response is this, as a Christian, I believe Jesus made perfectly clear that there would be those who mock and despise us simply for our association with Christ. Matthew 5:11 makes clear that we should consider ourselves blessed when we are scorned for Christ’s sake. Secondly, Romans 12:14 says that not only should we be joyful in mockery but we should “bless those who persecute” us. The shift in government structures between the first century AD and 21st century USA certainly pose some interesting questions here. Do either of these verses exclude pursuing legal courses of action (such as the city council meeting or whatever it was in the video)? I would argue that for Christians, these verses don’t do that specifically, but the implications of Matthew 5:39 (turn the other cheek) certainly seem to.
    It’s interesting that I don’t see Christ calling for His people to fight or war to force others to praise His name. Ultimately that is one of the roles of Christian eschatology. It is the Bible’s teaching that one day “every knee shall bow” (Isa 45:23, Rom 14:11, Phil 2:10) to the one true God. Therefore as Christians, our role is not to enact vengeance for God’s name, but rather to pray for and show kindness to those who mock.
    Secondly, I agree with you again that this is not the way to go about marketing atheism. I spent several years completing an advertising degree and I must say, this would have received a poor grade indeed. I think the atheist movement (if that is the right nomenclature) can make use of shock value probably more than most other religious or a-religious movements. But this kind of message just seems to offend without giving any cause for query into beliefs etc. As seen on the news report, the display elicited quite different responses such that the viewers weren’t even sure about the authors’ intent. The one gentleman seemed to think it was actually a pro-Christmas message fighting cultural materialism.
    The part I was unsure about was the document/tablet next to the cross. It looked like it was a large printed display, but I didn’t hear the news story mention anything about it. I would imagine this was something of an essay or list of points to get the reader thinking.
    Seeing the story again brought up some questions that I hope you and your readers will consider
    What is the cash value of a display like this? Ultimately, what could it accomplish in its viewers?
    Knowing that a large percentage of the audience of a display like this are at least nominally Christian in some form, why choose a display which seems to only function to offend?
    In light of our discussion on the FFRF display, I wonder what you see is the value of offensiveness for the atheist cause. Speaking only from my personal experience, I watched many friends whom I grew up with in church, eventually turn to atheism. Not to say all of them were identical, but nearly all of them felt that with their new-found atheism there should also come a real hatred of Bible-believing Christians. I know a close friend of mine was heavily influenced by Richard Dawkins and I honestly believe he picked up this opinion from him. But if atheism is founded on superior rationality, why do think there is such a strong feeling among some (keyword: some) atheists of hatred toward religions rather than calm intellectual discourse?

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11613928663752680375 TheDudeDiogenes

    According the this article, which is linked to in the article that this post links to, the display was actually put up by a Christian:

    "The son, a high school student and Christian, did not intend it to be an attack on religion but an attack on how addictions and materialism are 'killing the peace, love, joy and kindness that is supposed to be prevalent in the holiday season.'"

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