New American Atheist billboard in Times Square.

American Atheists is back at it, waging the war on shitty ideas which many confuse with a war on Christmas/holiday cheer.  C’mon guys, it’s not like they wait until Christmas to call Christianity a myth.

Anyway, I can get behind this one.

For one, this one is at least a little aesthetically pleasing.  Two points for that.

But I also like the message.  There’s so much good about this time of year: presents, time with our families, general goodwill (except from the “war on Christmas” people, who tend to turn “merry Christmas” into a euphemism for “fuck off” anytime someone wishes them happy holidays), etc.  These things don’t need to be a vehicle for propping up a pernicious myth.

David Silverman hits the nail on the head.

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.”

Mr. Silverman continued, “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.”

If you must lie to someone in order to be loved, then they don’t love you.  Pay the people you love the respect of giving them the opportunity to love their son/daughter/friend/parent as you truly are.  You will most likely find that it is one of the greatest gift you could give them.  And do yourself the favor of demanding to be loved as you truly are, and live proud of that, rather than under presumed shame as though you deserve that.

And if you need a new community, come be a part of ours.  Atheism is in virtually every town and every city now.  We don’t go to church, we go bowling.  We don’t go on missions, we go to the movies.  And we volunteer at charities, we just don’t waste money on propaganda to slide in among the food.  We have everything your church has that is good, we’ve merely ditched the things that make you uncomfortable.

Come be with people who will love you as truly are this holiday.  We’re ready for you!

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.

  • http://IAmDanMarshall.com Dan

    “If you must lie to someone in order to be loved, then they don’t love you.”

    Quoted for truth. Succinct and direct, I love it.

    • Nathan Johnson

      Interestingly, it applies to God, too; and it demonstrates why Pascal’s Wager so utterly fails as an argument.

      Amazing that I still hear Pascal’s Wager touted as a good, valid argument.

      • Stogoe

        The Simpsons destroyed Pascal’s Wager for me. Before I knew what Pascal’s Wager was, before I had left my childhood faith.

  • RuQu

    ” We have everything your church has that is good”

    We don’t have rituals.

    Rituals resonate with a deep and primal part of us, at least for some people. They bond communities together, as well as bonding them to the past and (depending on the ritual) to the larger universe.

    There’s a reason that non-churches also engage in rituals, to larger and smaller extents and with various levels of success. Fraternities, Freemasons, sports teams. They don’t have to be rational to have meaning.

    The enjoyment of ritual is not reason enough to support all of the wrongs of religion, but it is something that atheism lacks.

    • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com Ubi Dubium

      But UU Congregations and Ethical Societies do have rituals, and atheists are quite welcome there. If you feel a need for ritual without dogma, it’s available.

      • RuQu

        True. I sometimes miss some of the ritual of Catholic Latin Mass…not enough to go to any church for, though.

  • Peggy

    “We don’t have rituals.”
    We do have the annual observance of Skepticon, which is wonderful. Locally, we’re a bit skimpy on rituals, although secular Christmas observances with the gathering of friends and family, food, gifts, lights, fireplace fires, and so on are pretty good, too.

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  • John Sunderman

    Amazing…so Santa Claus is not a myth?? And of course Athiests have to insult Christianity…can’t just believe in whatever it is they believe (which is pretty much nothing), Athiests have to impose their beliefs on everyone else in society–pathetic.

    • John Horstman

      Welcome friend! I’m in a good mood and don’t even mind the thoughtless re-statement of specious, debunked claims and false equivalences, so I’ll even address your misunderstandings in good faith.

      Santa Clause is a myth, but there are no adults (as far as I’m aware) that believe he’s real. He is a myth celebrated as a myth.

      Props for being able to distinguish between insulting a religion and insulting the people who practice it! Many of us DO insult Christianity, because it’s very harmful to a lot of people, and it thus deserves derision by anyone who cares about human well-being. That said, calling Christian beliefs myth isn’t so much an insult (the Santa bit should make it clear we don’t think myths are intrinsically BAD) as an observation.

      Most atheists are not also nihilists; most atheists do believe in many things. Many atheists even believe in things for which there is no (good) evidence, which is why we make distinctions between skepticism and atheism. For more on this, you may with to read Jason Thibeault’s series on why Atheism is not enough. Skeptics strive to only believe things for which there is solid evidence, though even we fall prey to cognitive biases; the trick is to train oneself to recognize when this is happening.

      Finally, an imposition has to have some sort of coercive force behind it to qualify as such. Posting a billboard is rarely an imposition, unless the message that billboard is communicating has, for example, the threat of social (or even legal) sanction behind it. This is why, for example, a Christian prayer banner in a public school or the ten commandments at a courthouse is an imposition of Christian beliefs, while a prayer banner at a Christian church or a billboard ad is not (though in some areas, a sufficient level of Christian institutionalization could create a context in which a billboard ad would qualify as imposing beliefs). I’m not really sure why either what AA is actually doing or your misrepresentation of what they’re doing would qualify as “pathetic”; care to elaborate?

    • Dodge

      Right!!!! Like Christianity doesn’t do the same imposing on everyone else/ cultures because they believe its their religious duty. C’mon, don’t be hypocritical now.

  • John Horstman

    +100 points for the new design team (or superior design from the same team?)! That billboard is slick!

  • Barbara P

    I respect your right to your beliefs and positions regarding religion and atheism. I think you are mistaken but I am not here to debate you. I just would like to respectfully point out to you and try to explain to you how deeply disturbing this billboard is to those of us who believe in the reality of Jesus as Our Lord. It is our belief that His torture and crucifiction is a real historical event and that as part of that torture He was mocked and abused by His killers. I know you believe none of this happened but we do believe for reasons that I cannot explain in a blog comment. What this billboard does is depict the tortured Christ and mocks Him. For Christians this mocking is deeply disturbing and unsettling. I have decided that the only way for me to address this ridiculing of My Lord is to visit Times Square and pray and unite myself to His Suffering. Mock me all of you if you want.

    • Orthodox Heathen

      Barbara P, I am an atheist and obviously do not share your views about Jesus. Additionally, I am glad that atheists are finally daring to display their messages to the public, as churches and religious people have done for centuries. Having said that, I think it’s in poor taste to use an image of a crucified Jesus on this (or any) billboard. I have seen so many positive billboard slogans for non-belief (“Be Good for Goodness’ Sake,” “Don’t Believe in God? Join the Club,” “Doubts About Religion? You’re One of Many,” to name a few), but I wince when I see a billboard like the one in Times Square. We atheists can’t stand it when Christians broadcast proselytizing, condescending, judgmental messages to the public, so we ought to follow our own advice and find a more respectful way to express the same sentiment.

    • http://anthrozine.com Cubist

      sez barbara p: “Mock me all of you if you want.”
      You asked for it, you got it, Barb! I’m going to mock you unmercifully, because the Xtian beliefs you hold are so pre-eminently mockable. I mean, seriously: According to you Xtians, this ‘God’ person had sex with one of the meat-toys It made, so that It could father Itself, so that a bunch of meat-toys It hadn’t had sex with could inflict a fatal S&M-ish torture on Its ass, so that It had authorization from Itself to keep Its meat-toys out of the Hell It made for inflicting eternal torture on Its meat-toys.
      Hmm.
      Exactly what is there about this bizarre acid-trip of a scenario which isn’t pre-eminently mockable, Barb?
      Also according to you Xtians, the whole reason It constructed Its meat-toys in the first place, is that It wanted Its infinite applause-track to be live, not canned.
      Again: What is there about this which isn’t pre-eminently mockable?
      You of course have the right to hold transparently ridiculous beliefs, Barb. And I would never dream of abridging that right of yours. But you do not have the right to stop other people from pointing out that your transparently ridiculous beliefs are, in fact, transparently ridiculous. Likewise, you do not have the right to stop people from pointing and laughing when you put your transparently ridiculous beliefs on public display.

  • Brandon

    You teach tolerance with an intolerant spirit. Don’t you understand why we celebrate Christmas. But you all still run out and buy gifts and get into the spirit of what you condemn, the birth of Jesus Christ. Perhaps you can leave this Christian Holiday to the christians just like other religious groups and have you own holiday, say in June. Go get a holiday tree and have a holiday just for you!!! Let call it Festivus.

    • http://anthrozine.com Cubist

      sez brandon: “But you all still run out and buy gifts and get into the spirit of what you condemn, the birth of Jesus Christ.”
      Wait. Didn’t this ‘Jesus Christ’ say, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”, and “For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.”?
      I’m curious: What does Christ have to do with love, and goodwill towards man?

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