It doesn’t matter if god is watching – but it sure matters if people are watching.

There is an SSA group at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, the Southeastern Freethinkers.  They put up some posters at the beginning of the year to announce their club to new students:

Behold, the winner of the 2013 “Least Offensive Poster” award.

“Don’t believe in god?  You are not alone.”  100% true, 100% not a threat to anybody or anybody’s beliefs (unless you’re running around saying that atheists are frothing at the mouth, friendless clods, in which case this is a huge threat to those beliefs, as is reality in general).  And yet, despite the inoffensive nature of the poster, in Southeastern Oklahoma it is almost guaranteed that such posters will be vandalized by people who think Jesus is looking over their shoulder (and giving a celestial thumbs up).  And that’s exactly what happened.

And one of the members of the group knew it would happen, and so he sat with a camera waiting.  I suspect he didn’t have to wait long.

This guy…

His response to the question of whether or not he knew what he did was vandalism (which is akin to asking someone if they knew that punching someone was violence), he first asks if the atheist had permission to film him.  Not “Yeah, that probably was vandalism.  Sorry.”  He has no issue with the defacing of somebody else’s property (unless that property was Christian in nature, I’d wager), but filming him doing it?  Where are your morals, atheist?

Then, when he gets shot down on that, he says “Well I’m sorry, I didn’t know that.”  You didn’t know you couldn’t just tear down a group’s poster?  What high school did he attend where that was acceptable, such that it could be a shock to him in college?  So, presuming he’s a Christian (which I don’t think is a terrible stretch), we have a solid case that without personal character dictating your morals, that Jesus doesn’t do much to keep you from disregarding the property of others and then lying.

But the believer in the green shirt didn’t stop digging…no, no.  When confronted that he had a teammate for his vandalism, the vandal said “Well I have freedom and rights as well.”  What freedoms and rights could he possibly be referring to?  The freedom and right to fuck with other people’s property?  No, no you don’t.  The freedom and right in public to not have to see ideas and groups that contradict your beliefs?  Nope.  Does this man think he has the freedom and right to not be caught when vandalizing someone else’s property?  Not at all.

But the real take home here isn’t that Christians can be thugs and think it’s their right to do so without reprisal.  No, the lesson here is who matters.  This kid all-but-certainly believes that Jesus is watching him all the time.  This means that Jesus watched him while he committed his vandalism and watched this exchange before it was even on youtube and knew that the believer in the green shirt lied his ass off.  That did not deter the Christian.  No, he wasn’t sorry until he realized that a mere human, a human he didn’t even know, was watching.  This says a lot about what this believer thinks of Jesus, but it says even more about what punishments are real: what’s more frightening than the wrath of god and the eternal torment of hell?  Shame at the hands of your neighbors.

What power we wield.  Full faith in Jesus doesn’t stop immorality (despite countless assertions to the contrary in the Christian community).  But humans?  We can actually apply influence in terms of morality that matters.

I wonder what the boy in the green shirt, the vandal and the liar who didn’t even seem remotely sorry, will think the next time he’s told that atheists have no morals.  I’ll bet he just nods his head, unburdened by irony or self awareness, and goes on thinking atheists are morally inferior without holding the same beliefs that didn’t stop him from engaging in immoral activity.

The real question is whether or not his faith in Jesus, and believing that he’d be forgiven regardless of a lack of remorse the second he did these things, motivated him to do them instead of just failing to dissuade him.  I know where my money is.

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