Nov 21, 2009


I was driving home the other day from the gym when I came aside a bus. I usually don't even notice the advertisements presented on them, but this one got my attention. A large image of a jolly St Nick was adorned with a message to drivers stating: 'No Virginia, there is no God!'

The advertisement was from the Freedom from Religion Foundation, an organization I'm not that unfamiliar with. Months ago around Easter I was listening to a radio interview with someone who claimed to be a spokesperson from Washington State. It was quite possibly the poorest representation of atheism I've ever heard.

The woman was arguing with the show's host about the roots of the Solstice. She claimed her and her family celebrate the holidays in lieu of Christmas and Easter, because they weren't rooted in religion at all as it was all about nature. The host disagreed claiming that ancient peoples were giving honor to the gods that were behind such acts. They argued back and forth about this fact as the guest kept repeating herself saying 'it's all about nature. There's nothing religious about it." She had a condescending tone and was even called the host dense. I switched stations.

The sign took me aback at first, but I quickly shrugged it off. If the religious folk can advertise their faith I only see it fair that the atheists do the same. It was an effective advertisement I thought. It caught my attention and did make me think about my spiritual life.

When I relayed this to others I found opinions on the ad were mixed at best, which is no surprise. Those who agreed with the message saluted the Freedom from Religion Foundation's idea and were happy to hear there are like minds out there. People I spoke with who have faith were angry and ranted about how tasteless the advertisement was. Some even went so far as to threaten to write some strongly worded emails to Seattle Metro voicing their displeasure.

I can see both sides. The religious people, Christians mainly, wanted to keep their celebration of the Lord's birth sacred and not have some overzealous group try to convert them from their faith. I did find it ironic that most atheists I know complain about the 'in your face' broadcasting of the holy, but found this method of spreading their word to be appropriate.

Still religious folks have had many accommodations in political discourse and even had federal and state holidays and a statement of faith on currency. There's no reason I can think of that anyone should not be allotted to voice their expression on how another thinks. It's a right most will fight to the death for, myself included.

We are very fortunate to live in a country where the government is not allowed to establish a state sanctioned church. Most countries, even so called enlightened ones, have their puppet monarchies as heads of their religions and some even go so far as to require you to tithe, whether you'd like to or not. Most of the world's citizens, directly or otherwise, have their tax dollars going to support an established religion. We in this country can fight such an idea and have the First Amendment on our side. We should never forget what a blessing this is.

As far as the advertisement goes I'm largely unmoved. This holiday season is big enough for people to celebrate however they want, or even not at all. With Christians claiming a war on Christmas and others feeling robbed of their ancient pagan holiday I feel both should stop their damn whining. Let it go and have some fun this December.

Oh and if I happen to pass you in the street and wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Joyous Solstice don't give me that look. You know what I'm talking about you pompous ass.

"Most people think December is for Christians and view our solstice signs as an intrusion, when actually it's the other way around. People have been celebrating the winter solstice long before Christmas. We see Christianity as the intruder, trying to steal the natural holiday from all of us humans." - Dan Barker


Grace said...

We had a similar ad campaign on our public buses over the summer. It caused a huge buzz, and shortly after the ads went up, they came down. Buses are now no longer allowed to post any advertisements for any religious organizations. With religion being such a sensitive matter, you might as well let people believe in what they want to, without being forced or influenced to believe in something else. Seems fair enough.

wigsf said...

I'm getting sick and tired of these fanatical atheists.

Shaun@work said...

"Oh and if I happen to pass you in the street and wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Joyous Solstice don't give me that look. You know what I'm talking about you pompous ass."

Hear f***ing hear!

Anonymous said...

For about a year I belonged to a blog out of the SF area that had some really intelligent people contributing-the kind of contributions that made me feel like I was plowing through a textbook; the concepts were so dense and, well, doctoral thesis-like. Some of those same people were frothing at the mouth athiests-so angry about all things religious that you could hardly get through to them. Not coincidentally, the same frothers (is that a word?)came from heavily religious childhoods, in the south no less. I don't really think of myself as an apologist for the institution of religion in general, but I found myself regularly saying, "Come-on, there are really too many religionists out there for you to kill them all or delete the ideological pillars of their lives without a second thought..." But I did figure out that the over-reacters (read here: Frothers)are dealing with some form of social scarring and I treat them pretty much the way I treat all the walking wounded-with patience.