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Atheist Commotion

Apparently it’s bad not to believe in God.

Maybe that’s not bad, but telling other people it’s ok to not believe in God is problematic. I first realized this back in November when I read about a piece about a billboard in Denver that read, “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.”

Eight simple words by the Colorado Coalition of Reason caused fury:

John Matson, of Denver, was so mad after seeing the Santa Fe Drive sign that he dashed off an angry letter to the billboard’s owner.

“It is a despicable act to allow that sign,” the 60-year-old man said in an interview, “and for just a few pieces of silver.”

Apparently most objectors are Christians:

“It has been mostly Christians who’ve been calling and e-mailing,” Joel Guttormson said, “which is strange since the message is not directed at Christians or anyone from any religion.

“You know, if you see an ad for migraine medicine and you don’t have a migraine, why would you care?”

It’s odd—why would Christians be threatened by atheists? Actually, why are some straight men threatened by gay men? Why are members of any group threatened by another group based on immutable attributes—or, in the case of religion, mutable attributes.

The point behind the billboards in Denver is to closet-atheists that they are not alone. It’s the same reason it is important that there are visible gay people in society—closeted gay people need visible icons to be role models.

Happily the atheist message is on the move—quite literally—from billboards in Denver to buses in Britain. An athetist campaign raised £135,000—a mere £ 129,500 more than they wanted to raise—and now 800 buses are rolling around Britain telling people “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”. I just wish I was in the UK, able to see the buses rolling around.

One of the greatest things about the United States and the United Kingdom is, in general, the defense of free speech. Neither country is perfect, but both are miles ahead of theocracies.

I think it’s wonderful that the message is being put out there—and, I’m not ashamed to admit it, it’s one that resonates with me.

10 comments to Atheist Commotion

  • I think the “you are not alone” message is perfect. That means we atheists (“we”, Adam?) cannot be accused of proselytising in the manner of a religion.

    Did you know that the “probably” in the British headline was inserted by the ad-approval authorities, because no one can be sure that there isn’t a god. Not sure how the cunning Christians get around implying otherwise.

    Atheists threaten the Christianists for the same reason homohaters are threatened by out-homosexuals. Because secretly, in the depths of their own closet, they agree. But they’re too fucked-up to admit it.

  • Adam,

    You’re so going to hell. :p

  • @headbang8: Yes, “we”—-there needs to be some kind of atheist temple we can meet at. 😉 I like sleeping in on Sunday mornings.

    @CQ: I’ll meet you there.

  • Jul

    I’d like to suggest that this proposed meeting place serve alcohol (and sparkling water, for those among us still sticking to New Year’s resolutions).

    And like Headbang, I was wondering why the atheists had to stick in a “probably” while the christian ads don’t seem to have to temper their messages in the same manner…

  • Like headbang8, I like the “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.” message that appeared in Denver. I definitely believe that atheists face discrimination in the United States, and some are undoubtedly ‘in the closet’ re: their (non) beliefs. It’s also a non-proselytizing message, so the complaining Christians lack justification.

    Some of the Christian billboards I’ve seen, particularly along S.R. 37 in Indiana, are far more ‘in your face’ and show little/no respect for people of different or no faith.

  • […] me that Jesus Christ is our Savior … not a cuss word. {Sidebar: Quite a bit different from TQE’s observations about atheists in Denver, eh?} Later, after I was out of the basin and headed back to Baton Rouge, […]

  • I’m with you on that whole sleeping in on Sunday mornings. Plus I think our atheist temple should have pot luck dinners… I miss that the most.

  • @Jul: The probably is a legal safe guard–and its thought provoking. Apparently some are offended–and complaining.

    @disenchanted: Thanks for the link! 🙂

    @Snooker: Where will the temple be?

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  • Via unsolicited IM:

    SpeedyFish: You know, I’m a Christian and your recent post offended me! What if my children were on? I mean, it’s all the rage to be edgy and everything but is it really necessary to use such prejudicing words like the N-word? Grow up and read your Bible.

    (Actual username modified to protect the innocent.)