Drivers in the New York / New Jersey area are on the front lines of a billboard feud between the American Atheists and the Catholic League, with each group putting a pretty clear stake in the proverbial ground. The American Atheists started this most recent round of public debate, with a sign calling the Nativity into question, and the Catholic League was quick to put up their own sign refuting the atheists’ disbelief.
So far, each group has spent about $20,000 on this public feud. And frankly, I’m both entertained and horrified. Check out these signs:
Now, I have my own beef against most organized religions, and I’ll admit, I had a good snicker at the American Atheists‘ opening salvo. An interview aired on CNN.com dampened my enthusiasm a bit – while I find references to the “invisible magic man in the sky” to be amusing, that kind of talk isn’t going to change anyone’s mind, and is most likely to make religious (or even semi-religious) people so defensive that they’re not open to what the atheists are trying to say. “We know that God is fake, and we know that Christianity stole Christmas” isn’t going to make anyone reconsider their religious views either.
I’ll admit, I did laugh out loud at the “God and Santa Claus are the same thing – he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake” remark being followed by a cut-away scene of children singing the famous Christmas carol.
On the other hand, the Catholic League‘s response in that same interview isn’t helping, either. Their president’s retort, “They must be reading too much Wikipedia or something” didn’t make a bit of sense to me, but whatever. And the “King Kong Theory” reference cracked me up, though I’d be careful saying that evolution is a “fairy tale” when it’s backed by science, and Catholics’ claims about God are based on someone writing down in a book thousands of years ago that God told them this is what happened.
“They believe in nothing, they stand for nothing” is a pretty blanket statement for the Catholic League to make about all atheists. I don’t believe that all Christians are hypocrites or hateful fear-mongers, just like I don’t believe all non-Christians are bad people with no beliefs or morals. Those are both ridiculously black-and-white views that don’t acknowledge the incredible diversity in both camps.
And frankly, I’m disappointed that $20,000 of atheists’ money, and a $18,500 private donation from a Catholic, went to this petty feud on public billboards. Neither billboard is likely to sway many people to its proponents’ point of view – most people probably already agree with one side or the other, and aren’t likely to change their mind on something that important based on a sign along the freeway.
I’m all for stimulating the economy, but that’s almost $40,000 that could’ve gone to feeding and sheltering the poor this holiday season.