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Atheism is more than non-belief

for The Brooklyn Paper
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In the 1970s, American Atheists, led by our founder Madalyn Murray O’Hair, launched what we believe was America’s first atheist billboard. It read: “Atheism: It’s not what you believe.” Today, American Atheists continues our tradition of truth with our newest billboard, “You Know It’s a Myth. This Season, Celebrate Reason.”

The billboard has two target markets and serves two purposes:

1) To the atheists, specifically closeted atheists who may even attend church: The billboard urges them to come out to their friends, family, and especially themselves. We believe that many people who go to church and call themselves “Christians” are really atheists.

Too many do so just to fit in, not realizing that everyone (with the exception of their pastor) would benefit if they told the truth. We challenge them to face this issue, and to ask themselves if they really believe in the god to whom they bow their heads, bend their knees, and give their money. This billboard encourages self-reflection and discussion on what people really think is truth, and what they really think is myth.

2) To the Christian Right: We are sending a message that Christianity does not own the season. The Winter Solstice predates life on earth, and Christianity is just the latest in a long line of religions with savior myths that assert that their god(s) were born on the winter solstice. Indeed, all of the traditional Christmas trappings predate Christianity by several centuries. It’s a holiday of stolen traditions, not unique, and only special to those who follow the mythology.

Again, we are not intent on insulting Christianity — we tell the truth, which anyone can verify with their own research. We are, however, pointing out the absurdity of the idea that this is the “Christmas season,” and that it is somehow wrong to acknowledge other holidays and events observed by America’s deeply diverse populace.

By both measures, the billboard has been a resounding success. All over the Internet, people are discussing their views, some for the very first time, and many are realizing they don’t believe in an invisible man in the sky, after all.

It’s a very good time to be an atheist — it’s an even better time to come out.

David Silverman is president of American Atheists.

Updated 5:22 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Or from Yellow Hook says:
If you are upset over what somebody else belives, the problem is with you.
Dec. 3, 2010, 8:58 pm
Or from Yellow Hook says:
If you are upset over what somebody else belives, the problem is with you.
Dec. 3, 2010, 8:58 pm
elle from brooklyn says:
Dude, when is the last time someone challenged your atheism? When is the last time called you an idiot because you are an atheist? Probably never.

So why do you have to spend your life trying to challenge people ("idiots") in your mind who believe in God?

Get a life. Find another hobby.
Dec. 4, 2010, 1:44 am
nancy from coneyisland says:
Its funny how everyone picks on the catholics
You never hear of anyone bashing jews/muslims/or anyother relious groups.What is the issues you guys have with christians
Dec. 5, 2010, 9:07 am
Al from Park Slope says:
Considering that more people have gone to war and died in the name of god more than any other reason combined in the history of the world, i have to ask, if the belief of Atheism were more the norm, would we not have even the wars going on today...... It seems the belief in no god would bring peace, not the other way around as the believers in "the imaginary friend up there" would have us believe.
Dec. 6, 2010, 9:10 am
kbj from kings county says:
Al, while wars are sometimes fought in the "name of god," and more often with the belief that "god is on our side," it would be more correct to say that war is fought to further or defend the perceived self-interest of one's community/culture/country. God is ancillary to the argument, brought in to buttress one side or another in hostilities that god did not create and cannot resolve.
Dec. 6, 2010, 2:42 pm
Jack from Bay Ridge says:
nancy from coneyisland says: "Its funny how everyone picks on the catholics
You never hear of anyone bashing jews/muslims/or anyother relious groups.What is the issues you guys have with christians"

Since when are Catholics the only Christians?
The billboard targets a Christian holiday; no mention of any particular church.
How does that "bash" Catholics specifically?
Answer: It DOESN'T -- any more than it specifically "bashes" Baptists, Lutherans, or Pentecostals.
Dec. 7, 2010, 2:20 pm
Jack from Bay Ridge says:
It's entirely fair for these folks to have their say.

In my lifetime, I've seen endless print and TV ads, billboards, et al urging people to "try God" or "try prayer" or "Come home [to church]," saying that belief works miracles, claiming that only faith solves problems, and bashing nonfaith by equating it with all kinds of negatives.

Those churches sure care about "what somebody else" believes (or doesn't).
They also "spend [their] life trying to challenge people" and convert them.
If they can promote THEIR views and-or try to change others' beliefs, so can the American Atheists.
Dec. 7, 2010, 2:46 pm
NANCY from CONEY says:
JACK DID U READ MY LAST LINE NO GO BACK AND READ WHATS THE ISSUES U GUYS HAVE WITH CHRISTIANS
GOTTA GET GLASSES
PEOPLE SHOULD BELIEVE WHAT THEY WANT BUT NOT PUT UP ONES THAT CALL OTHERS RELIIGIONS MYTHS
HOW RUDE
Dec. 7, 2010, 10:35 pm

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