Ads that promote other religious beliefs and atheism are likely to rile up the Christian right.
In weeks past, we’ve brought you some outrageous signs and billboards posted by right-wing Christian churches. It turns out certain people can dish it out a lot better than they can take it. Here are some signs posted by people of other beliefs that caused major upset among conservative Christians.
1. Come out of the Christian Closet!
The organization American Atheists doesn’t hate Christmas. They believe in celebrating the holiday season. They just don’t think the religious stuff makes sense. Or, as they put it on a billboard in Manhattan’s Time Square, “Keep the MERRY. Dump the MYTH.” Now, it may look at first glance like these American Atheists are themselves confused. They don’t buy the whole son of god thing, but they’re OK with Santa Claus? Seems pretty gullible to me. What they’re saying, of course, is that they enjoy the Christmas festivities without needing it to be Christian. As the organization’s president David Silverman explained, “If you know god is a myth, you do not have to lie and call yourself ‘Christian’ in order to have a festive holiday season. You can be merry without the myth, and indeed, you should…. We encourage people to be honest with themselves and their families this year. If you don’t believe in God, tell your family — honesty is the greatest gift, and they deserve it.”
The billboard inspired not only honesty but some major wit from Answers in Genesis, the multimillion-dollar Christian ministry behind the Creation Museum outside Cincinnati. They responded by spending $200,000 on their own Time Square ad, which read, “To all of our atheist friends: Thank God you’re wrong.” As Answers in Genesis president Ken Ham explained, “We’re not trying to attack them personally, but we do believe they’re wrong. From an atheist’s perspective, they believe when they die, they cease to exist. And we say no, you’re not going to cease to exist; you’re going to spend eternity with God or without God. And if you’re an atheist, you’re going to be spending it without God.” Sounds pretty Christian to me.
2. Merry Xmas and Happy Holocaust!
Lest you think American Atheists limit themselves to flat graphic art, they also posted a video on a digital billboard in Time Square. Guess they like the neighborhood. “Who needs Christ during Christmas?” asked the 40′ x 40′ installation last December. According to American Atheists president David Silverman , Christmas isn’t just for Christians: “We all love this time of year…Christianity has been trying to claim ownership of the season for hundreds of years. But the winter solstice came first and so did its traditions. The season belongs to everybody.”
But not everyone was so happy about this Happy Holiday billboard. State Senator Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) called the billboard an “expression of hatred,” saying, “Just as millions of Americans are preparing to celebrate Christmas, the American Atheists organization has ridiculed the solemn beliefs of millions of New Yorkers.” What’s worse, this billboard, like so many other things that have absolutely nothing to do with the Holocaust, will lead to the holocaust: “Religious persecution of the kind that similarly led to the Holocaust began with small baby steps of ridicule and hatred of the religious beliefs of others.”