American Atheists have their traditional seasonal billboard campaign in full swing, and as you can perhaps anticipate, the perpetually ready to be offended are (insert drum roll here) … offended at the very idea that the traditional Christmas story is fake news and did not actually happen.
As pointed out by Newsweek, some being offended by anything put up by American Atheists is becoming a regular Christmas tradition …
Every year, the organization braces for the rush of holiday hate mail that inevitably follows the billboard posts. In 2015, it championed a “Make Christmas Great Again” slogan while pushing people to skip church. Another more blatant advertisement simply read: “Who needs Christ during Christmas? Nobody.” Yet another display positioned Santa next to Jesus and said, “Keep the merry! Dump the myth!”
The goal is to create a culture of acceptance for people who genuinely do not identify themselves with religion. The posts are designed to be “cheeky” and grab attention, Fish said, but they are not an attack on Christmas — more of a challenge.
David Silverman the president of American Atheists, made the following observation …
“Everyone knows that the stories we’re told in church aren’t the truth, people ignore that fact because they enjoy the community, the friendship, and the traditions that go along with religion. But we’re here to tell them that churches don’t have a monopoly on any of that. There’s a fantastic and vibrant community of atheists all across the country creating their own traditions and lifelong friendships.”
“Spend time with your friends and family, give gifts, do charitable work, and enjoy the season. You can do all of that while also celebrating the truth,” added Silverman.
Oh wait, I almost forgot to show you the actual billboard, so here it is …
NBC News labels it “Provocative”, but is it any more Provocative than the numerous religious billboards that promote the idea that it is indeed all true on the basis of no credible evidence at all except that the idea simply happens to be socially popular.
When asked to comment on this by NBC, an American Atheists official explained things as follows …
Nick Fish, a spokesman for American Atheists, claimed the signs aren’t meant to offend, but to spark a dialogue by adding a topical tag line.
“It’s a way of starting a conversation not just with this organization but within a community,” Fish told NBC News on Wednesday. “The choice is often between being provocative or not being heard at all. If we can start that initial conversation, then we’re doing our jobs to get the ball rolling and get our foot in the door.”
Some Advertising companies refused to run it
Lamar Advertising refused to run it in Oklahoma City or Tulsa. This was because , to use their own words, “it did not meet their standards”. A compromise was to instead run a billboard advertising the American Atheists convention that is taking place in Oklahoma City at the end of March next year. Here that is …
Well yes, (with tongue placed firmly in cheek) the response of the skeptic within me is to immediately wonder if this means that American Atheists will not actually hold their convention, but will instead simply persuade everybody to believe that they will, and then fake the evidence that the convention happened, but in reality not actually hold it at all – just like Santa Claus.
Is it all appropriate?
Yes it is, the time when those who did not actually believe has gone.
Regardless of your specific belief, or the degree of offence you might feel towards it all, the campaign is a wholly appropriate reminder that there are quite literally millions of people who don’t actually believe.
Is it Factual?
Apart from the gospels which describe conflicting events, there is no actual evidence that any of it is true – that’s basically why people do doubt, and what is described should cause some considerable degree of pause about accepting it.
If you decide to believe the bible, then what exactly do you believe?
Do you for example believe Matthew’s account where there is no census, no stable, no inn, no shepherds, and instead Mary and Joseph lived in Bethlehem in their own house. They later fled the town to Egypt and then eventually settled down in Nazareth.
Do you instead believe Luke’s account where there are no wise men (astrologers) visiting, and no flight to Egypt. This time Mary and Joseph live in Nazareth and came to Bethlehem for a supposed Roman census that there is no record of ever having taken place. As a side note, the Romans never ever taxed people on the basis of where they were born.
Perhaps you go along with the modern blending of all of this which itself conflicts with what is described within both Matthew and also Luke.
The bottom line is this: the bible contains two distinctly different conflicting accounts. They can’t both be true, so clearly at least one of them is wrong.
It is of course true that the end of December was traditionally a time of year when humans gave each other gifts, had a family gathering, perhaps also enjoyed a party, and also attended a religious service as well. This has been happening for literally thousands of years. Over two thousand years ago the Romans did exactly this and called it Saturnalia. All of this being associated with Christianity was a later addition.
If right now you struggle with the concept of the Christian story not being factual, then consider this point. You appear to have no problem at all dismissing the Roman Gods that were once associated with it all as fake news.