American Atheists, you’re doing it wrong…

I just read a story in The Week “American Atheists: Mounting a real war on Christmas” They’re renting billboards and plastering the message “You KNOW it’s a myth, this season, celebrate REASON!” depicting the 3 wise men and the nativity.

Now this issue is *really* complicated for me. I see myself as an Atheist.  Or an agnostic, it depends if I’m reading sci-fi at the time or not.

What really puzzles me about this issue, and is probably a reflection of my up-bringing in the UK, is that I do not understand the absolute need for a group that self identifies themselves as Atheists. One that feels a need to fight against religions spreading myths in a country that really does have much bigger problems, and much scarier myths that need dispelling.

What a group that positions itself against theism does is justify theism’s existence. It justifies Christianities’ allotment in peoples minds as an actual issue which needs to be debated,that it is another line to be drawn in the sand, another position to be adopted to exploit the right vote from the right constituency. In short, overt Atheism and Theism are The Batman and Joker. Without one, the other one has nothing to bounce controversy off of.

Maybe it’s just the idea of an Atheist’s “club” that irritates me, why do people need to justify their positions with an affiliation ? Now, if a full on witch burning domestic holy war kicked off, I’d be in the trenches with Richard Dawkins and the AA’s, but seriously…

All this billboard campaign reinforces in my mind is that the sheep are under an un-ending unconscious message assault that consists of 99% myth, let alone celebrating the myths of the bible once a year, which in my view is utterly harmless, and exactly the wrong angle to attack Christmas from. If you really want to sour the Christmas mood, don’t buy any Christmas presents, wait, atheist America actually gets in on the economic gift buying frenzy in November/December too ? Damn. (if you have to buy gifts stick to the simple rules – buy useful/educational gifts, buy American and local if possible, I know, terribly boring.)

The masses that are looking for myths to be reinforced or trounced one way or another should be ignoring all billboards, television, newspapers, some textbooks and most if not all conversations involving religion.

If people were renting billboards with effective, meaningful myth dispelling messages they might say some things like these:

You don’t actually live in a Democracy, Merry Christmas.

You’re a member of the Empire, not the Rebellion. Get over it and Happy Holidays! (this one is good bumper sticker fodder)

Pick a war, it’s about oil/gas. Go on, buy the wife and kids a Suburban this Christmas. Just ignore the outside world.

Support terrorism, buy Saudi oil every 5th time you fill your tank. Happy Hannakah !

Help the war economy and keep petro-dollars sailing our way vote Republican.

Keep our government indecisive, weak and pandering to the elites vote Democrat.

Our economy will be fine after a die-off. Stuff those stockings !

You’re not being told the truth, and no, we’re not talking about the bloody bible.

In short, messages pro or con on religion are the least important thing that should be appearing on billboards. But hey, that’s just my narrow minded opinion. (which I can pay a few thousand dollars to stick on a billboard, God Bless America .. shit, wait … !)

Worship dogs and sunshine.

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3 thoughts on “American Atheists, you’re doing it wrong…

  1. “celebrating the myths of the bible once a year, which in my view is utterly harmless”
    Agreed! There’s always been some sort of festival at this time of year. It makes sense to have a party when the weather is miserable.

    I absolutely LOVE your new billboard ideas. Have you sent them to the Atheists?

    Short, simple, to the point. My fave –
    “You don’t actually live in a Democracy, Merry Christmas.”

    A close second – “You’re a member of the Empire, not the Rebellion. Get over it and Happy Holidays!”

    Have you seen the Eddie Izzard that compares America to the Roman empire. I think it’s dressed to kill. It’s completely awesome. “Beware America – you have Orgies and Vomitariums to look forward to!”

  2. Sorry I’ve not read your blog in a while.
    I’d agree that picking on Christmas is a pretty poor bit of marketing! But on the other hand, it sounds like there needs to be more public expressions of atheism to make it easier for those doubting religion’s accuracy to say so.

    Over 40% of adults in the United States are creationists[1]. How so much physical evidence can be ignored, and overruled by an arbitrary book is very depressing. That’s all it would be though, if the people holding the beliefs had no effect on the world. However, this stuff has consequences… here in Scotland there’s a consultation on the creation of same-sex marriage. I’ve been out on the streets getting people to support the consultation. However, this morning there was a anti-gay protest in Edinburgh…

    Regarding climate change: less than 40% of people in the US believe that humans are causing climate change. It seems likely that if you can dismiss evidence that the Earth is billions of years old, it is probably just as easy to dismiss evidence that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas.

    What’s the point in this post? Well, although I agree with you that their slogan seems pointless, I worry about how hard it is to be an atheist in the US?… and the effect this has on decisions (e.g. climate mitigation).

    Could you be elected with the population knowing you’re an Atheist?[3]

    Keep up the blog!

    Mike.

    [1] http://www.pollingreport.com/science.htm
    [2] http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/current_events/environment_energy/energy_update
    [3] http://www.soc.umn.edu/~hartmann/files/atheist%20as%20the%20other.pdf

    • Hey Mike! dang … I really missed the boat on this one, I didn’t even notice this comment and it’s remained unapproved for a long time.
      Apologies.

      The point of the post is that I feel there are much scarier, more immediate myths that need dispelling. Not to say that the absolute Christian dominance of the culture of power (politicians and government, federal and state) isn’t very scary in itself. Attacking Christmas, or rather bringing notice to this situation at Christmas almost seems like a tactic that would encourage people to ignore your view, it immediately would put anyone’s back up, because Christmas is much more secular today than we think.

      It is hard to be an Atheist, or to a lesser extent a secularist in the US, but my point is, once you identify yourself with a group, or as a group, you become a much easier target. Preaching against religion will fast get you labeled. That’s why I believe focus might be better shifted to the other myths about our world. About the lack of democracy, the reasons for the wars of the west (Yes .. crusades.)

      But! … it just so happens that the majority of people that do this are either Atheists or Secularists .. aand the people who are willfully ignorant of it, or flat out don’t mind, tend to be on the Christian Right.

      Interestingly enough the popular movements of the day are the Tea Partiers and the Occupy movement. Which one do you think I identify with ? 🙂 Though they are both sides of the same coin. People know something is very wrong with the way our country is run, and how it conducts itself internationally.

      But the point you bring up is very good. If half the country still believes in the sky fairy (or that if there is one, likely an extra terrestrial, that it would give a crap about us anyway.), they’re obviously not ready for the kind of realizations about reality I try to think about. It’s a very sorry state of affairs.
      My opinion on being elected to any kind of office if you declared yourself an atheist; local – perhaps, state – maybe, federal/national – not a chance. But having said that there are many Mayors, council people, Senators, Governors, State Reps etc… who are gay. How deeply the influence of sexual orientation is vs atheism affects electability I have no idea… how many gay Christians identify themselves as such ?

      Climate change denial is strongly linked with theist beliefs, if you have a chance take a look at Rick Santorum. Holy crap, that guy is scary and is in the running for the GOP primary. He is right wing ignorance and religious fundamentalist personified, he’s on the faaar right.
      People will wax lyrical about how we’re here because the Earth was provided FOR us, and will always use concepts and language that separate themselves from nature, as something to be dominated and controlled. This kind of crazy only comes from a lifetime of perverse forms of Christianity in which the hubris of the human race is groomed and we’re led to believe we are almost divine.

      Anyway .. On the far left we have folks like Derrick Jensen, who believes we should be actively attacking industrialized civilization (like it’s not going to choke to death on its own) interestingly enough, I don’t think people like him would get near elected office, unlike Santorum.

      The Christian right embraces politics because politics is an integral part of the ruling elite money machine that keeps things in check, keeps the cheap energy flowing and builds on the income equality gap. The Christian center or left is obviously where the democrats reside, but their ideas and plans fair less well in our divided nation. I suppose the Green Party is where the Atheists and also the Eco-Christians reside.

      The bottom line is this: “Garbage in, garbage out. If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you’re going to get selfish, ignorant leaders.” – George Carlin

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