Monday, December 21, 2009

Atheist Signs Annoy Believers

You can drive down almost any street in any small town, big city, or along any country road and sooner or later you will see a sign proclaiming “Jesus Loves,” or “Jesus is Lord,” or listing a bible verse, usually “John 3:16.” You’ll see Christian messages on church placards or read some bible verse on a bumper sticker.

But when someone puts up a sign that says something as innocuous as “Reason’s Greetings” people get all bent out of shape. It happened recently in Las Vegas, of all places. One resident of that city said, “If I had a ladder I would have climbed up there and pulled it down myself,” speaking about a billboard, funded by a local atheist, that read, “Yes Virginia, there is no god.

“I'm a Christian, I believe in God, and I didn't like it,” the angry resident added.

Well, tough. I don’t like all the Christian crap I have to read every time I go for a drive. That offends me, too. But I acknowledge that people have a right to their beliefs and they have a right to put up signs (assuming they’re put up legitimately; many are not). So if Christians have to read the occasional secular message put up by those who value reason over superstition, well that’s just too bad.

Christians do not own this country. This country was not founded as a Christian nation, despite rumors to the contrary. And atheists have just as much right to put up secular messages as Christians have to put up their drivel.

Across the country, in Asheville, North Carolina, a newly-elected city councilman was sworn in without using the phrase “So help me God.” He didn’t put his hand on the bible either. Some residents don’t like it and say that he was seated unlawfully because the North Carolina constitution requires officeholders to believe in God.

Even if that it so, state law permits officeholders to affirm rather than swear by God. And such state constitutional requirements are a clear violation of the U.S. Constitution which prohibits any religious test before taking office. The Supreme Court reaffirmed this in a 1961 case.

So regardless of who it offends or makes uncomfortable, secular humanists have every bit as much right to express their beliefs, or lack thereof, as Christians. It’s just that Christians have had carte blanch control over so much of this country for so long, they are loathe to share that control with non-believers.

Following the 9/11 terrorist strikes, which were religiously-motivated, many Americans have re-examined their religious affiliations. The attacks were horrendous. But if any good has come from their aftermath, it is that Americans are more secular than ever. Religion is a boil on the ass of America and it needs to be lanced.

Many, if not most religious folks are honest, decent citizens and I hold them no ill will. But I detest anyone who tries to undermine the freedom of speech of those who are non-religious. Too many religious people have a sense of superiority because of their religion. I’ve seen and heard it too often.

But non-believers are the fastest-growing group in America when it comes to a belief system. Atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, or whatever label you want to give them, they are becoming more numerous as most Christian denominations see their ranks dwindling. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Christians are still in the majority and they still want to control the flow of information.

No comments: