Archive for July, 2011

July 25, 2011

Guest blargh

I”m a terrible friend. This guy has been bugging me about posting this guest thing for weeks and weeks. It’s been so long what he has to stay might not be relevant anymore, but we’re going to see.

Introducing Luc Duval.

Time and time again, an atheist organization presents an advertisement that is immediately deemed “offensive” by some religious viewers. Many of these advertisements point out that atheists are “good without God,” and atheists respond to the religious criticism by saying that they don’t understand why these ads are at all considered offensive, because all they say is that we’re good people and we exist.

For example, the Freedom From Religion Foundation recently purchased billboard advertisements in Columbus, Ohio, and one of them (accidentally, the ad agency stated) went up on a church’s property.

The church complained and the ad was moved. Hemant Mehta of The Friendly Atheist heard about this and stated,

There is absolutely nothing offensive about this billboard. It’s not attacking Christians. It’s not insulting Christianity. It’s Dylan stating that he can be good without god.

Or does that go against everything this church teaches?

I find myself disagreeing with such prominent atheists in this regard. “I can be good without God,” is not a superficial statement, and Christians have no trouble reading between the lines. If Dylan, in this case, announces that he is a good person without God and religion providing his moral foundation, then he’s arguing that God and religion are not necessary in order to be a good person, which absolutely goes against church teachings. Being told that one of your most significant beliefs is wrong causes offense.

Great! Be offended!

We atheists can be more controversial than that in our sleep. The American Atheists commissioned aerial banners to be flown on Independence Day. They either read “God-LESS America” or “Atheism is Patriotic.”

This time, columnist Mitch Albom condemns the AA for doing such a thing and is getting flack for it by atheist bloggers (which is fine). He doesn’t actually whine in typical anti-atheist fashion by saying “how dare you say something that I don’t personally believe,” but instead by saying that atheists are being hypocritical.

They’re not hypocritical. I’ll let Greta Christina field this one:

Atheists aren’t the ones trying to shut up religious believers. When religious ads go up on buses and billboards and TV, we roll our eyes and go about our business. We don’t agree with the advertisers… but we don’t try to stop them from advertising. Sure, we’re trying to get religious messages out of government — no Ten Commandments in City Halls, no creationism in public schools, no prayers to start city council meetings, etc. — but that’s a separation of church and state issue. (One that works for religious believers just as much as it does for atheists, I might point out.) When it comes to religious groups hawking their message on their own private property — or on other people’s private property they’ve rented with their own money — we may think it’s obnoxious or silly, but we totally respect their right to do it.

A mild surprise to me, PZ Myers, the most famous atheist blogger, argues that these aerial banners are not offensive; “These are perfectly pleasant, inoffensive messages…”

Wrong. These banners stand in direct opposition to many people’s deeply cherished beliefs, and that is offensive.

Here’s the thing: the fact that a person’s religious sensibilities flare up when they’re made aware of atheists’ existence, the secular foundation of our government, or religion-independent ethics doesn’t matter to me in the slightest.

Do I get annoyed when bombarded with religious ads? Yep. Do I get upset when I think about how much money televangelists make off of their scams? Yep. Do I scoff at religious bus ads? Sometimes. But I don’t expect these things to go away because I’m “offended.” In fact, I specifically would want religious advocates not to stop advertising in order to protect my sensibilities. I want them instead to stop advertising because they realize that they have no legitimate evidence behind their religious claims whatsoever (or because they run out of money due to lack of support).

Hey, religious people, to hell with your sensibilities. If you’re offended by outspoken atheists, I completely understand.

I just don’t care.

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