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Austin Cline

Loving Christians Vandalize Atheist Activist's Home

By September 25, 2007

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Rob Sherman, an outspoken atheist and activist on behalf of church/state separation, had his house vandalized with eggs and religious graffiti. It's surely not a coincidence that just days ago Sherman's daughter, Dawn, argued against including the song "God Bless America" removed from the homecoming celebration of Buffalo Grove High School.
The vandalism likely was the retaliatory work of youngsters, police Sgt. Mike Millett said -- since it came on the heels of the school incident and because one of the chalked words, "Jesus," was misspelled.

Source: Daily Herald (via Friendly Atheist)

The criminals scrawled "JESSUS" and "GOD bless USA" on the driveway. What kind of education are churches giving young Christians that they can't even spell "Jesus" correctly? It's not exactly a difficult word, after all. It's just an assumption, though, that it was "youngsters" who did this. As Vjack points out, if the vandalism had been against a black family and included racial slurs or a burning cross, I doubt that such an assumption would be made (unless you live in Jena). Racist intimidation is taken seriously; bigotry and intimidation against atheists isn't. It's thus not the age and identity of the perpetrators that's being minimized so much as the crime and effect on the victims.

Conservative Christians make a big deal over how moderate Muslim leaders don't do enough to speak out against extremists and violent believers in their midst. The complaints are a bit overblown, but perhaps we should take them more seriously here and ask where the Christians are who should be speaking out against this sort of religiously-motivated behavior? The vandalism happened on Friday night, giving ministers, pastors, and priests plenty of time to come up with something to say during Sunday sermons. Did they?

Imagine, for a moment, if "young atheists" vandalized the home of a prominent Christian activist do you suppose that pastors and priests would find something to say on Sunday morning about that? What do you suppose Christian evangelicals would be writing on their blogs? What do you think Rush Limbaugh would be saying on his radio show? We can be confident that there would be more coverage about it in the media, with people using this as justification for saying that so-called "militant" atheists really are militant after all and are inspiring violence towards peaceful, god-fearing religious believers.

Others object to the Shermans in less illegal, but no less illogical, ways. Carol Bachar writes:

Maybe he and daughter can take God from public places, but they can't take God from our hearts and lips. They can take a nativity scene and crosses from public places, but they can't stop Christians from displaying them in their own yards.

Source: Daily Herald

Here's a news flash for Carol Bachar: no one is trying to stop you from having a nativity scene or cross in your back yard! Most atheists would probably be thrilled if Christians like Bachar stopped spending so much time trying to get the state's endorsement of their beliefs and instead invested all that time, money, and effort to erect the same displays in their own homes and yards. If all Christians really, truly want is to be able to express their beliefs, then that strikes me as the best and most effective means for doing so: lots and lots of small displays all over town rather than just a single, disputed display in one spot.

In school, Dawn has reported that a senior walked into her Spanish class, asked for her by name, then went to her desk to give her a flag while shouting "God Bless America!" I haven't heard about any atheists searching out Christians to yell at them "God Does Not Exist!" I don't read about atheists harassing, intimidating, or trying to hurt Christians.

Remember, though, that atheism isn't a civil rights issue and this sort of vandalism isn't a civil rights violation. What this really is, is a public relations problem. Clearly the Shermans haven't been doing enough to raise the positive public profile of atheists; by instead making atheists look so bad, they have only brought all of this horrible treatment on themselves. For example, Dawn Sherman shouldn't have rudely insulted the beliefs of Christians by pointing out that her school's homecoming celebration should have secular rather than religious songs.

Atheists in America need to learn to stop doing things that insult, upset, or otherwise annoy Christians. If they do, everything will suddenly be better for them right?

Comments
September 25, 2007 at 12:31 pm
(1) tracieh says:

I also notice that whenever there is vandalism or violent behavior toward a church building or worshippers, that’s nearly always also a Xian group who perpetrates that. I’ve seen people from different sects as well as congregant’s own members do harm to church buildings and groups during church meetings.

While I condemn all such action, I have to say I’m very happy the perpetrators aren’t atheists, and are adherents. As you are pointing out in your article, if it were atheists who did this to believers, we’d be flayed in the media.

September 26, 2007 at 2:53 pm
(2) Chuck says:

Well said tracieh.
This still boogles the mind as to why it is good for the goose, but not the gander? I get so tired of these fundies that can’t see the hypocrisy in their beliefs and actions!
And as said how if it’s “one of their own” messes up (no big deal) but let an atheist mess up and it’s armageddon!

September 26, 2007 at 5:46 pm
(3) tracieh says:

Chuck: This is a very similar point to some earlier posts on religious terrorism. When a Muslim kills or plants a bomb for his god, he’s a Muslim extremist. But when a Xian kills or plants a bomb for his god, he’s severly disturbed individual.

>This still boogles the mind as to why it is good for the goose, but not the gander?

The gander is the majority and holds quite a bit more power than the goose.

October 1, 2007 at 5:42 pm
(4) John Hanks says:

The churches should erase the nonsense, lest they commit a sin of omission.

October 2, 2007 at 10:30 am
(5) MAS2007 says:

Just another example of the religion’s inability to engage in critical thinking. When confronted with reality not concurring theist thinking, they only have base reactions to turn to.

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