Another day, another atheist advertisement, and another manufactured controversy -- this time, thanks to Christians in Forth Worth and Dallas, Texas. The busses in Fort Worth will be carrying ads that say "Millions of Americans are Good Without God" and this simple statement that atheists aren't automatically evil has generated howls of protests and even threats of a boycott.
Once again Christians are making it clear that it doesn't matter how innocuous, mild, or reasonable an atheist message is: any attempt by atheists to announce that we exist and are equal human beings will be met by hate, hostility, anger, and... fear. Most of all, fear. The only thing which can adequately explain the extreme reactions to incredibly mild messages is that Christians are afraid of organized, unapologetic atheists.
To some Fort Worth clergy, the timing is an insult.
"I'm not a Christian, but I cannot help but feel it is done to hurt and to insult," said Rabbi Gary Perras of Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Fort Worth. "There is a better way of making your point. It's an in-your-face, mean kind of thing."
To Rev. Ralph Emerson Jr., pastor of Rising Star Baptist Church, the message is not offensive, just wrong.
"I'm not offended because they offend themselves," Emerson said. "We just accept there are persons who just don't fit into where we fit in. We'll pray for them and hope one day they'll come to see the light."
The same ads were intended to run on busses in Dallas as well, but the DART management decided to change their policies and refuse to ever accept any religiously-related ad at all rather than accept an ad from atheists. This is legal, but it's a sign of deep bigotry in the DART management. Imagine if they had said that they would cease running any religious ads rather than accept an ad from Jews -- would there be any doubt that such a decision was inspired by deep anti-Semitism? Well, it's the same here.
It's curious that Christian leaders consider it an "insult" for atheists to say that they can be good people merely because of the time of the year. Do theists own December? No. Do Christians own December? No. So why should atheists retreat to a closet and refrain from announcing their existence, much less announcing that they aren't evil, merely because it's December?
Just how delicate and fragile are the sensibilities of Christians that they would consider it an "insult" to learn in December that atheists not only exist, but can in fact be moral human beings? Just how insecure must Christians be in their beliefs that they consider it an "attack" whenever it is announced that non-Christians exist and that being a Christian isn't necessary?
"We're not trying to convert anybody," [Terry McDonald of the Coalition of Reason] said. "There's so much religion in this area, and it's so visible. We're just trying to let people who are not believers know that there's a lot of people like them."
It's obviously a laudable and reasonable goal to make sure atheists know that they aren't alone -- at least, it's laudable and reasonable if you regard atheists as equal human beings. For some Christians, though, this is an evil goal because they want atheists to feel isolated and alone. They want atheists to feel ashamed for not being Christians.
Even more importantly, they don't want it to become a matter of public discussion that there are options other than Christianity. They don't adults or children to seriously consider the possibility that there isn't anything wrong with atheism, that abandoning Christianity doesn't mean abandoning morality, and that atheist neighbors are just as good as Christian neighbors.
The prospect of being faced with the message that atheists can be good -- and therefore that Christians don't have a monopoly on being good -- is way too much for some Christians to bear. It's so horrific that some are threatening to boycott the busses in Forth Worth. They'd rather walk than ride on a bus with an ad on the outside that says atheists can be good people:
A second group of pastors, those who are calling for a boycott, talked independently with the news media outside the Harvey Avenue church earlier Thursday morning, saying the signs have no place on city buses.
"The T, which is supported with public funds, plans to display a sign that is offensive to our community," said Kyev Tatum, pastor of Friendship Rock Baptist Church. "If that was anti-Semitic, we wouldn't be having this conversation."
"If the signs go up, we'll walk off the buses," Tatum said.
Other pastors in the community say they will back a boycott if it happens, but they have their own views of the situation.
"If the Fort Worth pastors come together and say there will be a bus boycott, I will support that," said Ralph W. Emerson Jr., senior pastor of Rising Star Baptist Church. "The signs on the buses for me are not offensive, because they paid to advertise God. And, me riding the bus does not say that I am in agreement with the signs posted on it."
You'll notice that no atheists are threatening to boycott buses that carry religious messages. Why? Because atheists don't object to Christians using legal means to communicate their ideas to the public. We may disagree with those messages, but we aren't trying to suppress them like Christians keep trying to do with atheist messages. Yet, it's atheists who are accused of being intolerant and bigoted.
This is fear speaking. All the Christians who are complaining and threatening are afraid -- especially the preachers. The preachers are afraid that their flock might thin about a bit if people learn that atheism doesn't make you evil. Preachers are afraid that their authority and power might weaken if they can't maintain the facade that they alone can be moral leaders. Some individual Christians are afraid that everything they've believed in is just a sham -- and they might have to think for themselves if they give in to doubt or questions.
It's no surprise that Christians are reacting so badly when even so-called "journalists" are incapable of presenting the facts fairly and objectively. Case in point is Dionne Anglin:
The anti-God bus campaign is similar to ones the group has done in Detroit and Fayetteville, Ark. ...And in addition to the anti-God ads, two ads from other religious organizations are schedule to begin running within the next two weeks, including one that has the message "Jesus is the reason for the season." ...And just like ads hyping local teams, different products and services, the hope is that the anti-God message will also turn heads.
Source: KDFW Fox
Dionne Anglin repeats "anti-God" several times in her "story," which means that she wanted to drive home that message to readers. It was a deliberate choice serving a particular agenda. So, it's considered "journalism" in Fort Worth to say it's "anti-God" to merely observe that atheists can be good? It's considered "journalism" by Dionne Anglin to misrepresent stories, facts, and people in the service of a personal agenda? Dionne Anglin should be reassigned to the editorial department where job title would at least be accurate and no one will mistake her writings for real reporting.