This is from the Washington Post:
A group of atheists unveiled a monument to their non-belief in God … to sit alongside a granite slab that lists the Ten Commandments in front of the Bradford County [Florida] courthouse.
As a small group of protesters blasted Christian country music and waved “Honk for Jesus” signs, the atheists celebrated what they believe is the first atheist monument allowed on government property in the United States. …
American Atheists sued to try to have the stone slab with the Ten Commandments removed from the courthouse lawn in this rural, conservative town in northern Florida. Their demand was not met, but they were told they could erect their own monument in “what is described as a free–speech zone”.
It ‘s not just a monument, however:
“When you look at this monument, the first thing you will notice is that it has a function. . . we selected to place this monument in the form of a bench,” said David Silverman, president of American Atheists. …
The event – on Saturday June 29, 3013 – made a small stir:
About 200 people attended the unveiling. Most were supportive, although there were protesters, including a group from the Florida League of the South that had signs that said, “Yankees Go Home.” …
After the 1,500-pound granite bench was unveiled, people rushed to have their pictures taken on it. The bench bears quotes from Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams and Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the founder of American Atheists. It also has a list of Old Testament punishments for violating the Ten Commandments, including death and stoning.
The event did not pass entirely without drama. A Christian “jumped atop the peak of the monument and shouted his thanks to the atheists for giving him a platform to declare that Jesus is real.” [He isn't - ed.] But “atheists shouted at him, and he stepped down after about a minute”. …
The atheists said they expected protesters.
“There always are,” said Rick Wingrove, director of a Washington, D.C., area office of American Atheists. “We protest their events, they protests our events. As long as everybody’s cordial and let people speak. This is our day, not theirs. We’re fine with them being here.”
Could we now have a monument to non-belief in socialism in the grounds of the White House?
Bill O’Reilly insists that Christianity is not a religion!
David Silverman gets heavy over Christmas.
Readers’ comments on this clash of opinions are invited.
(Hat-tip, our reader and commenter Paresh)
We are partly in agreement and partly in disagreement with leftist atheists. Obviously we share their atheism. Equally obviously we do not share their political opinions. “American Atheists” seemed to us to have a leftist bent (as Richard Dawkins certainly has), but we may be wrong. (Visit their website and see what you think.) In any case, we like their activism against religion.
This article comes from USA Today, by Cathy Lynn Grossman.
Hey, President Obama and contender Mitt Romney, the American Atheists want your attention. They’re unveiling a new in-your-face-to-the-faithful billboard campaign, timed to the national presidential nominating conventions.
The billboard ads do not seem to be carrying a political message.
Today’s press conference revealed signs that call God “sadistic” and Jesus “useless” as a savior (his image is shown as toast, literally) and conclude that Atheism, by contrast, is “simply reasonable.”
The Gods depicted in the bible are sadistic. The “Old Testament” tyrant punishes five generations of descendants of anyone who offends him. The vague “Father” of the “New Testament” has his “Son” condemn countless millions to burn forever in hellfire on sheer whim.
And why should people need a “savior” of any stripe?
Presumably, Catholics such as Vice President Biden and Romney’s running mate choice Paul Ryan, are covered in this hit on Christians such as Obama, a mainline Protestant.
Obama “a mainline Protestant”? You reckon, Ms Grossman? Why is he so partial to Islam then?
But evidently the American Atheists don’t consider Mormons to be Christians, since they prepared a separate billboard attack on their faith. …
What can it matter whether they are Christians or not? They are as irrational in their belief as any self-styled Christians are. Are there better and worse systems of irrationality?
But GOP delegates won’t see the attack on their faith on their way to nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in Tampa. Spokeswoman Teresa MacBain says no one in Tampa would rent them billboard space. So watch for both texts in Charlotte, N.C., where the Democrats will gather in September.
American Atheists is the group that created and produced the Reason Rally in March on the National Mall – an event president David Silverman billed as a fun gathering starring raging atheists such as Richard Dawkins. …
So atheists who do not believe the unbelievable “rage” about it? Whereas believers sweetly keep their farfetched opinions to themselves?
The same group flew a banner over New York City on the Fourth of July proclaiming, “Atheism is patriotic.”
Now … the billboards are aimed at mocking the “silliness” of religion. In an email before today’s press conference, [Teresa MacBain] wrote that questioning the religious views of men who want to lead the free world is essential because,
“If a person believes stupid things, then we have every right to question his or her judgment, and that directly impacts how the non-religious voter votes.”
She’s right. The amazing fact is that people can be highly intelligent, well-educated, sensible, and yet believe in the supernatural! It is something we find very hard to understand. But as every candidate for the presidency has to avow some religious belief, we see no point in making too much of his religion unless he does.
More demands – like non-religious people to be appointed to the Cabinet and the Supreme Court – are at their website.
We concur with those demands
Interestingly, for all the increasing public presence of unbelievers – billboards, rallies, conventions, etc. – the attention has not boosted their percentage of the U.S. population significantly in the last decade.
How does Grossman or anyone know that?
Most people who say they have no religious identity also call themselves spiritual but not religious …
Whatever that might mean, it does suggest more people may be atheist than get counted as such …
… and many give the entire topic a big “so what” shrug.
That’s atheism too, by default.
But the billboards planned for Charlotte, N.C., may not be well received. In 2010, when free thinkers posted an edited version of the line from the Pledge of Allegiance without the phrase “under God,” vandals added it with spray paint.
Do you think … the billboards will convert anyone away from religion? Is it “simply reasonable” to mock belief?
We reply: yes, they may turn some away from religion. We only hope they will not turn some away from voting for Romney.
And yes, of course it is reasonable to mock religious belief. It’s an urgent and perpetual necessity. Religious belief is absurd yet lethally dangerous to the well-being of humanity.
A group called American Atheists have filed a lawsuit in protest against a cross being officially recognized as a 9/11 memorial.
No one deliberately erected the cross. Two iron girders, one vertical with a shorter one attached to it horizontally near the top, were left standing in the rubble. Some Christians have chosen to treat it as their sacred symbol. A Franciscan monk performed a ceremonial blessing of it when it was moved recently to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
Here’s part of a report and commentary on the story:
American Atheists expressed their outrage that, in a memorial partially subsidized by tax dollars, a cross should be the only religious object included.
“We honor the dead and respect the families,” they wrote in a statement on their website, “which is why we will not allow the many Christians who died to get preferential representation over the many non-Christians who suffered the same fate. This was an attack against America, not Christianity, and Christianity’s does not deserve special placement just because THEY think the girders look like their religious symbol.”
In the complaint … American Atheists point out that people of many different faiths died in the attacks. According to the lawsuit, the cross was originally blessed by the priest who ministered to workers clearing the site after the attacks, in response to the workers’ belief that the cross was “a sign that God never abandoned us at Ground Zero.” Naturally, some are asking: whose God are we talking about?
We wonder how Christians reconcile their trust in the beneficence of their all-knowing, all-powerful god with his permitting those thousands to suffer and die on 9/11. If he didn’t abandon them, what was he doing for them? But that’s an aside. The issue here is whether Christians should be allowed to treat the girders as an officially sanctioned religious memorial.
Although the atheists’ “us vs. them” rhetoric leaves something to be desired, their point is fair. If the creators of the 9/11 Memorial truly want to honor the dead, they can’t include only one religious symbol, even if it was recovered from the wreckage. It might require a little creativity to come up with appropriate tributes to the faith traditions (or lack thereof) of the many people who lost their lives in the attacks – but then again, perhaps it would be best simply not to include the cross at all.
We are entirely tolerant of other people’s choices and behavior if it in no way harms us. We don’t understand why people worship idols and imaginary beings and continue to hope against all experience that, when supplicated, the idol or the unknown god will do something good for them; but we are as unperturbed by their religious foibles as we are by any other kind. A pair of girders are for us simply a pair of girders, and if some choose to hold them sacred and bless them and kneel down before them in prayer, though we may be bemused, we feel no indignation. We cannot live in a state of perpetual emotional turmoil because others (most Americans, in fact) are religious.
Some atheists are arguing that the cross should only be allowed at the Memorial and Museum if other religious – and, presumably, atheist – signs and symbols stand with it.
What signs and symbols? Some religions have them, many do not. Would those that don’t have to devise them specially?
How does anyone know what some three thousand individuals believed?
What sign or symbol would the protesting atheists put up for their supposed like-thinkers who perished on that day?
We would like to know what our readers think about this.