Atheists: proud, scared, combative, victimized? 41

Some American atheists want to prove that they are patriotic by having planes fly banners on the Fourth of July advertising their atheism and patriotism.

We have to wonder why. What will they gain from the “$23,ooo” exercise? They say they “hope to draw attention and spur public discussion”. Yet it is public attention and discussion of their atheism that has offended and scared them.

“I’m a patriotic American. I served my country. I get out there and celebrate the Fourth, too,” Blair Scott, who calls himself a proud atheist, proclaimed.

Proud to be an atheist? We could understand taking pride in being rational, but what is there to be proud of in not believing in divine beings? It’s not a great achievement, it’s simply a use of one’s intelligence.

Blair Scott, according to CNN’s “belief” blog, is “the communications director for the New Jersey-based American Atheists” and maintains that “atheists in the United States often feel alienated and face accusations of being anti-American because of their lack of belief in God“.

The blog goes on:

To combat those notions, his group is using Independence Day to say atheists love their country, too. …

Planes with banners that read “God-LESS America” or “Atheism is Patriotic” will be flying over 27 states on Monday. While people might be leery to see the messages overhead, the $23,000 campaign has had a struggle with those who are supposed to bring it to life.

We cannot see how atheism is “patriotic”. We understand that a person can be both an atheist and a patriot, but atheism as such has nothing to do with patriotism.

The would-be advertisers are having some difficulty finding pilots who will dare to fly their banners.

Again we wonder why. What will happen to the pilots if they do?

Justin Jaye of Fly Signs Aerial Advertising, who is orchestrating the flights for American Atheists, said out of the 85 people in the country who fly these sign-pulling planes only about 17 have agreed to fly the messages.

“I’ve been in this business for 20 years and I’ve never run into so much resistance on people flying,” Jaye said. “I’ve had pilots who are actual atheists who said, ‘Justin, I am an atheist and I won’t fly it because I can’t wear a bulletproof vest.'”

They think they might be shot for flying a banner?

Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, says the reaction to the organization’s campaign before it takes off shows how much work the group still needs to do. “This is a clear reminder of why we need to keep fighting because the bigotry against us is so thick that a lot of the pilots are afraid to fly our banners,” he said.

Jaye said while some feared for their lives, others feared for their marriages. He had one pilot say his wife would divorce him if he made the flight.

She knows she’s married to an atheist, and that’s okay with her; but if he flies a banner she’ll divorce him?

“A pilot and president of Pro-Air Enterprises in Indianapolis” named Red Calvert, who – one gathers – is not an atheist, though he doesn’t seem to be religious either, is reported as saying:

“I respect our country and I respect our churches and we’ve got enough problems in our country without stirring up some more,” he said. “If those people want to do something they believe in, fine, just don’t include me.”

He fears being mistaken for an atheist. But why should flying these banners “stir up problems in the country”? Are angry lynch mobs going to turn up at Fly Signs Aerial Advertising and Pro-Air Enterprises with guns and rope?

Would any reader who is afraid to make his unbelief known, hides it like a guilty secret, or has been denied his “rights” as an American citizen because he is an atheist, please inform us. What have they done to you? What might they do? What does “keep fighting” consist of (other than trying to fly banners)?

We know that the children of atheists have been bullied at school. We have also heard of some discrimination against atheists in the armed forces. But have adult atheists been killed for their unbelief? Hounded and hunted? Have crosses been burnt on your front lawns?

Tell us about it.