I’d like to start out by saying that I know a few people who are atheists. It doesn’t bother me that they are atheists, honestly. I believe what I believe and I’m OK with letting other people believe what they believe. I’m the co-conveener of the Campus Ministry Association and have really tried this year to bring people of all faiths together to work for the common good of the University and of course, the students. Sometimes we’re all on the same page and sometimes we’re a divided group.

And because of those divisions, because we tend to not work together on things, I fear atheists have a huge advantage over the religious community. Say what you will about the atheists, at least they are united.

Which is more than I can say about Catholics most days of the week. While we Catholics argue about the new changes to the liturgy this one slipped by us:

It begs the question of why there hasn’t been a vocal response against hate ads like this one.

Recently, a Vodka company had a billboard up that read “Christmas Quality, Hanukkah Pricing” and immediately and appropriately there was a huge uproar from the Jewish community and the anti-defamation league. The company apologized and removed the ad immediately. To equate the Jewish people with frugality is indeed hateful and I’m glad people got behind this and took it down.

So why aren’t Christians of all denominations upset when another group of people intentionally call their God a myth? Isn’t that just as hateful? I would also say that if they put a big poster up that claimed that Judaism was a farce that would quickly be squashed. Why? Because the Jewish people know what hate speech leads to. Auschwitz was not that long ago and one man led the charge to claim that a group of people were evil because of their religion and began to have them exterminated.

Where do the atheists plan to go from here? Is the next step to exterminate all religious people? Religious icons? Churches?

Furthermore, a general question: Why is an anti-Jewish ad not OK, but an anti-Christian one just fine?

I’d like to issue a challenge to contact the anti-defamation league today and ask them to remove the offensive billboard. Perhaps our Bishops might want to get on board? Archbishop Dolan should speak loudly on this since it’s in his diocese and he’s the President of the Conference.

Martin Sheen, in a Notre Dame graduation speech told this story that I’ll paraphrase:

A man went to heaven and God looked at him and asked, “Where are ye scars?” And the man said that he had none. “Pity” God replied. “Wasn’t there SOMETHING worth fighting for?”

I never liked it when Bill Donahue (Catholic League) started ranting and raving, but perhaps at times we should get as angry as he would get? Some things are worth being angry about.

As I look to my secular campus, I note that most students aren’t choosing between different religious denominations, rather they are choosing between religion and atheism. And when we let the atheists say bad things about Jesus without a response, I fear it makes us look like we have no passion—that God isn’t worth fighting for sometimes.

Perhaps we need to unite against a common enemy. The sin of hate. And it seems to be wielded well by atheists who never seem to be able to live in freedom with others who espouse religious belief. Perhaps it’s time that someone tells them that they should simply leave us the hell alone and take their offensive billboard down.

Oh, and one more thing…

Merry Christmas.

0 thoughts on “Atheist Billboard: Hate Crime Against Christians?”
  1. I agree, this is hate speech. But here’s the difference between badmouthing Christians and Jewish people in our culture: The Jewish Community, as a whole, does not have a reputation for being ignorant and hateful themselves.

    What we really need to do is some serious damage control on the public persona of “Christian,” because there are a lot of loud, angry, homophobic, evolution-deniers out there who make us look ignorant. There’s no way around it. When the people I work with heard I was a devout Catholic, they were nervous – and perhaps rightfully so – that I’d be an unbearable coworker.

    Christian should mean loving, giving, generous, and patient. Instead, thanks to certain fringe groups, and particularly distasteful methods, Christian means homeschooling, creationism, and carrying signs that say, “God hates fags.”

    Who would even self-identify as that – let alone leap to defend it.

    I love my God, I love my church, and I’m offended by that billboard – but I’m still hesitant to self-identify as a Christian in a public setting without clarifying, “But that doesn’t mean I’m going to preach at you. We can all just chill and be normal.”

    Yes we need to solve this, we need to solve the root problem first.

  2. I should amend – I have no problem with homeschooling – it’s brave, incredibly difficult, and brilliant when done correctly. I was referring to the “Train up a child” monstrosity.

  3. “Perhaps it’s time that someone tells them that they should simply leave us the hell alone and take their offensive billboard down.”

    You know, as soon as all billboards declaring that Jesus and/or gods exist are taken down, then it will be time. Wake me when that happens.

    By the way, there’s no such thing as a “hate crime” via a billboard; we have something called the first amendment in the USA, and it’s not a crime to exercise your rights.

  4. At least the Atheists are united. I’m not so sure of that Mike. It seems like they are in the way that it often seems to atheists that we are all one big happy (hand-holding? sorry could not resist) clappy group of Christians.

    I have 3 good atheist friends via FB – well I met one of them once, no twice. In any event, they are often so quick to say how quick their compatriots are to judge.

    That said – this ad is really bad for so many reasons. Let me start with something non-religious… myths. I always find that kind of talk unseats myths from the place that they belong – real myths, which are really wisdom stories and turns them into some one-dimension make-believe.

    Now on to the faith piece- this just demeans everyone for trying to call Christians or other religious people stupid.

    And we Catholics are not always together, as you know!

  5. Calling something “hate speech” implies that that speech is meant to generate hatred, violence, and/or prejudice against a group of people. This billboard is only saying that a particular belief system is based in mythology. That is not hate speech, it is a point of view. And I would add, a perfectly valid point of view. Just because the billboard expresses a point of view that makes you feel icky does not make it hate speech.

  6. Being a christian implies “I believe all other religious beliefs to be untrue” aka myths.

    So by preaching christianity and christian beliefs, you are basically doing exactly what this billboard does: claiming other peoples beliefs are untrue.

    Going by your logic about this billboard, all christian websites, billboards, newsletters, public displays etc. are all hate speech because they imply that other religions are untrue.

    1. Um, no. I don’t know about that. I don’t have to be wrong for another’s religion to be right. I would say the most humble position is one that the Catholic Church takes most often which is, We don’t have all the answers and pretend to know the mind of God. Rather we live in hope.

      The atheists pretend that they can explain everything. Guess what? They can’t.

  7. GodGoogler:

    If you dont have to be wrong for another`s religion to be right, and vica verca, doesnt that basically mean you accept the existance of all gods from all religions? Its just a matter of which one you prefer to worship?

    Oh and spare me the strawman arguments -_- its embarassing to watch.

    1. Um, I’ve been pretty respectful to you. Since it’s my blog and not yours I’d hope we can keep a civilized conversation going.

      That said, no, it doesn’t mean that I accept the existence of anything. What it means is that I can live with the tension that other people believe differently than I do and I humbly accept that perhaps my faith is not certain. Faith is never certainty. Rather it’s believing in something that you DON’T have evidence for. It’s maintaining that you can’t explain everything and that humbly you submit to the fact that is indeed may or may not be true.

      Atheists make the same gamble.

      I think that’s my issue here. Catholics aren’t taking out an ad that says “Atheists are idiots” but that’s what the atheists are trying to do to believers of any religion much less, Christianity.

  8. I dont feel its very respectful to use strawman arguments against atheists as a group to make some sort of arbitrary point.

    Regardless: for believers it is a gamble. Since there is no evidence for any religion, and thus no reason to believe in any religion (As you said, faith is about believing something that you dont have evidence for), the choice comes down to a preference of which one of the numerous religions a person want to be true.

    For atheists however, no evidence = no reason to believe its true.
    I.e. there is no choice for atheists, no options. For it to be a gamble, there must be some reason to assume the possibility of the other options. Since there are no reasons to assume the possibility of other options, there is no gamble.

    Assuming such possibilities without any reasons are, as I have mentioned before, what religious people do.

    Therefore, the options in this “gamble” only exists for people who have already decided to believe in the supernatural.

    ( *reality* ) <— atheists
    ( *reality* )+( *supernatural options* ) <— Religious people.

    Here I try to illustrate what I mean, atheists dont "add" extra (unnecessary) factors to reality, we accept reality as it is based on the available information.

    Furthermore, billboards claiming that atheists are anti-american, ignorant, stupid and prone to violence have been put up by various religious groups already. Granted, I dont know how many, if any, of the members of those groups are catholic spesifically. The point is, religious groups are hardly innocent in this regard.

    Lastly: Is implying that god is a myth _really_ hateful? If you met me, and I told you "I dont believe in god", wouldnt I be implying that I think your god is a myth? Since I dont believe he exists? Would you claim I was being hateful for telling you?

    It seems to me that by your standards, a billboard saying "god exists" should be categorized as a hate crime towards non-believers.

  9. Some people hate Christians because a lot of Christians are mean and assholes. No offense, but some are pretty nice. Others aren’t. Christianity is just a hateful religion and there would not be so much prejudice in the world if Christianity never existed.

    1. Yes because no other religion other than Christianity has done evil. And all those Catholic hospitals never made a contribution. Oh yeah, the monks who printed all those books and the religious women who opened schools and Mother Teresa who fed the poor and cared for the dying–they were all so awful. #sarcasm.

  10. Sorry for the necroposting, but I had to comment.

    Saying “Judaism (the belief system) is a myth” isn’t hate speech. Saying “Jews (the people) have negative personality traits” IS hate speech. Similarly, saying “Catholicism is a fairy tale” is very different to saying “All Catholics are paedophiles”. One is an opinion about belief. Pretty strongly constitutionally protected. The other is a hateful lie. Much less protected.

    If you identify so strongly with your faith that any expression of the fact that others claiming that faith is fallacious is automatically defined as hateful, then that’s a problem. I note, for example, that in response to an earlier comment you asked how atheists would respond to billboards saying “Atheists are idiots”, instead of “Atheism is a dangerously erroneous philosophy”, much more in line with the content of the AA billboard, thus indicating that you are indeed engaging in that blurring of distinctions.

    To be fair, I think that American Atheists are frequently a bunch of jerks, and that is far from their best billboard. But being a jerk doesn’t automatically make you hateful.

    1. Fair point. But isn’t saying that someone’s belief system is erroneous akin to saying “If you believe this, you are a moron.”? Which is, what they are saying if we’re honest about this.

  11. I have to tell you honestly–this thread made me cry.

    I am an atheist, and it hurts me to know that you think saying things like this:

    “Perhaps we need to unite against a common enemy. The sin of hate. And it seems to be wielded well by atheists who never seem to be able to live in freedom with others who espouse religious belief. Perhaps it’s time that someone tells them that they should simply leave us the hell alone and take their offensive billboard down.”

    “Where do the atheists plan to go from here? Is the next step to exterminate all religious people? Religious icons? Churches?”

    “The atheists pretend that they can explain everything. Guess what? They can’t.”

    are “pretty respectful.” They’re not. They’re degrading, low, and hurtful, and I don’t at all understand.

    For one, I DON’T support that billboard. I might think it’s true, but it’s tactless and rude to make a giant, public sign of it. To claim that all atheists back and support it despite having no evidence to speak of is very close-minded of you.

    For another, I don’t have all those listed stereotypes about the religious. I think that we walk on very different wavelengths, but it about ends there. I had no idea there was this much hatred and prejudice surrounding people like me on such a casual level, and that both shocks and hurts me quite deeply.

    “I never liked it when Bill Donahue (Catholic League) started ranting and raving, but perhaps at times we should get as angry as he would get? Some things are worth being angry about.”

    This scares me. A single billboard can be paid for and created by one person. Because of potentially just one person’s actions, you would take… well, an unknown degree of anger out on some or all of your local atheists? What does that mean? What are you going to do? All for nothing more than sharing the non-religious views of a random guy that bought a billboard?

    When I was growing up, my mom told me to keep my atheist views to myself. She told me that it might offend people, so I shouldn’t talk about it at all unless it was brought up. I thought she was just telling me how to be polite. I had no idea she meant that I might be turned on for it.

  12. I have NO RESPECT for militant atheists for the same way I’ve got NO RESPECT for militant fundamentalists of any religion. They all suck and can shove it as they’ve got no right to impose their views on me!

    However, I like your attitude as an atheist Mahalo. It’s close to how I practice my Christianity. Stay chill man and independent away from any war of militant believers and non-believers! 🙂

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