Press Release: Atheists Challenge NY State Senator to Boycott His Own District

Nonprofit Places Contentious Xmas Billboard in Staten Island

We have responded to State Senator Andrew Lanza’s hateful announcement by putting up another billboard in Lanza’s own district (Staten Island). The billboard is a digital board and went up late Wednesday night.

We are putting this board there as a challenge to Senator Lanza. He claims to have been so offended by the first board that he was willing to call for a boycott of Times Square, where it was located. We are challenging him to call for a boycott of businesses in his own district to see if he really means what he says.


Attached is a graphic of the second billboard and a photo of it. The photo is from an automated webcam so it’s poor quality, but you can see that it’s up & running. We will try to get a better photo today if possible. Press release is below:


Cranford, NJ—On Thursday, American Atheists, whose Times Square billboard has been under petition for removal by New York State Senator Andrew Lanza since Friday, December 13, stepped up their advocacy by displaying a similar billboard on the Goethals Bridge to Staten Island, the district which Senator Lanza represents.

On December 13, Senator Lanza issued a press release expressing his outrage at the group’s Times Square message, calling the billboard “hate speech” and “religious persecution of the kind that similarly lead to the Holocaust” and even called for a boycott of businesses in Times Square. The digital billboard, a fifteen-second animation, begins with “Who needs Christ during Christmas? Nobody.” The animation continues with “Celebrate the true meaning of Xmas,” and a word cloud including traditions such as family, friends, food, and charity. The animation ends by wishing “Happy Holidays” from American Atheists.

In his release, the senator also called for the revocation of the 50-year-old nonprofit organization’s 501(c)(3) IRS tax-exempt status, saying that he “doesn’t believe that tax dollars should be used to spew religious hatred.”

“Senator Lanza seems to be unaware that there are millions of atheists right here in New York,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “He accuses us of spewing religious hatred while he himself calls all atheists ‘malicious’ and ‘hateful’ for not believing in his god. We will not be silenced or smeared by a bigoted elected official, nor will we allow our members and the other tens of millions of American atheists to be slandered by a representative of our own government.”

“Lanza had no problem calling for a boycott of Times Square because of our message,” Silverman continued. “We stand behind our billboard and we want the people of Staten Island to know that they don’t need religion to have a great Christmas, either. We are putting up this billboard as a challenge to Senator Lanza. Now the question is, was the senator posturing, or does he have the guts to call for a boycott in his own district?”

Lanza’s non-profit status threat against American Atheists comes just months before the organization’s annual national convention, to be held Easter weekend in Salt Lake City for 2014. American Atheists’ 40th National Convention will feature such speakers such as NFL star Chris Kluwe, Survivor®: Philippines grand prizewinner Denise Stapley, Grammy-nominated Spin Doctors bass player Mark White, Reverend Barry Lynn of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, Maryam Namazie of the Council of Ex-Muslims, popular bloggers PZ Myers and Greta Christina, and American Atheists President David Silverman. The convention will also feature a costume party, live music, stand-up comedy, an art show and silent auction, national and local exhibitors, and childcare options for attending families. The convention takes place April 17-20, 2014.

AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a national 501(c)(3) organization that defends civil rights for atheists, freethinkers, and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of religion and government; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy. American Atheists celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.

American Atheists, Inc.
P.O. Box 158
Cranford, NJ 07016

Tel: (908) 276-7300
Fax: (908) 276-7402

###

Click to enlarge. American Atheists grants permission to reproduce and redistribute these images so long as they are not cropped or edited and credit is given to American Atheists for providing them. Contact PR Director Dave Muscato at (908) 276-7300 x7 or dmuscato@atheists.org with questions.

\Click to enlarge. American Atheists grants permission to reproduce and redistribute these images so long as they are not cropped or edited and credit is given to American Atheists for providing them.
Contact PR Director Dave Muscato at (908) 276-7300 x7 or [email protected] with questions.

 

Automated webcam photo. Better image coming ASAP. Click to enlarge. American Atheists grants permission to reproduce and redistribute this image so long as it is not cropped or edited and credit is given to American Atheists for providing it. Contact PR Director Dave Muscato at (908) 276-7300 x7 or dmuscato@atheists.org with questions.

Automated webcam photo. Better image coming ASAP. Click to enlarge.
American Atheists grants permission to reproduce and redistribute this image so long as it is not cropped or edited and credit is given to American Atheists for providing it.
Contact PR Director Dave Muscato at (908) 276-7300 x7 or [email protected] with questions.

 

  • http://atheistsofutah.org/ Dan Ellis

    This was a FANTASTIC idea! Kudos!

  • Miip

    Good to see… I plan to become a member…

  • Jaime Gandarilla

    “It is time to refuse to tip-toe around people who claim respect, consideration, special treatment, or any other kind of immunity, on the grounds that they have a religious faith, as if having faith were a privilege-endowing virtue, as if it were noble to believe in unsupported claims and ancient superstitions. It is neither.” AC Grayling

    • rargos

      No one is asking you to tip-toe : just live-and-let-live.

      • Cthulhu21

        Which would involve some tip-toeing around topics that many people don’t agree with and know are not justifiable.

        • rargos

          Like what? Could you give an example? There are lots of thimgs in this world that I find unjustifiable, but I don’t buy billboards that attack people solely on the basis of what they think …

          • SpaceAtheist

            You don’t need to buy billboards. For 2000 years your own silly religion has claimed we will be judged based on what we think – that we can be convicted of thought crimes. The same religion that calls for people to be put to death if they work on the sabbath. The same religion that calls for death to disobedient children. The same religion that murdered women and called them witches. Where is the live and let live attitude from the religious? Why don’t you find any of that objectionable?

          • rargos

            I find any and all violence committed in the name of religion not just “objectionable” but completely and totally wrong, unjustifiable, and evil. But just because a small number of religious extremists commit crimes doesn’t mean that their ideas or actions represent those of the vast majority of believers or that reiligion itself is bad. Atheists (individuals and governments) have also committed atrocities, but I don’t think that makes you or atheism evil.

            I am a Christian and therefore follow Christ’s teaching that we should turn the other cheek, not practice violence. Even among conservative Jews, I doubt you could find one who supports killing disobedient children.

            As for being judged based on your thoughts, the political left (where most atheists vote), doesn’t seem to have a problem with “hate crimes” in which your punishment depends not just on your crie, but on what you wre THINKING about when you planned and committed it. We have different penalties for premeditated murder vs non-premeditated murder … should we treat them the same?

          • SpaceAtheist

            Your bible is full to the brim with violence committed in the name of religion. Glad to see we agree it’s evil. Your god says thou shall not murder then turns around and orders the killing of millions of innocent people, he condones selling your virgin daughters as sex slaves and all the other things I mentioned including killing disobedient children. Glad to hear you don’t agree with that anymore either. Christ clearly wanted you to have slaves too… but I see where this is going. You don’t really follow the teachings of the bible. At least that is a start.

          • rargos

            One has to wonder what atheists would do if the Old Testament didn’t exist. Despite the fact that their main target is Christians, most atheists concentrate on very selected excerpts from the Old Testament to attack Christianity.
            –> I don’t understand why atheists don’t attack the two most important tenets of Christianity, as stated by Christ himself, namely (Matthew 22:36-40) : Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
            –> Jesus says things like “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” to protect a woman accused of adultry from being stoned to death under Old Testament laws, but atheists NEVER mention passages like that. Why not??? Or do you disagree with that as well?

          • SpaceAtheist

            Because the old testament does exist and the religious are not supposed to ignore it (Luke 16:17). I understand you hate that it’s there and you ignore, so you are not so afraid of punishment as you would have others be.

            Loving an imaginary god hurts no one, but the text also instructs you to love your enemies and bless those who hurt you, which is immoral and impossible. You simply can’t love your neighbor as you love yourself (design flaw?), nor should you love someone who is raping you or murdering your child. It’s immoral. We have an obligation to fight injustice, not turn our heads.

            Jesus doesn’t even love his enemies. He sends them to hell. How can you love someone who is threatening to burn your children alive for failing to believe in his invisible person?

            Jesus was not the first to say those kind words either. Confucius said: Never impose on others that which you would not choose for yourself.

            No belief in an invisible sky fairy is needed to heed this advice.

          • rargos

            – You seem to be confusing “love your enemy” and “tolerate injustice / violence” — they are not the same thing. Jesus himself came to the aid of people about to become victims of violence (for example, the woman about to be stoned for adultery — the example in my previous post that you conveniently ignored). Fighting injustice and protecting the weak is a central tenet of Christianity.
            — Your comment about Jesus not loving his enemies and sending people to hell is simply wrong and/or dishonest. I understand that a VERY small percentage of Christians may say things like this, but this idea would be rejected by almost every church and every Christian in the world. If you really believe that is the case, please go visit some mainstream Christian churches instead of watching the handful of nutcases the media likes to put on TV.
            — You’re absolutely right: an atheist can be a good, moral person who loves his neighbor and helps others. In fact, I would assume that most atheists are good, moral people. Contrary to what many non-religious people would have you believe, the VAST majority (like 99.999%) of Christians aren’t trying to convert or condemn you, and they are perfectly happy to live and let live. The only problem is when you start judging all of the rest of based on a few extremists and kooks.

          • SpaceAtheist

            I didn’t ignore your example. There is just too much nonsense in your post to reply to it all. According to your Christian teachings, Jesus is god. So every person killed by god in the bible, was also killed by Jesus. (Are you going to tell me now, that Jesus is not the same god of the old testament..?)

            As for stoning someone for adultery, they were doing what is commanded in the bible. Leviticus 20:10. So it was perfectly fine to do that when Jesus was god, before he became his son, but after he became his son, he changed his mind about it apparently and now wants to take credit for this brilliant change of plans.

            Jesus himself introduced the concept of hell. The vast majority of Christians do NOT reject this teaching, regardless of what you say.

            I agree that it does sound as if this stuff is coming from extremists, kooks and nutcases, but nope, its straight from the bible and you know it. Sorry to burst your bubble.

          • rargos

            I’ve been a Christian all my life, have been to church several thousand times, have discussed religion with thousands of people, read the Bible every day (and can read the New Testament in the original Greek as well), etc. and I can assure you that almost every statement you make about Christianity is erroneous, misleading, or both. You’re certainly entitled to believe whatever you want to believe, but I prefer to discuss things with people who have done their homework and don’t rely on half-truths and truisms.

          • SpaceAtheist

            Yeah, you see, that’s the problem. Every religious person feels the same way – that they can believe whatever they want to believe, picking and choosing which bible verses to follow and which to disregard. Some welcome homosexuals into their flock and others tell their children they will burn in hell if they question the religion their parents choose for them. It’s a nice big batch of confusion that god is either unwilling or unable to straighten out. What a guy. And you have the nerve to accuse me of not doing MY homework. HA!

          • rargos

            Why does that bother you? Most believers are perfectly willing to admit that they don’t have all the answers. Although atheists like to portray Christians as mindless sheep who blindly (and/or literally) follow the Bible, the truth of the matter is that religion involves questioning, investigation, reflection, etc., with the Bible being the most important (but not the only) source of material. Intelligent and informed people can (and do) hold different views on almost every conceivable topic, and religion is no different.

          • SpaceAtheist

            Um… hello… Earth to rargos… every other conceivable topic isn’t claiming to be dictated by god. An all powerful, all knowing, invisible god, who believes in witches and wants you to kill them.

            Talking to you makes me sad. I really and truly feel so sorry for you. Such an intelligent mind wasted trying to defend the indefensible. If you ever wake up to the truth, you would become just like me and millions of other atheists who can spout the religious doctrine better than the religious. I hope one day you join us. Peace.

          • rargos

            Kind of hung up on the whole “killing witches” thing aren’t you?

            Thank you for your concern about me, but it’s very misplaced. Unlike you, I feel no need to attack and insult people who think differently from me. I also don’t feel the need to be condescending and say I feel sorry for you — you’ve chosen your own path and I wish you well.

            I do have one small request to make in exchange for your unsolicited pity : please don’t continue to delude yourself that you can “spout the religious doctrine better than the religious.” That’s beyond absurd. When you make posts in which you literally interpret the statement “if your hand offends you, cut it off”, it’s very, very clear that your knowledge of religion is flawed and superficial.

          • SpaceAtheist

            If by hung up you mean outraged, and by witches you mean human beings, then yes I am.

          • rargos

            Please provide the name of a single present-day Christian church or individual which approves of witch burning (today or historically). The acts of a handful of extremists hundreds of years ago is a very poor argument.

            Interesting that you have to go back hundreds of years to find examples of people being killed by Christians (which is always wrong and contrary to Christ’s teachings, by the way). I can find plenty of modern-day examples of Christians being jailed or executed for their beliefs. For example, North Korea recently publically executed people for (among other things) simply owning Bibles

            http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2499811/Series-public-executions-sees-80-people-killed-North-Korea-watching-South-Korean-movies-possessing-Bibles.html

            But again, please continue to use “witch burning” as your primary argument against Christianity.

          • SpaceAtheist

            It wouldn’t have happened at all but for the fact that your god thought it would be a good idea to tell primitive people that HE believed in witches and wanted us to kill them. What a guy.

          • rargos

            Again, please continue to use “witch burning” as your primary argument against Christianity.

          • SpaceAtheist

            How many of the thousands of arguments against Christianity would you like me to discuss at one time? Apparently I choose one you don’t care for because it’s embarrassing and you would like to forget it. But history sometimes repeats itself and we shouldn’t forget.
            How about this one: You are so vile and disgusting that your own creator can’t be in your presence. He wants to forgive you and the best way to do that is with a vile and disgusting human sacrifice. What a guy.

          • rargos

            I don’t think we should forget witch burnings: it shows us what terrible things extremists can do in the name of religion. But I will say yet again that every modern-day Christian and modern-day church would condemn witch burning.
            The United States government has also committed acts of genocide, murder of innocents, etc. around the globe for hundreds of years and continues to do so to this day. Should I renounce my citizenship? Officially atheist regimes imprison and murder Christians to this very day. Why don’t you renounce atheism?
            Not sure what you mean by people being so “vile and disgusting” that they can’t be in God’s presence. I’m guessing it’s yet another Old Testament quote taken out of context. Christ healed the lepers and the lame, ate with the tax collectors, prostitutes, and other sinners, and even washed the feet of his own disciples. Hardly the behavior of someone who finds people do “vile and disgusting” that they can’t be in his presence.
            Human sacrifice??? Do you mean Christ dying on the cross? Does this mean that anyone who willingly gives their life for a cause is commiting a “vile and disgusting human sacrifice?” I’m not sure I understand this comment at all.
            But again, you seem to be unable to find modern-day examples of the alleged “evils” of Christianity. I am truly and sincerely interested in what you disapprove of in Christianity — I think you have a very twisted, errnoneous impression of Christianity based on a few extremists, random quotes from the Bible, and the comments of other atheists. Far from being “embarassed” or wanting to “forget” about criticisms of my beliefs, I am very interested in hearing them as long as you’re interested in keeping an open mind as well. Isn’t behing open-minded what atheism is all about?

          • SpaceAtheist

            By all means lets be open minded but not so open minded that our brains drop out. At least we agree god was wrong about the witches. US policy, seriously? We’ll just pretend you didn’t mention it. Evil regimes like N. Korea with their dead father dictator and their living son dictator are creepy but nothing to do with atheism or the validity and truthfulness of the claims of Christianity. By ‘vile and disgusting’ I meant sinful. Our species was so horribly sinful that something had to die horribly. The whole idea of a sacrifice as a scapegoat has the appearance of coming from a primitive human mind and absolutely no evidence its the brilliant idea of a super being. Evil from religion, since you asked, is that it encourages people to value faith over reason, and belief without evidence. It is butting into politics, trying to corrupt science in school. It claims the moral right to forgive you for crimes against me and a preposterous amount of information about my soul and afterlife. It is frequently told to children and it includes references to hell. It is no different than any other religion that claims divine authority. It isn’t rational to claim we have a creator, he waited billions of years to have a relationship with one species of primate on this planet and that he authored, inspired or had anything to do with a book telling us to burn witches, beat slaves, hack away at a boy’s genitals and kill people who work on weekends.

          • rargos

            ” US policy, seriously? We’ll just pretend you didn’t mention it.”
            Why? If the United States engages in murder, torture, etc. shouldn’t you renounce your citizenship? You’re telling me I should give up my religion because a few fantatics called some people withces and burned them a few hundred years ago. Isn’t continuing to be a US citizen at least tacit approval of murder, torture, etc.?

          • SpaceAtheist

            It’s because I don’t have time to list all my complaints with US policy and it had nothing to do with the truthfulness of religious doctrine. But I see your point now. Still it just doesn’t compare to the atrocities that were blessed by god in the bible. We didn’t destroy the civilization in Iraq, we didn’t loot them, we didn’t take any slaves, we didn’t keep any virgins for ourselves, we didn’t slaughter every man woman child and animal. US policies aren’t perfect, but we couldn’t even have this conversation in many other parts of the world. You have mistaken a love of freedom for an approval of murder and torture. That freedom includes your right to worship your religion. I am not telling you to give it up. To quote Christopher Hitchens – You can have your toys and play with your toys and have your friends over and share your toys with them, just don’t tell me I have to play with your toys and don’t come into school and tell my children that they must play with your toys.

          • rargos

            “You have mistaken a love of freedom for an approval of murder and torture.”
            And you have mistaken a love of God for an approval of murder and torture.

          • SpaceAtheist

            I never said you approved of murder and torture although your god does. I think we would agree that it’s wrong along with slavery, rape and genocide. I have to wonder why you think you need that book and belief in an imaginary friend to be a moral person and live a good life. Unless of course you buy into the whole idea that you are inherently sinful.. just a sinner like all the murders and rapists.. apparently created that way by god.. what a guy.

          • rargos

            With all due respect, you have a very inaccurate knowledge of Christianity. Given that you have yet to reply to a single statement I’ve made (you just repeat your own talking points and “what a guy” over and over), I may be wasting my time, but here goes:
            1) Jesus says to love one’s neighbor and turn the other cheek. When a woman was about to be stoned for violating one of those Old Testament rules you’re so fond of quoting, Jesus protected her (“let he who is without sin cast the first stone). So your comment about God approving of murder and torture is wrong.
            2) It may also come as a suprise to you that Chrstianity is not simply “that book”. The Cathecism of the Catholic Church even explicitly states that Christianity is not a “religion of the book” but is based on many other things as well.
            3) God doesn’t create murders and rapists — even athesists believe in free will, don’t they?

          • SpaceAtheist

            1) This is another ridiculous commandment. Jesus says we all sin, then he says we must be without sin to cast the first stone. If that was the case, we could have no laws at all. It is also evil for another reason. The implied threat here is that you must sin no more, or you will burn in hell forever, so obviously he does approve of torture.
            2) The bible is just a book. There is no evidence it was authored by an omniscient being. There is nothing contained with its pages that had to be written by an all powerful being.
            3) God doesn’t exist, but if he did, then he also created our brains and the mental illness that so many murderers and rapists suffer from. This is another thing the creator of the universe should have mentioned, but he decided it would be more fun to imply they were possessed by demons. What a guy.

          • rargos

            1) At the risk of sounding like I’m trying to be provocative : are you a long-term marijuana user? Your first comment sounds like some people I know who have been baken for so long that they can no longer reason in a rational, linear fashion but simple jump from conclusion to conclusion and don’t realize that they’re not making sense to others.
            2) The Bible is a collection of books written by human authors in which they relate their experiences with and understanding of God. And as I’ve said over and over again, religion is much much more than the Bible.
            3) Again, your incessant use of “what a guy” and off-the-wall attempts at reasoning would lead a truly rational person to wonder if you yourself are suffering from some kind of mental impairment.

          • SpaceAtheist

            It is very easy to imply that someone is a drug user (or a witch or possessed by demons) without proof. You know what’s a bit harder – having a thoughtful and honest conversation about faith – why you have it, why you need it and how your morality would change without it. These are the kinds of things that a rational Christian might wonder about. Let me know when you find one.

          • rargos

            Interesting how you didn’t deny you’re a heavy pot smoker. I’ve tried to have a thoughtful, honest, and intellectual discussion with you but you never actually respond to my statements — you simply repeat the same half-dozen comments over and over, with an insult or two and “what a guy” at the end.

            When you talk about Christians “hacking” male genitalia and I point out that circumscision is a Jewish, not Christian, practice (and provide passages from the New Testament to prove it) …. complete silence. You’re wrong about a lot of things you say about religion but lack the intellectual honesty to process or acknowledge information that doesn’t fit your preconceived notions. “Rational” people don’t behave that way either.

          • toni-marie

            All religion was created to control the masses. I see the plan appears to be working on many. Do realize some of us know better (higher evolution?) I grew up surrounded by religion and I got that l random gene that had me in the know by age 7. My mother called me a devil . My response was : What ? Another false story designed to make me fear the world? Why Mother?

          • rargos

            What defines your morality? Reason? Reason would say that if you were starving, you shouldn’t give your last bit of food to another starving person. If you would help a starving person at the cost of your own life, what do you base your behavior on?

          • SpaceAtheist

            I think this is the most interesting and important question you have asked me . We badly need to have a 21st century discussion about morals and I am very interested in the subject. I honestly don’t know what I would do with your scenario, but I suspect it would depend on who I was saving. If there ever was a gene which promoted self-sacrifice in humans, it probably would die off rather quickly, since it would cause people to quickly volunteer to die for their tribe. I have answered many of your questions, please answer one for me. If I could prove to you tomorrow that there is no god, no Jesus, no bible (or that they were all man made concepts) how would your morality change as a religious person. No I don’t mean would you go out and start killing people, I give you credit for being more highly evolved than that, but for example, if you don’t drink because of religious reasons, would you start drinking. Can you think of anything at all that you do or don’t do strictly because of your religious beliefs that would change – or do you think that the morals you have are inherently yours based on your life experiences?

          • rargos

            “Evil from religion, since you asked, is that it encourages people to value faith over reason, and belief without evidence”
            Nonsense. Ironically, statements like that are not based on objetive data either .. you simply “beleive” that (all) religious people are a certain way. Have you taken a poll? Have you done interviews? Or are you relying on selected snippets of the Old Testament and second-hand information picked up off the Internet. Someone who was truly interested in the truth would do more primary research into what Christians believe instead of repeating cliches and propaganda.

          • SpaceAtheist

            Christians are told what to believe, so I merely have to look at what the teachings are in your bible. There are no scriptures telling you to value reason, proof or evidence. There are many places where you are told to believe on faith – like that’s a good thing. If you can’t even admit that you believe on faith without evidence, then you can’t really be a Christian.

          • rargos

            I really, really wish you would actually make a serious, objective, and unbiased study of Christianity before attacking it — you’re constantly making statements that are factually incorrect. For example :
            –> “There are no scriptures telling you to value reason, proof or evidence”
            This is completely and totally incorrect. Furthermore, you seem intellectually unable to grasp the idea (though it’s been stated here many times) that Christianity is not simple a literal following of what is in the Bible and nothing else.
            When you tell other people what they believe without asking them or listening to their feedback, you come across as intelletually lazy, arrogant, or both.

          • rargos

            “It is butting into politics, trying to corrupt science in school.”
            Really? The Catholic church supports both the theory of the Big Band and the theory of evolution (I can provide links to the Vatican’s own statements on these issues if you don’t believe me and are too lazy to do your own reserach).
            “Butting into politics”? Which politics? The BIble says people shouldn’t commit murder … are laws against murder not okay since they reflect my religious beliefs? Would it be okay to pass laws based on secular moral principles vs. religious moral principles?

          • SpaceAtheist

            The church admits evolution now because they have no choice. The evidence is overwhelming. It doesn’t change the fact that your have a book, supposedly authored by god who had no idea about it. Genesis doesn’t say he created the universe, then waited billions of years for us to evolve. As science learns more, the need for an all-powerful, all-knowing, magical being in the sky becomes less important and less believable. Religion is making great efforts to accommodate the science in order to stay relevant in today’s world. We already make laws based on our secular morals vs. the bible. Why do you think people don’t own slaves anymore?

          • rargos

            I’m continually amazed at your ability to mix completely unrelated issues (of which you have an extremely over-simplistic view) in a single post.
            In your world view, science and religion cannot coexist — nothing could be further from the truth. Your extremist, sterotyped view of religion keeps you from being able to understand this.

          • rargos

            ” It claims the moral right to forgive you for crimes against me and a preposterous amount of information about my soul and afterlife.”
            Again, you really should spend some time researching what Christianity really teaches … at a minimum it would give you some credibility when you discuss your views with Christians.

          • SpaceAtheist

            This is completely true and you can’t deny it. Preachers go on death row and tell the accused they are forgiven if they call on the name of the lord. If someone kills my child, it is immoral of you to think you can say they are forgiven. Even if you say god forgives them, it’s immoral. You can’t forgive others for their crimes against me. I don’t recognize the effectiveness of scapegoating. To me, it’s a cop out. Face your crime, don’t pile it on a goat and think you’re all good now.

          • rargos

            You’re not a very forgving person youself, are you?

          • rargos

            “a book telling us to burn witches, beat slaves, hack away at a boy’s genitals and kill people who work on weekends.”

            1) For the third time — please point out a single modern-day Christian (or Jewish, for that matter) church that supports burning witches, beating slaves, or killing people who work on weekends. Your fellow atheists might find these good arguments, but it makes you look ridiculous when you talk to real Christians.

            2) As for circumcision, you do know that this is a Jewish, not a Christian practice, right? Here are some New Testament verses you may have missed while looking for more “witch burning” quotes:

            1 Corinthians 7:19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. NKJV

            Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love. NKJV

            3) And most importantly, you seem to have missed all of those passages in the Bible that talk about love, forgiveness, helping the poor, etc. An honest and rational person wouldn’t just look at the evidence that fits their preconceived notions.

          • SpaceAtheist

            You’re a fine one to talk about evidence. I’m not sure I see the benefit of arguing the merits of a 2000 year old book that religious people claim was authored by a god. Nor do I need instructions from iron age peasants to tell me how to love, forgive or help the poor. I won’t be able to point you to a modern church who burns witches, beats slaves or kills people (at least not anymore). Our rational minds were able to find the evil in these things without any help or guidance from your holy book We put a stop to it in spite of the fact that it was totally ok with the god of the bible. How do we come to the conclusion that something is morally wrong with divine guidance? You can’t deny these things were done by the religious in the past, nor can you point to where that text has been stricken from the bible. You may think it’s the right and duty of all Christians to ignore the parts of the bible they don’t like or agree with, but I can assure you that most Christians believe it is the inspired word of god and that not one bit of it should be ignored. I have to say, you are not the typical Christian fundamentalist, but they are out there and you know it.

          • rargos

            I’m sorry, but you’re simply repeating the same thing over and over (and ending most of you posts with “what a guy”, whaall you can tever that’s supposed to mean).
            You also have extremely superficial and flawed ideas about what it means to be religious. I’ve tried to dispel some of those notions, complete with factual examples, but all you seem interested in is making broad proclamations about things you know absolutely nothing about.
            I think the most important word of your post is “peasants” — it’s clear that you find yourself intellectually and morally superior to those around you and have a deep, irrational prejudice towards everyone else. .

          • SpaceAtheist

            It’s clear to me you are looking for something to take offense at. A peasant is a farmer or farm worker. It’s is not a racial slur. Look it up. I meant no disrespect to people who work the in field. My meaning was that my morals have evolved along with my intelligence and I no longer need advice from people who lived 2000 years ago. I also tried to dispel some of your notions because I believe a logical first step on your own journey towards atheism would include going on to an atheist website, seeing how faith without evidence looks to us and maybe asking some important questions about secular charity and morality. If that is what you are doing, I wish you well. Apparently you also found my use of sarcasm offensive. Try not to hold it against atheists in general.

          • rargos

            “my morals have evolved along with my intelligence and I no longer need advice from people who lived 2000 years ago”
            I get the distinct impression that you don’t feel you need advice from anyone (Christian or otherwise) — you seem pretty proud of your own intelligence.

          • Cthulhu21

            Here’s a link with links that show modern witch hunts in developing countries: http://www.policymic.com/articles/70749/the-truth-about-modern-day-witch-hunts

            You don’t have to respond to this but I recommend that you take a look at this article and its links and see what you think.

          • rargos

            Was that the best you (or rather, Google) could find? That’s one of the weakest references I’ve ever seen — it’s a disjointed opinion piece full of nontopical pseudo-data. It would NEVER be accepted as a legitimate reference by any serious scholar or researcher.

          • Cthulhu21

            Which parts are pseudo-data anyway?

          • rargos

            You do realize that these accusations of “witchcraft” are being made by tribal leaders, not organized religious leaders or members of such religions, right? Read the BBC article referenced and see if you can find the word Christian (or Muslim, for that matter) in it.

          • Cthulhu21

            The fact that these accusations are being made on the premiss of superstition (not far removed from religious beliefs) and lack of reason.

  • BABB99

    Great move! How about some in southern Utah? The locals would have convulsions.

  • Joey__Blow

    I just sent off a $50 contribution instead of buying a gift for a Christian…

    • rargos

      What a mean-spirited comment — why not give $50 to a food bank? There are lots of Christians who would prefer that to a gift.

  • Pingback: NewsCenterd » Andrew Lanza: Atheist Billboard Makes ‘Small Evil Baby Steps’ Towards Another Holocaust

  • Pingback: Andrew Lanza: Atheist Billboard Makes ‘Small Evil Baby Steps’ Towards Another Holocaust | Nosmerca

  • Joe

    Keep Christ in Christmas

  • Joe

    Keep Christ in Christmas,

    • Cthulhu21

      You can, just don’t expect us to not critique your religion.

      • rargos

        You’re welcome to your opinions, but I have to wonder about an ideology whose core purpose is to attempt to discredit other ideologies. No wonder atheism is such a dead-end street: your entire message is negative.

        • Cthulhu21

          Refer to the comment above.

        • AKAJim

          I don’t know what you interpret as “our” message, especially since “our” only common point is the opinion that deities likely do not exist due to lack of evidence, and therefore humans should act as if they are completely and solely responsible for their own actions until further notice. Note that I said “likely”, because the positive message is that we don’t know everything but humanity (theists and atheists alike) are constantly working to expand our knowledge.

          My personal message boils down to this: Belief in an invisible cosmic overlord that rewards you for doing what he/she/it/them says and punishes you otherwise (sometimes forever for actions taken within an average 90 year span) is not required to be a moral, happy, or productive individual. However, you have the right to that belief, just as I have the right to look at you funny and doubt your sanity when you express it.

          If such a being(s) makes contact again, sufficient evidence is presented or I die and just happen to be wrong in my opinion, my first action will be to question he/she/it/them on the morality of their past marketing decisions given that there are around 4200 other religions on the planet (not counting sub-denominations, of which Christianity alone has more than 200,000).

          • rargos

            ” deities likely do not exist due to lack of evidence,”

            Lack of evidence does not equal non-existance. We had no evidence of things like radio waves or DNA 200
            years ago, but they definitely exist.

            “humans should act as if they are completely and solely responsible for their own actions”
            Agree completely – religion teaches the same thing: we are all responsible for our actions.

          • AKAJim

            For the 4200 religions, the reference comes from multiple locations – https://www.google.com/search?q=number+of+religions+in+the+world for more info. On denominations I misread a reference and took the number from estimated congregations, which I apologize for. 43,000 is the common estimate, but all sites seem to take it from the CSGC estimate (http://www.gordonconwell.edu).

            On your reply to the lack of evidence statement, I agree completely. However the only logical place to start is evidence. Believing something because it is written on something old is not – Otherwise we would be believing the Sumerian flood myth (which said documentation predates the Gilgamesh flood myth, which pre-dates the Hebrew flood myth, all of which are very similar with differences).

            To expand on responsibility, the main difference is the Christian tenet that Satan tempts people into sin and that only Christ can forgive them. I believe that I am solely responsible for my actions. If I make a mistake, it is no ones fault but my own. Likewise, no one can make it right afterwards but me. If a person murders and steals their entire life, being pardoned simply being sorry at the end, asking for forgiveness and acknowledging Christ as a savior does not make it right, or excuse their actions. If anything reincarnation until you really learn and get it right makes much more sense.

          • rargos

            “The Christian tenet that Satan tempts people into sin and that only Christ can forgive them. I believe that I am solely responsible for my actions. ”

            I’ve been a practicing Catholic my entire life and read the Bible daily, and I can assure you that I’ve never seen anything in mainstream Christianity that says people aren’t responsible for their actions — quite the contrary, and I can give LOTS of examples.
            Catholicism doesn’t place the same emphasis on “just believe in Jesus and everything will be okay” that many Protestant denominations do. If we sin (do wrong) with our bodies and minds, then we should do penance with both our bodies and minds as well. Just saying “I accept Jesus” isn’t enough — even Christ himself says that many people will claim to be his followers and his response to them will be “I do not know you”. He also says that whatever you do to the least of his brothers, that you do onto him — a clear reference to the need to help the poor, oppressed, etc. instead of simply saying “I love Jesus”.
            That said, I also believe that no matter how bad someone has been, there is always room for forgiveness — no one can be so bad that there is no hope for their redemption if they are truly sorry.
            Peace,
            Rargos

          • AKAJim

            Happy new year Rargos! Sorry about the delayed response – Holidays and all that.

            As you probably guessed, I was raised protestant (pentecostal to be exact) so I tend to respond to that direction automatically. From a Catholic dogma standpoint though, throughout history indulgences have been sold, especially to the wealthy and royalty. Forgiveness has also been granted on the deathbed and even after the person has died. The problem here is that it is easy to be repentant at the end due to fear of punishment. This reaction, while genuine at the time, usually does not last (look at people and speeding tickets or drunk drivers).

            So we have a person who repents on their deathbed and then is consigned to Purgatory to burn off their sin. The problem there is that pain is also not a great teaching tool. It usually either breaks the mind and will of the person, or teaches them to hate. Not a good way to reform people.

            Catholicism is weird on personal accountability. I think it the best and the worst of all the Christian sects at handling it. On one hand there are the concepts of purgatory and the requirements for forgiveness (contrition, confession and penance) and on the other is the idea that priests can forgive sins in persona Christi.

            The first illistrates personal responsibility admirably. While I think the idea of purgatory is sadistic (torture being a controversial teaching tool), from a secular standpoint the forgiveness requirements serve as a general good thing. I make a mistake, I’m sorry I made the mistake, I acknowledge I made the mistake and I make amends for the mistake. That kind of thought pattern builds better people.

            The problem with “personal” accountability comes in with the idea of priests as the forgiveness medium. Priests are people, and people are fallable. They are not omniscient and therefore cannot properly assign penance, and lack of proper penance either damages the individual on a spiritual level (requiring penance by pain after death) or allows forgiveness without learning which will result in “bad” people in heaven.

          • rargos

            Thanks again – hope you had a nice new year’s. I do believe that God knows our innermost thoughts and feelings, and therefore also would know if one is sincere in their repentance and the reasons for it. Personally, I don’t believe that God inflicts pain and punishment on people in the afterlife — the pain and punishment is caused by one’s own realization that one has chosen to be separate from God and/or has missed the opportunity to share love and goodness with their fellow man. If Heaven is a place where no one suffers or feels any wants/needs, then the only place we can do good things for people is right here on Earth.
            There are many things the Catholic Church and other religious organizations have done wrong and (I believe, as a Catholic) are still wrong about. But I think the important thing is not to debate about the selling of indulgences, contraception, etc. etc. — rather I think we should work to be good people who recognize a power higher than ourselves and leave the theological quibbling for AFTER we’ve taken care of the more important things first.
            Again, best wishes and thanks for the discussion.

          • rargos

            “given that there are around 4200 other religions on the planet (not counting sub-denominations, of which Christianity alone has more than 200,000)”
            Nonsensical numbers like that will make me look at your funny and doubt your sanity …

          • TheKnower

            He/she/it’s answer will be
            1) “Free will.”
            2) “The plan was that everyone would get along knowing they had something in common. The plan is still a work in progress <.<"

          • AKAJim

            Both of those answers only work if everyone was given the same message from the beginning, which did not happen. Take the oldest culture we’ve found, which is Sumeria. We have religious text from them and it doesn’t contain any absolute “the gods demand you do this or else” outside of farming practices – and the “or else” was that you starved. And that was a theocratic society!

            If one of the 4200 turn out to be right, the odds are still with me. Very few religions require a professed belief structure, and instead focus on who you really are as defined by your actions and the intent behind them. If I an very unlucky and the “true” religion is one those minorities, then the choice comes down to eternity of torment either way. Any deity who would fail to incontestably advertise a choice that includes eternal punishment is sadistic, which means that even the non-eternal punishment option will probably not be pleasant.

            Proponents of those same religions would argue that the one true way has been advertised with incontestable evidence, however this is given lie to by the simple fact that their religions require humans to spread the “good” word. Anyone who thinks that an omnipotent being would have to stoop to a medium as inaccurate as human transport has a different undertanding of the words “omnipotent” and “incontestable” than I have.

            If I have to be told by another human then the evidence is limited by their perception, intelligence, mental health and intent – In other words, suspect and not incontestable. Not to mention the grapevine effect. Anyone who has played the “pass it on” game knows that the end message is NEVER the same as the start when passed by word of mouth. This goes the same for written accounts. Textual understanding changes by the readers frame of reference (culture, time period, primary language, etc) – If you want a prime example, try asking for a “cookie” in a traditional Scottish bakery and see what happens.

            I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I tend to be overly verbose, so I’ll wrap it up with this: Do a google search the “Problem of Evil” and for “Epicurus”. .

          • TheKnower

            I’ve already read his silly argument. The thing about it is, eternal punishment for unbelief does not exist due to the fact that the deity take into account, the “grapevine affect.” Eternal punishment was made up by humans to get follows of a religion.

            You’re saying that if this deity was as powerful as he said he was, he would have everyone know that he/she/it exists. This is contradictory because if this being actually existed, he wouldn’t care whether people believed he/she/it existed, as it does not affect the prosperity of the human race or the entrance into the afterlife.

          • AKAJim

            “You’re saying that if this deity was as powerful as he said he was, he would have everyone know that he/she/it exists. This is contradictory because if this being actually existed, he wouldn’t care whether people believed he/she/it existed, as it does not affect the prosperity of the human race or the entrance into the afterlife.”

            Your premise is flawed by presuming to know he/she/its drives and desires. You also misunderstood (or I failed to properly explain) the actual point, which has nothing to do them.

            If an omnipotent god exists and has defined a set of actions that people must adhere to or face eternal suffering, then that god is must also make those requirements known in an incontestable fashion if it is “good”, “just” or “moral”. Giving the strictures to a small tribe of people in such a fashion that they didn’t even believe it does not qualify in the face of 4200 other competing messages.

          • TheKnower

            My point was that there is no eternal punishment faced by not adhering to the set of actions, because that particular set of actions was made for a particular people. You cannot be punished for something you did not know. The 4200 other messages may have been the deity’s instructions to another group of people, similar but different due to the fact that different people think differently. If there are 4200 different messages when there could have easily been only one, it was most likely done on purpose. Then the question would be why. Difference of opinion, while potentially dangerous , doesn’t have to be. Difference of opinion may have been established in order to diversify the human race. You cannot just assume that having one unified opinion would be a good thing. It might have resulted in even bigger problems than we have now due to our difference in opinion. For example, any set of beliefs, no matter how clearly defined by God, are human systems, and human systems can be corrupted. The religious system might therefore use God’s law as an excuse for societal control, even changing the laws set by God to do so. Diversity of religious opinion would prevent this.

          • SpaceAtheist

            Wrong. According to your bible (which most religious have never read) your god never intended for us to get along or work together. Please review Genesis 5:11. It always amazes me how little the religious know about what their bible actually says. Of course, it’s a man-made work of fiction so that explains why it is so confusing. Things are forbidden in one passage and condoned in the next. I think you like it when we look at you funny and doubt your sanity.

          • SpaceAtheist

            My apologies – I meant to reference Genesis 11:6 – the passage about God confounding the languages so we couldn’t accomplish too much. I mean god forbid we should work together. What a nut.

        • Cthulhu21

          How so?

    • Lark62

      Keep thor in thursday!

      • AKAJim

        and Woden in Wednesday and Saturn in Saturnalia!

  • Alf

    Seems you are exhibiting the same monoactivism and exclusionary tactics employed by theists. As an Atheist, I see no reason why theists and atheists can’t exist side by side. A difference of belief is no reason to ridicule and belittle (yes I know, they started it). Belief is part of who you are, whether that be theist or atheist and beliefs can be changed, but seldom by force.

    • Cthulhu21

      They’re not trying to exclude Christians or make them give up their believes. AA was trying to point out that you don’t need to believe in Christ to celebrate the holyday.

      • rargos

        You can celebrate anything, anytime, anywhere, but Christmas is (by definition) a holiday that celebrates Christ’s birth. It’s illogical to say that you want to have a “secular” Christmas. Buy presents, drink eggnog, etc. all you want, but it’s not Christmas without Christ — it’s just a wintertime, end-of-year party/

        • Cthulhu21

          What’s wrong with a wintertime, end-of-year party with friends and family? I was just saying that you can celebrate Jesus and that non-theists can just celibrate each others good company. Also, Christmas was based off of pagan traditions that predate christianity so I don’t see any reason why you guys should have exclusive right to it.

          • rargos

            If you want a wintertime, end-of-year party, more power to you — I’ll even raise my glass to toast the health of the atheists as well. That said, it’s a little disingenuous to say that one is celebrating “Christmas” without believing in Christ. If you want to have your own holiday and call it the “Winter Celebration of Reason and Love”, that’s fine. There are plenty of Christians who are already turning “Christmas” into a secular holiday … no need for more help. Best wishes and happy new year!

        • AKAJim

          Actually, neither the origin nor sub-traditions are Christian, so the label doesn’t apply. Like many Christian traditions it originated elsewhere and was co-opted as part of a brilliant marketing strategy. Plagiarism and re-branding does not grant ownership to the holiday.

          – The date and tradition of gift giving originated with Saturnalia, the Roman winter solstice celebration.

          – The tree tradition takes root from pagan winter festivals where the trees were decorated with edibles such as apples and nuts. Evergreen trees also represented eternal life for several cultures, such as the Chinese, Egyptians and Hebrews.

          – Stockings originated with the Scandinavian tradition of children leaving shoes full of food for Odin’s horse (Sleipnir). Odin was supposed to replace the food with candy in return.

          – Wreaths predate written history and were used in harvest rituals (which is the specific connection to this holiday). They were also used in pagan traditions both as symbols of power (laurel wreathes, which Romans and Greeks borrowed from the Etruscans) and as symbols of eternal life in the case of evergreen wreaths.

          – Decorating with mistletoe came from the belief that it protected homes from fire and lightning, and it was traditionally replaced each winter. Kissing under it does not have a clear origin, but it may be an extension of the belief in several pagan cultures that it embodied the male essences (fertility, vitality, etc). For example, the founder of Rome supposedly carried a golden bough of mistletoe. However, it does not appear to have been popular until 16th century England.

          200 years ago Christians still commonly knew the origins of these traditions, and some (mainly protestants, or non-Catholic Christians) feared the pagan influence. Some groups originally banned the practice of the holiday, and many avoided it until the late 19th century.

          TLDR summary: People practiced the same traditions prior to the rise of Christianity, and many people who are not Christians continue to practice them now without it. The core values of these traditions (generosity, gratitude and happiness) cross theistic and atheistic lines and can be appreciated by all, regardless of actual or idealized origins.

          • rargos

            If you want a wintertime, end-of-year party, more power to you — I’ll even raise my glass to toast the health of the atheists as well. That said, it’s a little disingenuous to say that one is celebrating “Christmas” without believing in Christ. If you want to have your own holiday and call it the “Winter Celebration of Reason and Love”, that’s fine. There are plenty of Christians who are already turning “Christmas” into a secular holiday … no need for more help. Best wishes and happy new year!!!

          • AKAJim

            I see what you’re saying about the name, but in that context my response is it doesn’t make sense to celebrate it at all unless you’re Catholic, since it was a Catholic (not Protestant) holiday. That didn’t begin to change until Alabama made it a state holiday in 1836, up to the Federal addition in 1870.

            The holiday was only called Christmas because that was how the majority of people referred to it. It was still referred to as Yule, Hanukkah, etc by the non-christian minorities. The establishment clause in the first amendment prohibits the government from promoting or restricting any religion, and establishing a religious-specific holiday applies. However, just about everyone celebrated something at the same time each year, so it only made sense to recognize the holiday officially.

            So in short, my point is that the holiday is for everyone, and isn’t christian specific. The name was a result of common reference, not religious bias. That kind of leads to the point of the billboard (to get back to that topic lol), which is a reminder that the holiday is not religious (or at least sacred only to a single faith).

            Happy Holidays Rargos!

          • rargos

            Thanks — a few points:
            1) All Christians were “Catholic” (i.e. there were no “Protestants”) for over a thousand years, during which time Christmas was celebrated. Protestants also celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday
            2) Christmas was celebrated as the birth of Christ by both Catholics and Protestants well before it was declared a holiday by Alabama. Santa, presents, etc. came MUCH much later than the religious observance.
            3) I completely fail to see the point of a billboard that says something like “You don’t need Christ to celebrate Christmas” That’s completely non-sensical. “You don’t need Christ to have fun during the winter holiday” is completely fine with me — there are over a BILLION non-Christians who believe in God but don’t celebrate Christmas either.
            Thanks again for the discussion. While I am a believer, I also think that (as the Muslims put it) there is no compulsion in religion — everyone must choose what they do or do not believe, and we should respect other’s beliefs (or lack thereof). My feeling is that the billboard is seen by many Christians as an attack, and not as a celebration of mutual tolerance and goodwill.
            Happy Holidays!

          • AKAJim

            Right back at you Rargos, If everyone could discuss coherently like we have been over the several threads, there would be no need for billboards by either side.

            We may have to agree to disagree on this one.

            Both before and during the reformation it was celebrated by other religions for different reasons. My point is that it wasn’t ever established as a Christian only holiday. The only reason it is called Christmas is name recognition at the time that the federal government decided to officially recognize that many religions and most people celebrated something that time of year. Yet we constantly are bombarded with christian imagery and statements that its the reason for the season. This false sense of entitlement is what the billboard is meant to combat. Could it be written better? Definitely. Is it necessary? I think so. If those of us in the minority do not assert our freedom to speak, we will quickly find that the majority either assumes we agree with them, or that we should agree with them and do not need to be consulted.

          • rargos

            I’m going to have to respectfully disagree — the name “Christmas” was used long before there was a federal gov’t or United States (look at English history, e.g.), and the word is used in the same sense in most other European languages.
            As for “false sense of entitlement”, I’m a bit confused: it’s not as if you have to confess Christianity in order to get days off, exchange gifts, have parties, etc. — look at all the non-Christians who have done this in the U.S. for generations. “Happy Holidays” is a very explicit acknowledgement of this. I don’t think there are many Christians saying “You’re not allowed to have a day off, exchange presents, etc. unless you’re a Christian”.
            Why not have a positive message like “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” instead of saying something nonsensical like “You can have Christmas without Christ?” I’ve very sensitive to semantic differences, but in this case it seems a bit excessive. The message seems aimed more at getting Christians to renounce their beliefs than expressing a secular alternative.
            Or to put it another way : would the atheists be happy if the word “Christmas” was replaced by “Holidays” or do they want to do away with any kind of religious belief at all? From their other ad campaigns (and the statements on this website), their ultimate goal isn’t linguistic / semantic equality in the naming of holidays, but the removal of religion from society altogether. No one on either side really believes that the atheists are simply targeting a name change with this ad campaign.

          • AKAJim

            We need a forum lol – Responses are getting too long for these tiny margins, so I’ve summarized at the beginning. My long responses are still below, but I do suggest we take this to venue that supports larger text areas if you want to continue the conversation, and if anything here has been bored enough to follow this we can post a link to it. I’m good with any forum site if you already have one, or else I can find one for us and transcript the conversation to it.

            ———–

            Short version:

            Christmas is a national secular holiday in addition to a religious holiday, with both aspects containing different themes that are celebrated for different reasons. One need not be Christian to celebrate Christmas any more than one must be a member of religions that originated Christmas traditions (gifts, tree, wreathes, holly, etc) in order to practice them. To suggest that Christ is required because of a name that isn’t even the original for the holiday is not logical, especially when 24% of the nation celebrates Christmas for non-Protestant/Catholic/misc-Christian/Mormon reasons (per Gallup).

            The religious-based reaction spoken by, and as, an officer of the government is an example of false assumption of entitlement. The billboard isn’t attacking Christianity; rather, it is challenging the common Christian assumption of ownership of the holiday.

            ———–

            Long version:

            First, we’re getting into reasons for things, so I wanted to throw a note in that outside of items with historical bases all of this is my personal opinion. Christians, especially Catholics like yourself, have the advantage of a monolithic doctrine that is generally agreed upon by your fellows. Those of us listed in Gallup polls as “Non-Religious” (Atheists, Humanists, Agnostics, etc) run solo except for the general agreement that we don’t agree with religion.

            In response to the “Name” topic:

            My point is that there is a distinct difference in Christmas as a secular U.S. holiday and Christmas as a Christian religious holiday, and the billboard is specifically designed to draw attention to this (more on this under the entitlement response).

            Everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike, observes Christmas as a secular U.S. holiday because it has been officially declared as a national holiday. Both public and private offices are closed this day across the union. Traditions that are not Christian specific (presents, tree, wreathes, mistletoe, food, etc) are practiced by nearly everyone regardless of creed, and non-religious icons (Santa, frosty, Rudolph, etc) are commonly recognized as representing the holiday. We do this because in 1870 Congress decided to establish several national holidays and passed a bill that included New Years, Independence Day and Christmas. The name and date was chosen for name recognition, not religious significance. Establishing a government holiday for religious reasons is unconstitutional, and our forefathers very firm about keeping government fingers out of their religious affairs.

            On the other side there is the Christian religious holiday, which was started in the 4th century to specifically counter Saturnalia shortly after the first council of Nicaea established a unified Christian doctrine in 325. This changed in 1517 Martin Luther nailed his theses to a church door, splintering the faith into Catholics and Protestants. For the next 200 years the holiday was primarily Catholic and Anglican, with sporadic practice among Protestant sects (some of which banned the practice entirely). That began to change in the 1700s when religious identity became less focused on sect and more focused on universal identity as Christians, though it was not until the 1800s that Christmas was accepted by most sects.

            The actual date of Christ’s birth is unknown, though evidence points to September, and excepting caroling the Christian traditions for the holiday were all imported into the religious observance from other pagan practices for the same reasons that Saturnalia was co-opted for the date. Other currently existing religions and societies have been celebrating the same time of year as long as or longer than Christianity. To claim ownership of a holiday whose date and component traditions were stolen from other religions is like Microsoft claiming to own the idea of the computer – They may be the biggest name in the business, but they got there by expanding on concepts from all over.

            In response to the “Entitlement” and “Positive Message” topics:

            These are somewhat entwined and is where we hit the actual reason for the billboards. They are not meant to be a greeting card from Atheists; they are part of the ideology war that has been going on since the 60s when Madalyn Murray O’Hair challenged mandatory prayer and bible readings in schools. That was perhaps the biggest example of what I mean by false entitlement – It is an obvious violation of the constitution, and yet challenging it earned her the title of the “Most hated woman in America” by Life magazine. Feelings were so strong that the Austin police department “sat on the sidelines” (criticism by local press) when she and her son were kidnapped and murdered.

            This is where American Atheists comes in – to challenge violations of the first amendment and to work for total separation of church and state. Government isn’t a separate entity, it’s made of people. First amendment violations occur when those people promote religious agendas through their position in the government. The root cause is opinion; just as many Christian organizations uses billboards and other media to sway opinion towards their religion, American Atheists does the same to sway opinion away. Christianity is the most often target as they are the evangelical majority (When was the last time a Hassidic Jew came to your door proselytizing?).

            This brings us back to the topic that started the discussion. American Atheists puts up a billboard that says “Who needs Christ in Christmas? Nobody.” and then expounds on other Christmas themes. The response from a government official is to call it a hate message and religious persecution of the type that led to the holocaust, and then trying to get their non-profit standing revoked. To top it off he calls for a boycott of the area when those businesses have nothing to do with the sign which would threaten their livelihood. That’s like wanting to boycott a Texas freeway because of multiple Christian billboards located on it. And all that speaking from his position as a government official.

            The statement is that religion is not required to celebrate a secular national holiday (remember, the government can’t establish a religious holiday per the constitution). No groups are being disenfranchised, insulted or even marginalized by that statement. On the opposite side, to claim people are not celebrating Christmas unless they are Christian marginalizes all non-Christians. We may not celebrate it for the same reason as you, but celebrate we do. Why play down the importance of our holiday spirit? We are as generous, merry and loving as the Christians next to us, and feelings stem from a desire to be so and not from an externally imposed duty.

            By the way, if you want to see some horrendous examples of billboards from both sides of the fence (Christian and Atheist), search “christian christmas billboards” in Google images. Though I have to say I laughed at “Keep Saturn in Saturnalia”.

          • Lark62

            “Christ Mass”

            By rargos’ definition, if you don’t celebrate catholic mass, you can’t celebrate Chritmas. When are christians going to figure out they don’t own they behavior or beliefs of others? They don’t own Christmas, December, or courthose lawns.

        • Doodle

          Christmas is dead like the Jesus that never existed. The sooner you figure that out the better. One day very soon, the winter solstice will assume it’s traditional place over commercial jackass jesus. By the way I’m jacking off over a pictute of your mother we took last year fool. Dad.

          • rargos

            Tell us – what made you such a bitter, intolerant, and aggressive person? I’m completely fine with others not believing in God, but I think your own anger is the biggest thing you need to be worried about.

        • Lark62

          I can celebrate Halloween without believing in witches and vampires. I can be thankful for the good things in my life without thanking a god. I can give my kids stockings and presents and tell them the myth of a first century preacher without believing it or selling it as truth.

          • rargos

            Wonderful — that’s your choice and I’m glad that you seem to be happy with it. The issue isn’t what you choose to believe (which is, of course, completely up to you), the issue is people who think it’s okay to attack and insult other peoples’ beliefs. I completely support your right not to believe in God, Jesus, etc. and wish you a long and happy life — all that we’re asking in return is for a little respect and civility for EVERYONE.

          • Lark62

            Thanks. I’m glad you agree I can make my own choices on what to celebrate and how to celebrate it. I’m glad you think we should be civil to those who celebrate differently.

            Now explain why in your prior post you said: “It’s illogical to say that you want to have a “secular” Christmas.”

            It is not inherently offensive for one group to say: “it’s fine to celebrate christimas without christ.” Just as it’s not inherently offensive to say “It’s fine to celebrate Christmas with Christ.” The atheists didn’t say you must remove christ from Christmas, just that it’s okay to you do. Now it’s time for the Christians to stop saying “YOU must keep christ in christmas.”

          • rargos

            “It is not inherently offensive for one group to say: “it’s fine to celebrate christimas without christ.””
            True, but that’s not what the billboards read, is it? “Dump the Myth – Keep the Merry” (the Times Square billboards) isn’t a live-and-let-live message. Telling people to “dump the myth” is saying (a) your religion isn’t true and (b) you shouldn’t believe in it. Why can’t AA simply put up a message “Have a Happy Secular Holiday Season!” — Answer: because AA is not a live-and-let-live organization, it’s entire purpose seems to be attacking people who believe in God and lobbying to remove all religious references from society. This is wrong — just as it is equally wrong for Christians, etc. to criticize or attack non-believers.

          • Lark62

            Billboard notices tend to be blunt, and both sides need to be kind. But at least atheists don’t tell anyone, while smiling, that they will burn in eternal torment.

            As for removing religion, society is not government, and government is not society. Atheists want to end government support of specific religious views.

            We would be thrilled with multiple creches in front of every church. Creches in front of homes is cool. It’s the Christians who publish lists of businesses to boycott for saying happy holidays (inclusive) rather than merry Christmas. Atheists fight for the Constitution and oppose government sponsorship of religion. Private religious worship and display is cool.

            They also try to communicate that being an atheist is an accetable choice. Yes, they said “drop the myth”. This is the same as Christians posting “keep Christ in Christmas” everywhere. Those two statements are parallel.

          • rargos

            Thanks — I’ve been a Christian my entire life and I’ve never heard anyone say that atheists will “burn in eternal torment” — you’re judging 99+% of Christians on the basis of a few extremists. I would not hesitate to forcefully and publically disagree with ANY Christian who said that people will “burn in eternal torment” …it’s not (as Jesus himself said) our place to judge.
            I also think there’s a big difference between “drop the myth” and “keep Christ in Christmas” — it’s the same difference between “atheists will burn in hell” and “Jesus loves you” … one is a positive expression of one’s beliefs, the other is an attack on other peoples’ beliefs. This is the fundamental problem that most people have with atheism: it’s a negative ideology that is based largely on the notion that other peoples’ peoples’ beliefs are wrong.
            I don’t have a problem with live-and-let-live atheists, but I do have a problem with people trying to bully others or trying to build themselves up by tearing other people down.
            Best wishes for the new year!

  • Mike Holmes

    This may have been done already, but a simple billboard to put up might be:

    God is unbelievable
    — American Atheists

    • rargos

      How about this billboard:
      We are intolerant of people different from us
      — American Atheists

      • SpaceAtheist

        How about one of these:
        We don’t recommend the death penalty for working on Sunday.
        or
        We don’t murder women and pretend we thought they were witches.
        or
        We’ve never killed anyone for speaking out against science.
        or
        We don’t condemn homosexuals and then claim everyone else is intolerant of us because we are different.
        — American Atheists

        • rargos

          –> “We don’t recommend the death penalty for working on Sunday.” — Christians don’t do this. Even orthodox Jews don’t do this.
          –> “We don’t murder women and pretend we thought they were witches”, — The actions of extremists acting in the name of religion is hardly a good example. What about atheist Communist governments killing Christians?
          –> “We’ve never killed anyone for speaking out against science” — Please cite scientists who were killed by religious people. Religion is not anti-science, as much as you may be brainwashed into believing it.
          –> “We don’t condemn homosexuals” — Even Pope Francis says we shouldn’t discriminate against homosexuals.

          • SpaceAtheist

            Are you disputing that your bible instructs you to do these things? I mean I’m glad to hear you think they are bad ideas, and I agree, but these examples are straight out of your own holy book. A few hundred years ago you would have killed women mistakenly believing they were witches because your crops failed or someone got sick. Too bad the bible couldn’t take one minute to discuss germs, viruses or bacteria. It couldn’t take one minute to say don’t rape, don’t commit genocide. But hey we have lots of time to talk abut wearing linen and cotton together. Anyways, you don’t follow the teachings of this book, as I see from your previous post. You just have some warm fuzzy feeling about being nice to people. You’ll probably be surprised to know that I have the same feeling without an all knowing all powerful invisible man in my head whom I expect to get rewards from.

          • rargos

            – I’m trying to figure out if you’re really serious about your comments above. Just in case you’re NOT joking:
            –> I’m a Christian, not a “Bible-ian”. I follow the teaching of Jesus as reported in the Gospels and his disciples. Jesus told us to love our neighbor and turn the other cheek.
            –> Please don’t tell me that I would have killed somone for ANY reason. You’re free to make broad (but grossly inaccurate) generalizations, but it’s offensive to claim that I would ever harm another person based on my religious beliefs.
            –> The Bible didn’t talk about germs, viruses, or bacteria because there was no scientific knowledge of these things at the time it was written. It also doesn’t discuss quantum physics or the wave vs. particle nature of light — that’s hardly a valid criticism.
            –> Christ does instruct us not to commit violence. And there’s plenty of mass killing committed by officially atheist governments. Anyone who commits rape or murder is violating the most fundamental teaching of Christianity.
            –> I do follow the teachings of Christ (as best as I’m able) and read the Bible daily. It’s a pity that most atheists comb through the Bible looking for things to attack rather than reading the parts about loving other people, exercising restraint and self-control, helping the poor and needy, etc.

          • SpaceAtheist

            Look you don’t know what you would have done. I suspect you would have followed the teachings of your church and gone along with the burning of the witches. Can I prove you would, no I can’t. But it is a reasonable hypothesis. Would you have gone along with the torture and crucifixion of Jesus if you had been there? Yeah, me neither. I would have felt compelled to try to stop it as would any moral right thinking person. So why are we born guilty?

            You think Jesus came to make everything all better? Read Matthew 10:34 and think again.

            Christ doesn’t instruct violence? Read Luke 12:51 and think again.

            And what about the part where you are instructed to cut off of any part of your body which offends.. like an eye or a limb.. maybe a private part…?? Wow. you go god.

            I’ve got to ask, is he a complete nut?

          • rargos

            It’s EXTREMELY offensive, insulting, completely incorrect to say that I would “go along” with committing violent acts for any reason.
            Why is it that the “rational” atheists seem to be unable to discuss their point of view without attacking and insulting believers? Can’t you make your case without being abusive?

          • SpaceAtheist

            Wow nice rant. Jesus said anyone who curses his father or mother shall be put to death. I hope he saw what you just typed and I hope he realizes that it is EXTREMELY offensive and insulting to command that. We finally agree on something.

            I believe you would not have been strong enough to stand against the church at the time they were in power and killing witches. That’s my gut feeling on the issue. Whining about it won’t change that. Even if you had tried to fight it, you would have been treated to nice stoning yourself.

            If you feel I am being abusive by responding to your post, then maybe you learned a valuable lesson about going to an atheist website trying to defend your unreasonable faith.

            I will leave you with a piece of truth.There is no mention of germs, viruses or bacteria because the MEN who wrote the bible knew nothing about them. It wasn’t divinely inspired or dictated by an all knowing super being. If he did exist, he could easily prove his own existence without any help from you. I know I would – if I loved you and wanted to save you. I guess I am capable of more compassion, kindness and mercy than your god. (Which ironically explains why I have feelings for the suffering of others including animals, while your god is basically an a-hole.)

          • rargos

            It’s sad that you have to resort to personal attacks and profanity to support your statements. I respect people whose beliefs differ from my own (including atheists), whereas you seem intent on using abuse to silence those whose opinions are different from your own.

          • SpaceAtheist

            Really. All that murder, slavery, killing, genocide and incest in the bible doesn’t bother you one bit, you have even learned to read it in greek – but you are offended by a word – or the letter ‘a’ – I’m not sure which. Now that’s sad.

            I don’t believe you are offended. You just don’t have an answer to any of the factual stuff contained in my posts, so you point to a word you don’t like and say HEY EVERYONE – LOOK AT THAT – don’t look at my response – but just LOOOOK AT THAT WORD.

          • rargos

            I’m not offended when you say “your god is basically an a-hole”. In fact, please feel free to use whatever other profanity you’ve learned to describe me, my beliefs, God, the BIble, etc. as well. (and don’t be afraid to use all caps again).
            And since your “gut” tells you that I would be willing to participate in murdering people based on my religion, I don’t mind if you say that again a few more times too. It’s clear I’m dealing with someone who knows everything, so perhaps it’s best to let you simply share your knowledge with us.

  • rargos

    ““Senator Lanza seems to be unaware that there are millions of atheists right here in New York,”
    Millions??? Every poll (such as the latest Gallup) show that less than 5% of Americans call themselves atheistis. So unless NYC has a population of over 500 MILLION people, there is no way there are MILLIONS of atheists in New York.
    I would think people who claim to value reason and logic would place a little more value on objective research, statistics, and math.

    • AKAJim

      Your numbers are way off – The actual numbers are 14% national population per Gallup and 14% of New York’s population per ARIS. The population of New York is 19.57 million, which puts the non-religious population total for New York at 2.74 million.

      References:

      http://www.gallup.com/poll/1690/religion.aspx
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irreligion_in_the_United_States
      https://www.google.com/search?q=population+of+new+york+state
      http://www.worldpopulationstatistics.com/new-york-state-population-2013

      • rargos

        Funny, I couldn’t find the word “atheist” anywhere on the Gallup poll page …. and God help you if you use Wikipedia to justify ANY point of view ….

        • AKAJim

          I’m with you on the Wikipedia references, which is why I covered it with Gallup first. For the word Atheist, reference the “Non-Religious” notation from my post. I didn’t see an atheist specific poll from Gallup, only the standard religion poll they publish that covers Atheists, secular humanists, agnostics, etc under their “Non-Religious” category. If you have a link to one please post it

        • curt

          go bible thump somewhere else, you make Christians look bad.

          • rargos

            Could you define what you mean by “bible thumper”? Or is that simply a generic (and unflattering, I imagine) name you use for all Christians? I find it a bit of a double standard when people want the freedom to express their own views, but then insult and try to get rid of other people who politely express a contrary opinion. Using terms like “bible thumper” isn’t constructive – it just makes you look prejudiced and bigoted, which isn’t right no matter who is doing it to whom.

          • AKAJim

            Ignore the trolls. They’ve moved from bridges to forums over the last decade.

          • AKAJim

            Not helpful man. Nothing changes without dialog – be happy people are will to discuss.

  • Doodle

    One day if I ever run into some money, instead of Christian’s winning the Mega millions Lotters all the time (Rigged) and them donating Satans money to Jesus cause he’s broke, and Christian churches. I’ll do better than this board you posted. I’d even buy a ticket for a Muslim country to watch them enact their religous law (no seperation of church and state) and do off a lying Christan which they refuse to exist, and I hate. I’ll even applaud. With joy. Religion in action.

    • AKAJim

      I honestly have no idea what you just said.

  • Philosopher

    You can go ahead and destroy modern religion. It’ll just be replaced by new religion, and your efforts will be for naught.

    • AKAJim

      You’re right. People will always want answers and there will always be questions. The point is to convert them to looking for the answers and basing them on solid evidence instead of several thousand year old fables. If there is a God then he made man curious and provided reasoning tools – surely the way to understand, honor and reach him is to understand his creation. To do anything else is like ignoring your wife when she has gone through the trouble of dressing to impress – Rude, and potentially dangerous.

  • AnIntelligentTheist

    I am not scared of you “disproving” my faith. Throw you ignorant questions at me, I’ll answer them, and then you will actually have to do some personal thinking instead of having your opinions spoon-fed to you by AA. Ask your silly questions away. Im waiting….

    • AKAJim

      My questions are submitted below. I have made the assumption that you are christian, though if this is incorrect please let me know which faith you represent and I will respond accordingly.

      The first few are there to establish your credibility and ability to answer the second set, which are some of the issues that make atheists question the validity of your religion.

      Initial questions:

      1. Define the differences in dogma between Jesus (pre-death), Peter and Paul in the New Testament.

      2. Briefly outline the history of the church from the ressurrection to the first council of Nicaea.

      3. Briefly summarize Martin Luther’s reason for separating from the Catholic church.

      The serious questions:

      Assume that that God is omnipotent, omnicient, loving, good and created the universe.

      1. By defining the setting, the players and the starting scenario, an omnicient being would know the exact result before starting the process. How do you justify the title of loving and good as the plan includes pre-ordained eternal suffering for actions taken over a finite time-spam? How do you justify the existence of evil and perpetuation of suffering that could have been halted before and at any time after by an omnipotent being?

      2. Explain the reason behind the requirement for blood rituals and symbolic cannibalism as part of redemption. By blood rituals I refer to blood sacrifice prior to Christ and the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and communion, and by symbolic cannibalism I refer to the wafer of the host and the communion wine in communion.

      3. Explain why a saviour was sent only to a small tribe who did not (and still does not) recognize him as such. Include why this occured 4 thousand years after the fall of man by that timeline instead of at the beginning before populations expanded out of a single area that would have allowed for all people to have the same information.

      4. Explain why word of said being must be transmitted by other humans instead of being imparted directly to individuals from the being itself.

      5. Given the following, why are you a christian? I do not mean in general, but you personally. What are your reasons for your faith?

      – Important events in the bible have remarkable simularities to events that in other cultures that pre-date both the biblical text and timing of the biblical event. Some prime examples are noahs ark, Jesus’ miracles and Jesus’ ressurrection.

      – Other documentation as also written during the same periods (and included in the dead sea scrolls), but was not included when the new testament was assembled (the Apocrypha). Much of this contradicts the accounts of the new testament.

      – There are 4200 other religions in the world that present a different view.

      – There are more than 40,000 different denonimations of Christianity, each with different dogma and definitions of what is needed for redemption.

      • rargos

        “By defining the setting, the players and the starting scenario, an omnicient being would know the exact result before starting the process.”
        The problem is that you’re thinking in a linear fashion when it comes to omniscience. Time is a dimension of matter (like height, width, etc.) and therefore time does not exist for non-material things. As humans we have free will and can make decisions that change both us and the world around us – God knows what the results of our actions will be in the future, but gives us the opportunity to help define that future.

        • AKAJim

          That is a well reasoned response, but how does time being a dimension that does not exist for God change anything? If God is omniscient then he understands time and how it affects man, despite not experiencing it directly Himself. To imply anything else is to say that God is limited, which means He is not God.

          if “God knows what the results of our actions will be in the future” then the original statement stands. Free will is incompatible with an omniscient creator because he already knows the end before beginning the creation. In order to have free will God would have to be an observer rather than creator, in addition to having no interaction with the observed world. By only observing he may know the ending but the players will have chosen their own actions. However, any interaction period (such as creation itself) sets into motion events that are inevitable – Because he already knows how it will end.

          That was a really interesting response that I haven’t seen before. Is there a scriptural basis for it? Genesis frames God within time during the creation and logically speaking He would have to exist within time at least during communication with humans. I suppose 2nd Peter 3:8 and Psalms 90:4 could be interpreted that way, but I always read them to mean that God is eternal.

          • rargos

            Sorry, but I think we’ve wandering into theological hair-splitting. Here’s my theology : there is an all-knowing and all-powerful God who is responsible for the existance of the universe and life itself (note: I also believe that evolution is essentially correct, but that life did not spontanously arise). I believe that we have a soul, a God-like nature within us, and that this survives death. I believe that doing good deeds and loving one’s fellow man improves our spiritual nature, while doing bad things damages it. And I believe God has chosen to speak to many people and nations in many different ways throughout human history — sometimes by sending messengers, sometimes more subtlely.
            The fact that I don’t understand and can’t explain everything about God and his actions does not trouble me — there are lots of very mundane, worldly things that I also don’t understand and can’t explain. But I do know that when I can feel the presence of God and that doing good things brings me closer to him. I don’t need to read the Summa Theologica to know what God expects of me. If exploring theological minutae helps some people better understand God, more power to them, but in many cases the endless debating about minor scriptual issues (and usually not even in the original languages), is non-productive.

          • AKAJim

            I enjoy the exploration – Every time I run into something I haven’t encountered before it gives me a chance to examine and further define my view. If only I could arrange to be paid to do it LOL!

            Stripping away all hair-splitting, why do you believe all of that? How did you reach those conclusions? Is it the result of a logical or emotional process?

            To me it is an important question. Feel free to ignore the rest – I got a bit verbose again when explaining why (I’m writing this after lol).

            With my upbringing I had a hard time admitting that it didn’t make sense to me, and I spent years looking for anything to reconcile with it. What I found instead were contradictions between historical and biblical documentation, differences in the gospel preached by Christ vs that by Paul (and later Peter when he tried to go mainstream to compete with Paul), what appeared to be a large amount of plagiarism from other religions in the accounts of jesus life and miracles, and both political and social reasons for the theology selected and discarded when the disparate churches were unified over 300 years after Christ’s death.

            What I concluded from my research was that the gentile church created by Paul happened because people were conditioned to believe in gods and were willing to switch to to one that presented a more sane and humane alternative to the craziness that was the Roman pantheon. Later Constantine saw the potential for political capital and used the church not only to goad and destabilize unfriendly neighbors but as a tool to counter the political influence of existing religious organizations. There were literally a thousand years after where society did not advance, or when it did it was advanced in spite of the church rather than because of it. Finally, as society changed, the church’s stance seemed to inevitably change to cater to the largest common opinion.

            I didn’t find evidence that it was more valid than any other religion out there – Just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time.

          • rargos

            Sorry for the delay. Why do I believe what I do? Part of it comes from my religious background, but part of it comes from studying other religions, philosophy, etc. For example, I’ve read the Quran numerous times as well as several English-language Tafsir (commentaries on the Quran), and I’ve found there to be a lot of “truth” in other beliefs as well. In my mind, the best thing to do is to concentrate on the most important points — love your neighbor, help the needy, live a modest life, don’t allow your passions to control you, etc. These are hardly controversial tenets in any religion or secular morality. People who try to discredit religion usually go after the unimportant minutiae rather than address the main points, probably because it’s hard to disagree with them. I don’t see religion as something that keeps me from enjoying life (as one recent atheist ad stated), but something that enhances my life, gives it balance and meaning, and helps me come closer to my own spiritual nature. Sadly, almost all the hatred (yes, hatred) coming from many atheists is based on a very extreme stereotype of what it means to be religious — I guarantee you that 90+% of the people who I work with have no idea I’m a believers and would be shocked to find out.
            So in short (if that’s possible now :)), I believe that there are many paths to God, and our own conscience/soul is a good test of whether or not something is true when it comes to religion. I have no ill-feelings towards anyone based on their belief (as the Muslims say, there is no compulsion in religion), but I do object to atheists who create a religious straw-man so they have something to vent their anger (and possible their own doubts) against.
            Best regards, rargos

          • AKAJim

            I can appreciate what you’re saying, especially the multiple paths bit – It appealed to me greatly when I was still trying to reason out my faith. It seems you’ve taken the ethics and philosophy that ring true for you, but where does the belief in your God stem from? Atheists may not have much in common with each other, but most of us share those core ethics and philosophies with you. The God part is where we get lost. Most faiths around the world share the same core ethics. Was upbringing the only reason you chose the Christian deity, or was there something else?

            We’re people like anyone else – Unfortunately there are haters out there. We just want to be able to live our lives without the discrimination we experience as a result of our beliefs (or lack thereof). When that happens, some of us tend to generalize and lash out at everyone instead of the minorities that are causing the problem. I’m not talking the standard evangelism, holiday and misc religious items thrown out every day as discrimination – I’m talking derision and ostracism by parts of the community you live in. The western US is more tolerant, but in Alaska, the mid-west and the south its common and harsh. A buddy of mine is a black atheist in the bible belt – he has horror stories. I personally experienced it growing up, but it helped that I also knew people who genuinely followed the ideas that their job was to love their fellow man not to judge him by their ideological standards. The people who genuinely believed in converting by presenting an example, not by forcing beliefs or dogma are what kept me from being one of those haters.

            From my standpoint I’m interested in reasoning and like the debate, but I think religion is a personal choice that shouldn’t be considered a positive or negative. I don’t think belief in a god is rational, but I have no issue with anyones beliefs as long as they don’t impede threaten my well being or freedom. Where I do have an issue is in discrimination and policy decisions made based on religious-bias. The last 20 years have been very disturbing on that front, from opinions publicly stated by officials in top positions, to laws passed concerning personal medical options to scientific research decisions/bans. It wasn’t that long ago that a president stated that Atheists cannot be patriotic for example.

            Its the reason I support AA, even though I don’t agree with everything they do. Sometimes I look at a statement from them and wonder why they are so confrontational about it. Then I see another item in the media where someone claims the US was founded as a Christian nation to justify something like denying 2 people the right to be married. It worries me that these statements are rarely questioned (even in the media) outside of AA and occasionally the ACLU when our founders explicitly said otherwise and were aggressive about keeping faith and government separate.

            “So in short (if that’s possible now :))”

            Let he who has shown brevity throw the first stone – It definitely wont be me!

            Peace, Jim

      • rargos

        “Explain why word of said being must be transmitted by other humans instead of being imparted directly to individuals from the being itself.”
        I believe that God makes his presence known to individuals every day — not a thunderous voice from the heavens, but as a quiet voice that speaks in our hearts and minds. Most people are so wrapped up in the noise of everyday life they can’t hear God speaking to them.

        • AnIntelligentTheist

          He asked me, not you. Don’t but into my conversations.

          • rargos

            I would think an “intelligent” person would be interested in hearing multiple viewpoints instead of telling other people not to “but” [sic] into their conversation.

        • AKAJim

          If your child is in danger, would you whisper to inform them? How much more important a message that concerns eternal punishment? I covered this in an earlier post on this thread – All other morality issues with eternal punishment for actions over a finite span aside, the very minimum requirement to be considered “good” would be a incontestable and unambiguous notification.

          • rargos

            I dislike the parent-child analogy to describe God since there are places where it doesn’t really apply, but in this case I’ll simply say that sometimes parents have to stand back and let their children make their own decisions and their own mistakes — otherwise they’ll never become adults. If God has given us a soul, free will, and intelligence, I would think he would give us the opportunity to use them and see what kinds of decisions we make. If God simply appeared in a cloud of thunder and told us what to do, it wouldn’t really be much of a test, would it? In my mind, our life here on earth is a test to help grow and develop our souls. Maybe the Hindus, etc. are right and people who fail the test are sent back to try again … perhaps Earth itself is a kind of Purgatory? (don’t quote me on that).
            I’m not suggesting I hear actual voices when I say that God speaks to me (that would be troubling), but we all have a conscience (to some degree), and I think that what many people call “conscience” is ONE way of describing the voice of God.

      • AnIntelligentTheist

        I coulda sworn I wrote like an ESSAY and poted it. AGH WTF ASDFJKL;

        • AKAJim

          No worries if the god ate your homework. Take your time.

  • Cthulhu21

    I can’t see the comments se when I come to this page on my tablet.

  • fergy

    And this is going to make them like us better.

  • irony

    ummm… without the “christ” in it there would not be holiday here.

Copyright 2013 American Atheists