So this morning I read this story about these buses in Fort Worth, Texas, that have atheist ads on them, and how Christians are upset about them because dude, it’s Christmas, and do we really have to put up with your godless crap at Christmas? and how some God vans are following the atheist buses around town to counteract this abomination, and here, I’ll just quote some of the article for you:

FORT WORTH — Stand on a corner in this city and you might get a case of theological whiplash.

A public bus rolls by with an atheist message on its side: “Millions of people are good without God.” Seconds later, a van follows bearing a riposte: “I still love you. — God,” with another line that says, “2.1 billion Christians are good with God.”

A clash of beliefs has rattled this city ever since atheists bought ad space on four city buses to reach out to nonbelievers who might feel isolated during the Christmas season. After all, Fort Worth is a place where residents commonly ask people they have just met where they worship and many encounters end with, “Have a blessed day.”

“We want to tell people they are not alone,” said Terry McDonald, the chairman of Metroplex Atheists, part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason, which paid for the atheist ads. “People don’t realize there are other atheists. All you hear around here is, ‘Where do you go to church?’ ”

But the reaction from believers has been harsher than anyone in the nonbeliever’s club expected. Some ministers organized a boycott of the buses, with limited success. Other clergy members are pressing the Fort Worth Transportation Authority to ban all religious advertising on public buses. And a group of local businessmen paid for the van with the Christian message to follow the atheist-messaged buses around town.

“We just wanted to reach out to them and let them know about God’s love,” said Heath Hill, president of the media company that owns the van and one of the businessmen who arranged for the Christian ads. “We have gotten some pretty nasty e-mails and phone calls from atheists. But it’s really just about the love of God.”

The face-off here follows efforts in other cities by several coalitions of atheists — American Atheists, the United Coalition of Reason and the Freedom From Religion Foundation, to name a few — that have mounted ad campaigns to encourage nonbelievers to seek out others of like mind. Some have compared their efforts to the struggle of gay men and lesbians to “come out” and win acceptance from society.

So now you know what’s going on.  And here’s what I have to say about it.

First of all, who knew that atheists felt left out at Christmastime?  I thought atheists were supposed to be all badass and rational and not need anyone else because they’re so smart and independent-thinking, unlike people who need to cling to myths to create meaning in their lives, but whatever.  You all know I fully support atheists building up their own community instead of just complaining that they don’t fit in because they are too rational and S.M.R.T.  There’s a local atheist group that meets at the Moonstruck Chocolate Cafe the fourth Wednesday of every month, and they all slurp mochas and talk about how they can share the joy of atheism without being, you know, all evangelistic and crap.  I don’t know how much success they’ve had in their wider agenda, but they’ve been meeting there pretty consistently for the last two or three years, and I know they have a good time doing it, and that is what really matters.  Yeah, they get a little rowdy sometimes.  Those atheists love to talk–at least when they’re in a group of like-minded people smart enough to understand where they’re coming from–but that is why God created iPods for the other customers, i.e. me.

*Note:  I know that God technically did not create the iPod.  (Or did He, technically?  Does it really matter, as long as I have an iPod?  I think not.)

So, yeah, if a bunch of atheists want to pool their money together and buy some ad space on the city bus so they won’t feel alone at Christmastime, that’s no skin off my nose.  I’m just happy they’re happy.  (I don’t know what God thinks about it.  I wouldn’t presume.)  It doesn’t bother me when atheists talk about being good without God.  I wish more people would be good, with or without God–I’m not picky!  Whatever floats your boat.  And if they can advertise an aquarium called The Wet Spot around these parts, why shouldn’t some atheists advertise some atheism around those other parts?  (We don’t need to advertise atheism in Oregon, particularly.  I think we’re the most unchurched state in the Union, so atheists don’t feel quite as put upon here as they might in Ft. Worth, even if they do still feel the need to imbibe mocha as a group.)

No, I’m actually really annoyed with the Christian businessmen’s response to this.  Seriously, following the bus around all day so people don’t forget that God always gets the last word?  Number one, is that really necessary?  Answer:  No.   Number two, aren’t there better/more important/more useful things to do with your money, not to mention time, than follow a bus around all day?  Answer:  Yes.  I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, “Yes.”  As central as evangelism is to Christianity–and I admit I say this as the World’s Worst Evangelist, but at least I am aware of the legitimate place of evangelism in the Christian religion–I really don’t think this sort of thing helps anyone.  I mean, obviously, it doesn’t feed the hungry or clothe the naked or liberate the captive, but more to the point, it isn’t really spreading the Good News, either.  It’s less “Jesus Saves” and more “People who follow Jesus are even more insecure than atheists if they have to hire a van to drive around town responding to the ad on the side of a bus, which would probably be largely ignored if it weren’t for the crazy van people following it all day.”

I guess I’m just different from a lot of people because I don’t get the indignation.  I feel that indignation should be reserved for big stuff that really matters because if you only get indignant about stuff that really matters, more people will pay attention when you’re indignant.  When you get your nose out of joint over every little thing, people tend to start ignoring you.  Just like they do with the atheists.

I really don’t think I’m picking on the Christians, either.  Believe me, I can just as easily see a bunch of atheists getting miffed about a bus ad about Jesus saving, only instead of hiring a van to follow the bus around and say, “OH NO HE DIDN”T!” they would just hire a lawyer and start suing stuff.  (When was the last time you saw an atheist driving a van anywhere?  I rest my case.  Actually, no, I’m just curious.  Do you think atheists drive vans as often as Christians do?  Because they’re apparently kind of loners, those atheists–no one to talk to and commiserate with–so they probably don’t need a lot of passenger seating in their vehicles.  It’s just a theory.)

So what was I saying?  Oh, yeah.  I don’t get the indignation and feeling like you need to do something when someone’s bus ad rubs you the wrong way.  Unless it were a bus ad supporting communism.  Except the public transportation is sort of like communism, so it’s actually kind of fitting.  So never mind.  I guess I just don’t get the indignation.  Especially during Christmas.  Aren’t there better, less “nyeah, nyeah” ways of sharing God’s love at Christmas?

That’s all I have to say, and now I have to go play with my daughter before she goes off to get indoctrinated with this God stuff at her Christian preschool, to which I shall drive her in my unmarked (mini) van.

Advertisements