The American Atheists have decided to win converts and friends by putting up billboards mocking Romney and Obama’s religions. I read the story in USA Today.
Hey, President Obama and contender Mitt Romney, the American Atheistswant your attention. They’re unveiling a new in-your-face-to-the-faithful billboard campaign, timed to the national presidential nominating conventions.
Today’s press conference revealed signs that call God “sadistic” and Jesus “useless” as a savior (his image is show as toast, literally) and conclude that Atheism, by contrast, is “simply reasonable.”
Presumably, Catholics such as Vice President Biden and Romney’s running mate choice Paul Ryan, are covered in this hit on Christians such as Obama, a mainline Protestant.
But evidently the American Atheists don’t consider Mormons to be Christians, since they prepared a separate billboard attack on their faith. It derides their idea of God as a “space alien” and notes that Mormons offer a proxy baptism to dead relatives — a practice the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledges has gotten out of hand with some believers inappropriately baptizing Holocaust victims and others not related to their own families.
But Silverman’s idea of “fun” may not align with that of the faithful his group loves to jab. As he said then,
We’re not the softies. We are proud to be the Marines of free thought, proud to be the edge of the sword.
The same group flew a banner over New York City on the Fourth of July proclaiming, “Atheism is patriotic.”
Now, MacBain says, the billboards are aimed at mocking the “silliness” of religion. In an email before today’s press conference, she wrote that questioning the religious views of men who want to lead the free world is essential because,
If a person believes stupid things, then we have every right to question his or her judgment, and that directly impacts how the non-religious voter votes.
More demands — like non-religious people to be appointed to the Cabinet and the Supreme Court — are at their website.
I have to wonder, do they honestly think anyone is likely to be converted by such tactics. Maybe they aren’t looking for converts but want more people to feel empowered to “come out of the closet” as Atheists. I think, that if I were an unbeliever, these sort of antics would make me wary of identifying myself as an Atheist. I might call myself an agnostic or non-religious instead. It seems that I am not alone in thinking that way.
Interestingly, for all the increasing public presence of unbelievers — billboards, rallies, conventions, etc. — the attention has not boosted their percentage of the U.S. population significantly in the last decade.
Most people who say they have no religious identity also call themselves spiritual but not religious, and many give the entire topic a big “so what” shrug.
On the other hand, I think that I prefer the honest Atheist over the wishy-washy spiritual but not religious types. It may be just a prejudice of mine, but I think that the SBNRs are people who seek the comforts of religion without the demands. That is, they want to feel good about themselves, but don’t want to have to follow any rules or do anything that might make themselves or others uncomfortable.