Christmas decorations are already up in shops. ‘Tis the season to be merry, and ‘tis also the season for atheists and Christians in the US to start slugging it out in the run-up to 25th December. By REBECCA DAVIS.
“American Atheists” is an organisation which, according to their website, is “dedicated to working for the civil rights of atheists, promoting separation of state and church, and providing information about atheism”. They claim 12% of Americans are atheists, “more than Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus, combined”. They announced on Monday that they would be erecting billboards around America at the beginning of December as part of their campaign to “ask all church-goers to consider honestly their theological beliefs this season and ask if and why they are pretending to believe the unbelievable”.
The billboards feature pictures of Neptune, Jesus, Santa Claus and the Devil, with the slogan “37 million Americans know MYTHS when they see them. What do you see?”
Predictably, this hasn’t gone down a treat among US churches. The Christian Post quoted an anonymous pastor as saying that to place Jesus in the same league as the other three figures was “dense and simple-minded”, because “even those who lack a personal commitment to Jesus recognise that there was in fact some historical figure by this name”.
In recent years, atheist organisations have attracted sufficient funding in the US and the UK to run high-profile campaigns. In 2009 the British Humanist Association, supported by Richard Dawkins, placed large adverts on London buses bearing the slogan “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life”. The campaign attracted criticism from the likes of Canadian author Margaret Atwood, who said “Once you’re paying money to put slogans on things, it’s either a product you’re selling, a political party or religion”. DM
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