Since they won’t be putting up Nativity scenes or atheist plaques in the Washington state Capitol Building this year, the Freedom From Religion Foundation decided to buy adspace for a few hundred of these ads on Seattle buses.
Provocative? Of course.
Accurate? Not in the least.
Atheists don’t (and shouldn’t) say, “There is no God” because it’s wrong to make such a blanket statement. (The British people knew well enough to put the word “Probably” in their bus campaign.)
FFRF knows this, too.
But their press release doesn’t acknowledge the erroneous claim:
Obviously, the “Yes, Virginia” reference is a play on the famous question posed by 8-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon in 1897 to the New York Sun newspaper: “Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’ Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?”
The rest is history. In an unsigned editorial, the Sun’s Francis P. Church (ouch!) wrote his “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” line, along with, “Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies!”
Freethinkers and skeptics have a hard time with the belief thing, which is what’s behind the ads, said Dan Barker, Foundation co-president. “Most people think December is for Christians and view our solstice signs as an intrusion, when actually it’s the other way around,” he said. “People have been celebrating the winter solstice long before Christmas. We see Christianity as the intruder, trying to steal the natural holiday from all of us humans.”
Christians will complain this this is an attack on Christmas (which I suppose it is in a roundabout way) and atheists will complain about the statement itself. It’s another thing religious people can correctly use against us when they say we make absurd claims about the nature of God. We have to defend this by saying it’s an inaccurate statement simply designed to get attention.
Make no mistake: This isn’t a bus ad designed to reach out to other atheists. It is just a fundraising and publicity tool for FFRF. I’m sure they’ll get some good media coverage out of this.
It’s also great advertising for FFRF’s annual convention which will — not coincidentally — be held in Seattle this weekend.