A Response to the National Day of Prayer May 6, 2010

A Response to the National Day of Prayer

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is celebrating the National Day of Prayer by launching a brand new bus ad campaign in Madison, Wisconsin:

The ad campaign’s theme is “America is not a Christian nation.” Signs on bus interiors and exteriors display seven different messages that highlight America’s secular heritage.

Here are the six ads that will be featured:

I like them a lot. They speak for themselves without going out of the way to insult non-religious people. It just speaks truth to history.

So how long do you think it’ll take before conservative Christians respond to denounce these memorable words?

(via Paliban Daily)

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  • WishinItWas

    I would love to see more of these!!!

  • Bob

    Those are great!

    The irony is that Nixon tried to sandbag Kennedy for being Catholic, i.e. we would have a president answering to the Pope.

  • Canadiannalberta

    🙂 Awesome. I think it’ll take the Christians, oh, a few seconds upon even the mention of such signs in their midst to fling lies, like “Those are taken out of context!” or “They never said that!”

  • plutosdad

    The only one I never liked was the treaty of Tripoli, since it was in a sense signed under duress. We had to pay off the pirates to protect our people, since we had no navy strong enough to fight them off. I wonder if saying we are not christian (to the muslim pirates) was part of the payment.

    Not that I think we were formed as a christian nation of course. But the other statements all hold a lot more weight.

  • d’Armond

    … Or efface them. 🙁

  • littlejohn

    I’m not so sure. This is precisely the sort of “cherry-picking” we routinely accuse Christians of doing.
    They can easily respond in kind. Even our current president, whom I assume is privately not religious, makes references to god and faith. So has every president, even the known deists and/or agnostics, such as Washington and Adams. It is easy to envision the response to this.

  • CameronJ

    @plutosdad – Regardless, the Treaty of Tripoli, with the explicit denial that the US was a Christian nation, was ratified unanimously by the Senate. Therefore, the US is not a Christian nation. And the Arabic apparently (this per wikipedia) doesn’t actually say that, so it couldn’t have been “payment”.

    I think it probably carries the most weight, as it is an official government declaration that is the law of the land. Even the Constitutional preclusion of religious tests (and the absence of the word “God” in the Constitution) could be construed as indirect evidence

  • Mike

    My response to the NDP was to add the following to my Facebook page…

    “Let us praise God. Oh Lord, oooh you are so big. So absolutely huge. Gosh, we’re all really impressed down here I can tell you. Forgive us, O Lord, for this dreadful toadying and barefaced flattery. But you are so strong and, well, just so super. Fantastic. Amen.”

    Let the hate posting begin…

  • plutosdad

    Bob I think Kennedy’s statement was in response to Nixon and to many other journalists and pundits. Quite a few people were afraid of having a Catholic president, and he said that to reassure people. Having grown up Catholic and then getting involved with Evangelical churches, I can attest the prejudice among protestants is alive and well even today. It just doesn’t erupt into violence like it did in Europe. Pre Vatican II I can understand if that prejudice was even greater.

    So in a sense, Kennedy’s statement might be considered as nothing more than a campaign slogan to reassure people he wasn’t taking marching orders from the Pope. What he really believed might be slightly different.

  • I think the cherry picking argument is probably right. The “other side” could pull out 7 quotes from famous Americans, even founding fathers, probably even these same 7, that say just the opposite.

    But that’s not the point of the bus campaign. The point is to get people who believe otherwise to stop and think, and challenge their assumptions. They may stop and think, then reject it. But maybe a percentage of them might keep thinking.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    They speak for themselves without going out of the way to insult non-religious people.

    Or religious people either.

  • Aaron

    It will get people thinking, at best. We could use more thinking.

    @plutosdad Exactly. I have heard complex arguements from my fundie bothers on why the Pope is the the antichrist, including one where 666 actually somehow decoded to say “the pope”.

  • Killer Bee

    I like these billboards. They present facts that are readily grasped and come from authorities that are likely to resonate with believers.

    Contrast this with the message about being “good without god” in the other billboards, which is silly.

    First of all, I’m not “good” nor do I aspire to be.

    Second, for believers the very first and highest of goods is worshipping their god, so by definition atheists can’t be “good.” No matter what, there is something fundamentally wrong with you that taints everything else.

    The equivalent for an atheist would be someone who gives generously to charities, actively advocates for human rights, and occasionally stabs a hobo.

  • Frank

    Actually the regligious right attacked Thomas Jefferson earlier this year with the Texas School Board decision to “de-emphasize” his contributions to America.

    Numerous articles out there, but here’s one talking about their changing the ideas to emphasize the Christianity of America and dropping some of what Jefferson did.


  • Bob


    Well, yes, the ‘other side’ HAS cherry-picked the writings of our founding fathers to construe America as a Christian nation from its inception.

    Visit THOMAS and look for something like Rep. Steve King’s (R-Iowa) ‘On the Importance of Christmas and Christianity’ resolution.

  • edwords

    Littlejohn – – – The President

    IS privately religious.That is,

    unless he’s the Hypocrite-In-Chief,

    which is unlikely.

    (Many a “potential” atheist has a Michelle
    in his life.)

  • Judith Bandsma


    Kennedy’s full speech (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16920600) says it even better but this is only part of the quote;

    I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

    I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

  • Dave B

    I really like them. I wish there was a more efficient way to get people to understand that there is a separation of church and state for a dam good reason. It’s a decent start.

  • Jim H

    I like the ads. I also liked FFRF’s ad in today’s NY Times (sorry, no link) reminding us that NDP is unconstitutional.

    When will the theists start? The denunciations will begin in 3, 2, 1…

    @plutosdad: Excellent points, but: that treaty, like all treaties, is the law of the land (as per Article VI) so it doesn’t matter why the clause was included.
    [steps off soapbox]

  • John

    AWESOME! All of them! If I was yesterday’s $266 million dollar lottery winner in CA, I would be financing these on every transit bus in the country-PERSONALLY!

  • Elga

    Exactly…just getting people thinking is a great start.

    Anyway, I think these are brilliant. Wonder if I’ll be seeing them on the streets of DC any thime soon? (Somehow I doubt it…)

  • Nakor

    I think they’re beautiful! (And I’m not even American lol.) As for the cherry picking argument, I’m not so sure. I don’t remember which are which, but several of the founding fathers were either deist or atheist/agnostic, and if we’re showing quotes to that nature, which are not misleading about their opinions and beliefs, then I think it’s unfair to call it cherry picking. It’s a favourite statement of the religious right to say that America was based on Christianity, and these statements make it very clear that such is untrue.

  • Emily

    These are pretty sweet. Eye-catching without being offensive and they force people to think. Hell, maybe people will even do research!

    A girl can dream…

  • Barry D

    I don’t know if you can force people to think. But you can hope to plant a little grain of quartz in the hiking boot of the mind. Sooner or later, one can’t ignore it any more. 🙂

    That’s what I think that these quotes do. Short, sweet, and patriotic in that they come from our nation’s early history. For those who think that patriotic American = fundie, they’re the rock in the boot. Love it.

  • David D.G.

    These are outstanding! I just wish that they were offered as bumper stickers, too; I would be delighted to display them!

  • muggle

    Wow! FFRF just gets better and better! These are their best signs yet! And, yes, admittedly, far less offensive.

    I’m kind of glad for that myself. I never thought theirs too out there but I do think there’s growing too much of a defensive trend (albeit understandably) among freethinkers resulting in too little tolerance of even those believers who are willing to live and let live.

    We defeat our own purpose if we become who we hate.

  • It’s tempting to set up some of these icons of free thought as modern demi-gods, and some of us (I plead guilty) have.
    Politicians back then were just as full of hooey as they are now, “Founding Fathers” or not.
    The historical record bears out that they sometimes said and wrote what was expedient. Most of them were pragmatists above all else.
    Regardless of their flaws, I’m glad of the legacy they left for us. We need to safeguard it.

  • Yeah, these need to be bumper stickers, IMO. Would buy right now!

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