by Jesse Galef –
The funniest thing about the atheist billboard campaigns is that it almost doesn’t matter what they say. The message gets bypassed and the signs turn into a lightning rod for all the religious arguments about atheism. “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone” somehow gets portrayed as “A new billboard questioning the existence of God.” Facepalm-inducing idiocy ensues.
Having followed the billboard campaigns (supported by the United Coalition of Reason) for a while, I feel like a wine connoisseur talking about them: “Ah yes, the March Detroit* had some nice vandalism with a hint of bigotry, but wasn’t as full-bodied as the February Sacramento…” or “That news segment was a delicious medley of ignorance, condescension, and misrepresentation, but could use a touch more controversy.”
But this story from North Carolina is particularly rich. It packs so many of the usual themes into just two minutes! Faux-controversy, opinion from a local religious leader, a counter billboard campaign, interviewing random people in the street…
As often happens, I want to respond to every single thing said. But instead of writing pages, let’s do it rapid-fire:
- Secular spokesperson Jennifer Lovejoy: Great inclusive message.
- Random person in the parking lot: I don’t even know what you’re trying to say. Religious groups advertise all the time.
- Second random person in the parking lot: Not everyone thinks that “God is everything.” It definitely shouldn’t be part of a patriotic activity for our secular government.
- We Still Pray Organization: Well done! Putting up your own billboards is the correct way to disagree.
- Pastor Sexton: Were the original authors of the pledge of allegiance being “disingenuous” by leaving out the words ‘under God’? Then how are we disingenuous by suggesting it?
- Third random person in the parking lot: No. Through shared convention, words have meanings. The word ‘God’ cannot simply refer to “anyone I believe in” and it cannot “stand for anything.”
But I think my favorite part is the reporter who is unwilling to actually do any, you know, reporting of his own. Talking about the words ‘Under God’, he says: “Jennifer Lovejoy says the pledge hasn’t always been like that.” You know, it’s not just her opinion… feel free to assert it as a fact for your viewers!
Still, this North Carolina vintage is quite good…
* I had mistakenly written “Dallas” instead of “Detroit” in the original posting. Sorry for the mistake!