Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Free Speech in Fort Worth

The atheist bus ads have finally caught the attention of the New York Times. This story has been floating around Fort Worth for a month now, which is why, I suppose some Christian groups have had time to organize a protest.

A public bus rolls by with an atheist message on its side: “Millions of people are good without God.” Seconds later, a van follows bearing a riposte: “I still love you. — God,” with another line that says, “2.1 billion Christians are good with God.”

A clash of beliefs has rattled this city ever since atheists bought ad space on four city buses to reach out to nonbelievers who might feel isolated during the Christmas season. After all, Fort Worth is a place where residents commonly ask people they have just met where they worship and many encounters end with, “Have a blessed day.”

"We want to tell people they are not alone," said Terry McDonald, the chairman of Metroplex Atheists, part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason, which paid for the atheist ads. "People don’t realize there are other atheists. All you hear around here is, ‘Where do you go to church?’"

I don't know where McDonald hangs out to be asked constantly about his church affiliation, but as a lifelong Fort Worth resident, I'll tell you it isn't something that comes up constantly in my conversations. Maybe that's because I'm Presbyterian and I figure your unbelief is between you and God. But the idea that atheists are "lonely" because during the celebration of Christ's birth people talk about their faith strikes me as just so much whining for nothing. Vox Populi sums up my feelings:
And thus are all the claims that their various ad campaigns are about anything but annoying Christians at Christmastime belied. Can you even imagine how upset Jews would be if Christians began running ads directly attacking Jewish beliefs during the high holidays in a similar manner? Or how ballistic Muslims would go if similarly attacked during Ramadan? Atheists constantly attempt to portray the public celebrations and positive assertions of Christian belief as some sort of attack on their non-belief, but that is nothing more than absurd and juvenile drama-queening.

I think the people complaining about the ads are giving these clowns more attention than they deserve, which is, of course, why the ads are being run on buses to get high exposure.

If you're an atheist during Christmas, suck it up. You don't have to celebrate any more than you celebrate Independence Day or New Year's. There's no Christmas police forcing you to attend Christmas Eve mass or anything. This "lonely" atheist whining is just an excuse to be obnoxious and rude.