If you haven’t heard, there’s a bit of controversy over an American Atheists Billboard near the Lincoln Tunnel in New York. It looks like this:
Some Catholic League responded with this billboard:
I especially like how pale and Caucasian looking baby Jesus is. At least Mary isn’t blonde.
So what are my thoughts? First of all, billboards of any religion are annoying. In a drive through the Bible Belt of central Missouri, my family encountered scores of Christian propaganda, including obscure statements like ‘It’s time for Jesus’ and awkward quotes. The most awkward – ‘In the words of Jesus Christ “Behold, I come quickly” ‘- had my parents in tears of hysterical laughter for a few miles.
But after running the gauntlet, did I have a sudden inclination to convert? No – just the inclination to be annoyed by the churches that could be doing something useful spending money on something so pointless. So I’m of the same mind with this atheism billboard. Of course it’s a myth – every culture has their mythologies. But a big sign isn’t going to convince anyone of anything, and it’s just a waste of money and materials. Plus, putting up atheist billboards is just as annoying as the Jehovah’s Witnesses coming to your door and asking, “Are you sure you’re going to heaven?” Proselytizing is still annoying, no matter if Christian, Atheist, Buddhist, or Scientologist.
Does that mean the other group should have put up a billboard, which they called a ‘counterpunch’. To quote Stephen Colbert – “As Jesus says, if someone slaps you in the face, counterpunch!” Not. It’s not showing very much ‘Christmas spirit’ to engage in a billboard war.
Basically, everyone should call it quits and accept the fact that a billboard with a slogan isn’t going to change anyone’s minds. It’s just going to annoy everyone even more. So instead, spend your money on something that’s actually helpful.