‘Tis the season
I’m torn when I see the atheist billboards that may be offending Christians. On the one hand, the consciousness of the public needs raised. They need to know we are here. Without catching the attention of mainstream society, they forget about us. And it’s too easy to imagine that they want to forget about us.
On the other hand, if we offend Christians at Christmas time, are we doing ourselves any good? Granted, it reaches other freethinkers, doubters, brites and it supports and, perhaps, heartens them.
I hope the billboards, bus advertising, and other outdoor media are taken as an invitation to dialogue. For the most part, they aren’t the most offensive statements that could be devised. The advertising may have been ordered without concern or care whether anyone on the otherside of the cultural divide is insulted. Fair enough.
We may be missing the opportunity to forge alliances across the lines. Not all Christians are radical fundamentalists or evangelists. I saw an enlightened young man in a short televised interview say that rather than pursue the course of the old guard, he wanted people’s lives to be better because a Christian lived in the neighborhood. That sounds like the true Christian spirit to me, but not something we’ve heard from those who railed against atheists and humanists in the past.
I suggest we keep that young man’s ideal in mind.
At the same time, I also wonder if we have raised the public consciousness sufficiently? We’re not like a racial minority. We’re not openly visible. And in some ways we’re farther behind the GLBT community in gaining respect. Granted, our treatment hasn’t been as harsh in recent history.
There are now a few atheists in political office. Perhaps there’s less job discrimination. Or is it just easier for us to keep quiet? The gays have been gaining ground in church–one area where I think we’ll always lag. The gays have been in the TV sitcoms for years. I don’t think we’re there yet.
Undoubtedly, Christianity holds sway in the U.S. (I’m dumbfounded when I hear them say they are such a put-upon minority.) As some kind of majority, they get their way. For people of conscience, when they respect us, they’ll care that they haven’t been respecting our feelings and rights.
It seems to me that the question is, how best do we gain respect? Are we still in the protest phase? Do we need to march? Are we in the awareness/consciousness-raising phase? Or are we ready to dialogue? It could be all the above depending on our target audience.
We need to maintain a dialogue (which could entail starting one). I suggest we sidestep their fundies and dialogue with the Christians who want us to be happy they’re here.
Entry filed under: freethought. Tags: agnostics, anti christian billboards, atheists, atheists in political office, call for open dialogue, dialogue with christians, doubters, enlightenment, freethinkers, gaining respect, humanist, humanists, invitation to dialogue, job discrimination, offensive atheist billboards, public awareness, unspoken minority in america, unspoken minority in US.