Like paper cuts from wrapping presents and the sound of small children screaming in the laps of mall Santas, anti-God advertisements seem to have become a Christmas tradition. Their messages range from benign to disrespectful, and even confusing.
This year, city buses operating in Fort Worth, Texas, are featuring ads that read: "Millions of Americans are good without God."1
The ads, sponsored by the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason, cover the sides of the buses and will run through the month of December. According to a report in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, "The total cost of printing the ads and buying the space on the buses is about $2,480."2
While the Fort Worth bus ads―though logically inconsistent3―are for the most part harmless, other anti-God ads have focused a direct attack on Christianity.
A billboard sponsored by a New Jersey atheist group features a nativity scene with the words "You KNOW it's a Myth. This Season, Celebrate REASON." According to the American Atheists website, one of the ad's purposes is "to attack the myth that Christianity owns the solstice season."4 The billboard, located near the Lincoln Tunnel, cost about $20,000.5
Interestingly, on the Manhattan side of the tunnel, another board reads, "You Know It's Real: This Season Celebrate Jesus."6
"So after Christian motorists have had their sensibilities assaulted as they exit New Jersey, they will experience a sense of joy, and satisfaction, as they enter New York City," according to a press release from the Catholic League,6 which sponsored the $18,500 advertisement.5
The Centre for Inquiry Canada (CFI) hopes to bring bus ads reading "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence," followed by "Allah, Bigfoot, UFOs, Homeopathy, Zeus, psychics, Christ," to major Canadian cities in early 2011.7
What Christ and homeopathy have in common is unclear—as is the connection between creationism and leprechauns, which are listed in the full ad posted on the CFI website.8 But CTV News reported that the group is currently fundraising the required $10,000 to $15,000 (Canadian dollars) per city for the ads.7
But is all this money well spent?
Those same thousands of dollars could fund pamphlets, books, and other media sources that are distributable and have longer shelf lives. Or, they could be funneled into charitable projects in local communities and around the world. Many states are still experiencing record unemployment9 and the world's poorest nations have hosts of problems. Funds spent on telling others that atheists are good make little sense compared to funds actually doing good.
Especially during this time of year, many Christians celebrate the generosity of God the Father for the gift of Jesus by being generous to others in need. Atheists might make more of an impact by taking a cue from their Christ-following counterparts and being generous with their wealth as well.
That would seem very "REASON"able.
- Godless Ads Go on Ft. Worth Buses December 1. Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason press release, November 30, 2010.
- Dickson, G. Fort Worth T buses will feature ads with message refuting God. Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Posted on star-telegram.com November 30, 2010, accessed December 2, 2010.
- When a person follows a set of moral parameters, he or she is considered "good." Universal moral parameters can only be the product of a universal moral lawgiver, one who provides a source of information for what is "right" or "wrong." Without the lawgiver, who would have to be God, the "law" is not binding and there would be no such thing as "good." A system that qualifies someone as "good" while denying the existence of a source for the necessary moral parameters (e.g., atheism) is logically inconsistent.
- Atheist Billboard is Up! No God Blog. Posted on atheists.org November 22, 2010, accessed December 2, 2010.
- Dolan, L. Dueling billboards face off in Christmas controversy. CNN. Posted on religion.blogs.cnn.com November 30, 2010, accessed December 2, 2010.
- Pro-Christmas Billboard in NYC. Catholic League press release, November 30, 2010.
- Group plans to bring atheist ad campaign to buses. CTV News. Posted on ctv.ca December 2, 2010, accessed December 2, 2010.
- Extraordinary Claims advertisement campaign website. Centre for Inquiry Canada.
- "The government's monthly labor report threw a curve ball Friday morning as November's job growth came in far lower than expected and the unemployment rate rose to 9.8%." Censky, A. November jobs report: Unemployment rate up. CNNMoney. Posted on cnnmoney.com December 3, 2010, accessed December 3, 2010.
* Ms. Dao is Assistant Editor at the Institute for Creation Research.
Article posted on December 6, 2010.