Aggressive atheism is rearing its anti-religious head again this pre-Christmas season. And this time it's more combative and belligerent than ever. This year we'll see the gospel of unbelief spread far and wide on billboards, in newspapers and magazines, and even on television.
The most expensive campaign is being launched by the American Humanist Association. Last year, the AHA was responsible for ads exhorting people to "Be Good For Goodness' Sake." This year, its advertising is much more pointed, and unapologetically negative. By its own description, the "Consider Humanism" campaign is intended to hit harder. "This year, we're going further in our attempt to challenge the intolerant view that atheist and agnostic humanists can't be good without Bible-derived morality. We're taking a hard look at what is included in religious texts,” according to the website devoted to the ad campaign. Scheduled to run in major newspapers such as USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the AHA's ads will be made up of two parts. One will be a quote from the Bible or the Quran and will be marked with the words, "What some believe." The other part, identified as "What humanists think," will contain a quote from what the AHA calls "humanist documents."
For example, one ad will juxtapose this Bible verse from Hosea 13:16 with a quote from Albert Einstein: "The people of Samaria must bear their guilt, because they have rebelled against their God. They will fall by the sword; their little ones will be dashed to the ground, their pregnant women ripped open." Einstein's quote reads as follows: "I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation, whose purposes are modeled after our own -- a God, in short, who is but a reflection of human frailty."
In another ad, Katharine Hepburn is quoted from a Ladies Home Journal article: "I'm an atheist, and that's it. I believe there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for each other." The juxtaposed Bible passage quotes Jesus from the book of Luke: "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters -- yes, even his own life -- he cannot be my disciple."
One ad on homosexuality will contrast the AHA's position affirming "sexual equality" and the legalization of same-sex "marriage" with the verse from Leviticus that calls the act of a man lying with another man "detestable."
American Atheists have come up with a billboard ad to run in the New York City area featuring a Nativity scene which reads, "You Know it's a Myth. This Season Celebrate Reason." According to The New York Times, "The idea of the campaign is to reach people who might go to church but are just going through the motions." David Silverman, the president of American Atheists, is quoted as saying, "We're going after that market share."
The Freedom From Religious Foundation, based in Madison, Wisconsin, has come up with what it calls the "Out of the Closet Campaign." In a dozen or so cities, billboards will feature regular folks proudly declaring their unbelief. One will feature a young woman named "Katie" holding a plate of cookies, wearing a "Godless Goddess" T-shirt, with the quote: "I like baking, biking & sleeping in on Sundays."
Bus ads by the United Coalition of Reason read "Don't Believe in God? Join the Club."
By all accounts this year's campaigns by atheists are, as David Gibson wrote for PoliticsDaily.com, "more explicit in their aims of converting believers and rallying nonbelievers."
I guess I just don't understand. Christians (along with Jews and Muslims) gather in groups to worship. Atheists don't gather not to worship, so why seek out members? What's there to be a member of? And why should atheists care about stopping worshippers who are just "going through the motions"? Do they think they might get their hands on money once pledged to churches?
Trying to tear down the belief system of the world's foremost religion -- Christianity -- is what seems intolerant to me. Placing prominent ads declaring the birth of Christ to be a myth seems downright hostile. To my mind, these campaigns feel defensive, as though atheists are weighted down with chips on their shoulders, or feel left out of some club.
Christians I know don't go around declaring that only fellow Christians can be good. And if they do, they're wrong.
Maybe Christians should launch a kinder, gentler campaign in response. They could quote Timothy Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, from his book The Reason for God on the subject of common grace: "[E]very act of goodness, wisdom, justice, and beauty is empowered by God....He casts them across all humanity, regardless of religious conviction, race, gender or any other attribute to enrich, brighten and preserve the world."
God bless us, every one.
This article originally appeared at OneNewsNow.com. Reprinted with permission.
Marcia Segelstein, a former producer for CBS News, is a freelance writer and mother.
Articles on the BreakPoint website are the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of Chuck Colson or BreakPoint. Outside links are for informational purposes and do not necessarily imply endorsement of their content.