American Atheist Christmas Billboard Campaign in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Other States, Plus the Reaction by Some Christians

American Atheists are doing a billboard campaign in Albuquerque, New Mexico as well as Texas and Oklahoma. The Albuquerque campaign calls for people to skip church and says that it is fake news. Some Christians are upset over the billboard campaign. I think the campaign by atheists is helpful and necessary, and in the post I explain why. 

“Everyone knows that the stories we’re told in church aren’t the truth,” said David Silverman, president of American Atheists. “People ignore that fact because they enjoy the community, the friendship, and the traditions that go along with religion. But we’re here to tell them that churches don’t have a monopoly on any of that. There’s a fantastic and vibrant community of atheists all across the country creating their own traditions and lifelong friendships.”

David Silverman of American Atheist

“I think they’re trying to give a slap in the face to not only the Christian community but people that have faith and people that have hope”

Richard Mansfield of New Beginnings Church 

 

The Christmas season is always a time of conflict between the religious and non-religious. With Christmas being prominently displayed there will be times that conflict will bubble over. I believe some of this conflict and questioning is good and I will explain more about it. But before we look at the billboard campaign taking place in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as well as Texas and Oklahoma let’s look at the American Atheist moment. 

 

What is the American Atheist Movement 

American Atheist was founded by Madalyn Murray O’Hair in 1963. O’Hair had successfully filed a lawsuit to get organized school prayer out of public schools. Her case is known as Murray vs. Curlett. It was consolidated into another case later. Madalyn O’Hair was a firm believer in the separation of church and state.  Madalyn’s son Jon Garth succeeded her as president of American Atheist. O’Hair disappeared in 1995 along with Jon Garth Murray and Robyn Murray O’Hair (Madalyn’s grand-daughter)  They were murdered by David Waters, Gary Carr and Danny Fry. Danny Fry was subsequently murdered a few days later. The FBI and the IRS were involved in the investigation and found the remains five years later. After this sordid tragedy Ellen Johnson became the president of American Atheist. Other presidents who succeeded her are Frank Zidler, Dr. Ed Buckner, and David Silverman. David Silverman has been leading American Atheist since 2010. You can read more about the history of the organization here. While the organization was originally founded in Austin, Texas it moved to Cranford, New Jersey where it remains today. This organization has approximately 392,000 members and 172 affiliates. 

 

A Billboard Campaign in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma 

American Atheist has a history of running billboard that create controversy during the Holiday season. For 2017 American Atheists targeted Dallas, Texas; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Albuquerque, New Mexico. One Oklahoma City billboard states that like Santa Claus the American Atheists are coming to Oklahoma City for their national convention.  There will be a total of five in Oklahoma and two in Dallas. The billboard in Albuquerque is along the I-25 which is a key transportation artery in the area. This billboard says “Just skip church its all fake news!” The billboard is getting a lot of press and coverage from local television station KOB, to NBC News to the Albuquerque Journal. Nick Fish from American Atheist has been fielding many questions about the billboard campaign. In addition American Atheist also wrote about the campaign at their blog. This campaign will be active all December. 

 

Why are Christians Insecure and Easily Offended? 

Richard Mansfield is the senior pastor of New Beginnings Church commented on local Albuquerque media. I have the quote up above, but basically they are trying to slap Christians in the face and insult those of faith. As  I watched the above video and read articles I had one question that kept popping up in my mind. Why are so many people offended? Could it be that their reaction reveals that many Christians struggle with faith and are deeply insecure? For example in the articles and one video if Richard Mansfield thought about it these billboards are an opportunity to discuss faith and what it actually is. Richard has an opportunity to talk and share and instead he’s getting outraged. That reaction I would suggest is wrong. In the end it reveals his own personal insecurities. The right way to look at this is to be grateful to have a discussion with a segment of the population that Richard Mansfield doesn’t interact with. It writing this blog I have opportunities to sit and interact with atheists and secular humanists from time to time. I even hung out at the Reason Rally on the National Mall here in Washington, D.C. I have never understood why so many Christians get nervous or feel threatened when atheists ask hard questions or make provocative statements. Yes I know some can be fundamentalist in some ways but Nick Fish from American Atheist is correct. These are times to discuss and share different feelings. These discussions are important and in that context I am grateful that American Atheist is making these discussions come about. After all its good to question. Its good to doubt. Its healthy to ask the hard questions. Feel free to chime in below. 

3 thoughts on “American Atheist Christmas Billboard Campaign in Albuquerque, New Mexico and Other States, Plus the Reaction by Some Christians

  1. The belief in God, as well as the belief in not God, are both acts of faith in as much as neither can be scientifically proven or disproven. I find it amusing that Christians seem to constantly be seeking to prove their faith, while atheists seem to want to be believed with no proof.

    God, by definition, is outside of the human day to day experience. We cannot force God’s hand. The only one who can prove that God exists is God. Absent that, we have faith. The physical record does not lend itself to Young Earth theory, although people will do some interesting mental acrobatics to believe otherwise.

    I am a converted atheist. I believe that atheists are in error. My case, however, is entirely subjective.

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    • Thanks for your comment Doug. When I read about developments like I did the other day I am baffled as to why so many Christians get up in arms. If you are secure in you belief there is no need to be that nervous or upset.

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  2. Something I did not know until recently, this: that many evangelical people feel there is no need for ‘the Church’ and as long as they have their Bibles, they feel they are still Christians without belonging to that which they see as unnecessary and corrupted . . . . I came across this first when it was publicized a while back but recently I have seen people on TWW who are anti-Church because of the corruption that they feel is coming from authoritative leaders and patriarchy.

    They seem sincere, but I noticed one of the group that flow together has recently abandoned her Christian faith totally. I will watch to see it this happens to others in that particular group, but I admit I was surprised by the change, except that the person involved is a troubled soul who suffers from depression and anxiety by her own report. I’m not critical of her, but I am sad that she has taken that direction as in the past, I had thought she might have found some comfort from her faith. So it goes.

    I am not averse to people questioning their faith and honestly going through a time of examining all they have been taught regarding the faith; as a matter of fact, this may help many to arrive at some kind of integrity within themselves as to what THEY believe rather than just going along with what they are ‘used to’. I am concerned for those however who have abandoned their faith and try to get others to abandon theirs . . . . that shows a lack of respect quite similar to the rabid and strident preachers who attack the faith of others as ‘not Christian’ because it is different from their own perspective. . . .

    One of my own favorite verses in sacred Scripture contains the humble words:
    ‘Lord, I believe; help Thou my unbelief’

    If I have now any faith at all after everything I have been through in my life, it is because I have experienced comforting and have felt ‘cared for’ in the midst of a grief that was unspeakable in its intensity. . . . . . I am stronger in my faith now and so very, very thankful . . . . I still every day ask of God ‘please don’t leave me’. It’s a day to day thing. So is the thankfulness. I now know what mercy is. And what ‘the peace of Christ’ means.

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