I'll admit it. It doesn't take much to confuse me but please tell me what I'm missing here.
I do understand their message. I do believe that moral and ethical people can be found almost anywhere and that carrying around proof of baptism or having a religious text tucked under your arm are not required. I'm not questioning the message, just the greater purpose behind this campaign created by New York City Atheist Inc.
Apparently, this isn't a reaction to a Christian message of salvation (basically: you non-believers are going to hell) that previously ticked off some atheists in London who felt compelled to respond with their own message (basically: no, we're not.) My question is this: how is either party certain of their message? And if that's the case, don't they cancel each other out?
According to the atheists behind the New York campaign, the purpose of the bus placards is to end the estrangement or separateness atheists feel in our society. In fact, a successful campaign will create "atheist pride" or promote "acceptance of atheism."
This is the place where I get confused. I had no idea there was a lack of atheist pride on our country. And I had less of an idea that atheists feel estranged from society. And my sense of human nature is that for people who look down on the atheists that surround them, signs they read on the side of a bus aren't going to change their minds.
But let's go with this premise - why not? Maybe atheists do feel separate and unwelcome in many areas of our society. Maybe they don't feel quite at home at the local VFW or the corner bar or the gym or the grocery store or the Starbucks or the post office or the mall as the believers do. Maybe when they attend concerts, ballgames, movies, plays, WWF matches or the opera, they feel like everyone is staring at them, singling them out as different. Maybe when they check 'atheist' on their job applications, they feel just a little nervous about disclosing their non-beliefs. Maybe standing around with the other parents, watching their kids play soccer, is an uncomfortable experience. Maybe applying for a mortgage, or shoppng for a car or taking a vacation is always cause for alarm.
You know how everything just feels different when atheists are present. The entire atmosphere changes and never in a good way. It ruins the experience for the believers who are trying to enjoy themselves.
For God's sake (if you will): what? Is it necessary for yet another group in America to declare their need for acceptance? Are atheists the new protected class among us? Isn't it enough that there are a number of groups that deal with actual prejudice or mistreatment? Now we have to be concerned about atheists and how they're not getting a fair shake.
My favorite part of the Times article included the quote from Jane Everhart, spokesperson for New York City Atheists: “People who are religious have been advertising for generations,” she said. “But atheists never have. We have not come out, and this is part of our coming out.”
Question: Why would atheists have a desire to advertise? To convert believers into no-believers? And what do we gain by swelling the ranks of atheists?
I know that organized religion has its problems. I get that. I also know that religious groups of all kinds do an enormous amount of good work, and sure, they don't have an exclusive on doing good deeds. Once again, I'm certain that you don't have to show proof of religious affiliation to help out at the local soup kitchen.
I don't want to get all Rodney King here but jeez: can't we all just get along?