Yesterday, American Atheists launch their 2012 holiday billboard campaign in Time Square. As I predicted in my article, the Catholic League is offended. But here is the interesting bit. They weren’t offended by the message of the billboard. What offended them was that the billboard depicts an image of Jesus on the cross. Apparently, just as Muslims get offended by depictions of Mohammad, the Catholic League gets offended by depictions of Jesus.
Bill Donahue claims that we are “exploiting” the image of Jesus. Really? Atheists are exploiting the image of Jesus? I think Donahue needs to look in the mirror and then look at every Church in the country who plaster Jesus everywhere and then con people out of their money… in Jesus’s name.
On the Catholic League’s website, Donahue claims that Silverman isn’t attacking Jews despite the fact that they are currently celebrating Hanukkah. There are several reasons for this.
Hanukkah is a pretty minor holiday for the Jews. The only reason why any non-Jews have even heard of it is because Jews want a place at the marketplace of ideas. Christians use Christmas as a giant billboard for their faith during the winter season and Jews feel they need to compete. That is why every town square in America that has a crèche also has a menorah despite the fact that Jews only make up 1.2% of the American population. For the record, self-identified atheists (not counting those who avoid the term or who aren’t out of the closet), make up 5% of the population.
So the reason why the American Atheists billboard doesn’t criticism Judaism is probably because they make up such a small percentage of Americans and because Christians often claim a monopoly over the entire winter season.
The point of this billboard campaign however, is to point out that atheists can enjoy the holiday season too. We can keep the merry and dump the myth. We can celebrate with family and friends without holding to irrational beliefs based on insufficient evidence.