In the last few days the organization American Atheists has seen a frenzy of activity. Their president, David Silverman, has really driven the message home: that we exist, we are not going to disappear, and we should be treated as equals with everyone else.
The atheist billboard in New York (above) has received broad coverage in the media. In a recent report, CNN brought up the issue that not all non-believers agree with Silverman’s approach.
“I just think the whole war on Christmas story is bizarre” said Greg Epstein, the Humanist Chaplain at Harvard University, who has emerged as another spokesman for the burgeoning atheist movement. “I think that any atheist or humanist that is participating in that story needs to find better things to do with their time.”
Quite frankly, I disagree. For way too long people have forgotten that the Bill of Rights is not suspended during the month of December. It is time someone reminds them.
At the chaplaincy, Epstein has reached out to local religious groups, packaging holiday meals and breaking bread with believers to discuss their similarities and differences.
It is not my business to tell Epstein how to spend his time. I do know that he is doing zero to combat the overwhelming hostility and discrimination that we face.
Epstein would rather see more emphasis on volunteerism, though he acknowledges that some atheists are drawn to Silverman’s vocal model.
For good reason, don’t you think? Haven’t we had enough?
On the topic of the billboard, Silverman appeared on Sean Hannity’s show last night and gave Hannity a run for his money.
Of course, in the past when Silverman was on Fox, Bill O’Reilly said that Christianity is not a religion(!) and two other anchors showed their own awful nature by pretending to crack a joke about murder.
But American Atheists is doing more than just PR campaigns. They just filed a suite against the IRS, to end its discriminatory policies favoring religious non-profit organizations over non-religious ones. These policies are costly and onerous to nonreligious organizations and are against the law. Of course, the IRS has already been sued for preferential treatment of religion in an unrelated matter.
But of course all of this costs money. The religious right have a ton of it, and they offer free services to those violating state/church boundaries. Will we stand with American Atheists as the fight for us? I don’t today and so can you.