In case you are not aware of this story, a billboard was recently erected by the American Atheists at the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel in New York City. The billboard can be seen bellow:
As one might expect, the billboard has been very controversial, leading to a second billboard to be put up on the other side of the tunnel by the Catholic League. Some have complained that the billboard attempts to kill the spirit of Christmas or see it as insulting or offensive. The response billboard, which has a similar imagery but says “You know it’s true” has drawn less criticism.
Advent has just started, but the war over Christmas is already underway, and for the most part, it appears that Christmas is winning.
In New York, it’s a battle of billboards; in Philadelphia, it’s battle over a word. Retailers, meanwhile are increasingly embracing Christmas in their advertising and promotions.
In New York, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has sponsored a Christmas billboard outside the Lincoln Tunnel in response to a Christmas-debunking billboard sponsored by American Atheists.
The battling billboards are posted on opposite sides of the Lincoln Tunnel. The Catholic League’s billboard is on the New York side. The American Atheists billboard is on the New Jersey side.
The Catholic League-sponsored billboard features a nativity scene and the words: You Know It’s Real: This Season Celebrate Jesus. The American Atheists-sponsored billboard reads: You know it’s a myth. This season, celebrate reason!
In this case I can’t help but think that the message by the American Atheists isn’t really a great idea. The billboard may say to “celebrate reason” but it’s likely that some will see it as just being anti-Christmas. Regardless of what anyone believes, you are not going to win any friends if you look like you are in any way planning on opposing a day off from work or an excuse to eat drink and be merry.
The early Christians seemed to understand this. Christmas is really nothing more than a new kind of mythology attached to the existing pagan solstice festivals. Societies may be persuaded to give up their gods, but to give up their parties is quite another thing.
Therefore, I’d propose that the message atheists should be spreading this holiday season is one that embraces the secular traditions we’ve all come to associate with Christmas while dismissing the religious ones. After all, Halloween was once also a religious holiday, and you don’t have to believe in spirits and daemons to wear costumes and hand out candy.
A few ideas I had for a billboard…
This entry was posted on Sunday, December 19th, 2010 at 5:32 pm and is filed under Culture, Misc, Politics, religion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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