Christmas for Atheists
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Anyone driving into New York during Christmas, via the Lincoln Tunnel, will be treated to a peculiar billboard. .

Against a stark blue sky, the shadows of the three Wise Men, Mary, Joseph, and the Christ Child can be clearly seen. Theres even a star overhead. The ad reads: You Know its a myth. This Season, celebrate Reason. The provocative billboard comes courtesy of the kind souls at American Atheists. The group's leader says the campaign is designed to show that Christians dont have a monopoly on the Winter Solstice and will hopefully draw atheists out of the closet. I was intrigued when I first saw the billboard, because it demonstrates that even atheists are getting religion. They are rallying around their own dogma (so called reason) and theyre downright evangelical about it. I mean, why else would they design and erect their own devotional display outside of the Lincoln Tunnel? These fundamentalist atheists now have something they believe inand they are seeking converts.

American Atheists insist that 15 to 20 % of Americans have no religious affiliation, according to polls, and therefore atheists are everywhere. I wouldnt be so sure. Poll after poll show that more than 90% of Americans believe in God. That doesnt sound like an atheist groundswell to me. So whos being unreasonable here? And is it reasonable to disparage on the beliefs of millions of Christians during their high holy days? Going so far as to declare their belief in Jesus a myth? Ive never heard any of these atheist groups creating a billboard declaring Mohammad a myth or Abraham a myththough surely that is what they believe. Though I suppose that would be unreasonable wouldnt it, and downright dangerous.

The fact is: this irritating, provocative, cheap shot at Christmas is unreasonable as well and inaccurate. History and even astronomy vouches for the reality of Christs coming. And it is hardly news that Christ was likely born in the Spring and that the Church merely sanctified a pagan celebration in the Winter declaring it "Christmas." Such is the power of religion and historyall very reasonable things.

There is apparently light at the end of the Lincoln Tunnel. This week a new ad appeared on the New York side of the tunnel. It shows Mary and Joseph and the Babe with the inscription: You know its real. This season celebrate Jesus. Merry Christmas from the Catholic League. So in the span of a few minutes, commuters into Gotham can now travel from unbelief to belief. One hopes the travelers, including the atheists, enjoy the trip.

Let me know what you think at raymond@raymondarroyo.com




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