A North Bergen, New Jersey billboard erected near the entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel is causing seasonal controversy. Paid for by a national organization called “American Atheists,” the billboard reads “You know it's a myth. This season, celebrate reason.” The Catholic League quickly launched a counter attack with a billboard of its own on the New York side of the Lincoln Tunnel: “You know it's real. This season, celebrate Jesus.”
Oh, come on! Bah Humbug!
For Christians who firmly believe the Bible is inspired by God and totally without error, the highly visible advertisement for Atheism is understandably offensive. Christians who believe otherwise and detect mythical aspects to the accepted Christmas story defend the Atheists' right to celebrate reason. That being said, the very definition of faith, belief without proof, renders the Atheist sign a total waste of its $20,000 price tag. Believers, don't cheer just yet. By the same token, The Catholic League's counter attack tosses good money into the trash bin as well.
Atheists have a right to believe what they want and say what they believe, but surely they could have put that $20,000 to better use. Atheism, like any other belief system, will not win converts with billboards. Shame on The Catholic League for launching their defensive advertising campaign, a giant waste of money. Try telling a homeless person, an AIDS patient, an orphaned child, or an elderly person who can't afford medication that The Catholic League squandered $20,000 on an ineffective, childish, tit-for-tat display, and see how the needy respond.
According to a recent article in the Bergen Record by staff reporter Stephanie Akin, The Catholic League's president, William Donohue, called the pro-Jesus billboard a “counter punch” to the atheist message.
“Our approach is positive, and services the common good,” Mr. Donohue said. “Theirs is negative and is designed to sow division. It's what they do.”
Isn't that like the guilty throwing stones? If you're on the other side of the issue, or in this case, the Lincoln Tunnel, Mr. Donohue's accusation is hypocritical. Yes, the American Atheists' aim was probably to sow division, but they could say the same thing about The Catholic League's response.
Dueling billboards. How stupid.
Atheists will not convince believers that God does not exist. Why? Because faith is what you believe, not what you know. Christians will not convince atheists that Jesus was a divine child born in a stable. An Atheist is armed with science and text book knowledge to counter theology. Arguing verbally or via billboards is a shameful waste of time and money. Live and let live. Respect one another's beliefs and holiday traditions. Stop sewing division. Put your intellectual and financial resources to better use.
The truth bears repeating: Faith, hard won, indeed, is what you believe, not what you know.