SocraticGadfly: Nativities, #GnuAtheists, and nuttery

December 20, 2011

Nativities, #GnuAtheists, and nuttery

I agree that the nativity on the courthouse lawn in Athens, Henderson County, Texas, is technically unconstitutional. But, there are better ways to address this issue than the Freedom from Religion Foundation throwing Gnu Atheist firebombs.

First, since it's erected by a private group, per previous court rulings there is the option of putting up a countervailing display of some sort. Per the story:
If it is open to all faiths, then the Freedom from Religion foundation tells News 8 it wants to put it's own sign at the courthouse. One that reads, in part, "That there is no God, no devils, no angels or heaven" and that, "Religion hardens the heart and enslaves minds."

It's happened before.

The same sign was put up at the capital building in Washington state back in 2008. The same group, the Freedom From Religion foundation, got it posted right next to another nativity scene. The sign brought out angry protesters there, and county officials believe it would bring out the same anger, having an outsider forcing their hand.
That said, Olympia, Wash., is NOT Athens, Texas. That sign would be shredded the first night, as not a single cop in Athens would patrol the site, and not a resident there would admit to seeing anything being done.

Second, what do tactics like this do for Gnu Atheist evangelism?

People here have heard me say before: They backfire. It's the old flies and honey vs. vinegar cliche. If you're trying to get people to respect atheists, or trust them, since trust seems a big issue, this sure isn't the way to do it.

Why not put up a positive sign, like: "We're sharing caring and rejoicing in our own glad tidings without feeling the need to be religious." And then include a URL, whether to FFRF or a list of famous atheists or something.

In the light of an Anglo-American pundit's death, it does often seem that for Gnus, it's about rebellion more than civil liberties. Ridiculous.