Allen B. West

Atheists use children to bash Christmas in billboard campaign

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Well, it’s Christmas season and here we go again. I truly believe in freedom of speech and I do not try to define what that freedom is (unlike those who define free speech as only speech they agree with).

However, it’s just perplexing to me that atheists go to such lengths to attack something they don’t believe exists. If there is no God, why are you trying so hard to erase Him? Just like my head-scratching over the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which continues to profess being “offended” by something they say doesn’t exist — but hey, we have our freedoms, right?

I also thought there was another First Amendment right of freedom of religion and its free exercise — as well as the right to petition your government for redress of grievances. But that doesn’t mean you have the right to burn down businesses to express your grievance. But I digress.

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Back to Christmas, and the annual assault.

As reported by 5newsonline, a national atheist organization has put up a billboard in Springdale, Arkansas depicting a little girl writing to Santa saying she wants to skip church on Christmas because she’s too old for fairy tales (but not too old to believe in Santa, apparently).

According to 5newsonline, “the billboard is part of a “firebrand-style” campaign launched in multiple Bible Belt cities including Memphis, Nashville, St. Louis and Fort Smith, according to a post on the American Atheists website. The group also plans to put up a billboard in Milwaukee. Danielle Muscato, public relations director for American Atheists, told 5NEWS the billboards are aimed at in-the-closet atheists who are pressured to observe religious traditions during the holidays. He said the billboards are to let them know it is OK to doubt the way they were raised and think for themselves.”

I don’t think anyone is out there pressuring anybody to observe religious traditions — perhaps this is just a ploy by someone who doesn’t want to give any Christmas gifts? But seriously, this group wants to put up billboards as some kind of public therapy session?

Hey, no big deal, they have the money so let them put up their advertisements. However, why use the image of a little child? Why are adults spoiling Christmas for kids? I remember writing my letter to Santa and I was always excited about it. And why place these in “Bible Belt” cities — seems this group is purposefully targeting — that gets you a penalty flag in football.

Well, the Christmas billboard wars have begun. According to 5newsonline, leaders of Grace Church in Alma said they plan on putting up a billboard near the atheist advertisement, saying, “Questions, Doubts and Curiosity…All Welcome At Grace Church.” Muscato said he welcomes the church’s billboard, saying he advocates people being able to think for themselves on whether to believe in any, or no, religion.”

Except the billboard is not just about people — it specifically displays the image of a little girl, with a letter to Santa.

“Even children know churches spew absurdity, which is why they don’t want to attend services. Enjoy the time with your family and friends instead,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “Today’s adults have no obligation to pretend to believe the lies their parents believed. It’s OK to admit that your parents were wrong about God, and it’s definitely OK to tell your children the truth.”

“The group was unsuccessful in one Bible Belt city, though. American Atheists was unable to get their billboard put up in Jackson, Miss. due to push back against the billboard’s content from local residents, according to the post. “Area lessors rejected the design due to content,” the post states. Muscato said in the website post, “The fact that billboard companies would turn away business because they are so concerned about the reaction by the community to a simple message that not everyone goes to church and not everyone believes in gods shows just how much education and activism on behalf of atheists is needed in the South.”

I guess Mr. Muscato seems to believe that we Southerners are just some backwards stupid folks — clinging to our guns and religion.” Well sir, we kinda like church and I just gotta tell ya, I grew up down south and never thought churches spew absurdity. At my church today there are plenty of kids who seem to have lots of fun attending.

We all remember the first prayer we learned as children, “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray to the Lord my soul to keep, If I should die before I wake, I pray to the Lord my soul to take.”

Now I don’t begrudge Mr. Muscato his opinion one bit. But I just cannot seem to understand why he would condone using the image of a child purposefully in this ad campaign? You can bet the next step may be to file a lawsuit against the billboard company in Jackson, Miss. that refused the ad.

This story makes me particularly happy to be flying to Carlsbad, New Mexico today for the Eddy County Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast on Thursday morning.

I met Mayor Dale Janway of Carlsbad back in May as we rode through his town during the Kyle Petty Charity Ride Across America. The good mayor and I have maintained contact, and it was an honor to have him ask me to come and deliver the address for his prayer breakfast — hope y’all can come out. And afterwards I get to visit the Carlsbad caverns!

I just pray there never comes a day in America when such an event will not be permitted. I pray that is not the objective of Mr. Muscato, because just as I respect and honor his freedom of speech – despite the confusing intent — I pray he respects my freedom of religion and the free exercise thereof.

Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas to everyone. After all, even Scrooge had a change of heart.

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