The image: The American Atheists group is spreading a little skepticism this holiday with a controversial billboard off a New Jersey highway. The sign, for which the group paid $20,000, combines an image of the nativity with the message: "You KNOW it's a Myth — This Season Celebrate REASON!" (See full image below.) American Atheists president David Silverman says the billboard's aim isn't to convert Christians but to reach out to atheists in the closet. He also concedes that the so-called "war on Christmas" was a factor in the billboard's creation, saying his group gets blamed for anti-holiday battles every year, so this time, "We're actually going to earn a little bit of that."
The reaction: Whether you're an atheist or a Christian, "shoving your beliefs on other people is just plain rude," says Mary Elizabeth Williams in Salon. "That snotty, oh-just-face-it-you-idiots attitude, that utter certainty," is "just as belligerent coming from an atheist as it is from an evangelical." Being a decent person means "letting people go about their daily lives in peace," says Morning Gloria at Jezebel. And "confrontational atheism isn't productive" anyway. Oh, c'mon, says Hemant Mehta at Friendly Atheist. "It's not saying, 'Screw all of you who are Christians'... It's simply saying, 'We know some of you don't believe this Bible stuff, so just admit it!'" See for yourself:
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