As someone who works in the Outdoor Advertising industry, I've been watching with interest the debate over a Cincinnati billboard that has an anti-God message on it. WCPO-TV reports that the billboard went up on Tuesday and reads: "Don't Believe In God? You are not alone." The group who bought the billboard, The United Coalition of Reason, said they put up the message to prove that bigotry toward atheism is real. Yesterday, the billboard was taken down and moved to another location because the person who owned the property where it had first been located had been receiving numerous threats of violence. The sign has now been reinstalled at a location that is owned by the advertising company.
What do you think? Is it appropriate for believers to call for violence against the landowner? No. He had nothing to do with the advertising company's sale, he just leased the ground that the billboard structure sits on. While the message is offensive to me and others who believe in God, the threat of violence is never an appropriate way to respond, and in fact is extremely anti-Christian. The Bible says that vengeance belongs to The Lord, and it's not up to Christians or anyone else to engage in vigilante justice.
Sadly, those who have threatened the landowner have now proved the point (at least in this instance) that The Coalition of Reason was trying to make. While I strongly disagree that atheists, agnostics and humanists are somehow being mistreated by society in general,the threats over the billboard have put them in the position of victim in Cincinnati, which will undoubtedly create sympathy for their cause.
The reality is that 70% of the American people claim to believe in God, and since there is still freedom of religion here, the atheists will have to learn to live among peaceful religious people. They don't however, have to accept violence against their belief system any more than we do. At the same time, one need only to turn on the evening news to see that the anti-God momvement is still alive and well, and is in fact championed by a huge part of our culture. The whole concept of political correctness has evolved from the belief system of those who have no faith. While it's ridiculous, people have lost their jobs, their positions and their prestige because they wore a cross on their lapel or wished a co-worker Merry Christmas. When the atheists face that kind of discrimination, perhaps more of us will be sympathetic to their plight.
The argument was made by The Coalition of Reason, that atheists, agnostics, and humanists are our neighbors, but so are Christians. Perhaps that means we will just have to accept each other and get along. While I stand at the front of the line of those who defend the power of billboards, I doubt that many conversions to any faith have occured because of a sign that went up for 30 days. I also doubt that the behavior of anyone will change because of one group's message.
Those who call themselves Christian, yet make threats of violence should be ashamed of themselves and should go back and read the Bible in which they claim to believe. God won't ordain your actions and either will Christians who have their heart in the right place. Likewise, those who feel bad for the atheists need to get a clue. They are not being persecuted. Even our president has defended their rights by claiming that America is no longer a Christian nation, but a melting pot of many different faiths. That would logically include those who don't believe in anything.
For now, the battle has been won for the atheists who call Cincinnati their home. The sign has been put back up. The perceived persecution is behind them, and life is once again good. Their message is out there and they are safe, happy and protected. They can enjoy their peace and know that things are ok. No worries. No misery. No God. They can forget about Him and those who believe, and they won't have to deal with the issue of His reality, at least not in this life.
***The opinions in this blog are strictly mine and do not reflect the opinions of the owners or employees of the advertising company that I work for.