Friday, December 6, 2013

Billboard in Sacramento.

Courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter 

Just in time for the holidays, a non-profit group is planning on erecting dozens of atheist billboards to let fellow non-believers know they're "not alone." 

The Greater Sacramento Chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) has paid for 55 different billboards this year to go up in Sacramento, Calif. 

"It's because atheists are starting to speak up and they're beginning to identify each other," chapter president Judy Saint told a local TV station. 

"There are a lot of non-believers and this time of year, they feel like they're alone. This isn't directed to people who enjoy their church, who enjoy their religion." 

"That's fine. But we're talking to people who don't know that atheism is okay." 

The billboards, all featuring area residents, share non-religious messages such as, "I worship nothing and question everything," or "Science. It works." 

Somehow I don't think this is going to convince the Religious Right that there is no war on Christianity.

But should they care? After all there are billboards all over the country that encourage people to find God, accept Jesus Christ as their personal savior, and attend church. Actually these are in response to those.

And besides if your faith is shaken by something that you read on a billboard, then did you have much faith in the first place? 

As an Atheist I am just glad that we finally feel confident enough to come out of the shadows, show our faces in public, and speak out against the thousands of years of oppression, persecution, and isolation that we have suffered at the hands of those who consider themselves our moral superiors.

That awkward moment when the primitive tribe you have come to convert to Christianity, instead converts you to atheism.

I have started to write about this incredible conversion multiple times but always put it off. But the other day I stumbled across this YouTube video of Everett reading from his book and realized that it was much more powerful coming from him. (Oops it turns out it was read by another. Still better hearing it read aloud though.)

The Pirahãs, he said, “believed that the world was as it had always been, and that there was no supreme deity”. Furthermore they had no creation myths in their culture. In short, here was a people who were more than happy to live their lives “without God, religion or any political authority”. 

Despite Everett translating the Book of Luke into Pirahã and reading it to tribe members, the Pirahãs sensibly resisted all his attempts to convert them. 

According to a report in the New Yorker: 

His zeal soon dissipated … Convinced that the Pirahã assigned no spiritual meaning to the Bible, Everett finally admitted that he did not, either. He declared himself an atheist.

As an Atheist of course I find this story very gratifying. But as an American I am almost saddened to realize that even such a primitive people were able to discover a truth which still eludes so many of my fellow countrymen.