String of atheism signs vandalized, no real action taken by officials
I know many of you out there think making holiday displays and fighting to have them displayed is a waste of time, but with the recent strings of vandalism against our property, not to mention the ridiculous reasons given by city officials for rejecting these banners helps highlight the fact that atheists are still a vilified and abused minority.
This echos a report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union which confirmed what many of us have been saying for years: atheists worldwide are being persecuted and discriminated against. While Islamic countries were the worst offenders – beating, jailing and even killing non-believers – it also showed that in Europe and the United States, atheists are treated as outsiders (apparently Arkansas has a law that forbids an atheist from being a witness at a trial, supposedly because we “can’t be trusted”), while religious people are given preferential treatment, or even government positions based on their faith (like the house of Lords in England). Imagine if these kinds of laws existed for other minorities. There would be public outrage over such open discrimination.
This is why holiday signs are so important: they provide an opportunity to directly display Christian privilege and overt atheist discrimination. So far, atheist billboards have been vandalized or defaced in Virginia, Pennsylvania (where the vandals’ identity is known, but no action has been taken), New Jersey (where a city councilman encouraged its theft, promising to turn the other cheek), and Michigan. These actions, and the subsequent inaction of government officials, is exactly the kind of proof we need to illustrate just how pervasive this discrimination is. So while you may not like an “in yo face” style of activism, we find ourselves living in a world where silence and complacency are just as evil as the persecution we so often face.
That reminds me: I never showcased my own contribution to the atheism billboard effort this holiday season. Thank you Rimon Bar (who helped color my book cover) for helping out. Enjoy!