Bad Atheists · Politics

American Atheists and the Super Bowl

Well, then. I’m not sure what irritates me most – the fact that American Atheists have set up a billboard making fun of prayer via mocking the Hail Mary, or the poor reporting on same that refers to the prayer as “a popular Christian invocation” or the clerics of the man in the ad as a “priest uniform.”

Or maybe I’m frustrated by the blog posts – especially ones by self-titled friendly atheists – that intimate Catholics shouldn’t think the ad is an affront to their faith. Being snarky about expected backlash just doesn’t seem very friendly, but then again, it isn’t friendly to make fun of those who disagree with you in the first place. Oh, well.

American Atheists has launched the billboard near Metlife Stadium where the Super Bowl will be played. It features a “priest” in eye black cradling a football with one hand and giving a thumbs up with the other. The text reads, “A ‘Hail Mary’ only works in football. Enjoy the game!”

The press release announcing the billboard says this is a “playful jab at prayer.”  It seems a little more like a pushy middle-school bully being ultra condescending to the uncool kids. This is the very attitude atheists criticize in religious people or groups, making them, ironically, similar to organized religions in level of hypocrisy. (And as an aside, I’d love to see American Atheists try this with Islam or Judaism and avoid a strong reaction.)

Amanda Knief, the group’s managing director, says in the press release that the billboard “… is a celebration of who we are and how we self-identify …” Apparently she wants atheists to self-identify as mocking and intolerant. I’m not sure the average atheist wants that.

Maybe this billboard (and others that are less offensive) are an answer to some awful Christian billboards across the country. But stooping to the same level to make the point that religious people have offended you seems backwards.

You want to be atheist? Go for it. You want to be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Pastafarian, whatever, have at it. But if you really believe what you do, then you don’t need to attack other people’s beliefs or non-belief to prove your belief or non-belief. Just live your life. If it is beautiful, peaceful, joyful and generous, people will naturally be drawn to it. They won’t need a billboard, because they’ll see you.