Messing with Texas

December 15, 2010

This news piece from the New York Times is mostly about some goings-on in Fort Worth, so I’ll run with the Texas theme. Among simpler reminders that it’s not easy being an atheist in this country (atheist President being my simplest), we have Fort Worth, where another one of those atheist bus-sign campaigns wasn’t exactly welcomed…big surprise!

Some ministers organized a boycott of the buses, with limited success. Other clergy members are pressing the Fort Worth Transportation Authority to ban all religious advertising on public buses. And a group of local businessmen paid for the van with the Christian message to follow the atheist-messaged buses around town.

The vans following the buses around town amuses me, but what about the proposed ban on religious advertising on public buses? Freedom of religion, anyone? Where’s the fire? I suppose they want to ban it because the buses, as moving targets, are less prone to…civil disobedience, let’s say. But not immune, as we can see.

The ads have incited anger in some places. Vandals destroyed two bus ads in Detroit, ruined a billboard in Tampa, Fla., and defaced 10 billboards in Sacramento. One billboard in Cincinnati was taken down after the landlord received threats.

I had to look up the Cincinnati storythreats? Over a billboard?

The copy on the billboard reads: “Don’t Believe In God? You are not alone.” It was put up Tuesday but was taken down Thursday because the owner of the property where it was posted reported receiving threats because of the message, WCPO-TV, Cincinnati, reported Thursday.

The stories don’t get more specific than ‘multiple, significant threats,’ probably for the best, under the circumstances. And that’s Cincinnati, not far from my old stomping grounds. Not even ‘don’t mess with’ Texas.

I am fortunate enough not to have experienced much of a backlash in my own life. But then, I’m not an extremely ‘out’ atheist, I don’t put up signs or even a Darwin fish on my car (though I do have a murloc decal). I’m not social enough to agitate and get noticed much — or get my property vandalized, or my life threatened. But it does happen. In Amurrica. Land of the free (if you’re a xian). Home of the brave (aside from anonymous vandalism and threats). I wonder sometimes if my car would survive a bumper sticker or a Darwin fish. It does factor into why I never got one.

I don’t hate most xians, though I may despise and mock and disrespect their religion. If there was anything that would make me rise to the level of hate, it is this; it is the discrimination. Some paths are closed off to us simply for being what we are. This is all it takes to get the bullies of xianity up and running. And it makes all xians look bad.


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