Saturday, December 6, 2008

Atheism Sign in Olympia, Washington

The city of Olympia, Washington put up a nativity scene in the Legislative Building. The Freedom From Religion Foundation got permission to put up the following sign right next to it:

The atheist sign was then stolen, and later found in a ditch. I think the story as a whole is pretty silly.

First of all, the message on that sign is horrible. It categorically states that things like gods, angels, and demons don't exist, rather than accurately stating that such things are very unlikely to exist. That's a subtle, but important distinction. And the last sentence is just provocative, and again, about as subtle as a smack to the head with a shovel. It completely ignores the very real positive benefits of religion. I happen to think that the net effects of religion are negative, but I'd never categorically assert that religion turns people into mindless assholes. This thing was designed to piss people off.

Secondly, as with the gay marriage issue, what I want to see is exclusion, not greater inclusion. On the street corner or on your private property, exert your First Amendment rights to the fullest. But in a government building? Let them carry out their intended function. If we adopt a policy of inclusion, pretty soon the halls of government buildings are going to be choked with whatever wackaloon shows of religious speech every sect in the world wants to put up. That's dumb.

Instead of letting the atheists put up a sign in the Legislative Building, they should just prohibit any such fixtures.

So, to summarize:

The people who put up a religious display in a government building are dumb.
The atheists who put up this sign are dumb.
The idiots who stole the sign and threw it in a ditch are dumb.
Oh, and so is Bill O'Reilly.

1 comment:

Philip said...

I agree with most of your post, but I don't think there's anything wrong with a 2-pronged effort of (1) getting religious displays out of state buildings and (2) augmenting such displays to be inclusive of all Americans' beliefs until #1 happens. If #2 annoys enough people, it could swing public opinion on #1.