The Los Angeles Times spots an opportunity to bash atheists, and seizes it with both paws.
A New Jersey-based atheist organization is castigating the work of Pope Francis and others who respond to natural disasters with prayer, Bibles and rosaries.
That’s a remarkably snotty way to describe American Atheists. Why not just say American Atheists? What’s with the “New Jersey-based”? Are we supposed to think it’s just a pathetic little local startup that will be gone in a few minutes? One of many fly-bitten atheist organizations based in somebody’s borrowed garage?
Anyway. To the substance, such as it is.
American Atheists announced Monday that it was unveiling digital billboards in the central part of that state that carry just such a message. The designs, seen here, are variations on the following: “Disaster victims need prayer… real help.”
The billboards then encourage people to go to Atheists.org for more information, including a list of secular agencies that American Atheists endorse for disaster relief efforts.
The organization accuses religion in general, and Pope Francis in particular, of exploiting natural disasters to bring more people into the fold. Pope Francis, the organization noted, used Twitter to ask followers to pray for typhoon victims, and was retweeted more than 35,000 times.
“Imagine if the pope had asked for people to send money to victims or to send needed supplies. How much more useful would that have been to the people of the Philippines?” American Atheists President David Silverman said in a statement, going on to say the pope’s actions were “repugnant.”
“Natural disasters should not be viewed as opportunities for proselytization.”
We called the organization to find out why they thought it was their place to call out people who wanted to pray, or send Bibles or rosaries to affected areas.
Well why does the Los Angeles Times think it’s their place to call out American Atheists? And notice that that’s not accurate anyway; Dave didn’t mention people who wanted to pray, he mentioned the pope asking people to pray.
Dave Muscato answered the question by saying that helping requires actually doing something.
Could that same criticism apply to the American Atheists? Their billboards are being use to drive people to their website.
Is that a form of exploitation?
The difference between asking people to pray and urging them to do something real instead of praying remains a real difference.
The billboards are being carried by Clear Channel Outdoors. A representative for Clear Channel told the Los Angeles Times that four billboards are up and running.
And the public’s reaction so far?
What kind of insect does Rene Lynch (the reporter) expect in response to a billboard?