The national campaign by the United Coalition of Reason to promote greater awareness in the general public has met with varied responses. Billboards with messages such as “Are you good without God? Millions are.” and “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.” have been sponsored by local coalitions in several areas.
The San Diego Coalition of Reason is an umbrella organization representing nine secular-minded groups in the San Diego area. They recently sponsored a billboard which will be up for four weeks and is visible to westbound traffic between Fletcher Parkway and 70th Street. The billboard there has the words “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.” printed on it.
The reaction to the billboard (as far as I have seen, not being in the San Diego area myself) has not been nearly as negative as it was in some other areas. The response of one person in particular did catch my eye, however.
An article in The San Diego Union-Tribune entitled “Billboard gets word to nonbelievers” by John Wilkens was in the Metro section on 12 November 2009. The author spoke with Fred Edwords of the United CoR, and Debbie Allen Skomer, coordinator of the San Diego CoR.
What caught my eye was the reaction of someone else the author spoke with: Bob Siegel. It seems that Bob is a member of Skyline Church in La Mesa, California. He is a self-described “Christian apologist”. I found it odd that the author spoke with official representatives of the CoR chapters, yet simply with a member of a nearby church for an ‘opposing’ view. Te be honest, it really isn’t even an ‘opposing’ view. Maybe he couldn’t find anyone controversial enough for his story. But I digress.
Bob Siegel told the author that he did not find the billboard offensive. That is a difference from the response in places like Alabama. Bob’s other comment is where he makes his big break from reality.
“But I do see a double standard from the atheists,” he said. “They can put up a sign like that, but during Christmas, if a manger goes on public land, they act like their civil liberties are being taken away.”
Wait, what? Does Bob actually think those two things are equivalent? Does he not comprehend the difference between private property and public property? Does he not see the difference between private individuals leasing space on a privately owned billboard and a state or municipality putting up a religious display?
People make mistakes. People misunderstand things. I’ll give Bob the benefit of the doubt and simply assume that he doesn’t understand the difference because it hasn’t been properly explained to him.
As for the rest of you, your free pass has been canceled. I just pointed it out to you, so you don’t have any excuse. Please remember this as the winter holiday season continues.