Digital Chum - Virtual fish guts and other nonsense

Not the Best Approach

In Washington state, Olympia’s Legislative Building has a new display up for December along with a traditional Christmas display. The Freedom From Religion Foundation (of which I am a member) has been allowed to place an engraved sign for the month. The sign is in response to a religious group suing to be allowed to display a manger scene, which is now displayed in the building. The FFRF sign reads:

At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail.
There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell.
There is only our natural world.
Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

Now, while I usually fully support the endeavors of the FFRF and their actions that promote the separation of church and state, and I support the right to display this message when other religion-related displays are allowed, I just seem to think that the chosen wording was not the best choice.

Don’t get me wrong. I agree with the words and their meaning. I just think that it comes off as too confrontational and hostile to be of any benefit. It’s the type of wording that will elicit responses of equal or greater hostility. It immediately puts believers on the defensive. It immediately offends believers. It’s a negative message.

I think it would have been perfect if it would have glorified reason and the natural world without the second and fourth sentences. It could have touted the wonders of natural selection. It could have promoted freethinking and rationality. It could have lauded the benevolence and charity of the human spirit. Instead, it acts as a red hot poker of divisiveness.

The Foundation’s billboards and other signs do a better job of positive promotion. Their “Imagine No Religion” billboards and “Reason’s Greetings” billboards are perfect examples. Even the American Humanist Association’s ad that says “Why believe in a God? Just be good for goodness sake.” doesn’t convey the same confrontational tone.

Getting people to think about religion and why they believe what they believe is key. I truly believe that most religious people don’t think about it… truly think about it. It’s something that has been ingrained in them since they were old enough to understand words and it’s taken for granted. Most religious “study” is study of the Bible or of other holy books… the theology… and doesn’t address whether the basic premise makes sense or not. Having people start thinking about it at that level is what will open minds.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s latest sign stops it from happening altogether.

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