So apparently some atheists in Los Angeles are assholes.

2 steps forward, and then about 500 backwards.

I do not understand how allowing Christians to display nativity scenes is bad or harming anyone. But apparently in Los Angeles, some atheists took it upon themselves to display some anti-god messages alongside a nativity scene, demanding it be taken down.

Now look, there are things we as atheists should care about in terms of religion in this country – like issues on gay marriage, or the fact that it is illegal in some states for atheists to hold public office. The celebration of a holiday, so long as no one is getting hurt, should not be anywhere on a list of concerns, especially since I KNOW there are atheists who celebrate this holiday because of tradition and not religion.

So a big old whopping sarcastic thank you to this group of atheists who took on this issue, who make it harder for us level-headed non-believers to be taken seriously because people like you make the religious think we’re all out to get them.


About thatcatkatie
I came to this site to discuss my beliefs, and yours too, and hopefully learn some things from my fellow human beings.

41 Responses to So apparently some atheists in Los Angeles are assholes.

  1. Displaying it on public/government property is the advocation for religion or a particular religion. It is wrong.

    • thatcatkatie says:

      I get that, I do, but I still can’t see how it’s actively harming anyone. I also can’t see how their actions could reasonably ever create any good, there are better ways to go about changing things.

      • It is idealism to think that all people of any group will be calm and reasonable. Reactions to religious favoritism have been fairly calm. Your sentiment overlooks defacings which have nothing to do with atheism – I don’t have the story so I cannot say that actual atheists defaced the display. Even if the defacement was by atheists, it is still wrong.

        Did you want to raise money to help the theists move their display? Perhaps to defend the city in court?

        No, it was not nice, neither are defacements of ordinary buildings. The question that remains is what should or could we do about it?

        • thatcatkatie says:

          It’s really not up to me to say, but I’d argue that raising money to move the display would be a better way of doing it. Since the display right next to them is about God being a myth, it’s obvious that atheists are responsible for the defacement. Here’s a link to the story:

          I’m not saying government advocating any religion is right, frankly I think the opposite, my real problem with this is the response by these atheists. What could they be trying to accomplish? They must know publicly posting a sign next to a nativity scene that says their God is a myth isn’t going to create a rational response, there is obviously a better way to respond. And since posting a sign that says their God isn’t real really isn’t in support of religious freedom, but rather suggest the mentality that these people shouldn’t be Christian at all, I understand why people are angry about the atheist’s who posted these signs. They could’ve posted something with a kinder, secular message – could they not have? They could have done something more rational. And looking at a nativity scene isn’t stopping anyone else from having their religious freedom.

      • This particular story is quite clear. The displays were wrong and how the story has unfolded is clear. The signs that were vandalized were those of non-believers.

        “In 2011, Vix recruited 10 others to inundate the city with applications for tongue-in-cheek displays such as an homage to the “Pastafarian religion,” which would include an artistic representation of the great Flying Spaghetti Monster.

        The secular coalition won 18 of 21 spaces. The two others went to the traditional Christmas displays and one to a Hanukkah display.

        The atheists used half their spaces, displaying signs such as one that showed pictures of Poseidon, Jesus, Santa Claus and the devil and said: “37 million Americans know myths when they see them. What myths do you see?”

        Most of the signs were vandalized and in the ensuing uproar, the city effectively ended a tradition that began in 1953 and earned Santa Monica one of its nicknames, the City of the Christmas Story.”

        The atheists actually played by the rules laid down by the city and didn’t even put up as many signs as they could have. The vandals were on the side of theists. The courts upheld the action by non-believers as legal and the city decided to just not allow any displays. This is how violations of the separation of church and state are pursued. The only wrong action was the vandalism of the non-theist’s signs.

        • thatcatkatie says:

          I never disagreed with you that the displays shouldn’t be on government property. The point I was trying to make is that the atheists made a bold choice, they should have known that theists would react irrationally, and that it makes a bad name for those of us who try to have civil discussions with theists who tend to throw things like this in our faces. I want religious equality, I hope to live in a secular nation, and this is not the way that things like that get done. A rational response, which wouldn’t give theists ammo or an idea that all atheists hate them, would have been better. That is all I wanted to say. I’m not saying the displays should be on public property, only that if they wanted them taken down there’s a better way to do it that doesn’t involve perpetuating the ideas that theists have about atheists that makes it harder for most atheists to be taken seriously by theists.
          I didn’t address the vandalism to the atheists’ displays because that’s another topic for another post.

      • Yes, a lot gets done when you walk around trying to not upset the people who are violating the law. That is exactly what you seem to be advocating. They’re wrong, but don’t push the issue and upset them… I can’t get on board with that attitude.

      • I’m not sure if this is a different story from the one happening in Santa Monica (beg pardon, I’m from the landlocked Midwest), but I wrote a piece about this very thing yesterday:

        Again, I don’t know how different the Los Angeles situation is from the one above, but in the latter, Christians dominated the public holiday decorating landscape, to the point where it was virtually a civic endorsement of virgin births and Christianity. An atheist managed to get a spot to display his holiday message, which sparked an outcry from the Christians. Last year the city decided to hold a lottery to, you know, make things fair, and the Christians complained about that too. When atheists won 18 of the 21 display lots, fair and square, the Christians really lost it. Their motivation is not to spread holiday cheer or goodwill. They want to spread the redemptive message of Jesus, which is as much to say: “You’re all disgusting sinners. Come to our church and let us tell you how to live and what to believe.”

        If these Christians were open to sharing advertising space with Jews, atheists, people who celebrate Kwanzaa, Hindus, Wiccans, Neo-druids, and Buddhists, it would be one thing. But they believe theirs to be the One True Religion, and all others are either spiritually blind or living in active rebellion against God. This is why the First Amendment was put into our Constitution, so that no one religion has a monopoly in the public sphere. After all, John Adams wrote in 1797 that “the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian religion.”

        • thatcatkatie says:

          My problem is not the intervention, I don’t agree with religious displays on public gov’t property, my only issue is that there has to have been a better way to go about making their point. People seem to not get that’s all that I’m saying, not that the atheists should have done nothing.

  2. They did use legal processes. The complaining is all from theist-sided folk who are upset that their religious priviledge was taken away. The signs went up after winning a legal city sponsored lottery for the 21 display spaces.

    • thatcatkatie says:

      Alternative legal processes, I thought that was inferred. Look, I’m still not trying to argue with you that the nativity displays conflict with freedom of religion in that no religion is supposed to be established. It seems that the only part where we differ is that I think there are much better ways to go about doing this, rather than a way that only makes the other side angry and in the end accomplishes nothing. The displays remain in place, nothing was accomplished by the actions of these atheists aside from making them look like they just hate theists.

    • Ah, so this is the Santa Monica story. There was really no other way to go about it. The city council was the body that implemented the lottery, and when Christians couldn’t even be respectful about that, the council took away the displays altogether. After all, isn’t that what you do with an unruly child who refuses to play fairly with others in the sandbox? Yesterday a U.S. judge threw out their demand to reinstate the displays. It’s another instance of religious folk forcing an issue to make martyrs of themselves, and public enemies of anyone who opposes them. It’s childish but not uncharacteristic of conservative Christians who are used to monopolizing the talking stick. For centuries we’ve just let them have it out of deference to religion, but no more. For what it’s worth, the atheists in Santa Monica behaved respectfully and civilly. It’s the Christians who vandalized their signs last year.

      • thatcatkatie says:

        I get that they were down to last resorts, but behavior like that only creates more anger, more hate – they’re just making more problems for themselves down the line. It may have taken more time and effort, but they could’ve taken it to a higher authority level and argued that it was unconstitutional. I don’t think we should just ‘let them’ be, but this is a lot of effort put in that has only pissed people off and in the long run gets us nowhere.

      • I understand what you’re saying, and I’ve thought a lot about this myself. While I consider myself an anti-theist (in addition to atheist), I’m not sure that the confrontational tone set by the likes of Dawkins and Hitchens is very constructive. However, then you have the faitheist like Chris Stedman who bend over backwards to accommodate theists. The reason we’re in this mess is because no one has stood up to theists prior to late this past century. We were overly respectful, mainly out of a fear of reprisal. And we still experience reprisal for merely speaking up and saying that we don’t believe in God or gods.

        How is dragging Christians into court any less divisive or rancorous? That’s what the FFRF is doing by threatening city councils and colleges/universities with lawsuits for holding unconstitutional public prayer. And the only extraneous effort here has been on the part of Christians who oppose inclusion of other worldviews in holiday observances. Atheists simply asked for equal access. Basically, this is the equivalent of dealing with the middle school bully. The bully wants to break you down and shut you up for being you. Standing up to bullies creates conflict, but that conflict is hopefully only short-term.

        What’s your solution to dealing with this?

        • thatcatkatie says:

          It’s better because you don’t have to resort to propaganda that a Christian will see and assume it means we think they’re just stupid. Lawsuits make more sense, and if there’s due process, then the Christians can’t say that they weren’t given a fair chance, and they’ll also have to hear the arguments as to why it’s unconstitutional to have such displays in public.
          I don’t, by any means, think the Christians are victims – but you know this only raises a stink and makes them angrier because of the way it was done and how they perceive it. I’d rather work with the system in a way that makes religious people have to acknowledge they’ve gone against freedom of religion, rather than doing something with the same effect, but all they will concentrate on is the cause. At least in court, people are able to present their cases, in a setting like this that didn’t happen. I don’t think you should try to fix bullying by being a more obnoxious bully.

          I personally don’t have a perfect solution, it makes no sense to me on a personal level as to why these displays would be anywhere other than on someone’s private property or outside of a church in the first place. Where state-level government fails to uphold to the constitution, like in this case, where freedom of religion is ignored – you could find a lawyer whose willing to bring the case to a federal level (Civil Rights Act basically states that no state may take away any citizen’s constitutional rights). It’s more tiresome, yes, but it’s legal AND fair. Going about fixing it by taking it to court isn’t going to make Christians feel attacked on a personal level (at least, not reasonably) the way that the posted signs did. People might still get upset, but at least then both sides are heard and a final, absolute decision is handed down which can’t be disputed.
          My point is, we have the law on our side, we have truth on our side – there’s no reason to resort to childish methods to get things done. And things don’t get done all at once, if we try to get things done this way, it seems as if we are also forcing our views on Christians – something I can be sure that not a single atheist enjoys having done to them.

  3. yayoubetcha says:

    Your blog and comment about Atheists is not appreciated. The nativity scene does not belong on public property. A “holiday” tree, lights and ornaments, sure, why not?

    There is no need to call us Atheists “Assholes”. We are constantly bombarded with Christianity. We get it from Fox News, bloggers and politicians far too much!

    It is so difficult being an Atheist in the US. We are more hated than radical Muslims (at least they believe in a God, eh?)

    And by the way, I don’t hate theists. I just have no respect for a person who actually believes in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Thor, Christ, or Charlie Brown. I would have no respect for a person who believes the Earth is flat either.

    The argument comes up with Atheists from Theists all the time: you can’t prove that God doesn’t exist. Well, I can prove that God is an asshole, if he exists:

    Statistically, about nine million children under the age of 10 die each year. One more will die by the time this sentence will end. Many of them in accidents and natural disasters. These innocent children of which many will die of abuse and in terror and agony. Where is God, when a mother cries out “God please save my baby!” One of three possible scenarios is true: 1) God is impotent to do anything about it (then what’s the point of God?); 2) God can do something about it, but chooses not to, therefore he is an asshole or 3) there is no God. That’s it. Pick you favorite.

    There are many bronze aged concepts we no longer subscribe to: The Earth is not flat; people do not get sick because of witchcraft and spells (micro-organisms are to blame there); The last silly hold-out is religion.

    Enough already!

    • thatcatkatie says:

      I’m not even a theist. I don’t believe in God. If you want to disagree with me, go ahead, or just navigate yourself right off of my blog. But if you don’t think there were better ways to respond to a nativity scene than posting hateful signs that effectively makes people hate the atheist community, then sorry, but we don’t see eye to eye.

    • thatcatkatie says:

      p.s. great way to not read any of the commentary, or even bother to look at my blog, or you’d already know I’m an atheist. What I don’t agree with is people being assholes about it, so to retort, your comments are not welcome on my blog if you can’t even bother to realize I’m not religious.

      • yayoubetcha says:

        Two comments: 1) kudos to you for posting my comment. I know you didn’t have to. B) I do realize that you are an atheist. I didn’t communicate my thoughts adequately in my commentary. I just wanted to criticize you for calling the atheists who don’t want nativity scenes “assholes”, and then I went on a bit of a rant against theists. It was poorly written by me. I just got back from Israel a couple of days ago, and I am recovering from major jet-lag. Again, my apologies for my poorly worded commentary.

      • I’m inclined to agree with YYB. We experience enough name-calling and animosity from the Christians. We can’t afford to turn on each other, not if we’re going to build a movement with sufficient momentum to actually do some good.

        • thatcatkatie says:

          I just don’t think in this case that retaliating with a poster essentially calling Christians stupid is going to accomplish anything aside from making everyone angrier and more unwilling to listen to the opposing side.
          I can’t imagine there’s a single Christian in Los Angeles right now that’s thinking, “oh they did that because it violated freedom of religion.” Instead, I’m sure they’re thinking something more along the lines of ,”Those evil atheists hate Christmas and my beliefs.”

      • You’re not wrong. No one wants to listen to “You’re stupid.” You have to admit, though, that it does wear on one’s nerves a bit to talk to some of these people, especially where facts are concerned. There are only so many ways to say “You’re wrong” before you start to question the person’s ability to think for themselves. And some of it is the press and how they choose to spin a story. “Christians’ Religious Freedoms Under Attack” attracts more eyeballs than “Atheists Defend Religious Freedom.”

        But find me a Christian who will respect an atheist’s right to say that “I don’t believe in God” and not try to argue us into a theistic position. Like the fable of the frog and the scorpion, they can’t not proselytize. I am inclined to agree with you that the best thing we can do right now is fight instances of unconstitutional religious activity in the courts. We can also promote secular candidates at all levels of government who advocate true religious freedom.

        • thatcatkatie says:

          I just feel that atheism hasn’t been prominent for log enough to know if consistent reasoning won’t eventually work against the masses who let the churches do the thinking for them. I’m not interested in “winning” if I have to treat people in a way I know that I don’t appreciate being treated.
          I had to take a breather, when I posted this I was really, really pissed about something college related and that probably spilled over. I shouldn’t have called these atheists assholes, thinking about it now they may have felt backed against the wall in a sense, but I still think there’s a better way.

      • Believe me, I’ve called people worse. My favorite is “quislings,” in regards to the faitheists.

        The real problem here is that we’re not addressing the deep motivations of theists that drive them to go all protectionist and insular. What are they afraid of? Where are they getting the bad information from that’s leading them to mistrust us?

        I deal with this every day as an LGBT activist, talking to people who are anti-gay marriage. They have all these doomsday scenarios in the heads, of pedophiles molesting children (irony then that they leave them with priests, who are more likely to molest), of marriages being ruined, of Christians thrown in jail. When you actually sit down with them one-on-one, get to know them on a first name basis, and get them to name these fears out loud and then show them the truth, they’re much more likely to be collaborative instead of confrontational. Not every person is open to being persuaded, and you have to accept that, but the majority of people are just trying to live good lives and do the right thing. When they realize you’re a person too, with hopes and dreams of your own, it’s not so easy to dismiss you…

        • thatcatkatie says:

          I agree, it does not address the problem about where they get such faulty information of, neither does it clear up exactly what they are afraid of – issues I also feel can be reasonably solved, with time, especially since atheism is just new to these people in general. Atheists never really had a ‘voice’ in the past.

      • “Atheists never really had a ‘voice’ in the past.” Exactly. Atheism is currently where the LGBT movement was about 20-30 years ago. Back then you’d have never thought to have a gay character on a television show, let alone a gay couple, let alone a gay couple adopting kids! Now we have Modern Family. It’s all because gay people started speaking up and coming out. That’s what it’s going to take for the atheist movement. We have the Dawkins atheism initiative, American Atheists, Americans United, and so on. But what we’ve learned in the gay rights movement (and what we learned in Minnesota in defeating the marriage amendment) is that change happens on a personal level, with people coming out to those they already know. It happens one conversation at a time. That’s why I can’t give into cynicism or despair, because we’ve seen that it’s possible.

    • “We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” – Richard Dawkins

      • Ruby says:

        “But find me a Christian who will respect an atheist’s right to say that “I don’t believe in God” and not try to argue us into a theistic position. ”
        Right here. I’m a seventh-day adventist and I respect everyone’s right to believe what they want. I also study other people’s beliefs, which is why I’m here 🙂 great blog, btw

  4. Good discussion Mal and Katie, 🙂

    I think that your debate demonstrates that atheists are not a monolith and, I do agree that just being atheist doesn’t make you clever (although, I do think that there is a higher propensity for this to be true) and there are atheists who take on atheism as a kind of movement that they want to feel a part of (rather than just simple truth), and resultantly, they perform silly unnecessary actions. Whether this is incident is one of them is something that I’m not quite so convinced of…

  5. LOL, something like that. I think the history books evangelize it a bit. He was one of several riders and he may not have ridden at all. It was the ‘idea’ I was hinting at.

  6. May Greenfield says:

    I agree. Some atheists are huge assholes. Just look at yukithemeddler. That guy is a total scumbag.

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