On Wednesday, March 7, 2012, American Atheists erected a billboard on the corner of 33rd Street and Broadway, the heart of a Muslim community in Paterson, New Jersey, with the wording: “You know it’s a myth, and you have a choice” in both Arabic and English, with the word “Allah” on the left side.
But are you serious though.
They have the right to do this, but this is intentionally annoying, preachy and self righteous.
This is rude.
what the fuck….
Seriously? How is this any more obnoxious than being constantly preached to that if we don’t practice _________ religion we’re going to hell for eternity? How is this any more obnoxious than people coming TO YOUR DOOR to spread “the good news”?
There’s nothing wrong with saying “you have a choice”. There’s nothing wrong with letting people who may live in deeply Muslim communities know that they aren’t alone.
But ATHEIST PRIVILEGE, I know, whatever.
NO ONE HERE CLAIMED ATHEISTS HAVE PRIVILEGE.
BUT THESE PEOPLE PURPOSELY WENT INTO COMMUNITIES OF COLOUR TO SPREAD THEIR IDEA OF WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD BE DOING.
Please enlighten me and tell me when the last time a Muslim came up to you and wanted you to convert?
They also did this in Jewish communities. (which they posted in Hebrew when most of the Jewish folks in New York speak Yiddish). When was the last time a Jewish person tried to spread the “Good News” to you?
Conspicuously missing was the one for Christian Communities. It’s like they think that people of colour have no idea what Atheism is…..
Also as said above Yes they have every right to do this. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t get to be criticized when they do stupid shit.
I do not live in a community nor am I from a culture in which being Muslim or Jewish is expected of me. I was not raised in a family in which it was assumed I would grow up to practice said religion. So no, no muslim or jewish person has ever tried to “convert” me. That doesn’t mean that those pressures don’t exist for the people who live within those communities (which is who these ads are targeted to).
That said, I criticize all religions equally and I find it eternally frustrating to be framed as racist when I criticize an eastern religion in the same way I criticize Christianity. I understand that the dynamics of privilege in North America are COMPLETELY DIFFERENT between the two, but that shouldn’t make one automatically exempt from criticism.
I don’t think it’s that they think people of colour “have no idea what Atheism means” — but I think it’s reasonable and acceptable to believe that when you are already part of a minority group (say, as an immigrant, for instance) and you are living in a community that is deeply connected with a certain faith, I imagine it would be immensely lonely to navigate your atheism insofar as it would be incredibly problematic within your community.
Are there problems with this campaign? Yes, of course. And those things should be reflected on and improved upon. As far as “spreading their ideas of what people should be doing” — I don’t see any of that here. I see a “hey, if you think critically about the religion you were indoctrinated into at a young age and realize that it is a myth and not something you are interested in pursuing, you are not alone, you have a choice, here we are.”
And if people truly think this is worse than being told (directly or indirectly) by all religions that you’re a terrible human being who is going to be punished for not believing in their God, then well… I don’t have much else to say.
Ness, I get where you’re coming from… but I really think your privilege is speaking out, here, because you’re speaking FOR POC right now. And that’s just not cool.
Also, this argument reads, to me, as “this is worthy of criticism but I agree with it so it’s forgivable,” which isn’t really a decent basis because it can basically apply to anything.
This campaign is wrong. It’s not actively speaking to those who are questioning their religious teachings - it’s put up by a predominantly white movement in a heavily POC-populated area as a means of conversion, which is wrong. Period. All campaigns for conversion are, in my opinion, wrong. And frankly yes, this is as bad as being told “you’re a bad person and you’re going to burn in hell forever” because for some people, their faith is an incredibly important part of their personal identity, and being told it’s a myth is just as massive a slap in the face.
The language of this ad does not imply that a choice actually exists, either. “You know it’s a myth” insists that there’s an obvious choice to make, which insists on an hierarchy of legitimate modes of thinking. This. Is. Wrong. Telling people their beliefs, or lack thereof, make them somehow less is wrong.
I believe in G-d, but I would never, ever force that belief onto someone else (also, Jewish people are forbidden from proselytizing) and nor should I. How does this organization not see that forcing a lack of belief in G-d onto people of faith is EXACTLY THE SAME THING AS WHAT CHRISTIANS, SOME MUSLIMS AND CHABAD JEWISH PEOPLE DO. It’s disrespectful. Bottom line.
And don’t even get me STARTED on the racial element.