The Soapbox: I Don’t Believe In God, But I Think This American Atheists Billboard Is Gross

American Atheists have made headlines again this year for their holiday time billboards. In case you haven’t been keeping track, it’s something they do every year. This year, the billboards say, “Go ahead and skip church! Just be good for goodness sake! Happy Holidays!”

Granted, these are a little less harsh than the billboards in years past. For example, one year, the billboards read, “You KNOW It’s a Myth. Celebrate Reason This Season.” But I still don’t like it.

I don’t believe in God. I have not, quite frankly, ever believed in God. While it has never occurred to me to believe in God, it has also never occurred to me to care whether or not someone else does. I do not care whether or not someone goes to Church.

In my life, as a non-believer, I’ve had people call me a “Satanist,” I’ve had people try to convert me, I’ve had people gleefully tell me I was going to hell etc. etc. Even though I wasn’t about to change what I believed, this was still both annoying and hurtful. So, for the life of me, I cannot see the appeal in turning around and doing the atheist version of that to anyone else. I have no interest in converting anyone or mocking their beliefs — unless said beliefs involve things that impact people outside of their religion.

Like, yeah, I will be pissed at someone like Kim Davis, who says her beliefs should allow her to discriminate against gay people who want to get married. I will get pissed when jerks try to teach Creationism in public schools. But I’m not about to mock some random person and say they believe in a “myth” or a “fairy tale” or act like they’re stupid because they don’t happen to believe what I believe. That is a shitty thing to do. The problem isn’t when people believe in things, it’s when they act like assholes and use their beliefs to justify it.

When I was a kid, and I asked my mom what religion we were, she said that our religion was “staying out of people’s faces,” and frankly, I feel like that is the way to go. Stay in your own lane, keep your eyes on your own paper, and believe whatever it is you believe.

I get that people who come from a background where they were once religious sometimes feel like they have to “warn the villagers” or that they should “do” atheism the way they did religion, but I’d rather we set a good example rather than just acting like an organized religion without god.

So, hey. This Christmas, go to church if you want, don’t go to church if you don’t want, I don’t really give a crap. That is your business, not mine. Just don’t be an asshole and stay out of everyone’s face.