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American Atheists launch provocative campaign in religious Deep South

Advertising hoardings show a young girl writing a letter to Father Christmas: “Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church! I’m too old for fairy tales”

The atheist bilboard also carries the message

The atheist bilboard also carries the message “Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church! I’m too old for fairy tales”
Atheist activists are taking their campaigns to the Bible Belt this Christmas with a provocative billboard campaign that is expected to stir controversy in America’s religious heartlands.

The giant advertising hoardings in the Tennessee cities of Memphis, Nashville, St. Louis and Fort Smith, Arkansas show a mischievous-looking young girl writing her letter to Father Christmas: “Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church! I’m too old for fairy tales,” she writes.

The advertising campaign by the American Atheists group will run until Christmas Eve and is the first time the group has aimed its anti-God adverts directly at residential religious areas, having previously targeted urban audiences in big venues such as Times Square in New York.

“Today’s adults have no obligation to pretend to believe the lies their parents believed. It’s OK to admit that your parents were wrong about God, and it’s definitely OK to tell your children the truth,” said David Silverman, the group’s president, as he launched the campaign.

In a sign of the hostility the adverts are expected to generate, American Atheists said that it had failed secure a single billboard site in Jackson, Mississippi after leasing companies collectively refused to offer space, fearing a community backlash.

“The fact that billboard companies would turn away business because they are so concerned about the reaction by the community shows just how much education and activism on behalf of atheists is needed in the South,” added Danielle Muscato, the group’s spokesperson.

America remains deeply religious relative to Europe, with not a single self-professed atheist among the 535 members of the US Congress. US presidential candidates are also expected to believe in God.

However recent social surveys have shown a sharp rise in religious non-affiliation among young people, accompanied by a decline in attendance among mainstream Anglican, Episcopalian and Catholic churches over the past 30 years.

According to the Pew research group, one third of Americans aged 18 to 29 now say they have “no religious affiliation”, compared with less than 10 per cent of their grandparents’ generation.

At the same time, America has seen a rise in the number of so-called “mega churches” where mostly Evangelical congregations of 10,000 or more worship with rock bands and charismatic preachers in converted baseball stadiums and other large venues.

However recent research by Mark Chaves, a divinity and sociology professor at Duke University and author of “America Religion: Contemporary Trends”, has indicated that Evangelical groups could now be succumbing to the same forces of secularisation as other churches.

Using data from the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey, Prof Chaves discovered that among White Evangelicals born in the decade 1981-90, some 22 per cent now say they have no religion, a figure close to the 24 per cent of mainstream Protestants born in the same decade who said the same.

4 comments

  • LIZ 4 weeks ago

    It’s ok for me for forgive you David Silverman for being an idiot, because we forgive even people like you. Look how wonderful our country is going with each new generation pushing Christ away. We are going down fast as a country and you need to wake up. Sounds like you should fit right in with the Islams maybe you would feel more comfortable over there. America was founded on freedom. Yes you can say what you want but NO you can’t tell me what to teach my child and what to believe. I’ll be waving as you go downward at judgement. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Reply
  • Edwin Shelton 4 weeks ago

    Since UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS are fostering their personal views on the students whose
    parents are paying schools like DUKE to teach them important subjects so they can add to the normal great American Society, he will probably make up his survey to demean Christian living and the American way of life. Thumbs down on a too large percentage of liberal professors who are a scrounge on our way of life. Why not survey the learning of our Muslim students and report their religion as taught by Mohammad.

    Reply
  • Tammy Mccurry 3 weeks ago

    It’s a shame that you want to take Christ out of everything there is … We aren’t suppose to say Merry Christmas anymore it’s Happy Holidays … Our country was founded on freedom based on the BIBLE the 10 commandments still stand Christ is the same yesterday today and forever more no matter what or who you say it to… The BIBLE says one day every knee shall bow and call him lord of Lord’s so sir we teach our children what is right from wrong … And you sure are wrong. How to live a good moral clean and holy life. And I will not let you or anyone else take CHRIST out of my Christmas and as long as I have breath in me I will continue to tell ppl about CHRIST and how he changed my life and how good it feels to be a CHRISTIAN. Sir I will pray God opens your eyes and heart to see what you are doing. God have mercy on your soul.

    Reply
  • Navin Johnson 3 weeks ago

    Wow. No one is trying to take Christ out of Christmas. Really. BUT, people and businesses have the FREEDOM to say “Happy Holidays” if they choose to in recognition that not everyone in the USA (yes, NOT everyone) celebrates Christmas. There are more holidays in December than there are days yet Christians want everyone to ONLY acknowledge THEIR holiday as the one TRUE holiday. Sound familiar? Pushing and shoving their views on people is the best thing Christians know how to do. Happy Holidays is inclusive of ALL holidays unless you want to convince me Christmas is not a holiday.

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