Get ready, America. This upcoming July 4 is about more than simply celebrating our nation's founding. Apparently, it's also an opportunity for Atheists to set the record straight about their patriotism.
Thus, on Monday, people in 27 states will have the opportunity to look up in the sky and see airplanes flying banners that proudly say "God-LESS America" or "Atheism is Patriotic." The campaign, being organized by the New Jersey-based American Atheists, is sure to stoke the fires of controversy. CNN has more:
"I'm a patriotic American. I served my country. I get out there and celebrate the Fourth, too," Blair Scott, who calls himself a proud atheist, proclaimed.
"This America belongs to everyone."
Blair, the communications director for the New Jersey-based American Atheists, said atheists in the United States often feel alienated and face accusations of being anti-American because of their lack of belief in God.
To combat those notions, his group is using Independence Day to say atheists love their country, too.
But, the campaign hasn't even been implemented yet and it's already off to a rocky start. According to Justin Jaye of Fly Signs Aerial Advertising, the guy who helped organize the nation-wide blitz, of the 85 people in the nation who are able to fly these banner-bearing planes, only 17 agreed to participate. The fear of public reaction and the confines of personal religious belief led the majority of these individuals to refuse service. SeattleWeekly.com has more:
Scott...tells Seattle Weekly that in larger cities and more liberal areas, he had no trouble finding pilots to take the banners to the sky. But in Southern states like Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas and other conservative states like Montana, Kansas, and Utah, there apparently wasn't a single pilot to be found who would fly a banner promoting atheism.
Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, claims that this reaction perfectly illustrates why the organization has more work to do. He says:
"This is a clear reminder of why we need to keep fighting because the bigotry against us is so thick that a lot of the pilots are afraid to fly our banners."
American Atheists claim that the campaign is about showing the country that atheists are patriotic people too. But, these signs may end up being the catalyst for more friction between non-believers and religious adherents.