Friday, December 05, 2008
The Atheist Placard in Washington State is great news
According to a Fox News and others, an atheist group in Washington State, from a demand of "equal time", have been allowed to erect a display near a Nativity Scene on the State Capitol in Olympia in honor of "Winter Solstace". The placard on the display reads, in part,: ""There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds." There is also a "Holiday" tree up as well. All the displays are placed by private groups.
There is a minor uproar about this, coming from Christian centers, because the statement is an overt attack on "religion". It would not surprise me to learn if there are not protest letters and small rallies being held on the Capitol building planned as "Christians" are "offended" by the statement.
I think, though, that this is sign is great news, and if we Christians waste our time trying to silence the statement we will miss that opportunity.
Obviously Washington State is now allowing displays that do more than "honor" a holiday, like the sign by the Nativity indicates, but allowing for the discussion of what that religion believes, like the sign by the Winter Solstice.
For years, the criteria from the courts has been that "religious" displays, such as the 10 commandments, are allowed if they are "cultural" or "historic".
Thus, in Washington State, the Nativity Scene was placed near a "Holiday Tree" and, in past times, there was a Menorah. In many places, Nativities on public grounds have to have other signs of the season such as Santa or reindeer or such.
Now, though, at least in Washington State, the display can do more than make a cultural statement, it can actually be used to promote your viewpoint!
The atheists' statement is clearly proselytizing their beliefs. It is not a explanation of the holiday like the one next to the Nativity which says that the disply is to "commemorate the birth of Jesus Christ which is celebrated by Christians around the world".
So, since atheists are now allowed to openly express their beliefs, irrelevant to the holiday, then I would urge the private group to change the sign on the Nativity to something like -"For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son and whosoever believes in Him shall be saved". Maybe they could even have a little stand there with some tracts to "explain" their beliefs more fully.
While many of my brothers and sisters in Christ will lament this display as another "loss" in the culture wars, it is really a victory. A victory for free speech and for the re-opening of allowing divergent viewpoints to be displayed.
It will be a victory only if we take this great news and use it to tell the Good News, but that should be our response to everything, anyway. In all news, point it to the Good News.
By the way, if Santa were to use the 10 Commandments, would you be naughty or nice?
To find the answer, click here
For His Glory,