In today’s society, “Freedom of Speech” is used to justify, excuse, and defend otherwise insensitive and often inaccurate statements.
So too, in regard to the recent billboard erected by the American Atheists that proclaims in English adjacent to the name of God (spelled in Hebrew only) that, “You know it’s a myth and you have a choice.”
In advertising, the golden rule is make your message short, clear and direct — do not leave them guessing, do not leave them confused. Truth in advertising wins over the people and keeps them, so it is said.
Surprisingly, the message of these so-called proud non-believers is not very clear at all.
The billboard message is that “it” is a myth, but does not identify what “it” is. One can only speculate why this is so — but could it be because the atheists themselves do not know? As to the “choice” the billboard advertises, that is not identified either and all of us are left wondering what message is being sent.
The message cannot possibly be “join us atheists” or “atheism is good.” That is not what the billboard says. And why does it not say that? After all, American Atheists director David Silverman maintains he hopes to reach atheists “trapped” within the strict religious Jewish community of Williamsburg. So why not say that — loudly and clearly?
Perhaps the atheists are not confident in what they stand for. Maybe deep down they have reservations about their non belief. Or worse (for the cause of atheism), maybe some of them do believe!
On reflection, this billboard is demonstrative of the enormity of the insecurity atheists suffer.
How ironic it is that the first sixteen words of the First Amendment, which enshrines freedom of religion, precede the right to freedom of speech.
Many people find this billboard offensive and disrespectful. And, make no mistake, it is. Belief, religion — call it what you may — by their own admission is not a matter for atheists.
Just imagine what a positive contribution the atheists could have done to make this world a better place instead of paying for this billboard. They could have used their money to help orphans, the disabled and the homeless.
As for Mr. Silverman, who refers to himself as a “former Jew”, that term is an oxymoron. In Judaism, if you are born a Jew, you die a Jew! How unfortunate for Mr. Silverman!
Isaac Abraham is a Williamsburg civic leader.