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Mitch Albom: If God made the sky, can atheists fly it?

How do you feel about the author's view? Looks like Atheists are doing the very same thing they complain about the Christians doing. Seems like just a little too much "in your face". Maybe both sides need to give it a rest. Just seems to only alienate people even more, both Christians and Atheists.

Mitch Albom: If God made the sky, can atheists fly it?
Filed Under
Commentary and criticism
Mitch Albom
Ernie Harwell

When some Americans look to the skies this Fourth of July, they may see more than fireworks.

In 26 states -- including Michigan -- small planes will be carrying banners that read "God-LESS America" or "Atheism is Patriotic."

It is an attempt by a group called American Atheists to show that atheists, too, have a place on the day that celebrates our nation's independence. The group is encouraging people to spread photos of these planes when they see them and to call their local TV news channels to increase coverage.

This is a classic example of an OK concept meeting a terrible idea. The group insists, on its Web site, that this "is not about ... shoving our views down people's throats."

Really? Then why rent airplanes?

As the joke goes, God knows atheists are entitled to their opinions. But when you fill the sky with banners to spread a message on a holiday weekend, unless that message is "Fourth of July Sale at Lenny's Auto Showcase!" you're asking for trouble.

A message for the masses

I do understand why atheists want to make a statement on July 4. From expressions like "There are no atheists in foxholes" to the words on our money, "In God we trust," there has long been a subtle suggestion that atheists are somehow lacking as citizens, outside of the American circle -- an odd notion since, truth be told, many of us who identify with religion behave more like atheists every day.

"I'm a patriotic American. I served my country. I get out there and celebrate the Fourth, too," Blair Scott, the communications director for American Atheists, told CNN. "This America belongs to everyone."

It sure does. Which is why taking to the skies with your agenda tends to rankle people. By the way, this is just as true for displays of religious fervor. It is why some people cringe at billboards celebrating Jesus, or when Ten Commandments monuments are placed outside public buildings.

Those are the very things to raise the ire of atheists everywhere.

But doing your own version of what upsets you isn't the answer. My sense is that most Americans are pretty tolerant of other faiths or even those who celebrate no faith -- they just don't want things shoved in their faces.

Or their skies.

The right time and place

No one should dismiss atheism as some quick or unintelligent view on the world. The history of atheism is deep with academia, thoughtful texts, respected scholars and reasoned arguments. Despite that, some recent studies suggest only 4% of Americans identify as atheists, as opposed to 17% in Britain or 32% in France.

This may explain why there are not more planes flying the "God-LESS America" message on Monday. Despite attempts to get banners up in all 50 states, AmericanAtheists found many companies refused to fly them. According to the organization, one North Carolina firm said: "I'm not going to hell flying that sign."

"The reality is that there is still a lot of bigotry out there," the AA Web site said.

Is it bigotry if you don't want to zoom someone's message through the clouds? Or is it par for the course when it comes to religious -- or decidedly nonreligious -- statements that in the end, still send the same grating message: "What I believe is so important it needs to tower over you."

Some would ask why a group united in what it doesn't believe in even bothers to make a statement. But I'm sure atheists would counter that in a country where "God Bless America" is sung at events and hands are put on Bibles during courtroom procedures, that they are only fighting fire with fire.

The problem of fire with fire is that it produces a lot of smoke, and smoke gets in your eyes and you can't see straight. Maybe, on Fourth of July weekend, we should leave the skies to bursts of red, white and blue and save our messages for another backdrop.

Answer Question

Asked by maggiebgood at 9:22 PM on Jul. 3, 2011 in Religion & Beliefs

Level 14 (1,514 Credits)
Answers (18)
  • – collapse
    Well, God made everything, including the atheists, they just don't realize it.

    Answer by scout_mom at 9:26 PM on Jul. 3, 2011 (hidden) + expand

  • Extremists ^^^ on any side give everyone a bad name. And yes that includes the AA website which IMO have taken things overboard on several occasions.

    Answer by KristiS11384 at 9:31 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

  • Really, Kristi, I'm not an extremeist. Actually, it's funny that you think I am.

    Answer by scout_mom at 9:38 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

  • One more example of atheists being pre-occupied with the God they don't think exists.

    Do they have the right to do it? Sure. If they want to waste their money on such things, let them - I wonder if the airplane owners/pilots are Christians? I wonder (if they are) how many will tithe some of the money made from the atheists message?

    Answer by -Eilish- at 9:44 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

  • ScoutMom, I didnt get the impression that Kristi was calling you an extremist. She was just making a general statement. At least that is how I took it.

    Comment by maggiebgood (original poster) at 9:44 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

  • I'm agnostic but I think that is such a stupid thing to do.

    And scout_mom, please provide evidence that "God" created anything. Physical evidence. The bible is not a factual book and therefore is not "evidence". Plus it was written by men, not "God".

    Answer by miss_lisa at 9:48 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

  • i think your an Extremist too!!! sry i saw all ur post on the other question too.. Your all about god.. if god told you to kill urself i bet you would! if god told you to kill ur child i bet you would.. i think ur the perfect person to enter a cult!!!! just bc something has GOD in it. your the type to agree with it. im sure ur the type that tries to talk people into believe what you do. and u think other religions are full of shit..

    Answer by Anonymous at 9:51 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

  • Speaking of extremists making people look bad, HiI Anon.

    Answer by KristiS11384 at 9:53 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

  • Speaking of extremists making people look bad, HiI Anon.



    Answer by miss_lisa at 10:02 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

  • There are extremists and fanatics in any belief system and ideology- Atheism included.


    Answer by momto2boys973 at 11:00 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

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