Lucky

My initial reaction to reading this was “Good golly, is it possible to mangle the English language any more than that?” and “Would somebody please give Joe some tutoring in the use of prepositional phrases?”

My second reaction was “Well, there’s another threat of bodily harm.”  So I’m putting it here because that’s what it is.  A threat to hurt me, physically hurt me.  Joe wants to hurt me physically because I said mean things on the internet.   I’m sure I called him a “pussy” and a “coward” and therefore he is going to kill me.  That’s what deadly force means.

But then I caught the whole “their (sic) fucking lucky” stuff.

And yes, I am fucking lucky.

Out of all the times and places where I could have been born, I was born in the United States in the twentieth century and I was born white (white privilege is morally wrong but it is real).  I was born to parents who had flaws, for sure, but who believed strongly in providing me with a decent home, good nutrition, medical care when necessary and a good education.

I had to pay for my college education myself, but at no point in my early years did I ever once consider not going.  It was unthinkable.  That would have been like thinking that I might not brush my teeth, or that I might rob a bank.

I am lucky because I managed to ditch Boyfriend A and Boyfriend B, be ditched by Boyfriend C, and then hit the jackpot in the marriage lottery.

I am lucky because Dave and I both have enjoyed good health all our lives thus far. Even if we developed some dire problem now, we’ve spent decades as healthy adults.

I am lucky because my husband has a super-strong work ethic, and was reared by a mother who countenanced no nonsense when it came to pulling your own weight.

I am lucky because we have spent 46 (soon to be 47) years as a partnership of equals, one where my desires and goals and dreams have carried just as much weight as his do.

I am lucky because even though we were only able to produce one child, he was a genius.

I am lucky because even though our one child has died, he was our best friend. He loved us enough to want to spend time with us, and he knew that he was loved in return.

I am lucky because Nathan chose his friends well and they have been beyond good to us in the wake of his death.

I am lucky because Dave and I were able to both retire at a young age, and we face our sunset years with a reasonable level of financial security, thanks in part to the US government (Social Security) and the US economy (our own investments).

I am lucky because due to that early retirement, we have been able to travel a lot, not only all over North America, but also to many foreign countries.

I am lucky because even though I was immersed in a lunatic religion as a youngster, I was able to escape.  Not many people are able to do that. Most remain imprisoned for life.

I am lucky because Dave joined me in the escape from religion.  Many people who leave are faced with the loss of their most precious relationships as a result.

I am lucky because when I come up with hair-brained schemes (“let’s move to Alaska” or “let’s buy a small farm with a milk cow” or “let’s go on four cruises back-to-back”), Dave will join in enthusiastically unless I’ve gone completely off the rails (“let’s go to Atlanta and demonstrate and get put in jail” – I didn’t do that one).  And when he has his own plans (“let’s get a new tractor” or “let’s buy a Freightliner to pull our RV”), I’ve embraced those as well.

I am lucky because both Dave and I were encouraged all our lives to do new things, to cut new paths, to gain knowledge and put it to use, and we did just that.

I am lucky because we get to serve the finest cow in North America.

Some of this luck was of our own creation. But a whole lot of it, probably the majority, came about because we were incredibly fortunate and were simply born to the right people at the right place at the right time.

Yes, I am lucky. So are you.  What is sad is to be born with such fabulous advantages and throw them all away because you refuse to work, refuse to learn, refuse to listen to anyone else, and refuse to progress even slightly, and instead spend your entire precious life looking around for somebody to blame for all your own failings.

Not long after Nathan died, Dave and I went to Washington, DC to a convention of atheists. We, again, were incredibly lucky, because four men were in attendance during that week and they would never get the opportunity to engage personally together again.  Called the “Four Horsemen,” they were Dan Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens.

I am lucky because one night there was a cocktail party which included just a few people and Dave and I were in that bunch, which means that we got to meet those four men and have a bit of a conversation with them.

That’s me with Daniel Dennett, who is a very nice guy as well as a very smart one.

Imagine, if you will, the four people on earth who you admire the most, or maybe the four rock bands you adore, or your most loved ball team, and imagine that you get to go meet them personally.  That’s what this was like for me.

I am lucky because during that convention, Richard Dawkins read a much-loved quote from one of his books. I have a copy of the book, and have worn out the page where that quote appears.  The passage gave me comfort in those awful months right after we lost Nate. When Dawkins got up and began to read, I had to put on my sunglasses so people wouldn’t see me crying.

The quote is on the side bar of this blog, but here it is again, because it’s about being lucky.

We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones. Most people are never going to die because they are never going to be born. The potential people who could have been here in my place but who will in fact never see the light of day outnumber the sand grains of Arabia. Certainly those unborn ghosts include greater poets than Keats, scientists greater than Newton. We know this because the set of possible people allowed by our DNA so massively exceeds the set of actual people. In the teeth of these stupefying odds it is you and I, in our ordinariness, that are here. We privileged few, who won the lottery of birth against all odds, how dare we whine at our inevitable return to that prior state from which the vast majority have never stirred?

Richard Dawkins, from Unweaving the Rainbow

The Sale

Yesterday was a bit of a suck day.  In the early morning, while I was doing the milking, Dave was down in the back pasture with a back-hoe guy helping him dig Georgia’s grave.

Right after that, Dave went to pick up a new little piglet.

Isn’t her tail cute?

Piglets are sort of adorable.  Like baby calves.

Here she is, exploring her new digs, with “dig” being a very appropriate word.  We leave a lot of weedy growth in the pig pen for a new pig. They soon root it all away and they enjoy the hell out of doing so.

But notice the open places at the back of her little hut?  You can just barely see that there is woven wire fencing behind there. The area beyond there is our big pasture.

She explored. And she explored. And she found those open places, and she pushed right through and under the fencing and Dave came out and found her having a fine time in the pasture.

It was hot yesterday and sunny and humid.  Just the ideal time to be running around a pasture trying to drive an errant pig back into her pen.

By the time we’d finished playing Capture the Pig, we were both in a fine humor.

You can see her, barely, lying in the little hut.  She was exhausted after her wild adventure.  So were we.  And you can see where Dave nauglered up the little house.

So all was well and I went to the house to prepare some dinner.

And then we had the visit.

A man came by to pick up a farm implement that we were selling.  He’d called ahead and we knew he was coming, but Dave finally had to go meet him and bring him to the house. This is nice, actually, because even people with GPS systems have trouble finding our place, but it still meant that Dave had to go meet the guy.

He brought his wife and small daughter with him.

I came out to the barn because I thought maybe they’d need as many hands as possible to get this heavy piece of equipment onto his trailer.  I can’t lift much, but I can do a little.

We all introduced ourselves and it was all fine. I took the woman and her little girl around to look at the baby calves in their pens and the baby pig thankfully in her pen, and as the little girl petted them, the woman and I chatted.

She kept asking questions.  She’d known me about ten minutes and she was asking a whole lot of questions about where we’d lived, and what we did and stuff like that. Stuff that nobody would really be very interested in.

In the process, she mentioned that she had been widowed and that her first husband was a pastor.  She then said that the only thing her current husband and the pastor would have had in common was their “love for the Lord.”

Bingo.

It was what I’d been waiting for.

I grew up in this shit.  I know the signals.

The woman was doing something all evangelical/fundamentalist Christians feel compelled to do.

She was figuring out what box to place me in.  Where did we fit? She couldn’t continue without knowing which script to use.

This is what she was dealing with.  Supposedly, the person speaking there is Jesus.  And when Jesus gives you an order, what the hell are you supposed to do except follow it to the letter?

But see, they don’t have to “preach the gospel” to people who already believe it, so they have developed a method of figuring it all out.

They create boxes.

The main two boxes are “Saved” and “Lost.”

The Saved box has a lot of little boxes inside it labeled “Backslidden” and “Iffy” and “Methodist” and “Episcopalian, But Claims Salvation” and the like.  The Lost box is also subdivided into “Liberal Christian”  and “Catholic” and “Mormon” and “Jehovah’s Witness” and (gasp!) “Atheist.”

Each box requires a different script because each type of person supposedly needs a different message.  With a liberal Christian, they can talk about the things they believe in common (Jesus was a nice guy, faith is a good thing, where do you go to church) and go from there.  With a Mormon, it’s a little more complicated, but rest assured, there’s a script.

There is also a script for atheists but I almost never meet anyone who can remember what it is. They rarely use it because most of them have never met anyone who says right out, “I’m an atheist.”

At any rate, they put out feelers.  If the other person is in the Saved box already, that person will recognize and respond to the feelers.  For instance, when she said that her two husbands had little in common except their “love for the Lord,” my response should have been something like “Well, that’s what is important.”

Bingo.  I would have gone in the “Might Be Saved” box.

I didn’t.

So that left in my situation fraught with concern.  No box means she doesn’t know what script to use. This creates massive discomfort in these people.

The men managed to get the implement loaded without female help (amazing, I know, but true) and money exchanged hands, and then he started in.

“I don’t know where you go to church, or if you’re saved. . .”

Oh, gee whiz.

Dave responded, “We don’t do church.”

Plop.  We moved into the “Definitely Lost” box.

Definitely Lost is a PITA box to be in.  It means that they are compelled by Jesus to preach the gospel to us.  They can’t leave until they do.  I know it.  I get it.

I also tend be pretty frank.

So when I saw their obvious discomfort (people, even these idiot Christians, really don’t enjoy “soul-winning” – no sane person does), I just cut to the core of the matter.

“I am an atheist,” I said.

And plop.  We found ourselves squarely in the Atheist box and then they were in real trouble. Where do they start with an atheist?

“What happens when you die?” he asked.

In the other scripts, nearly all of them, the question is “Where will you spend eternity?”  That is the lead-in question and is followed up by something about how we’ve all “sinned.”

That doesn’t work in the atheist script because we aren’t going to spend eternity anywhere and we have never sinned.  (Sin is defined as “coming short of the glory of God.”  No God, no sin.)

He was trying to find solid ground and struggling a bit.

And then he thought he got there. He began to tell us about a road trip they took to a scenic area and how God made everything.  I demurred. He responded with “Who made the world?”

This drives me nuts.

He doesn’t know any more about how the world got here than I do.  Stephen Hawking probably knows as much as anyone, but this guy wasn’t a theoretical physicist, so I decided to stop it right there.  I was hot and tired. I was sure that Dave was hotter and tireder and we weren’t in the mood.

I replied, “Look, I was a Christian fundamentalist until I was in my mid-forties.  Our son attended a Christian school all his life except for the period when we homeschooled him and his senior year which was in public school.  I can quote lots of Bible. Wanna hear it?”

And then I started with John 1:1 (In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God), smiled and kept going.

They got the point, I think.

But then he did something I despise.  Just despise.

He explained how we have freedom of religion and how anyone can believe anything they like and how it’s all fine and dandy, but (always a but) he never severs ties with a non-believer because if he’s just nice to them, he might be able to say that one word that will help them.

Can anyone spell condescending?

I replied, “And there’s the problem.  You say you enter into a friendship, a relationship, with a person with the sole intention of changing them.”

He nodded. He knew what I meant.

Some denominations and sects take this further than others do.  One of my pastors used to actually say that no Christian should ever have a friendship with a non-believer for any reason other than to convert them.

In late October of 2004, Dave and I flew from our home in Alaska to North Carolina to visit relatives, including Nathan. We had voted absentee before leaving.

We had made arrangements, when we knew we were going to be there, to spend all day that Sunday before the election in Raleigh doing some canvassing work for MoveOn.

They gave us a list of the names and addresses of registered Democrats in a particular area and a map.  Our task was to go to each of those houses/apartments, talk with the person, and find out if they knew where to vote, if they’d made plans to get there, and if they needed transportation.

We were explicitly told that we were not to ask anyone how they planned to vote. We were to tell them that we’d gotten their name from the voter registration list and verify that they were registered as Democrats.  If they said, “No, there’s been a mistake. I am a Republican” or anything like that, we were to apologize, keep the conversation to senseless chatting and exit as rapidly as possible and go to the next name.

The whole point was to get out the Democratic vote.

We were not there to change anyone’s mind about anything. We just wanted to help Democrats vote, to remind them to vote.

There’s a correlation here.

What we did was honest.  We weren’t lying to anyone. We weren’t trying to intrude in any way.  We just verified if our information was correct, asked if they needed transportation and then moved on (!).

The people who announced that they were in the Republican box were not badgered about why they would be so stupid.  We were nice, polite, apologetic, and got the hell out of there. We didn’t try to establish some phony-baloney relationship with the sole goal of turning them into Democrats.

at dinner

This is me with Dave having dinner while on our cruise. We met a whole lot of really nice people, but one couple stood out. We spent a lot of time with them.  He is something or other with the Episcopal church and she is a retired priest.

The atheists palled all around Europe and across the Atlantic with the professional Episcopalians.

It is quite possible to have a lovely friendship with people who are very religious when you aren’t.  Really, it is.  We’ve remained in contact with that couple and would cruise again with them in a heartbeat.

But you see, neither couple cared what boxes the other folks were in. We discussed religion, of course.  It’s an integral part of their lives. Atheism is an integral part of ours.  We had some lively dinner discussions that went on far longer than they should have and that was part of the subject matter.

But there was no judgement made, on either side. We don’t care if they are religious. They don’t care if we’re not. We had fun together. We enjoyed each others’ company.

It’s not necessary to make a sale before you can establish a friendship.

 

What Do I Have To Do?

This is so sad. It’s an example of how people just jump into a discussion and offer up their opinions without knowing what in the hell they are talking about in the first place.

She says she is confused.  She’s right.  But then, without hesitation, she says she believes that God is gonna get me.

. . . you sat back NOT being Christian at all.

That’s exactly right.  I did.

Because I am not Christian, Jackie.

I am really and truly not Christian.

Intent

calvary

This is the Fundy Church From Hell. The pastor who was there years ago had a mother who also attended the church. She was a sweet, gentle person who was also a bit gullible. However, she made a very astute statement once that I have never forgotten.

Her daughter-in-law (the pastor’s wife) and I were riding in a car someplace. She asked me to get a pad of paper out of her purse as she was driving, and then began to dictate a letter.  I dutifully wrote, like a secretary would. (What she wanted was for the letter to be in my handwriting, not hers.)  Then she had me address an envelope to the local paper. A letter to the editor. And she signed it with her middle and maiden names.

She smiled and said, “See? I didn’t lie.”

I forget now what the letter was about, but it was something that she didn’t want to sign her own name to.

When it appeared in the paper, her mother-in-law saw it and recognized who the author was immediately – and she made an offhand comment:  “The intent to deceive is a lie.”

The intent to deceive is a lie.

Interesting statement, I thought. I’ve thought about it a good bit since then, more than thirty-five years ago. That woman is long dead, but her words remain with me. “The intent to deceive is a lie.”

Religion has flaws (I know it’s surprising to read that coming from me, but bear with me here) – and this is one of them. Religion teaches you to obey rules.  Thou shalt not . . . whatever. And one of those is not to lie.

So my pastor’s wife spent half her time trying to figure out, like accountants and tax attorneys do every day, how to wiggle around and weasel out of the “lying” category and still deceive.  If she used her middle name and her maiden name, well, technically those are her names, aren’t they?  So it’s not a lie.

So what you do is create a fake Facebook profile and then start a Facebook group using the fake profile and then declare that you’re “not an administrator” of that group.  Or you say to somebody, “Well, I don’t know for sure, but a friend told me that so-and-so has problems with alcohol,” thus starting a rumor that so-and-so is an alcoholic.  Or you say, “I just wanted to ask you why you don’t see your granddaughter, because there are all these rumors. . .” when you’ve really been told that by one person only.  It’s “technically” not a “lie.”  Only it is.

I’m the atheist here. I don’t worry two seconds about what some imaginary guy in the sky thinks about whether or not I tell the truth. But I’ll tell you this:  If there was a deity worth two cents, that deity would know perfectly well when somebody is trying to weasel.

I am not saying that having a screen name is wrong.  Or even that using a pseudonym on Facebook is necessarily wrong. A great deal depends on intent. Because I am way more interested in intent than I am in somebody keeping a technicality.  Why are you using a screen name?  Why are you using a pseudonym?  There are perfectly good, valid reasons for doing so. I know some of you do that, and in some cases, I know why. And it’s fine.

I’m talking about this because of something Music Man said.

Just tell people that you’re using a fake ID because you need some privacy. Most people would understand.

That’s a perfectly good reason, provided it’s a real reason. Provided you aren’t saying that when really the reason is to try to hurt another person or get revenge or play a prank on somebody at a school you don’t like just to be mean.

photo courtesy David Schauer via freeimages.com

When I was taking philosophy in college (University of Wisconsin- Madison), I had a long discussion with my prof about this subject.  When is it okay to lie?  He had a great answer (and he was Christian, by the way). He said that a lie is fine when the person who asked you the question had no right to do so.

Example:  The Gestapo comes to your door and you are hiding Jews. You lie.

His take was that this is okay (with Jesus) because the Gestapo does not have the right to ask the question in the first place.

My take, because I’m not interested in what Jesus thinks, is that the greater good is achieved by lying, so I would lie happily (or rather, I would lie while scared out of my wits).

But the important thing here is not nit-picking over why it’s okay to lie from time to time. The important thing is that the issue is not black-and-white.

There is not a rule that says, “Don’t lie.” Rather, there is a principle, expressed in the Bible, but also in nearly every moral code found throughout history, including those that predate the Bible by many centuries, that we’ll generally be better off if we don’t do to people what we don’t want done to us.

I don’t wish to be deceived. I am not naive and I know I have been greatly deceived in the past and that I will be in the future, and that some people simply prove to me that they cannot be trusted—however, in general, I believe most people are decent and relatively honest, and aren’t really out to get me. I try to return the favor.

The pastor at the Fundy Church From Hell was not my favorite person in the world. However, he also said something I’ve never forgotten. He said that everyone carries a gun.  Not a real, literal gun, but a figurative one.

And he said that some people  leave their guns at home, locked in a gun safe. To get their gun out, they have to go to some trouble. It’s not loaded. They have to find the bullets.

Other people carry their guns in the holster, but they have the safety on.

Other people carry their guns loaded and ready.

And I’ve found something else to be true:  Everyone has been each of those people from time to time, at different points in their life and with different situations. I like leaving the gun at home. I like the feeling of knowing that I can.

But when somebody has pulled a loaded gun on me over and over and over again, it’s not a surprise when I don’t want to give them another chance.

It’s all about intent. Not what you do. Not your skill at maneuvering around some imaginary rules.

Blame

Cause it’s starting to rain,
And my cheeks are stained
With all the same old bullshit, misery and pain. . .

And I know I’m to blame, oh, and it’s a lowdown dirty shame
Cause John Coltrane is on my radio again.
Nathan Davis, “John Coltrane,” from Nathan Davis LIVE

Dave and Nathan and I lived in Traveler’s Rest, South Carolina for several years in the mid-to-late eighties. We moved back to the Greenville area from Southern Pines, North Carolina in large part because we knew that Nate was not likely to get a good education at the Christian school that was part of the Fundy Church From Hell.

The lower-grade teachers were fine. It was the upper grades that concerned us, due to inexperienced, untrained teachers and inadequate facilities.

Because of our indoctrination in fundamentalism, we didn’t think that public school was an option. So we decided that we were more likely to find good education combined with our religion in a town peppered with Christian schools.

At first, it seemed like a good thing to do. Nathan started the fifth grade at Hampton Park Christian School in 1986.

But in the fall of 1988 (his seventh grade year), he began to tell me that he was being bullied. Of course, he didn’t use that word. He just talked about how the guys were teasing him. I told him that life wasn’t always about how much people like you, and that sometimes they just don’t and that he needed to grow some thicker skin.

spiderweb

Sometimes, parents need to clean out the cobwebs in their heads.

One day, just before Thanksgiving, while picking Nate up after school, I couldn’t find him. When he didn’t come to the car after a little wait, I went looking for him.

bullied

I saw a circle of boys off to the side of the parking lot with Nathan in the center. They were taunting him and shoving him from one to the other. I stood quietly, getting increasingly enraged, just watching to be sure about what I was seeing. I also was afraid that if I went storming up, I would make matters worse.

They finally saw me, and immediately disbanded. Nate grabbed his book bag and came to the car. On the ride home, I asked him about the incident. He said, “Mom, I’ve been telling you. . . ” And the spider webs cleared. I realized I’d been blowing him off and said, “Tell me again.”

He began to describe ongoing, systematic bullying, led almost entirely by one boy. The kid was one of those adolescents who goes through puberty gracefully. No awkwardness, just an easing into adulthood with good looks, and a tendency to look older than he was. His father was also very well-to-do and drove a very nice car.

I drove a red VW bug.

We got home and had a family discussion about the situation. During that conversation, Nathan told us, in tears (and this was a boy who rarely cried, even as an infant), that if we sent him back to that school, he would die. It was drama, yes, but he was seriously upset.

mizell
Bruce Mizell

So we went to see the principal, Bruce Mizell.

He informed us that Nathan had had “emotional problems” ever since he’d been at Hampton Park, more than two years.

I asked him when, exactly, he was planning to tell us about that. He had no answer.

It was one of those conversations where the response is “No doubt the problem is with you.” Anyone associated with Bob Jones University for more than twelve seconds knows about this.

It was also obvious to us that the instigator’s father was a heavy donor and there was no way in hell that Mizell was going to offend the man. The son would slide by. [The last time I checked, the son has a prison record.]

We then began discussing what we might do about Nathan’s “emotional problems.” Mizell reached for the phone book. I thought he was looking up the phone number of some counselor he was going to recommend, but no – he had nobody in mind. He was just looking randomly.

textbooks

We then mentioned possibilities, like home schooling. His response was immediate and vehement. “Whatever you do, don’t home school him.”

At that point, we both knew the answer to the problem. Whatever this idiot man thought we shouldn’t do was very likely the right way to go. So that’s what we did. And we never had contact with Hampton Park Baptist Church or School again, except for one brief visit Dave made to let Mizell listen to an obscene phone message Nathan received from a Hampton Park student shortly after leaving.

vandalismhp

Fast forward to yesterday, which was Christmas Eve. Somebody alerted me to a news article, and from there I found myself on Hampton Park’s Facebook page, looking at photos like this.

Pretty bad, huh? The graffiti was everywhere. It consisted of only two words, primarily – “wake up” – with the occasional “please” tossed in.

So I began reading the comments. And I got really angry.

There was another one, but it was removed before I thought to get a screen shot of it. It began with something like “Atheists say they don’t believe in God, but are really obsessed with God,” and went on to assume that the vandals were, in fact, atheists.

This is, of course, typical fundigelical-think. Here’s another gem:

Naturally the vandal(s) cannot possibly be “saved.” They have to be people from Outside – Other. This cannot possibly be rooted within. In fact, the vandalism itself is not cause for asking some questions, “Gee, somebody is really mad. Who have we offended and what could be the problem?”

No. Somebody is royally pissed at us, and that’s proof that we are right.

There’s another Baptist church with this self-aggrandizing attitude. I think the name is Westboro. Check ‘em out. Just use Google.

So, I couldn’t help myself. The comments were open to the public, so I commented. And pretty much thought that was that.

But then, I discovered that a friend of mine who has a bigger beef with Hampton Park than I do posted a comment.  This isn’t it. I cannot post his comment because it was removed by the Hampton Park page administrators. But this is the gist of it.

And Jeffrey brings up a very valid point. It is now two weeks since GRACE issued their relatively scathing report about Bob Jones University. Anyone who has spent more than twenty minutes immersed in the Bob Jones sub-culture of Greenville knows that Hampton Park is a “BJU church.” From the pulpit to the music to the Sunday school to the day school, and probably to the janitor, many if not most of the people hired there are affiliated with BJU. They are grads or former students.

Is it possible, just a teensy, itsy, bitsy bit, that somebody in Greenville is royally pissed that Hampton Park isn’t implicated in the GRACE report, but probably ought to be? Or that somebody has reason to believe that crappy stuff has gone on there?

I know for sure that it’s a shitty school. I know because we paid them good money for a couple of years to educate our son, and then had to spend the following four years rehabilitating him from the damage they allowed those dreadful kids to inflict on him. I know because I spoke with his teachers. One of them assured me that she thought the way those kids treated Nate was terrible, and that she tried to stop it. But another, older, long-time teacher informed me that Nate had only gotten what he deserved. “No doubt the problem was with him.”

So, here we have a reasonable motive. A report comes out that a lot of people are unhappy about for one reason or another, and Hampton Park looks around at the obvious message sent to them in spray paint and says, “Who?  Us?” and blames. . .

atheists.

Gee fucking thanks.

Let’s talk for a minute about atheists and vandalism.

There is no question that there are more religious people in America than there are atheists. Like, you know, lots more. And religious people not only live and work and hang out – they generally have buildings, churches, where they meet. Atheists? Not so much.

Atheists have billboards.

And not very many of them, especially if you compare them to the number of church signs that are around. Think about the last time you saw a church sign(s) and the last time you saw an atheist billboard.

But this is what happens to atheist billboards, regularly.

It happens so often that most atheists pretty much expect it. Often billboard companies are reluctant to rent space to atheists because they know the vandals are coming.

And you know what Christians have to say when atheist billboards are vandalized?

Usually nothing.

But sometimes, this.

And what do atheists do when churches are vandalized?

Usually, nothing.

But sometimes, this.

And this.

But you know what? The vandals at Hampton Park couldn’t possibly have been atheists. I can fucking prove it.

Update, Christmas day:

They took down the photos and all the comments. They didn’t want to “stifle conversation,” of course not. But the “conversation” had lost its focus – namely, people telling them how great they are and how sad it all is.

And “speculations” resulted in “tensions.”  :-)  Hell, yeah, they did. But long before the admins of that page decided to remove the whole thing, they removed Jeffrey’s comment. So they did, in fact, “pick and choose.”

“The fact is, we don’t know.” Right.