US Catholic Faith in Real Life

"Thank God You're Wrong": A new, in-your-face Christian message?

By Caitlyn Schmid | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

St. Francis of Assisi is quoted for saying, “Preach the gospel. Use words when necessary.”

The creationist and Christianity-defending ministry, Answers in Genesis, is definitely using words in its new advertisement campaign. Buying ad spaces in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, the ministry is promoting its message on a billboard that reads, “To all of our atheist friends: Thank God you’re wrong.” The billboard is in defense of the idea of the biblical view that the earth was created in seven days and that all evidence for evolution is false.

This billboard comes as a rebuttal to an advertisement in Times Square last Christmas from a group known as the American Atheists that read, “Keep the merry, dump the myth.”

Billboard wars between different religious groups—or in the case of atheists, the rejection of religion—have been going on for years now. The billboard face off from 2010 between American Atheists and the Catholic League is just one of many that has stirred controversy over the years. This new batch seems to be catching just as much attention.

I was shocked and saddened by the message for a number of reasons—and I'm not the only one. First of all, to refer to someone as “friends” and then to tell them that they’re wrong seems condescending. Instead of blaming atheists, I wish Answers in Genesis would have used their ad to encourage them to rethink the situation. Dave Silverman, the president of the American Atheists, said, “I would suggest, if they’re actually trying to attract atheists, they should talk about proof and reason to believe in their god, not just some pithy play on words.”

Secondly, in light of the advances that Pope Francis has made with the atheist community, I wish Answers in Genesis would have shown more tolerance of those who are different from them. According to the pontiff’s September 11 letter to the Italian liberal daily, La Repubblica, tolerance of other’s beliefs is “necessary and precious” and that we need “open dialogue free of prejudice.”

Thirdly, Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:38-39, “‘You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.” To rebuttal in such an intolerant and demeaning way is not Christian-like at all.

The war will unfortunately continue, however. A new ad campaign from the American Atheists is in the works for later this year. “They’re throwing down the gauntlet, and we’re picking it up,” Silverman said, adding that his group would “slap them in the face” with it.

Only when we all accept our differences and learn to be tolerant of one another will we grow together in this world.

What do you think? Is this billboard outrageous or did Answers in Genesis have the right to fight back?

Image: Flickr photo cc by zoonabar