Atheists and Christians in Fort Worth
by Brian Turner
I read an intriguing article in the New York Times about a group of atheists in Fort Worth, Texas, who paid $2,400 for ad space on four public transportation buses bearing the following message:
Millions of people are good without God.
This upset many Christians in Fort Worth. A number of them decided to give the atheists a riposte.
Some Christian businessmen paid for a van to follow a public transportation bus, carrying the message:
2.1 billion Christians are good with God. I still love you – God.
Some pastors asked their congregations to boycott the public transportation buses. This attempt resulted in little success.
Still others asked for the policy regulating advertising on public buses be changed. They did not want any religious advertising on public transportation. Yes, these were Christians.
This same scenario played out in several cities across America, but Fort Worth believers, apparently, have been the most outraged. One man said he never experienced such brouhaha for such a small investment.
I would like to suggest a different reaction from Christians: common ground. This is what Paul did in Acts 17:16-34. He found common ground with the Athenians. Then he communicated the gospel from this common ground.
The Athenians were religious people. They had erected idols to every god they could imagine. They even placed an inscription on one idol which read, “To an Unknown God.” Paul saw this idol and said, “What you worship as unknown, I now proclaim to you.” Some said they wanted to learn more, and others even became believers.
According to the New York Times article, Terry McDonald (the chairman of Metroplex Atheists, part of the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason, which paid for the ads) said, “We want to tell people they are not alone. People don’t realize there are other atheists. All you hear around here is, ‘Where do you go to church?’ ” Consider this, Christians: The atheists do not want other atheists to feel lonely during the Christmas season.
What if the Fort Worth Christians and the Fort Worth atheists worked together to ease the loneliness of others? Since they are so creative in coming up with catchy slogans to communicate their beliefs, surely they can use that same creativity to find ways to work toward showing love and comfort to people who are in pain, depressed or lonely.
There are millions who are good without god, and there are 2.1 billion Christians who are good with God. What about everybody else? There should be no reason atheists and Christians cannot work together during the Christmas season to bring hope, peace, joy and love. We can agree that everyone—whether atheist or Christian, Hindu or Buddhist, Muslim or Jew, Democrat or Republican—deserves to be and feel loved.
What do you think?
Brian Turner is a follower of Jesus, a husband, and a father of three kids, three dogs, and a cat. He blogs at www.thewayofthenudge.com.