No God in OK? Who Knew?

Some of you might have seen the new billboard causing a stir in Oklahoma City. Erected by the Oklahoma City Coalition of Reason, it reads: “Don’t believe in God? Join the club.” Nick Singer, the 28 year old coordinator of the coalition, said the sign was not meant to be controversial but rather eye-catching.

It seems there are atheists among us!

You’d be forgiven for being surprised, considering our state’s reputation as the ‘Buckle of the Bible Belt’. The group put up the sign as a “beacon” to other non-religious people to let them know that there are others who share their lack of faith.

I have to commend them on both their honesty and their bravery. Professing atheism in Oklahoma can lead to strained relationships at best and outright condemnation at worst. The brand of Christianity practiced most here tends to be intolerant of anything outside of its comfort zone and can often conflate a lack of belief with some of the more radical fringe, including satanism or pedophilia. I know, it sounds bizarre, but try telling your born again co-worker you don’t believe in God and see what he/she calls you.

Personally, I tend to favor a brand of agnosticism over atheism. I’m not willing to commit fully to the idea that there’s not something out there, but I sure don’t subscribe to the belief that whatever it is resembles any sort of fundamentalist God, meting out judgment for the billions of people who weren’t born in a christian country. As the comments at the NewsOK article prove, Christians don’t have much of an answer to the question of why they feel they’ve chosen the right god out of several choices. They only have faith to fall back on, which doesn’t really resonate with anyone striving for a logical argument. Without evidence, belief is nothing more than an opinion.

However, that doesn’t stop Christians from proclaiming “the truth” at every turn. Which is why the billboard should be welcomed. Just because Christians (especially the more vocal and judgmental ones) believe they have found the correct path in life doesn’t make it fact. Just as they operate mostly on faith alone, so to do the non-believers among us. The atheists have faith that reason and secularism provide a rich and fulfilling existence. It’s heartening to think that such a belief system could be found in Oklahoma. The billboard is no more offensive to Christians than the hundreds of crucifixion scenes already peppered through the city and state (not to mention the numerous mega-churches on every other corner). I guess we’ll have to wait and see if the believers will be as tolerant towards a proclamation of atheism as the non-believers have been of the endless parade of christian dogma they’ve been forced to endure up until now. We should be so lucky.

(cross-posted on Examiner.com)

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