January 25, 2012

What did the Progressive Christian say to the Evangelical Atheist?

Boulder Atheists buy billboards that read:
“God is an imaginary friend”

From the Denver Post:
The Boulder Atheists announced Monday that the group has purchased space on three billboards in Denver and Colorado Springs to post messages that read, “God is an imaginary friend. Choose reality, it will be better for all of us.”Boulder Atheists co-founder Marvin Straus said billboards have proven an effective way for the organization to communicate with the public. He said recruiting more atheists isn’t the goal.

“It’s not like we’re evangelical atheists,” Straus said. “We don’t care whether people are believers or non-believers. Our main goal is separation of church and state. The goal of the billboard is to encourage a dialogue.”

The billboards will be located at 8031 E. Colfax Ave. and 424 S. Federal Blvd. in Denver, and along Interstate 25 near Elkton Springs Road in Colorado Springs.

Glenn Stanton, of the Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, said he doesn’t see how “insulting” people who believe in God is going to initiate a dialogue.

“They’re kind of taking a swipe at everybody who believes in God,” he said.

Straus said the locations were chosen by group’s advertising agency as the ones with the most exposure that also fit into the group’s “limited budget.”

“We would have billboards in every major city in the state, including Boulder, if we had more money,” he said.

The Boulder Atheists are part of the Colorado Coalition of Reason, which was responsible for some similarly themed public messages in the past.

In 2010, the coalition bought space on three billboards protesting the nativity scene displayed outside the Denver City and County Building.

The group in 2009 set up a plaque in protest of the Larimer County sheriff’s “politically incorrect Christmas party” and in 2008 installed billboards that read, “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.”

After the 2008 billboard messages went up, Straus said, the group received 50,000 hits on its website and “a lot” of new members.

“It’s a good way of making contact with the public,” he said.


So, here’s what I wrote to that Atheist Group (and the people of Denver) via the Denver Post

I’m a resident of Boulder and a Christian. But I’m not writing in to apologize for the actions of the folks who paid for those ads. They’re entitled to their freedom of speech and to pay for some (not particularly unattractive) signs. Instead of the stereo-typical response of protest and outcry that these atheists might expect, I want to let them know that

God can handle this, and so can we.

While in-authentic Christianity (fundamentalism for example) operates from a fear-based perspective that can’t handle challenges to their faith, authentic Christianity operates from a place of loving and deep knowing and allows for – and even appreciates – seasons of doubt. There is no such thing as a faith that doesn’t have times of doubt.

If a faith can’t handle people claiming that it’s B.S., then it isn’t much of a faith.


Thank You

atheist friends for providing a dose of that to help us on our journeys!

To learn more about the perspective that I’m coming from (progressive Christianity) see these two articles: Huffington Post blog  &  Elephant Journal blog.
Love & ((Hug)),

Rev. Roger Wolsey
Wesley Foundation, United Methodist Campus Ministry at C.U.- Boulder


Wolsey is the author of Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity. He blogs for Elephant Journal, Huffington Post, and Patheos. He’s an active participant on The Christian Left Facebook page.

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