I had just opened my digital copy of the Plain Dealer this morning, despaired at the Tribe losing yet another one to the Athletics, turned to page 2 & 3 ... and spent the next couple seconds recovering my jaw from the floor, mostly because the following article was smack in the middle of Page Three:

[Click on the above article to enlarge it.]

Atheism hasn't been a large hot-button issue in Cleveland that I've seen, but to see this piece and the billboards is encouraging to me, especially that the Northern Ohio Freethought Society is taking these steps. 

I'm going to be very intrigued to see what the reaction is in the PD, as well as to spot the billboards in my travels!

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As a long time FFRF member, I certainly appreciate and applaud the group's effort to "advertize" our position in society, not to mention OPposition. I think your photo and message would be great!

I'm not a member myself, but I'm thinking more and more that I SHOULD be ... and I don't know as I'd be horribly bothered to see my puss and an appropriate phrase on a billboard here on the North Coast!

That seems like a much better pro-atheist message. 

yeh, I am awed by nature.

FFRF wants to use my photo, they have my permission.

Point on the curve: I wrote Tom Feran a quickie note after I saw his piece yesterday:

Mr. Feran:

As an atheist, I was very pleased to see today’s piece regarding billboards going up around Northeast Ohio, representing people who are healthy, happy, contributing members of our society, yet who do not believe in any form of god.  I very much appreciate your even-handed approach to this issue and will be very interested to see reactions, both positive and negative, I expect, in the op-ed section of the PD.

You have brought something very positive here.  Thank you.

Loren Miller

I'm pleased to say I heard back from him!

Thanks very much for your note. I'm glad you liked the piece, which certainly did bring mixed reaction, as we'd expect. I hope to follow up with a longer story in the weeks ahead.

I'll be curious to see what the follow-up is.

Loren, it was so thoughtful of you to send to an encouraging message. More of us should do the same when we agree with someone. Especially on this issue.

K. H., I'm a big believer in feedback, and I mean both kinds: positive and negative.  Lots of people want to bitch when they run into something they don't like, but it's been my experience that damned few of those same folks will say boo when the product they bought works or their needs have been served appropriately and to their satisfaction.  I think we'd all like to hear back when we've done a good job (I know I do!!!).  Indeed, on an issue as important to us as this is, I was glad to offer it and pleased that it was received and appreciated.

To date, there's been no response in the PD's op-ed section, though as Mr. Feran suggested in his note, he's probably gotten some personal emails like mine.  I guess we'll see what (if anything) happens from here.

Loren, keep us informed. By the way, FFRF is always encouraging members to write letters to editors.

In today’s Plain Dealer (23 May 2014), the following was published in the op-ed section:

On May 19, The Plain Dealer reported on anti-religion billboards paid for by atheists that are appearing in our area (“Nonbelievers’ signs aim to reduce stigma”).  The signs reveal the self-satisfaction that atheists enjoy in scorning the religious.  Perhaps this applies: An atheist’s only god is himself, and oh how he worships and adores him!

Tom S. Johnson
Bay Village

The following is my proposed rebuttal:

I submit that Mr. Johnson in his letter of 23 May misrepresents both atheists and the billboards which Tom Feran reported on Monday the 19th.  Certainly those billboards were pro-atheism; personally, I wouldn’t characterize them as anti-religion, any more than I “scorn” believers.  Also, speaking as an atheist, I have no gods at all, including myself.  “Self-satisfaction” doesn’t apply well, either, as I know my own rough edges all too well and work on them as I can, along with trying to learn and grow as a human being.

Fact is, atheists have a lot in common with believers.  We do our work, pay our taxes, love our spouses and our kids, and generally live our lives.  We just do it without any one of the thousands of deities that have been invented over the years.  I can’t judge as to whether we do any better or worse, though for myself, I do okay.

Loren Miller
Bedford Heights

Feedback is herewith solicited.

While you have addressed his use of the term 'scorn', I would humbly suggest this. after "...any more than I 'scorn' believers. Atheists, unlike Christians, Muslims, and other theists, do not fear thoughtful criticism as a form of persecution."

Except that isn't true.  Many atheists would react badly to thoughtful criticism.  And portraying oneself as better than theists, actually validates the "self-satisfaction" charge.




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