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  1. #1
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    Why are atheists offended by Jesus statue?

    American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) article: Jesus Statue War Memorial Doesn’t Violate Constitution; It Honors Fallen Soldiers

    Anything that could have a religious connotation offends them, and when it offends them, the Constitution requires that it be removed. That is the argument that the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) and other angry atheist groups try to make in court time and time again.

    This time it’s a nearly 60-year-old war memorial statue of Jesus – erected by World War II veterans as a reminder of the many similar statues they saw as they fought across Europe.

    The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s argument is simple: they are offended by the presence of the war memorial statue of Jesus and believe that the Establishment Clause exists to prevent their being offended.

    In fact, their lawsuit actually alleges that FFRF members “have altered their conduct to avoid Big Mountain because of the Jesus statue.” It also goes so far as to allege that the presence of this memorial on Big Mountain “makes a sham of the Establishment Clause.”

    Putting aside legalities for the sake of this conversation, I'd like to get opinions from the position of atheism as to why is there offence in the first place?

    Quote Originally Posted by me, on FB
    If atheists do not believe in the existence of God, and by extension, only believe Jesus to be a man, if they believe He existed at all, then what is their real problem with the statue? To them, it should provide no more offense than a statue of a pink unicorn or a spaghetti monster or SpongeBob Squarepants. Possibility for offense only exists if the statue is actually meant to represent Jesus Christ, our divine Saviour and God. This is the only logical conclusion, one which is illogical considering their belief system.
    Am I correct? Mistaken? Why or why not?
    In regione caecorum rex est luscus ~Erasmus

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. ~Second Amendment to the United States Constitution

  2. #2
    Reader in Slood Dynamics Rincewind's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrs Jono
    Am I correct? Mistaken? Why or why not?
    I don't think simple atheism would lead to someone being offended by a statue of Jesus in any context I would hazard a guess however that some people (who might also be atheists but not necessarily so) might be offended for at least two reasons not based in atheism.

    First because they believe the statue represents the atrocities that have been committed in the name of God or potentially even all the atrocities committed in the name of religion as a whole. Given the German people were widely Christian and Hitler referenced the Bible to support his anti-Semitism, this atrocities (it could be argued) include the holocaust. In the extreme version of this offence it could be argued that the statue of Jesus is no different to a statue of Hitler, which I'm sure most people would find offensive.

    The second option would be the invocation of the Establishment clause. Assuming the statue is on public land there is an argument that by having a statue of Jesus to the exclusion of all other religious figures the state is endorsing a particular religion. The idea that the state would do this would be offensive to strict church-state separation. So the figure itself is not offensive but as it symbolises a disregard of this separation someone might be offended.

    Note that atheism is not a prerequisite for ether of these hypothetical reasons for taking offence. But likewise it is also not a hindrance. Personally I am not too fussed either way.
    So einfach wie möglich, aber nicht einfacher - Albert Einstein

  3. #3
    Reader in Slood Dynamics Rincewind's Avatar
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    For general amusement I will post something that tickled by funny-bone. When looking for news on the story above I came across Jay Sekulow who I have been blissfully unaware of until now. He has a blog post supporting the statue...

    A WWII Memorial Statue of Jesus a “Sham”?

    The use of questions with scare-quotes in them is one of his favourite pieces of rhetoric. Anyway he claims the statue in the war memorial is similar to ones the servicemen may have seen in Europe when serving their country. To demonstrate the truth of this statement he provides a picture of the Montana statue alongside a war memorial in (wait for it) Lucerne, Switzerland.

    Aside from the whole line of argument being speculation since as far as I know no serviceman has actually made that point, it is amusing that Sekulow seems to think that the US Army might have marched through central Switzerland at some stage of WWII and US servicemen might have received some solace from the statue in Lucerne.

    Surely he could have found a picture of a statue of Jesus from Italy, Northern France or Germany which would have supported his argument a little more directly.
    So einfach wie möglich, aber nicht einfacher - Albert Einstein

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rincewind
    I don't think simple atheism would lead to someone being offended by a statue of Jesus in any context
    Thanks, RW. I wouldn't have thought so either.

    I read the rest of what you said, and I realise their complaint had other points of contention; however, I was discussing on FB the inconsistency of the first point* only, namely (from the article), " they are offended by the presence of the war memorial statue of Jesus".

    FFRF's membership includes individuals who have had direct and unwanted exposure to the statue of Jesus Christ in the Flathead National Forest, and such members will have direct and unwelcome exposure to the statue of Jesus in the future, as frequenters of the Flathead National Forest, more specifically at the location on Big Mountain, near Whitefish Mountain Resort's Chair Two, site of the Jesus statue; other members of FFRF have altered their conduct to avoid Big Mountain because of the Jesus statue.



    *(the second point might have had ground, if not logic, on its side; although, it failed in each legal challenge so far, including “religious symbols on public property are not, per se, unconstitutional”, per the article).
    In regione caecorum rex est luscus ~Erasmus

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. ~Second Amendment to the United States Constitution

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rincewind
    To demonstrate the truth of this statement he provides a picture of the Montana statue alongside a war memorial in (wait for it) Lucerne, Switzerland.
    When even...



    (Yes, I know it is a depiction of John 11:35)

    Surely he could have found a picture of a statue of Jesus from Italy, Northern France or Germany which would have supported his argument a little more directly.
    Like the one in Berlin at Kaiser Wilhelm's Memorial Church, for example (picture far too large to post here)

    There are two churches on the site, the old and the new. The old church, which was built in the 1890′s, was severely damaged in an air raid during World War II. It’s such a shame. Looking at the photos and models of it, it really was a beautiful church… all that was left was part of the spire. Instead of removing it, however, the spire was stabilised and within it a memorial to the old church was created. Beautiful mosaics adorn the ceiling and various pieces are on display that have been given to the church or that have somehow survived from the original. This includes a statue of Jesus from the original altar.
    In regione caecorum rex est luscus ~Erasmus

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. ~Second Amendment to the United States Constitution

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