Rows of anti-God banners in downtown Ft. Worth, Texas are inciting complaints from provoked citizens. Meanwhile, city officials say the flags violate no city ordinance and the city’s mayor straddles the fence by tweeting out of both sides of her mouth.
The message on the banners? “In No God We Trust.”
The group Metroplex Atheists hoisted these flags to raise awareness for their upcoming “No God” event scheduled for July 14 at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. It is only fitting that a group of God-haters should chose to convene in a garden.
How is Fort Worth taking this onslaught? City officials acknowledged they received several phone calls and complaints but summarize the state of things thusly:
“Banner Policy and Procedures allows for a non/not-for-profit to place banners within the public right-of-way for the purpose or promoting the organization or special event held by the organization… The city cannot discriminate or dictate the content unless it contains profanity, threats or other inappropriate images.”
Many would argue, and many have argued, that profanity includes irreligious or irreverent behavior. Officials of major US cities today are unlikely to show awareness of such trivial things as the history of legal concepts.
The mayor of Ft. Worth, Betsy Price, tweeted out three messages in response to the flags:
“I was APPALLED when I saw the banners currently being displayed downtown, as I do not support or agree with the message.”
“While many of us may not agree with the message, the organization did follow policies and procedures.”
“We must respect freedom of speech. As we approach the Fourth of July, we must remember that many Americans have fought and died for the freedoms we cherish today.”
Apparently the freedom of speech includes the freedom to say repulsive things, as long as we keep the streets free of right-of-way obstructions and free from restricted words and images. These are the causes for which men ought proudly to lay down their lives. How uninspiring.
Christians are never surprised to hear of those who say there is no God yet never tire of shouting Him down by name. In a sense, there are no atheists, only idolaters. As Calvin put it: “The sense of Deity is indelibly engraven on the human heart.” It is “thoroughly fixed as it were in our very bones” (John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion; Chapter 3).
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.
For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:18-21).