Friday, November 13, 2009

Only in my city would this happen.

For anyone who may not know much about my little southwest Ohio metropolis, also known as Cincinnati, you might not be aware of what an uptight, conservative, closed minded, intolerant and even segregated city it can be.  I often find myself yelling at the news, shaking my head at things I over hear people say, and wishing that I lived in a hippie commune somewhere warm and free-spirited.

Our city has had issues with the KKK putting a cross on our Fountain Square downtown to represent the Christian community during Christmas when the Jewish community put up a Menorah.  It was awful.  It was embarrassing.  It did not represent my Christian beliefs.  It made the national news.  And I mean the KKK cross, not the Menorah.  I was totally cool with the Menorah, which was right next to the Christmas tree.  I would have been ok with a cross from a church or other loving community, but NOT the KKK.  I did not go downtown, though, and try to knock down the cross.  I did not go threaten the KKK members who stood protecting the cross because all the pissed off people were going there to try to remove it from it's place.  I did speak out against it to anyone who would listen.

There have been riots brought on by racial issues that make national news.  We've been in national news due to Larry Flynt and his Hustler stores which currently conduct business in our city and his past legal issues with the city in the 1970's.  We have groups like Citizens for Community Values who often go up against Stonewall Cincinnati, an organization for the GLBT community.

Well, this week has really sent me over the edge.  Earlier this week, heading into downtown, you could see this sign:

If you can't read it, it says, "Don't Believe in God?  You are not alone."  It is sponsored and paid for by an organization named CCoR - Cincinnati Coalition of Reason.  The reason for the sign?  "The point of our national billboard campaign is to reach out to the millions of humanists, atheists and agnostics living in the United States," explained the national director of the National Coalition of Reason.  When I saw him interviewed on the news, I could NOT believe there were not protestors shouting in the background about "hell and damnation".  Then the reporter said the sign had only been up for five hours.  Ahhh, that explains it.

Notice that up there I used the word COULD.  Fast forward to today.  The sign is having to be relocated to the other side of downtown due to threatening phone calls and e-mails to the landlord of the building that holds the sign.  (I'm not sure what good that will do, won't there just be threats from folks over there?)  I am ok with the fact that people don't agree with the sign.  I am ok with people speaking out against the sign - picketing, prayer vigils, shouting from the rooftops.  I am ok with people speaking out to support the sign.  Freedom of speech goes both ways and it is a protected right in this country.  However, when one tries to use that "free speech" to threaten the owner of the building, then the religious community has once again used their beliefs as a weapon instead of way to build communities and bridges to connect to others who have different values and beliefs. 

I am not an atheist.  I do have many atheist friends and even some family members.  I am not at all threatened or offended by this sign.  It does not sway my belief in God.  My atheist friends/family do not sway my beliefs.  In fact, I find it interesting and enlightening to hear their thoughts and reasons, even if I don't agree.  And I do NOT understand why a community would think that this sign warrants threatening phone calls, e-mails and notes to a landlord.  What kind of religion thinks THAT is ok?  What a pathetic example of God's love.  In fact, this behavior is right up there with the KKK cross as far as I am concerned. 
You can read the articles about this sign HERE and HERE.

(Someday, I will try to write about the good things about this city!)

11 comments:

  1. I'm like you. There is freedom of speech and if I don't like something, I don't have to read it.

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  2. I honestly see nothing wrong with the billboard. I did have a chuckle, thinking that maybe it's a "trap." Don't believe, come join other non-believers - only to walk into a soul intervention :-).

    Nothing fires up a group of wack-a-dos like giving equal time for free speech to something they don't agree with.

    $10 some of these less than nice "Christians" are also part of the group screaming at the Obama administration for dogging on Fox.

    (You know where I stand on the whole Fox issue, but just in case some of your readers do not, I believe Freedom of Speech goes for everyone. Including Fox. Like Peach said, you don't have to read it or watch it.)

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  3. Ahh Religion and Politics..always a good way to rile up an angry mob!

    I love the way you write!!

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  4. oooooh, i love this! i think you should take over for EM while she is on sabbatical from FFFT!

    nothing gets under my skin like hypocrisy. grrr...

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  5. I grew up in a small town in Michigan and this was my life for 21+ years. Now, I live in hippie land, and I'm oh so happy. My kids go to a "hippie school" and are blissfully ignorant to this kind of childish behavior.

    That's another reason why I loved being a teacher...the kids are so much better than the parents most of the time. When will people get a clue??? It makes me feel so sad that this is still the way in some parts.

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  6. I am fine with the idea of a cross, a menorah and the billboard. I am not fine with the KKK thing.

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  7. I agree with the poster above. Hey Hollywood, can you please acknowledge that the South is not the only place that has/had the KKK?

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  8. As long as the free speech is not violent or sexual, I think people can say what they want. Like, I wouldn't want to see a sign that says, 'Like to take it up the ass? You are not alone'.

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  9. I share your feelings on this subject. (This is a great post.)

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  10. I have to tell you when I first saw the photo of the sign I felt a little punch in my gut. But I've been pondering this and realize the discussion isn't about what one individual(s) believe but that all of us have the right to state what we believe without fear within the bounds of basic decency. You can't expect respect when you don't give respect. Would that this world were perfect. Perfect for everyone.

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