Archives About Staff BagNews is dedicated to visual politics, media literacy and the analysis of news images.
March 25, 2012

Putting the Atheist Point A-Cross

NewImage

On Saturday, the National Atheist Organization held a “Reason Rally” in Washington, D.C. Looking through Getty’s photographs from the event, billed as “the largest gathering of the secular movement in world history,” I’m struck by how many ralliers depend on religious iconography to visually express their atheism.

In this photograph from the rally, it’s even tempting to see something very much like a worship service under way. If it weren’t for that deviant character atop the wooden cross (not too far off from the original story!), we would need to rely on the caption to tell us this isn’t some kind of Christian praise concert.

Maybe this photograph, then, is less about antagonism among the nation’s believers and atheists, and more about the great American effort—still very much in play—to strike just the right balance between the secular and the sacred in the public square.

- Phil Perdue

(photo : Allison Shelley/Getty Images. caption: A cross with a clown mask is held aloft during the National Atheist Organization’s ‘Reason Rally’ March 24, 2012 on the National Mall in Washington, DC. linked photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

  • http://www.facebook.com/TheWarick Warick James Ten Bohmer

    The photo is of people clapping and the cross has a clown mask on op to represent the holder’s idea of Christianity being a joke.

  • bks

    Yet another tilted photo.  I don’t think it’s intentional, just bad photography.

        –bks
     

  • Anonymous

    The power of icons and symbols is easily co-opted, reversed, or perverted. For example, display the stars and stripes right side up, and you’re saying the nation is strong and sound. Display the same flag upside down, and you’re saying the nation is in serious distress. Turn your palm out while making a “V” with the first two fingers, and you’re saying, “Victory.” Make the identical gesture with the palm in, and you’re saying, “Up yours.” Remember this picture of a pretty and apparently earnest young lady who thought she was promoting peace but was instead advertising Mercedes-Benz?

  • Anonymous

    The power of icons and symbols is easily co-opted, reversed, or perverted. For example, display the stars and stripes right side up, and you’re saying the nation is strong and sound. Display the same flag upside down, and you’re saying the nation is in serious distress. Turn your palm out while making a “V” with the first two fingers, and you’re saying, “Victory.” Make the identical gesture with the palm in, and you’re saying, “Up yours.” Remember this picture of a pretty and apparently earnest young lady who thought she was promoting peace but was instead advertising Mercedes-Benz?

  • Pingback: Atheists ‘come out’ to protest in Washington DC « This Day – One Day

  • Momly

    One of my most zealously “beliefs expressing” friends is an atheist. He is as fire and brimstone about his lack of belief as any holy roller I’ve ever heard. 

    • LanceThruster

      I’m a committed atheist and I think the zealousness arises (at least for me) with all the pushing back we need to do against the “Charlie Churches”. Taking “IN GOD WE TRUST” of the damn currency would be a good start as it is either a boldface lie, or is not inclusive (as I am a citizen who puts no trust in any god or gods). Where does the govt get off thinking it has *any* place in making a statement for the masses about what is probably the most personal choice one can make?

      At least atheists are more than willing to discuss their unbelief/nonbelief whereas irrationalists generally eschew any conversation that is not positively skewed.

  • Lenox Napier

    We shall all find out eventually. Might as well do something else meanwhile.

  • Pingback: i abhor the worship of individuals temporal or secular, so this picture amuses me no end, the papacy is a circus, and here is its elected clown « ben * ben

  • tinwoman

    There were probably more atheists in the 1920s than today.  Of course,atheism became tied to communist/left wing beliefs at that time and was crushed along with them.  In the United States, that connection between atheist belief and communist politics has stuck.

  • LanceThruster

    “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” ― Marcus Aurelius

    see: http://www.bornagainpagan.com/other/035-marcus-aurelius.jpg

  • LanceThruster

    “Live a good life. If there are gods and they are just, then they will not care how devout you have been, but will welcome you based on the virtues you have lived by. If there are gods, but unjust, then you should not want to worship them. If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones.” ― Marcus Aurelius

    see: http://www.bornagainpagan.com/other/035-marcus-aurelius.jpg

  • http://mjfgates.myopenid.com/ mjfgates

    This isn’t surprising. There is no “atheist symbol” to use, so we have to parody the ones used by religious people. I think the closest thing out there that anyone would recognize is the Darwin fish.

    Actually, a protest with thousands of people carrying Darwin-fish signs might be neat.

  • Momly

    Ivan?

  • LanceThruster

     Sorry, just little old me, LT.

Refresh Archives

Random Notes