ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – At first, it seemed to float through the air over and over. “I think they’re burning an awful lot of gas for a lost cause,” said Norm Ward as he looked up.
Although there wasn’t much of a crowd three hours before Monday night’s Rangers game, there was just enough to notice a message in the sky, towed by a small plane over the Ballpark. “If he had an F-18 bearing down on him, he might not be flying around advertising that,” said Steve Ward, Norm’s son.
As early-bird fans waited outside on this July 4th, a national atheist organization seized the moment to advertise that “atheism is patriotic.” It was a message that upset and even angered some fans. “The founding fathers were God-fearing men, said Rangers fan, Chris Snider. “You got guys dying left and right for our country who believe in God and you got a yahoo like that flying around atheism. I don’t believe that’s right.”
There were others who may not have agreed with the message, but defended the right to express it. Richard Meeks of Arlington calls himself a diehard, Republican conservative. “It’s freedom of speech. They can say whatever they want and so can I,” said Meeks.
The aerial banner was part of a national campaign by the American Atheists.
Earlier in the day at Arlington’s 4th of July Parade, the Metroplex Atheists marched with the message that “millions of Americans are patriotic without God.”
“Atheists are just as patriotic as any other group,” said Terry McDonald, President of the Metroplex Atheists. “We’re trying to overcome the misconception that atheists are not patriotic and that we’re all communists.”
From bus ads to billboards, atheist organizations have been willing to push buttons to overcome stereotypes. Atheist ads on T-buses caused a stir this past December in Fort Worth. Local ministers called for a boycott and eventually the Fort Worth Transportation Authority banned all religious ads on their buses.