Should Offensive Sign to Believers Come Down? June 11, 2008

Should Offensive Sign to Believers Come Down?

There’s another atheist billboard up in Pennsylvania.

FOX News isn’t too happy about it. In fact, in a recent story they did, a couple captions read like this:

  • Tonight: Believers outraged over ‘Don’t Believe In God’ Billboard
  • Atheism Ad — Should offensive sign to believers come down?

What on earth does the billboard say that is so offensive to everyone?!

Let’s watch:

“Don’t believe in God? You’re not alone.”

That’s it.

So what is the justification for the “scary” music in the background? For the doomsday voice? For the mention of “aggressive atheists”?

There is none. Except it’s FOX News. Therefore the mere idea of discussing atheism in public is a news story.

By the way, that female anchor is Megyn Kelly. I’ve seen her before

[tags]atheist, atheism[/tags]

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  • Josh

    I would like to say “Hey, at least it’s some sort of publicity,” but its FOX News, so I can’t.

  • Mythprogrammer

    Disturbing trend? What the nonexistant hell

  • Siamang

    Fox news is offensive to me. When’s it coming down?

  • timplausible

    Drive around in the south long enough, and you will see a billboard asking you “Where will you spend eternity?” Or, somewhat less often, but still possible: “Will You Burn in Hell?!?” This billboard seems tame by comparison. In fact, whereas Christian billboards are usually directed at non-Christians (or Christians who aren’t devout enough), this billboard is clearly directed at atheists. Crimey! Atheists NEED more people telling them they aren’t alone. It’s a scary place out there for us.

  • Offering aid and comfort to America’s enemies is treason. America is a Christian nation; therefore atheists are America’s enemies. Of course this billboard is offensive: it’s treason! It might just as well have expressed sympathy for Islamic extremists.

    Film at 11: Billboard replaced by “Don’t make me come down there. —God”

  • Seriously, though, I’m thinking people aren’t just pissed about “militant atheists” like they say, but rather, atheists who speak up at all (let alone reach out to other, possibly closeted, atheists). Like, it’s cool with me if you’re an atheist, just keep your damn mouth shut and don’t be all athy in front of my kids.

    Yeah, atheists are the new gays. No question anymore.

  • EKM

    I think conservatives have an amazing ability to cocoon themselves. They don’t like anything that might pierce their bubble.

    Plus it seems okay for the Family Research Council to lobby, but they don’t like it when atheists promote a secular agenda. They can dish it out, but they cannot take it. They talk about how strong their faith is, yet it does not seem to take much to get them upset. Maybe their faith is not all that strong.

  • Amber

    That just put me in a really disgruntled mood.
    So, the billboard’s up right outside of “The city of brotherly love?” So freakin’ scandalous. So, only theists believe in loving one another?

    And what the hell was up with that creepy guy with the candle?

  • Siamang

    Part of me wants to say AHA!!! This proves that the concern trolls are wrong. If the mere statement “atheists exist, if you want to contact an atheist group visit this website” is offensive, then we need to stop being so concerned with how offended religious people get. Pardon if you’re offended that I exist, sir or madame, now kindly phuque off.

    In other words, I will be as nice as I can be, but not so nice that I disappear entirely.

    But the other part of me goes “Aaaaah…. but it’s Fox news. When were they ever right about anything? It’s probably an invented controversy, and Fox sifted around until they could find one lobbyist to say he didn’t like it… actually though come to think about it, he never actually says that the billboard should come down, or even that it offends him.”

    IOW, can anyone find my any real believers that are actually outraged over this sign? Not just “don’t like it”.. I want “OUTRAGED”.

    Like “abortion really gets on me wick, but this billboard is an OUTRAGE!!!!!”

  • Zachary B.

    Well, your interview seemed fair Hemant, but this one about the billboard certainly had an alarmist tone to it. I pretty much expect this now from most media outlets, FOX being the biggest offender.

  • Josha

    “A sign of the times”
    They can’t seem to comprehend that atheists share the same desires: to be a part of a community, to raise good families, and have a happy life. No, apparently every person different from themselves (liberals, gays, atheists) has some nefarious agenda to corrupt innocent children.

    How can they live with themselves? Seriously, I want to know.

  • First, mislead the audience. Have someone misrepresent, in specific detail, the atheist’s position.

    “Atheists are very vigorous in promoting the separation of church and but, with the extreme way that they interpret that concept, you would basically eliminate every mention of god from the public square and that would amount to an establishment of atheism.” – Peter Sprigg

    Second, make it seem as if the atheist openly admits to the position. Ask him if he supports the general idea, excluding specifics, to make it seem like he is actually the caricature described in the previous misrepresentation.

  • First, I need to disclose that I’m a member of PhillyCOR, I personally know all but one of the heads of all the member organizations, and I’ve met Steve Rade twice (once for drinks with Michael Shermer :-D–Steve’s a great guy!).

    Obviously I’m offended/amused (I’m not sure which) by the way that FOX Noise talks about secularism and Separation of Church and State as if those were bad things. But just to keep the record straight, despite the impression that FAUX News gave, the response to the billboard has been overwhelmingly positive. Of the hundreds of calls to the 800 number, maybe a dozen were negative.

  • Wes

    Many right wing Christians consider non-derisive acknowledgment of the existence of non-Christians in their presence to be a violation of their “rights”. They seem to think they have the “right” to live their entire lives without anyone disagreeing with them or expressing a view contrary to theirs. Teaching evolution, speaking of homosexuality as natural, discussing the beliefs of non-Christian religions, discussing alternative views on the Bible, or openly admitting that one is a non-believer are all anathema to the fundamentalist mind, because they threaten their extremely fragile worldview.

  • I’ve said it before, and I will say it again:

    Yes, there are some offensive, insensitive, insulting atheists. I’ve encountered them myself. But whenever I hear about how offensive, insensitive, and insulting the “radical” or “extremist” or “fundamentalist” atheists are being, I remind myself:

    There are many people in the world who think it’s offensive, insensitive, and insulting for us to say things like, “I don’t agree with you.” “I don’t think your position is logical or supported by evidence.” “Why do you believe what you believe?”

    Or, in this case:

    “We exist.”

  • Darryl

    Plus it seems okay for the Family Research Council to lobby, but they don’t like it when atheists promote a secular agenda. They can dish it out, but they cannot take it. They talk about how strong their faith is, yet it does not seem to take much to get them upset. Maybe their faith is not all that strong.

    If their faith was strong (and you can include all politically-activist Christians), they wouldn’t need Fox news, or any other secular support.

  • To echo a few of the earlier comments: Yes, the mere existence of atheists is offensive to the religious. It tells believers that there are some people out there who don’t buy it. Even fundamentalists, regarding other religions, can have the assurance of “Well, they do acknowledge God on some level.”

  • EKM

    A few times I drove down to Miami. I took I-75 to I-95. I saw two or three signs for the J-Man, one for the Hare Krishnas, and a LOT of signs for a strip club. I think it was called Club Risque. Let’s see them protest about that.

    Why don’t Christians try to shut down spring break? I think it is because they are lazy and like easy targets that allow them to feel good about themselves without actually doing much. Or just get rid of Miami. It’s nothing but a cesspool.

  • Darryl

    Driving through the pan handle of Texas on the I-40 you will encounter the largest cross in North America (I think that’s it’s claim to fame) just off of the interstate in someone’s field. That creeped me out just thinking about what kind of person went to all that trouble to do that, and why they haven’t changed their mind, and what that says about my favorite fucked-up state.

  • EKM

    There is also a large cross in Effingham, Illinois where I-70 meets I-57. It claims to be the largest in the world. It is 198 feet tall and uses 200 tons of steel. I also saw one somewhere in Tennessee or Kentucky, I think on Interstate 75. I saw that one late at night. Maybe there is somebody pulling a “World’s Largest Cross” fraud on people in the USA.

  • Is that it? I thought Steve would get shouted down, but it looked to me that he and PhillyCOR got more screen time than the evangelist, and got the last word in. The presenters were a bit snotty, but that didn’t do them any favours. In the Fox News context I would call that a success.

  • Geez, with all the billboards I’ve seen in the south threatening every passer by with eternal hellfire and damnation, this billboard seems rather tame.

  • Eliza

    The “Free Mind” Newsletter from American Humanist Association, vol 52 No.1 , Spring 2008, arrived in my mail yesterday, & it carries this article on the front page:

    “The American Humanist Association and FreeThoughtAction have joined together to create a campaign to bring the Humanist message to thousands of motorists across the country via roadside billboards.

    “The first billboard in this effort was posted earlier this year on the New Jersey Turnpike outside of New York City. It features a blue sky with white clouds and a simple yet provocative message: ‘Don’t Believe in God? You are not alone.’

    “Reaction to the billboard was overwhelmingly positive, with people from around the world thanking AHA and FreeThoughtAction for their efforts. Everyone associated with the project is a volunteer, allowing 100% of all contributions to go toward putting up more billboards and engaging in other marketing efforts.

    “Jan Meshon, one of the creators of FreeThoughtAction, is hoping freethinkers will contribute to see their point of view represented in a public and positive way across the country. ‘The launch went even better than we expected,’ said Meshon. ‘We received contributions from seventeen diferent states in amounts from $5 to $500. We raised enough to add a couple more markets to the campaign.

    “With the success of the New Jersey billboard, an AHA member came forward in Philadelphia and generously funded a repeat of the ‘You are not alone’ design, located just north of Philadelphia on Interstate 95. It went up May 1, the National Day of Reason. The AHA is currently putting forth newer designs for potential billboards across the United States.

    “If you are interested in supporting a Humanist billboard in your area, contact Director of Communications Fred Edwords at fedwords [at]”

  • Dan

    As a believing Christian, I have no problem with the billboard. I do have problems with some of the billboards fundamentalist Christian groups put up warning of dire consequences for disbelief.

    My church, the Episcopal Church is running a major ad campaign, “Put Your Faith to Work.” I applaud that campaign because it is not threatening. The atheist ad is not threatening.


    There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with the God Billboards. And there is Absolutely Nothing wrong with the Atheists expressing their views….however wrong I may believe they are. We are in America…land of the free and home of the Brave. If the Christians in the Churches would STOP belittling people for what they wear to church and how they talk or the fact that they may not have food to place on the table in front of their children…the churches may have more people on them and not as many Atheists out there. My message is this…It is time to Love you neighbor…sometimes MORE than yourself…and Stop worrying about the speck you may see on someone else’s plate…and get the diving board out of your own eye and Church first….thank you.

  • Pastor James Thompson

    I believe that all have the right to put whatever they believe in as long as it is not pornagraph or obscene. It’s your buck, and it is your destiny. in some way (the children, at least, have to be considered). One day all will see that Jesus is Lord. Only a fool says in his heart there is no God, because the heart really knows. One may be irritated with the truth, too proud or ashame to admit it, but you know . . . that’s God! Those who know and love God, love all people and will take your remarks to try and save your eternity. Those who are offended by Foxnews shopuld do what the atheist say to the Christian, turn the channel and don’t torture yourself like that. God is not threatening people just stating the truth.

  • mtngrrl

    I’m appalled, but not shocked at the insistence of christian *family* groups desire for myself and my family to disappear. My oldest grrl (8) just started public school (we live in the bible belt of CA) and I had to let her know (we were homeschooling) that although there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with not believing in god- talking about it (as she is wont to do) would probably be a bad idea if she wishes to have friends.. that was my experience anywho… she was quite shocked to learn that the majority of people around her believe!!! To her- god makes as much sense as Santa!! although lolol she does still believe (kinda) in the toothfairy… =D
    I was quiet for most of my life due to the (negative) experiences in my childhood- but no more!! I have the same right to my opinion as everyone else- and I refuse to allow us to be turned into *the new gay*…

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