Cincinnati Coalition of Reason Billboard Taken Down (and Put Back Up) After Threat November 12, 2009

Cincinnati Coalition of Reason Billboard Taken Down (and Put Back Up) After Threat

Two days ago, the Cincinnati Coalition of Reason billboard went up:

Wait… what’s that? A crane? Yep. They took it down this morning.

Around 2:00 PM yesterday, the United Coalition of Reason, which paid $3,875.00 for a one-month run of the billboard, was contacted byLamar Advertising of Cincinnati. Lamar reported that the landowner of the site had been threatened over the billboard’s message and wanted it taken down. Lamar only leases the land the billboard stands on.

No word on who made the threat or what the threat was, but Lamar handled this exactly as they should have. They took down the message and moved it to another location — seemingly, a better location — at no extra charge.

There is some good to come from all this: More publicity for the atheist groups in Cincinnati and the fact that no one was harmed.

Every person of faith in the city should be on the Coalition’s side in this matter — that is, they should be saying that there’s nothing offensive in the message itself, which simply says people who don’t beleive in God are not alone. Furthermore, they should condemn the anonymous person who made this threat. They should tell their churchgoers that they support our right to free speech even if they may not agree with what we believe.

There’s no reason they should be distancing themselves from this matter.

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  • Jenea

    So, anyone in Cincinnati know who the religious leaders are whom we should be emailing to ask them to stand up for freedom of speech and religion, and to condemn whoever it was that made the threat?

  • Vas

    Lamar reported that the landowner of the site had been threatened over the billboard’s message and wanted it taken down.

    Threatened is a pretty vague term…it could be something as simple as the building owners church threatening him with shunning or it could be a threat of violence for allowing an “opposing” viewpoint to be aired publicly. It could even be the owner of the building just making something up because they disagreed with the message, an easy way out of their contractual obligation. If in fact it was a real threat it would seem a matter for the police and as such a report would be filed. If no police report is filed then this seems suspicious, seems like time for a little fact checking. In any event it seem that Lamar had the good scene to do the right thing however who was forced to foot the bill for this, Lamar? Seems again like some one is out some money and I would love to know who is responsible for the loss.

  • Pete

    Don’t ya just feel all that Christian love flowing………. nah, me neither!

  • Kelly

    Kind of funny, the place they have moved it to will put the billboard right in viewing sight of everyone headed to the very Catholic, very conservative West Side of town!

  • Evan

    I drove past the one in Cleveland on my way home from work last night. It was shortly past 6 and already getting dark out. The lights weren’t on the billboard so if I hadn’t known it was supposed to be there I never would have seen it. It’s possible that the lights were supposed to come on later. I would hate to think they were intentionally limiting its visibility.

  • Ken Ham, perhaps? Creation Museum’s really close to Cincinnati.

  • Kaye

    In different news articles, the threats were referred to as “death threats” and as “multiple, significant threats”.

  • Kaye

    The official release from the United Coalition of Reason calls them “multiple, significant threats”. One reporter referred to them as “death threats” but I don’t think that’s been confirmed.

  • Matto the Hun

    Without God whats to stop you atheists from raping and murdering?! Just to prove our point we moral Christians will threaten to kill you for daring to not believe.

    The mental and moral disconnect with these types is staggering.

  • N

    Lamar is the company through which we run the Secular Life billboard in Nashville. I’m really happy to see what great customer service they gave to the CinCoR. That’s awesome.

    Our threats have been limited to political threats and threats of hell fire, so far.

  • Let’s threaten them. That’ll show those darned atheists the love of Jesus.

  • Courtney

    I am always pondering the question of “Why do people find these offensive?” Surely all but the most cloistered religious folk know that non-religious people exist.

    Honestly, the billboards don’t condemn religion in any way. I don’t get how some people see this are are moved to the point of making death threats. What do they do when they see an ad for a religion or sect that’s not theirs?

    I think the answer may be the the sky/clouds motif is the exclusive domain of THE Lord. Makes as much sense as anything else I can come up with.

  • Courtney,

    I think I can cast a little light on your question. I got a phone call from a Catholic gentleman today who thought our billboard was sort of anti-Catholic, or at least anti-Christian. As we talked it became clear that “God” was, in his view, the personal name of the Roman Catholic god. So he was quite surprised when I told him that, when Muslims advertise in this country, such as with their recent bus ads in San Francisco, they call their god “God” too. And so do the Jews. Hence our use of the term is generic. It isn’t about Jesus or Yahweh or anybody specific.

    Well, he came around. He began to understand my point and we ended the conversation with him very much relieved.

    So, remember, when people see the word “God,” and they believe, sometimes they think it’s all about them and their particular faith.

    — Fred

  • stephanie

    Having spent the first twenty years of my life in Cincinnati, I have to say I’m not surprised. They’ve threatened Barnes & Noble before for stocking ‘pornography’, they were the city behind the big Maplethorpe brewhaha a few years back, had the vice squad taking copies of Hustler off convenience store shelves and assorted other censorship issues.
    My favorite part was that Charles Keating (of Keating 5 fame) was one of the founders of Citizens for Decency, which was responsible for most of these embarrassments. So much for ethics…

  • Jeff B

    OK, been a member here for a year; but this one hits home in my backyard.

    I really think we’re the new homosexuals. At some point, we need a revolution against the bullshit

  • Richard Wade

    If Lamar gets more threats about the sign in its new location, will they take the sign down and move it again? Will the sign travel all around town, chased by threats?

    Maybe as a business, Lamar needs to stand its ground.

  • Stephen P

    It all rather suggests that the next billboard should be:

    “Don’t believe in God?

    Get death threats from Christians?

    You are not alone.”

  • Claudia

    Richard, I think you may have misinterpreted the story. From what I read Lamar only leases the space. The ones recieving the threats were the actual owners of the space the billboard is on and they requested that Lamar remove the sign.

    It may be that Lamar has an contract that gives owners veto-power over signs or that they simply are responsive to reasnoable objections (and you really can’t blame a building owner not invested with us for not wanting to deal with threats). Either way Lamar was responding to threats given to someone else who had control over the area. The moved the sign, hopefully to a place that they personally own. So far as I can see, Lamar can’t be faulted for this. Quite the contrary, they seem to have been quite responsible.

  • muggle

    I tink Lamar handled this right; however, I too have Richard’s concern.

    Are they gonna chase the sign around and around? Whenever an owner gets a vague threat? Next time the Coalition wants to lease billboard space, will they hesitate or will they reconsider their contract with the owner? How feasible is renting space from someone who has the power to say move that ad, I don’t like it.

    This is a good solution for now and beneficial for the remainder of the contract but what are the long-range effects going to be?

  • teammarty

    We should complain every time we see a christian billboard. See how many of them get moved.

  • Confused

    I find it interesting how a few people can affect the appearance of many. I am Christian and didn’t feel offended by this billboard and yet because of a small group of people I have been classified as part of their cause. I feel very offended by the persons making the threats.

    As Christian’s today we are fighting for the right to freedom of speech… that freedom is an inalienable right to ALL. It is what makes our Nation so incredible.

  • JJR

    I still think it’s hilarious that the end result was that the sign got moved to a better and MORE VISIBLE location…that’s what they call an “own goal” in soccer…well done, Xtians, well done…

  • Richard Wade

    Claudia, thank you for that clarification. I suppose that the original building has a much more identifiable owner than the owner of what appears to be the sign’s new site. Yes, if Lamar was responding to protect the property owner from a credible threat, they handled it well.


    if incidents like this start cropping up more frequently, there will have to be some other kind of response. Otherwise we will have no free speech at all in this kind of venue.

    Atheist billboards have been illegally forbidden by bigoted civic leaders, others have been taken down because city counsel members (Cucamonga, CA) caved in to a few whiners calling to complain, and other billboards have been vandalized repeatedly.

    This latest anti-atheist tactic will be more effective and cheaper if it makes billboard companies think twice. It costs thousands of dollars to put up and take down billboards, but it costs only a few cents to phone in an anonymous threat.

    It’s going to be a long struggle just to be able to say hello to each other in a public place.

  • Gladius

    “Whether my neighbor believes in twenty gods or no gods, it neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” Thomas Jefferson

    Non-believers in this country need to remind theists that the infringement of free speech of any group will ultimately infringe on the free speech of all.

    Angry Christians, read the U.S. Constitution. It’s much shorter than the Bible and far easier to understand.

    I wish good sense and understanding to all.

  • “Christian love”? That’s an oxymoron if I’ve ever heard one!

  • Omega Dusk

    I don’t think it’s unusual for any activist group to react with agression when their views are directly opposed. Granted atheists tend to be the sort of people who value individual opinion, these days it seems we’re becoming more vocal and I believe that’s a good thing. On the other hand, I don’t like the idea of using the heavy handed tactics that the faithful have been known to use. I want to believe we’re better than that or at least that we hold logic to be a sacred virtue.

  • There should be a police investigation. Does anyone know if there is? We need to put pressure on the police to find out who made the threats and arrest them. We need justice here!!!

  • Jen

    Imagine if every time we saw religious displays, we called in vague threats. I would be doing nothing but looking up numbers for billboard, churches, town halls, as well as every cross-necklace-wearing, Jesus-Took-Over-A-Reese’s-Ad t-shirted, or tiny guardian angel pin-wearing religious person. And they think I am going to burn eternally in a painful hellfire- I only think they are wasting their time, so really, who is more offensive?*

    *Offensive, of course, doesn’t not require anyone kills anyone.

  • I don’t get the threats. Why are religious people so offended by this? I think I know why – the fear of losing control over people thinking for themselves.

    But it still cracks me up that they wield this kind of power over something that is not attacking anything.

    Yet, they can shove their message down the throats of everyone, including those that don’t believe and find it hard when us non-believers complain.

  • Alex

    I live in a Cincinnati suburb and wasn’t aware of any billboard, old or revised locations, last year. Bet you Phil Burress and his ilk, the Citizens for Community Values, were behind most of the threats. They’re vultures. Credit them for taking our city’s alternative newspaper – full of restaurant and movie reviews, stupid criminal stories, apartment rentals, and little else – out of local grocery stores until they stopped running Dan Savage’s Savage Love column. They passed and delayed the repeal of Article 12 until 2004, removing the addition of [real or perceived] sexual orientation to our human rights ordinance. The “equal rights not special rights” is their typical prerogative to swoop down on the local news and bitch about special protections they already enjoy for being Christian, which is a choice that homosexuality never gets. But we’ve never known bigots and imbeciles to be self-aware…

  • Daniel R.

    You see there are what I call Billboard Trucks that can advertise with these giant billboards on the sides of them and roll all over town -hopefully not the wrong side of town lest I fear for the truckdriver.

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