San Diego Gets an Atheist Billboard November 16, 2009

San Diego Gets an Atheist Billboard

San Diego is the latest city to put up an atheist billboard, courtesy of the United Coalition of Reason:

They’re already getting some great publicity for it and local CoR coordinator Debbie Allen Skomer is doing a terrific job of explaining the group’s reason for putting up the sign.

You can see her in this CNN video.

Also in that video is a guy who says he doesn’t like the ad because it’s “attacking somebody’s belief.”

One of the wonderful parts of this campaign is that it shows how ridiculous some religious people are — people who can’t even read a couple short statements on the billboard, but who are quick to come to a judgment about what the message says.

They’re wrong.

The San Diego Coalition of Reason is just calling out to other atheists in the area and letting them know they’re not alone.

You know how I know that?

Because I know how to read and that’s what the billboard says.

See, now was that so hard?

(Thanks to Michael for the link!)


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  • Matto the Hun

    Start the clock for the amount of time it takes for that billboard to be defaced by another nitwit with poor reading comprehension.

  • Sandra S

    I just find it astounding that anyone could ever find this to be offensive. The message could not be more innocent. It’s like somebody is being reminded they’re not alone in the world, it’s a pick-me-up, and yet somehow someone finds it offensive. Guess it must be this christian compassion I keep hearing about.

  • Matto the Hun

    Also in that video is a guy who says he doesn’t like the ad because it’s “attacking somebody’s belief.”

    Oh good, if we take the billboard down for that reason, then I look forward to all the religious TV being taken off the air (I’m looking at you 700 Club!), Mormons and JWs can then be arrested for going from door to door, and all churches, temples, etc be torn down for offending each other as well as non-belief.

    Merry X-mas easily-offended-Christian-moron, that’s exactly what you are asking for.

  • Some religious people find it to be attacking because their own belief is very shallow and thin. The mere suggestion that there are people out there who don’t believe causes these religious people discomfort because they don’t want to be thought a fool and deep down they fear that they may just be believing in an imaginary entity. They are much more comfortable when EVERYBODY around them is professing belief.

  • YEAH! Gosh, I gotta go find this billboard.

  • Nick

    As a fairly recent San Diego transplant, I was surprised and somewhat disappointed by how conservative the area is. I had always assumed that most of California was a liberal haven. This helps me feel more welcome.

  • Richard Wade

    Here’s my proposal for a billboard that would be less likely to be misinterpreted as “attacking somebody’s belief”:

    Excuse me, sorry to be of a bother, we just wanted to say “Hello” to anybody out there who might not believe in any gods, and give them our website. Wait, wait, please be assured that we’re not attacking anybody’s belief in any gods, we’re not even talking to you. But we know you’ll be seeing this sign, and we really want to be very clear that we don’t mean anything offensive or critical or contradicting. We’re just saying “Hello” to anybody else out there who might think as we do. Oops, we didn’t mean to imply that you don’t think, of course you do. Okay, well sorry for the distraction, and please just go on with whatever it was you were doing, like driving. Have a nice day. Bye.

    SanDiegoCoR.org

    Do you think it’s too long to read at 65 mph?

  • Nick

    Do you think it’s too long to read at 65 mpg?

    65 mpg? That’s better than a Prius!

  • Angie

    I like Mr. Wade’s humor! The sad truth is that however nonbelievers phrase their advertisements, they will still be labeled “offensive” by fundamentalist Christians.

    Thus, if fundamentalists are going to get upset no matter what we do, let’s do the right thing — stay true to ourselves and let the world know we’re here.

  • Richard Wade

    Also in that video is a guy who says he doesn’t like the ad because it’s “attacking somebody’s belief.”

    I just realized the guy is right. We are attacking somebody’s belief. We’re attacking the belief of isolated, frustrated and afraid atheists who believe they’re all alone in their views, surrounded by Love God disciples who will hatefully pound them into the ground if they reveal their non-belief.

    ATTACK!!

  • Tom Woolf

    Does anybody remember those black and white billboards that dotted the country a few years back with belief-based messages? Not evangelical “BELIEVE THE SAME A WE DO OR YOU WILL GO TO HELL” messages, but somewhat lower-toned yet clear references to a god and the bible. They were started by a guy who had $250k he wanted to spend to spread his beliefs without forcing them down somebody’s throat. Although I did not believe the words on the billboards, I thought they were relatively clever, and a good way to for the gentleman to get his message across.

    The CoR billboards are even more low toned, yet some religious whackjobs go apescat over them. How is stating that somebody is not alone offensive?!?

    “Don’t like coconut? You are not alone.” Can you like coconut and not be offended by the idea that someone else does not? Absolutely. I’d argue, in fact, that not being offended is the reasonable reaction.

    I hope the CoR continues this series of billboards.

  • Sakura

    Wow, this is great they’re hitting San Diego…just waiting until I see one here in Utah (yeah right, like that’ll happen anytime soon with the religious retardation here)

  • Justin

    I enjoy the fact that about 2/3 of the way through the clip is says “OTHER SIDE” and cuts to a pastor. They opened with Christians, let the CoR rep talk briefly, and went back to a Christian pastor. Other side my tuchas!

    There aren’t even two sides to this billboard. It as, as folks have pointed out, an invitation to non-theists and nothing more. So let us examine:

    Non-theist to non-theist

    Yup, only one side. Sigh.

  • Hazor

    @Richard Wade: I lol’d twice.

    Tom Woolf said:

    “Don’t like coconut? You are not alone.” Can you like coconut and not be offended by the idea that someone else does not? Absolutely. I’d argue, in fact, that not being offended is the reasonable reaction.

    Actually, this seems like a good idea. It’d garner as much attention out of the sheer randomness and confusion, and it would have more religious persons visiting the given website out of curiosity instead of just atheists and anti-opposition fundamentalists. That, or people would dismiss it because it’s not inviting to the targeted crowd, or controversial to aforementioned fundamentalists. It would also serve to point out, I would hope, that mere disagreement should not be offensive (I’d bet you won’t hear someone complaining “Well, I like coconuts, so that message is offensive to me!”)

  • Vas

    “We’re normal people, you know—not some bunch running around in trench coats or something.”
    Debbie Allen Skomer

    Okay Debbie, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt here… when you say “We’re normal people” I’ll just assume you are talking about your particular group and not all atheists. I’m not a normal person and I’ve even been known to wear a black trench coat now and again. Not all atheists fit your mold of normality, not all of us are lockstep suburban conformists. We are a diverse “group” and as such some of us are indeed running around in trench coats, even if it doesn’t square with your public relations stance. This is a case of a marginalized group seeking to marginalize some within their own group to appease the hostile masses. It is like saying “We are not so bad, just look at those weirdos in the trench coats, they are the bad ones, we disavow them, we are more like you than we are like them.” I don’t like being thrown under the bus, I will not be any groups sacrificial lamb. I have to believe you were only talking about San Diego CoR. It’s kind of sad though as I’m from LA and spend time in SD and now I feel shunned by San Diego Cor and frankly now find it hard to support CoR at all. Was this a CoR policy statement? is CoR a group of only “normal” people are “fringe” people unwelcome? What a sad statement you have made to the press.
    By the way, what is wrong with trench coats anyway… am I missing something?

  • JSug

    A bit off topic, but I wanted to mention that I live in the Seattle area, and ride the bus to work most days. This morning, I was pleasantly surprised to see one of the new FFRF signs on the side of a bus as it went by at the transit center in Bellevue. The “Yes Virginia, there is no god” one. Though I think the message is overstated, it was a breath of fresh air after all the ads I’ve seen for the local mega-church. Here’s hoping it sparks some conversations.

  • DemetriusOfPharos

    @Richard Wade
    In the words of Homer Simpson: I find your ideas intriguing, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter 🙂

  • John L

    I wish it went up on the 5 freeway right across from the giant, creepy Mormon fortress.

  • I really want to climb that Mormon fortress thing. It’s just so damned white and huge.

  • muggle

    And cudos also to that pastor that welcomed the sign because it opened discussion. Seriously. Two thumbs up, dude! More should have your attitude.

    Richard, yours would make a great print ad! In a magazine or something. Bit too dangerous driving but cracked me up!

    I think Jeff’s got it right. When people get all defensive of nonbelief, it’s very telling. What they fear isn’t so much us but themselves. If “God” (man, Hemant, you started me on this trip) were real, he wouldn’t need defending against mere humans.

    In other words, anyone who’s faith is strong, said faith isn’t threatened by my absense (absence, not lack) thereof. All I can think when they rant and rave is, dude, you have no more faith than I do and a certain Mark Twain quote does come to mind. “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.”

  • Keela

    It makes me happy to see it on my way to work every day! I smile a little “I am not alone” smile.

  • Pinoy Heathen

    Can’t wait to see a billboard near downtown Los Angeles! I’ll surely pose for a picture.

  • Richard P

    I just find it astounding that anyone could ever find this to be offensive.

    Really, let me try to explain;

    I think they are able to block out any doubt in what they believe because they’ve internalized their indoctrination, no longer viewing it as specific ideas that have been drilled into them.

    They begin to experience the ideas they’ve been taught as feelings, which evolve into powerful emotional conviction.

    I think that is the trick to the process. They are convinced within there own minds that they are experiencing original thought rather than those discrete ideas that have been taught to them as they grew up.
    Under religions rule, you believe as they teach or you die. it’s as simple as that.

    Oh…. I seriously plagiarized that. I just read it recently and thought how well it explained some things, thought I would share.

  • llewelly

    … just waiting until I see one here in Utah (yeah right, like that’ll happen anytime soon with the religious retardation here)

    The FFRF has mentioned that they tried to put up a billboard in Utah, but could not find a billboard company willing to carry it.

  • Now we just need to get some out here in the Nebraska area!

  • AxeGrrl

    Nick wrote:

    I had always assumed that most of California was a liberal haven.

    I had always assumed that too, until I made some friends who live in California….

    Visit Orange County sometime ~ one of the most Conservative (and wealthiest) counties in the country.

  • SoundJohn

    Thanx for this beautiful place in internet!!!

  • O00hh! I gotta go find it. I am in SD for the week for an Educational Technology conference.

  • stoat100

    It’s ‘herd immunity’.

    They surround themselves with other fundies and tell their children that atheists are people who ‘hate god’ or are ‘angry at god’.

    They literally don’t have a word for someone who doesn’t believe in any gods.

    When the idea is explicitly stated in large letters in front of them the concept is forced into their small, 100% certain, black & white minds and they don’t like it at all.