“One Nation, Indivisible” Billboard Comes to Florida June 26, 2010

“One Nation, Indivisible” Billboard Comes to Florida

Remember the billboard that recently went up on Bill Graham Parkway, courtesy of the North Carolina Secular Association?

Five similar versions are also going up in Lakeland, Florida, courtesy of the Atheists of Florida:

They got some press from the local FOX affiliate:

Kieffer and EllenBeth Wachs, director of the organization’s Lakeland chapter, say the point is not to convert Christians to atheism, but rather to send a message this Fourth of July that atheists are Americans too.

“We want to show the inclusiveness of the Pledge of Allegiance and show that this is how the pledge was originally written,” said Wachs.

Vietnam veteran David Kissell thinks it’s a disgrace to our country.

“Our nation was formed under God and its principles and it’s a shame we allow this to happen in our neighborhoods,” Kissell told FOX 13.

This is one of the big lessons we’ve learned from all the atheist billboards: No matter what you write on them, people will be offended.

That’s incentive for not holding back what we say, but I hope we continue with these “atheists can be good,” right-to-the-point kind of messages. They’re far more effective, I think, than ones which try to go after religion.


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  • Iztok

    One in Charlotte, NC was vandalized already.

  • Trace

    “atheists can be good”

    Not me.

  • Don’t kid yourself, Hemant. A message that has a positive statement about atheism is “going after religion” no matter how sweetly it is stated. That the is the mistake that the so-called “accommodationists” make when discussing the “new atheists.”

    There is no nice way to be atheist.

  • Sarah

    This is just personal opinion, but I don’t really feel like patriotism and goodness necessarily coincide. To me, it’s about as irrational as religion. However, it certainly appeals to the majority of conservatives, so it could help if they would only listen. But, as it’s been said, atheist advertisement is always “going after religion,” and “people will [always] be offended.”

  • Dan W

    I agree with Sarah. I think patriotism is often just as harmful and irrational as religion. And there are too many religious folks who claim to be offended when someone even brings up the fact that there are people who don’t share their religion. Those types are pretty pathetic if you ask me.

  • Iason Ouabache

    @Iztok: Got a link for that? I’m going to assume that someone climbed up there with a spray can and added the words “Under God”. How Christian of them.

    And I’ll reiterate what everyone else has already said. Our mere existence offends them. At that point it doesn’t even matter what we say. Ignore them and address the message to people that actually matter.

  • JD

    I don’t think the extremes can be appeased, because they won’t be happy until their opponents are silent.

    They’ll say what they think they must to make atheists look foolish, when the fact is what they say makes themselves look foolish.

  • Dan

    This one I expect to be defaced or burned down in a matter of hours. It’s Florida, after all.

  • I actually think it’s absolutely feckin’ hilarious that our mere existence offends them. I say, let it! Too many people are so up in arms about being offended, about how they [somehow] have the “right” to NOT be offended at things.

    Pfft. Ignore the billboards then. What are they doing reading them while driving, anyway? Pay attention to the road, because Jesus won’t be taking the wheel.

  • Richard Wade

    Iason Ouabache,

    The Southern Atheist Gentleman has found a picture of the vandalized billboard, and yes, it has “Under God” scribbled in pious, religious, moral, law abiding spray paint.
    http://thesouthernatheistgentleman.blogspot.com/2010/06/godless-billboard-vandalized-in.html

  • Has the possibility of getting a wireless security cam surreptitiously pointing at some of these billboards and if (when) they are defaced placing the footage on youtube been considered?

  • muggle

    I love Cafeeine’s suggestion but it could probably be pricy.

    As far as this kindler, gentler messages, I think they’re a good idea still. Frankly, not every Christian is offended at our mere existence but if you have things implying you’re stupid to believe or something, you’re alienating those who don’t assume we’re amoral and all the rest.

    Does anyone really think that your average Christian would bother vandalizing a billboard? We complain about being pre-judged and we react to that by prejudging a whole group of people based on what maybe 20% of them tops (and I think I’m being generous with 20%) act like?

    Let’s not become what we complain about. When something like this happens, please remember that most Christians would frown on the vandalism too.

    Yes, unfortuantely, law enforcement is more apt to look the other way when a minority is wronged but when in hell did two wrongs make a right? The thing to do is hold law enforcement accountable but some of the attitudes I see above, I’ve really got to say why do you lump all Christians together while complaining that they lump all Atheists together?

    You can’t fight bigotry with bigotry when all’s said and done. The fanatics do not your average Christian make. Any more than all Muslims want to fly planes into buildings.

  • Larry

    Real patriotism is neither harmful nor irrational. However it can be, and often is, used to defend actions that are both. We need to separate those and start correctly identifying (naming) those differences. To say patriotism is irrational is to give credence to the beliefs of the idiots who see any criticism as anti-American.

  • Sarah and Dan – it’s important to draw a distinction between patriotism and nationalism. Patriotism is, after all, what drives most of us to fight for my first amendment rights; nationalism is “my country, right or wrong.” It’s fine to love your country; just not to the point that you’re fanatical about it.

    In regard to:

    This is one of the big lessons we’ve learned from all the atheist billboards: No matter what you write on them, people will be offended.

    Kind of like how Muslims react to any depiction of Muhammad… but usually without the death threats.

    It’s a different situation, though. This isn’t specifically a Christian thing, because you almost certainly won’t get this kind of reaction from Christians outside of America. It’s some weird syncretization of Christianity and American nationalism, in which America is God’s chosen nation and it’s blasphemous to suggest we’re not.

    That’s really creepy.

  • SickoftheUS

    Patriotism or nationalism, we need less tribalistic “devotion” (Webster’s at both entries) to the country and more critical thought and action and individualism. Americans think much, much too highly of themselves as a group and of their ordained place in the world order at the top of the heap, which is one of the root causes of the extreme dysfunction of this place.

    Others are right that a promotion of atheism is always at least an implied criticism of religion. There’s no way around it, so let’s all grow a pair, women included, and stop trying to “nice” our way into the values of the majority, for example by showing that we can out-patriot them. That’s a tactic that abused minorities often try, but it just doesn’t work. Firmly standing up for one’s rights does.

  • colin

    Well that’s journalism for you. It probably wouldn’t be very hard to find a Vietnam veteran who supports the message of inclusion, but who wants to read about that?

  • If we truly were one nation under god then this vandalism would not be illegal. (Do I need to point out that it IS illegal?)

  • @self lol I posted under the wrong article. What a buffoon.

  • jigsawtooth

    eek, that type treatment makes my eyes bleed a little. do they not have any graphic designers in that nice Atheists of Florida of organization 🙂 ?

    @Dan: lol & I agree. I think Lakeland is only a few miles south of The Holy Land Experience…

  • Nate

    People often wonder why our country is in such shambles why the economy is the way it is why the schools are the way they are. We’ve taken God out of almost everything and being the gentlmen that He is He gives everyone the freedom to choose right from wrong. He created this entire universe He created every single one of you He owns your next breath. Check out your LAMININ it’s the very thing that holds you all together the sticky glue that is your foundation and He put it there and isnt it quite weird that it just happens to be in the shape of a cross?. He blesses you with your next breath and your very heart that’s beating right now. He is the Lord my God king and savior and will forever reign no matter what any athiest,muslim ect say no matter what billboard they decide they want to put up. God loves you and He’s waiting on you to accept Him and He’ll continue to wait on you because He’s a gentlemen and He wont force Himself on anyone. Some of you are His lost sheep that have strayed but He’ll leave an entire flock just to go after you. You were all created in His image and will continue to be. You’re all consumed with these debates on wether it’s right or wrong I’m no longer going to worry about it He’ll continue to be in cotrol over everything and the entire universe so my advice is dont worry about the petty things of course I get irritated over stupid things such as the billboards but God will deal with it. It’s not my problem to deal with and I dont have to defend my God Jesus Christ. God bless you every single one of you.