50 Atheist Billboards Go Up in Atlanta September 10, 2010

50 Atheist Billboards Go Up in Atlanta

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is heading to Atlanta with a bang — they’re putting up 50 billboards in the area for a month:

This is the largest single billboard campaign undertaken to date by the Madison, Wis.-based Foundation, which has more than 16,000 nonreligious members nationwide, and more than 270 in Georgia. The Foundation works to keep church and state separate.

Well, Atlanta won’t be able to ignore the ads, but if it only takes one billboard in some locations to cause a huge uproar, I wonder what a saturation of the market will do… it could mean a shitton of publicity or very little of it. Hope it’s the former.


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  • Jim

    I’m sure people will be up in arms over it, but those are some nice lookin billboards though!

  • I think I like the last one best. Followed by the in Reason we trust coin

  • I like the first one myself.

  • I like the first one. African-Americans seem to have a much stronger tie to religion, particularly Christianity, than whites. I wonder what kind of impact that billboard will have for them. It’s nice to see a black atheist role model.

  • Don Rose

    Awesome! I love the FFRF! I’m a member, and strongly suggest everyone else join, and donate. I think I’ll throw a few dollars their way again this week.

  • Adam

    They’re really poking a hornet nest with this one 🙂

  • SecularLez

    Oh wow.
    I really like the first one. I get the whole, “WOW! I’ve never met a black atheist before!” ALL the time!

    This would be a great opportunity to do outreach to African-Americans.

  • Hitch

    I have to say, the first one is immensely powerful.

  • Years ago, I lived in Madison, Wisconsin and knew Annie Laurie Gaylor, who founded the FFRF. She lived across the hall from a dear friend whose children I was nanny for and I loved it when bible-thumpers came by. I always told them to stay away from the people across the hall at their own risk, which just made them want to knock on that door even more. Annie Laurie is a lovely woman and she does secularism a great service.

  • Evan

    I am jealous. I want a campaign that large in my city. One of those CoR blue sky boards (which I really do like) went up, conveniently not too far from where I actually live, but inconveniently not exactly the way I travel on a daily basis. I only passed it once and I never did hear any news about it, positive or negative. I know my city is for the most part liberal and laid back, but my employers are heavily religious and conservative. I want to hear more news of atheist outreach around here! And 50 billboards might do the trick.

  • MH

    I prefer a positive message so “sleep in on Sundays” is my favorite, followed by the last one.

  • Oscar

    Nice, according to the FFRF site there’s going to be one near my home. I’ll make sure to take a picture.

  • Mike K

    I look forward to seeing them when I’m driving around.

  • Glen G

    Very bold and provocative, I like them all. I’d say Gainesville, FL is overdue a billboard campaign.

  • Bill

    Sleep in on Sundays seems so…trite. The first one is excellent though, as is the last.

  • Bill

    Oh, and a bit off topic from the post, but I have carried out a simple and, I’m sure, statistically meaningless experiment. It seems to be ‘tout your church and/or religious meeting’ season round my way and I have refused flyers and info. packages from the very polite people bringing them round, either by saying, smilingly, ‘no thanks, I’m an atheist’ or ‘no thanks, I am not religious’. Only a sample size of three each but in every case the ‘non religious’ has provoked a smile, a thanks anyway, and off they go. ‘Atheist’ has provoked pursed lips and enquiries about morality or denying evidence of creation etc. Evidently the word ‘atheist’ is quite a button-pusher. I would have thought a mere ‘non religious’ might have encouraged an attempt to convert or persuade. Anyone else experienced this sort of thing?

  • News of this has already spread throughout the Middle East and Deep South. 😉 Protests today have turned violent with billboards across the region being stoned and burned to the shouts of Allah Akbar and “Onward Christian Soldiers”!! Horrific…

  • ckitching

    I wonder what a saturation of the market will do… it could mean a shitton of publicity or very little of it. Hope it’s the former.

    I hope it’s the latter. I’d rather see a response of “Meh. Who cares?” to the fury the other billboards have generated. It would mean people don’t think it’s a big deal, and I think that’s positive.

  • Nice quotation from Butterfly McQueen! I’m moving to Georgia soon, so this is great to see.

  • sarah

    I love the first one!

  • Brad

    @Bill “off topic” I rarely tell someone I am an Atheist or non-believer. I play dumb and ask smart questions. I probe their assumptions, question the evidence and ask for definition and meaning to words they are using. My goal is to offhandedly educate them of how reasoning and scientific inquiry works.
    Generally they find an excuse to leave. But you might have planted a seed in their minds.

    This is to some degree why I think most Atheist bill boards miss the point of us being free thinkers. If I were to write the bill board I’d ask questions or make statements that press the readers to think about their core beliefs. for example:

    Why is the earth not flat? Are the stars just holes in the sky? If you could give god a new name, what would you name it? Does wishing for food fill your stomach? Do you hear voices in your head? Can you add two plus two with your heart? Do you believe everything you are told and read? How long is an indefinite period of time? Do you love your imaginary friends? Is “sects” a naughty word? Are pantheists more evil than monotheists? Does god’s plan include your child getting cancer? If god made us in his own image does god have a belly button too? So then was god born? If so, then were god’s parents married? If they were not is god an illegitimate child? Who baptized god? Who is more important god or jesus? Then who’s rules should you follow? If jesus and god are the same then why didn’t god just die for our sins first?

  • i didn’t know BFMcQ was one of us, but gosh, now that i do, that makes so much sense. black intellectual of that period :: atheist of today. silence her! at all costs! she makes dumb people think! on noes!

    billboards, it’s a start. conversation with neighbors? much, much better. don’t let BFM do *all* your work for you. be her path, follow that life, make it real in your own, personal hollywood.

  • Richard Wade

    The one or two at a time that have gone up in other cities have provoked the now too familiar condemnations from random street interviewees, and the usually negatively biased reporting from newscasters with their editorially raised eyebrows and their rhetorical questions.

    I expect that fifty billboards all at once will create its own separate topic, with remarks about being “inundated,” or “overwhelmed,” or “invaded,” and other terms expressing a sense of danger and alarm rather than individual disapproval. We may soon be enjoying innuendos about conspiracies and atheist revolution. I’ve got my popcorn ready.

  • Anon

    I saw them driving around, was hilariously awesome in my opinion.

  • I’m listening to the free, legal, public domain audio book “The age of reason” by Thomas Paine which was written over 200 years ago (1794). Even though he was technically a deist, he would belatedly be proud of the billboards going up.

  • tracieh

    This is awesome.

  • Whom do we petition to get the “shitton” recognized as the official unit of measure for publicity? =)

  • MH

    All publicity is good publicity. If a Fox news affiliate covers these they are making a TV commercial for free.

  • awesome! Maybe we’ll start seeing these in Alabama. =D
    I also like the first one best. 3rd a close second.

  • muggle

    Ah, I wish there would be a meh, who cares reaction but since we know they ain’t that calm about the “insult” of thinking they are mistaken in their belief bring on the shit storm. We’ll all have the popcorn ready and relish the free publicity.

    Very telling if you ask me. If their faith was strong, that’s exactly what the reaction would be, meh, who cares? That they feel threatend by disbelief — as if it could harm gawd — is very, very telling. Anyone threatened doesn’t believe any more than I do. If I ever got the chance to say anything to the religious nuts’ faces, that would be it. You don’t believe in god any more than I do or you would not feel so threatened by even the possibility of disbelief.

    I mean does anyone really think that the faith of the vocal Religious Reich is strong? I don’t. I think they’re so fucking loud because they have to keep convincing themselves all the time.

  • Anonymous Atheist

    The FFRF continues to do great work on an ever-expanding scale. Bravo!

    Muggle – Yes, they have to keep convincing themselves. Just look at how many anti-gay Religious Reichists have turned out to secretly be gay. 😉

  • 7

    i love them all, but the one that is missing that i like most is…

    “In The Beginning, Man Created God”.

    Keep up the great work FFRF!

    (member)

  • Troglodyke

    Sleep in on Sundays seems so…trite.

    I agree. “We disavow religion because we like to sleep late”? No, we disavow it for many more intellectual and humanistic reasons.

    The rest are great. And since I’m in Atlanta, I know the furor will come. I’m hoping that with there being 50, all of them won’t get vandalized.

    I’ve got a LTE ready to send if necessary.

    Some religious nut quoted in an article said the FFRF was “proselytizing.” Gimme a break.

  • muggle

    Maybe that one should be a little clearer. Sleeping in on Sundays isn’t why to disbelieve; it’s a fringe benefit thereof.

  • Not a huge fan of “Sleep In On Sundays.” It seems to perpetuate the misconception that atheists are atheists because we don’t like going to church. The evangelicals are all over this. It’s the whole reason that evangelical pastor bought Hemant’s soul in the first place. They think that if we’re just exposed to the “right” pastor, service, congregation, etc. we’ll give up our stubborn resistance and join Christianity.

    I think it’s worth pointing out to them that we aren’t atheists because Christians behave badly (though some do) or because church services are boring (though some are). We’re atheists because we don’t believe there’s credible evidence for any gods. Pastors, churches, and their respective doings are completely irrelevant.

  • Steve

    No surprise that Atheist gets the bigger reaction. I moved to The South from Britain a few years ago. When I admit to being atheist, reactions range from “you must be a devil worshipper” (yes people really are that ignorant) to “I worry about your soul” with a generous seasoning of open hostility. If I just say non-religious, people barely bat an eye.

    In Britain, no one gives a flying fig if you claim to be atheist – though believers do, strangely, try to get you to admit to believing in something (surely you are agnostic, right?), apparently they can’t believe that you don’t believe …

  • Jason

    There is a huge difference of being Athiest than being non religious, cuz you can still read the bible and worship god but not be religious, so in my opinion Athiest is the much better term. But the people who automatically connect Athiest with being satanic just show how ignorant or stupid they are, or can be.

  • I believe people often seek to define the word “religion” in their own terms. When someone chooses to use the word religious, they often use it in attempt to justify themselves and their own way of life in comparision to those who are a part of a group seeking to live rightly. I do believe the intention here specifically is to promote freedom from guilt and the ability to think freely which ironically is what the bible and other texts promote but perhaps not by some of the leaders. Like Jesus says, “and you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” Too often the wrong emphasis is placed upon the traditions that certain leaders or groups such as the catholic church declare and advise those who are a part of their group to do rather than the offending words in the texts that they stand upon. From my understanding the promotion of the billboards is an attempt to specifically oppose Christian billboards which typically do not embrace the traditions but are without denomination primarily ironically. So I would say a better way to promote what they call “freedom from religious restraints” would be to perhaps state freedom from Christian traditions instead of “religion” but perhaps they fear being too offensive. I for one have found greater freedom from guilt and a much more productive life believing the words of Jesus rather than some religious or non religious promoter. Anyone opposing someone such as Jesus should at least know the words he speaks as well as possible before opposing him. This goes for every opposition.

  • adam

    good. now it wont just be the religious dumping money into flash advertising their beliefs. i expect this will bring many people closer to god.

  • Ricky Gregg

    Wow…what billboard company in Atlanta would be brave enough to take on this job??? Someone should get in touch with them… Does anyone know who it is?

  • Ricky Gregg

    Wow…what billboard company in Atlanta would be brave enough to take on this job??? Someone should get in touch with them… Does anyone know who it is?

  • Wow, atheism comes to my hometown! I wish I was there to see it! Keep it up! If there’s any part of the world that needs to come from the darkness of lies, it’s the Southeast, especially Atlanta!

  • Damon

    COWARDS!! If you’re going to make a statement then don’t be afraid to say it. Make a billboard that says “God is not real”, or Don’t believe in Jesus. You will never see it. You are not absolutely sure of what you dont belive in! Atheists are afraid of the TRUTH!!
    It takes a measure of faith not to believe!!

    Matthew 24:10-13
    At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

  • Naasson

    Oh nice. I’m not even threatened by this anymore, I’m pretty much laughing, you know why? They got a whole new battle going on now, and not just from Christians. In fact, while they fought so hard against them, Muslims were on the rise. Have fun fighting against them. lol :)))

  • Naasson

    I just had to say one more time yessss, please put these up! I can’t wait to see the Muslim’s reaction to this! As for myself, yes I’m a follower of Christ and know Who I believe, this doesn’t do a thing to my belief. lol But I can’t wait!!!

  • gwen

    I’m glad they are doing this. I did not know of an atheist community until they posted some in my state and the predictable media hoopla ensued! They have truly changed my life!!

  • Lee

    Wow, how ignorant. What a waste of money. Putting up boards to try to persuade people to believe that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged inself for no reason what so ever into self-replecating bits which then turned into dinosaurs.

  • I liked number one BUT…What kind of Freedom do we have now. I cannot remember who did the quote– “There will be no peace on this planet until the last politician is strung up with the entrails of the last priest.” Think. What do you really know for sure anyway. What if everything you have ever been taught was a lie? Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Santa Claus,and on and on and ON ANON.

  • Natalie

    Lee, to be honest, your beliefs are where the “magic” comes in.
    And I’m much more inclined to believe that all things were created through an complex and cataclysmic process that took billions upon billions of years than a man in the sky snapping his fingers and creating everything in a week.

  • Phillip Navarro

    AMEN!

  • As for the “sleep in on sundays” worry – this is actually part of a very smart advertising campaign. While some here may agree it is trite or off-kilter from the overall message, it is a strategic marketing maneuver. Different people respond to different language. Think of how one product may be advertised for different people. Cleaning products – fast and minimal effort for men, better results and cleaner kids for women. Shampoo – smoother easily styled hair for women, more touchability for men to meet women. Sure there are stereotypes and pandering, but it works. Don’t look at it as being an excuse to find reason, but rather covering all of their bases. It may be that one thing that starts the gears turning for a confused 18 year old.

  • p boyer

    The first board is the most desperately needed. Black Americans are largely the progeny of former slaves. Those folks didn’t come to this country believing in christianity. Most had animist beliefs, if any real spiritual construct at all was in place. African-Americans seem to give too little thought about why the owners of their ancestors would want them (slaves) to follow watered-down “love and forgiveness” christianity.

    The use of religion in this case was just an added complementary control. “Turn the other cheek” is NOT what one should do when they are horse-whipped. However, it helped keep the trampled-upon colored masses in line (lest they be damned for all eternity).

    As slavery ended, but segregation continued, the church became an institution for black men to have a place where they could have control and feel some worth. Admittedly, there were some altruistic aims, since white institutions like hospitals and charities/social services ignored blacks…churches stepped in to the void. Over time these church-based institutions evolved, but ones that unfortunately are parasites upon the customers they claim to serve.

    Even if the campaign makes a few hundred people give that a little thought – it is worth the money invested.

  • Oh suppp

    I’m extremely offended by these. The FFRF and all of it’s supporters will eventually be destroyed at the end of days by…

    The flying spaghetti monster.

    Stay faithful my brothers!

  • Wood Gas

    @ Bill

    I tried a similar experiment.

    “No thanks, I’m not superstitious”. Should not be used unless you’re ready to duck!

  • Aaycle

    For me, Religion (Christianity) has always been a condition that has left an indelible mental wound. I am not free, or would ever be free of Christianity, it has made me septic. Unfortunately, the only thing these Billboards will do for Christians is remind them of how inept their faith is; it certainly will not free them from the institution of Christianity nor would it free them from the scars, lies, and divisiveness, of their faith. However, I am happy, someone will start their recovery soon. Thanks FFRF!

  • Spherical Basterd

    I like the billboards and would like to see them put them up here in south Floriduh.

    As to telling nosey people, especially complete strangers my beliefs, or lack of them, I prefer atheist as it is more honest and true to myself. Not to mention how much I enjoy the look of abject horror that spreads across their face when, in their minds, they think they are standing before Satan himself. Silly primitives and their superstitions!

  • I think the time is coming for a new resurgence in atheism. I myself am a conservative athiest. So many religious people look at athiests like we are bad people. I, myself, only want to help people be free from the insanity of dancing and chanting in an effort to make the sun rise and fall. It’s lunacy, and it’s time for it to end. I’ve begun my postings at http://brokeneckj.blogspot.com/. If you agree, cheer me on and if not, I welcome a dialogue.

    Paul 🙂

  • Frances

    I am coming very late to the party, but I will say to all the people who do not like the “Sleep in on Sundays” billboard: I have lived in Atlanta my entire life and I know a lot of people who go to church even though they are not religion, and I think they do it out of guilt, or to look good for the community. I think it genuinely might not have occurred to them that sleeping in on Sunday doesn’t make you a bad person. I think the billboard is trying to send that message, that if you don’t really agree with what is said in church on Sunday morning, that sleeping in is a perfectly acceptable alternative. It might need to be elaborated on, but I think it is a necessary point.

    I was actually very surprised by how these billboards were portrayed on my local newscast. They actually found a woman who gave them a positive review, which I felt sure they would not do.

  • Don

    As a Christian, I actually agree with some of the billboards and that religions are man-made and we’d be better off without them. But Christianity is not a religion in this context–it’s a personal and loving God reaching down to man with grace and hope for you and me, rather than man reaching up/creating a god.

  • Biófago Pitecoclasta

    Dear Don:

    Your personal and “loving” (lol) God is just a literary character of a bloody book called “Bible”, I’m sorry for you.

    I prefer thinking rather than believing whitout reliable proofs!

  • Don

    Dear Biofago,
    Would you be open to really looking at the evidence supporting the existence of God, the authority and historicity of the Bible, and the gospel of Jesus Christ–without the starting philosophical assumptions that none of this can be true or relevant? That would take real intellectual integrity; otherwise, we’re only expressing our opinions and bias.

    Don

  • Frances,

    I am coming very late to the party, but I will say to all the people who do not like the “Sleep in on Sundays” billboard: I have lived in Atlanta my entire life and I know a lot of people who go to church even though they are not religion, and I think they do it out of guilt, or to look good for the community. I think it genuinely might not have occurred to them that sleeping in on Sunday doesn’t make you a bad person. I think the billboard is trying to send that message, that if you don’t really agree with what is said in church on Sunday morning, that sleeping in is a perfectly acceptable alternative. It might need to be elaborated on, but I think it is a necessary point.

    I hadn’t considered that before. I was born and raised near San Francisco, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a church-going culture here. I often schedule appointments for work on Sunday mornings and only once in ten years has someone told me they couldn’t meet up because they had to be at church instead. I hadn’t thought about what it might be like in other parts of the country where there would be pressure or an expectation for people to attend religious services.

  • Well, I’m REALLY late to the party, but this explains a lot. In the fall, one of these billboards was put up in my community, Douglasville, and I was shocked. It was tiny (one of those mini billboards) and I was sad when it was gone. I did get a picture, though and now I know what it was about!

  • Maria

    I really love the first one! Especially since the black population in Atlanta is enormous….it may get some who are still in the closet thinking!