A New American Atheists Billboard: You Know They’re All Scams December 24, 2010

A New American Atheists Billboard: You Know They’re All Scams

The American Atheists billboard near the Lincoln Tunnel got more than its money’s worth of publicity over the past month:

That billboard has now been taken down, and there’s a new billboard in its place:

That one’s put up by the Times Square Church (based in Manhattan). It’s fine — they’re allowed to have it up. I just don’t think anyone’s going to make a big deal out of it. There’s nothing remarkable there. Just a whole bunch of clichés about god all in one. Nothing you haven’t seen before.

“We want to encourage people to seek God and prove that indeed He is,” senior Pastor Connor Conlon said…

“They have First Amendment rights,” [American Atheists] spokesman Blair Scott said.

Since putting down $20,000 for the billboard, the group has earned $65,000 in donations, which Scott attributed to the national publicity it garnered — with a little help from the Catholic League.

“We received e-mails from hundreds of agnostics and atheists who heard about the billboard and had never heard about us who thanked us for being there and letting them know they’re not alone, and that was our target audience from the get-go,” he said.

“We sent the Catholic League a thank-you letter.”

American Atheists isn’t done causing controversy, though.

They’re promoting their Southeast Regional Atheist Meet (SERAM) in Huntsville, Alabama by putting up a new billboard on January 1st. It will be seen by northbound traffic on US-231 Memorial Parkway:

Dave Silverman, President of American Atheists, said “We’re reaching out to Americans who attend religious services even though they know it’s a scam,” said Mr. Silverman. “This is part of our ‘You KNOW it!’ campaign. As we did in New York, with this billboard we are challenging Alabama to face what they KNOW is the truth — that all religions are scams — they tell you how to live, and then they take your money, all in exchange for an afterlife that does not exist.”

“We are challenging people — if you know it’s a scam, why participate? Why are you letting this scam run any part of your life, or take any of your money? Why must you remain silent and compliant to protect this scam?”

I like that subtitle, too: Telling the Truth since 1963 🙂

Is this any better or worse than saying “You KNOW it’s a MYTH”?

No doubt that billboard, in a southern state, will attract a great deal of publicity.

Another piece of evidence showing that being blunt is only helping our cause.


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  • RadioactivePiranha

    I don’t think I like this one, actually. There’s a significant difference between a scam and someone preaching something they earnestly believe regardless of how incorrect those beliefs are or how weak the reasoning is. Certainly there are religious scams but I’d be amazed if you could show that they all are.

  • Disconverted

    I like it! 😀
    Wish these things would go up around where I live..

  • Jaxe

    God is… not well defined.

  • Rose

    I don’t like this one. I think this one will scare away more would-be atheists. Those that have questioned but just haven’t gotten to that point where they can say, “I don’t believe.”

    Why? Not all people involved in religion are attempting to scam. Most are also the victims, they just don’t realize it yet.

  • Richard Wade

    “We sent the Catholic League a thank-you letter.”

    Now that’s what I like to see. Atheists using good manners. Good for them.

    So, if the Catholic League helped raise $65,000 by making their stink about the “Myth” billboard in New Jersey, then by my calculations, when the Baptists see the “Scam” billboard in Alabama, the gigantic stink that they’ll make will help raise $294,447,290,088,500,452,331,107,349.34 give or take a couple of cents.

    We should send them a really, really nice thank-you letter.

    Who knew that “offending” people could be so profitalbe?

  • Richard Wade

    There’s a significant difference between a scam and someone preaching something they earnestly believe regardless of how incorrect those beliefs are or how weak the reasoning is.

    Many or most of the preachers may be sincere and earnest, but that does not make what they sell real. People give them money for something they will never be able to collect.

    If one con artist convinces many salespeople to sell his snake oil, and they all genuinely believe it does what they claim, the snake oil itself is still a scam. The salespeople, earnest or not, are an integral part of it.

    Sincerity does not add anything to the truth of a claim.

  • Arallyn

    Ehhh…I’m a little apprehensive about this one. I liked the other one a lot. But this one feels like, I dunno, hostile? Aggressive is one thing, but is it going to put off those who know religion is a farce yet are automatically defensive if they’re told they’re being scammed? It’s one of those words that puts people on the defensive, because no one likes admitting that they bought into or contributed to something bad/stupid.

    I dunno. Maybe it’s just the people I know who automatically assume that when they’re told they’re being had, think that the people telling them that assume they’re “stupid”. I could be wrong about others.

  • Brian

    I continue being offended by the irregular capitalization, italicization, and poor font choices in these billboards.

  • I think that church is a scam. It fits the definition of a confidence trick to extract money from a victim by deceit. I’m not so sure that religion or god belief fits the definition. There isn’t anything inherently fraudulent about holding a belief. It is only when that belief is exploited for gain that it becomes a scam.

  • keddaw

    It’s only a scam if the perpetrator(s) know it isn’t real.

    This is too far, not all religions are scams (some are!) and not all take tithes.

  • Brain, thanks for stating what has bugged me from the beginning. Even with the right message, these billboards are so poorly designed it’s embarrassing. Perhaps an actual legible font would be helpful. I have a feeling the current information will be barely readable to the drivers. My guess is the previous donations were received in response to news shows and articles, not the actual viewing of the board itself.

    Regarding the content, yes, I believe it hits the spot. I like how it breaks the idea of church down to the basics, that it’s someone claiming they’ll give you something they are unable to give (the afterlife, etc.) for money or time/actions. Now, that is truth. To someone who has been doubting the motions they’re going through each week, I would imagine this is strong enough to reach out to them.

  • Valhar2000

    I think this one will scare away more would-be atheists.

    I hear this one a lot. Is there any sort of evidence to support it? Sure, it makes sense, but that’s not a guarantee.

  • I find this more acceptable than the Christmas one.

    Simply because Christmas is (for obvious reasons – none of them religious) a feel good time for people. And when AA is seen to be attacking it – or parts of it, it’s like they are attacking “the season of good will”.

    This new one is just attacking religions – and they’re fair game.

  • SERAM means “horror” in the Malay language.

  • Nick

    This whole “You Know It’s a…” campaign that American Atheists is putting on is quite frustrating to me. When I was figuring out what I really thought several years ago I thought that atheists were basically crazy and a shameful group of people. I could classify myself as an Agnostic, but an Athiest seemed evil. Putting this billboard out in hopes of “outing” atheists isn’t going to work. It’s going to make them think that American Atheists is a hateful organization. I wouldn’t have listened to it then and I think it’s ridiculous now. The kinder gentler approach is what is needed, not jarring statements directed at no one. Just my opinion, do what you will with it.

  • Marty

    I don’t understand the hand wringing we atheists are doing about “offending” believers with our messages. Most of these folks have no intention of entering into any kind of dialogue. All of these mainstream religions already accuse us of being a-theist, without god. Understand that this is a horrible epithet in their eyes. They wish us to be non-existent and at best silent and complacent. The pope and other religious leaders frequently talk about their battle with rising secularism or aggressive atheism. I think it’s high time for the gloves to come off.

  • “We sent the Catholic League a thank-you letter.”

    Love that. A bit more sarcastically than Richard but he also beat me to the hey this is making money! We should keep it up.

    I actually like this one way better. It really appeals to me with its simple truth.

    hoverfrog, note it doesn’t say god’s a scam. It says you know it’s a scam and then shows various houses of worship. I read it as saying what you did — that church is a scam.

    Um, a scam is a scam is a scam even if some of the parties of the ponzi scheme are duped.

    I think this was a good follow-up move. Especially given the way the first one panned out in publicity. They’re making us visible at least and far more effectively than the nice ones did. So I have to concede my initial wariness with this whole you know campaign. I was wrong; they were right. (Is that really so hard to say?) I really liked FFRF’s ones where individual members showed themself as nice normal people but that seems to have had like zero impact.

    keddaw, name one religion that isn’t a scam and please explain. Frankly, I find even godless cults (yes, including Secular Humanism) such. As long as they demand a set of rules to live by and extract money from their adherents with some false promise — scam. Secular Humanism and Objectivism may not promise afterlife bliss but they do promote hope for a doable Utopia that ain’t ever going to happen people being people.

    Let’s face it. We humans suck. We’re wonderful and we suck. Human nature contains both bad and good and everyone of us has bad and good in some degree. The bad part of our natures will prevent Utopia from ever coming about. It’s also why anarchy could — sadly, since it makes government a necessary evil — never work.

  • Kaylya

    I don’t like the “You know…” series, and I think calling all religions a scam is worse than calling all of them a myth. I don’t really see what they’re trying to accomplish that couldn’t be accomplished better with less inflammatory language.

    Some religious groups are scams for sure. Others… I think it gets more complicated than Richard’s example of snake oil salesmen who genuinely believe in the product. I think in many.. “traditional” denominations at least a better analogy is closer to something like a yoga class that brings up stuff like Chakras from time to time – I don’t believe in that, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t get some exercise and stretching in. I do think that many religious leaders do a lot that does genuinely help people, regardless of whether the woo is true or not. Others might help some people but harm others (e.g. the anti-gay pastor might be great at helping struggling marriages).

    Any atheist billboard seems controversial enough to garner a lot of press.

  • It might have been better to say that the tithing is a scam.
    People can believe whatever they want but it becomes a scam when money is extracted with no product delivered. The only product they deliver is more believers (to tithe). Operationally, the system works but it is still a scam (at least from the vantage point from being outside the system).

    I like that it doesn’t target just Christianity.

  • Methodissed

    Um, a scam is a scam is a scam even if some of the parties of the ponzi scheme are duped.

    Donna H. sums this up nicely. Yes, there are many sincere believers – the ones who have been duped. There are also many hypocrites. For dramatic examples, consider the history of the Papacy. There have been many villainous and reprehensible popes, who were motivated by power, money, (and sex).

    Further, remember that the Bible is mostly fiction, yet it’s promoted as fact. Whether the promoter knows this or not – its still a scam that swindles people of their time, money, and freedom.

    Kudos to American Atheists for telling the truth!

  • I love AA’s new billboard! But yeah, I gotta agree with:

    “I continue being offended by the irregular capitalization, italicization, and poor font choices in these billboards.”

    Yep, I think our message should not only be strong like this, it should also be as clear as possible, and the irregular capitalization alone is still bothersome.

    Some would call it “artsy-fartsy.” But at least the billboards are going up – and working well. Whatever it takes! I am in celebration mode. :o)

  • The term scam implies a conscious intent to deceive others and exploit that deception for personal gain. Tons of religious people and their leaders are quite sincere in their supernatural beliefs and they also believe that they bring good into the world via their faith.

    I know some of these folks personally—one is even a pastor at a church—and as much as I don’t believe in a deity, I still recognize that they are decent folk who are sincere in their beliefs and they have the best intentions at heart. Heck, except for a god-belief, I pretty much share many of their values and I see their church supporting the same causes I support. (I’m thinking of a particular progressive congregation as I’m writing this.) God or no god, I still respect them as human beings. If I were to say they are part of a scam I would be coming from a place that is incredibly mean spirited.

    As a non-believer, this billboard reminds me of why I feel uneasy with people on both sides of the god debate. You both paint the other side with extremely broad brush strokes. I wish people on both sides would just shut up for a while and contemplate each other’s common humanity. Instead, we denigrate each other as villains.

    Yay for us. Fuck the other people. That’s our common refrain.

  • Alyssa

    I think Arallyn summed it up perfectly.

    I really liked the first billboard, but I have to wonder what positive effects this one would have. Like she said, people tend to get very defensive when you accuse them of being tricked or “scammed,” even if they themselves know it’s true.

    This one just seems way too aggressive. Also, I second those comments about the way the billboard is designed. I always secretly cringed when I saw it, as much as I loved the message.

    EDIT: When I said defensive, I was referring to people who had just started to consider atheism or agnosticism, but have yet to completely break ties with a church, or even their memories of one.

  • Claudia

    I wish we had the same graphic designers as the theists. They’re billboard is so much nicer. Money talks, I guess.

    The “you KNOW” rubs me the wrong way. I don’t mind an aggressive tone given that it’s not holiday specific, but I think the messanging could be smoother. Sending Billy a thank you note made me giggle though, very nice, lol.

  • Methodissed

    Yay for us. Fuck the other people. That’s our common refrain.

    Speaking for many of us, I’ll have to respectfully disagree. My common refrain is “tell the truth.” I’m not sure how that translates to “fuck the other people.”

    This billboard isn’t “fucking” anyone in any sense of the word.

  • Steve

    I’m not sure if capitalizing “truth” is deliberately ironic, given that believers always claim that their fictitious holy books are all true.

  • Remus

    This billbord is a bit.. blunt. It’s like opening a can with a sledgehammer.

    This may not be the best way to get our message across, but on the other hand we need to get the truth out there, even if it hurt.

  • This isn’t helping dispel the stereotype of the angry atheist much. Sure, it might be reaching out to fellow atheists, but if we want to gain both recognition and acceptance, this isn’t how to do it.

  • tim

    Anyone else tired of billboards? They are cheap because they are largely ineffective. And Hemant and the gang here spends far too much time focused on them.

    When an atheist group kicks off a commercial during the super bowl – call me.

  • David

    My billboard would read “Religion, a crime against humanity”

  • Erp

    Sincerity does not add anything to the truth of a claim.

    But ‘scam’ requires intent to deceive. Certainly many religious groups are scams but all? Even a local Quaker meeting house with open financial books and full participation by members in deciding how to spend the money?

  • ThatOtherGuy

    “Scam” is worse than “myth,” yes. “Scam” implies malice, whereas “myth” doesn’t.

  • Just to be clear, I think the common refrain of the loudest voices of both theists and atheists tends to be a variation of:

    Yay for us. Fuck the other people.

    Put another way, both sides tend to spew invective at the other without the intent of anything approaching meaningful communication.

    It makes both sides look like a bunch of shallow, mean-spirited assholes. If that’s the kind of image that people want to project, by all means, put up some more billboards just like this one. I’m sure Christians will answer with something equally vile.

    Then, we can all be satisfied with having wasted our money on maintaining our hateful, two-dimensional perceptions of other people.

    That will work well.

  • Matt

    Honestly, if I’d seen one of these billboards when I was on the fence about my faith, I don’t think I would have become an atheist. This plays into the stereotype of atheists as arrogant, rude, know-it-all jerks. It may win some conversions, but I think it will turn many more people away.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    Another piece of evidence showing that being blunt is only helping our cause.

    But this isn’t mere bluntness. The American Atheists are making a false claim, and one that several of us atheists can see through. It’s been pointed out several times that “scam” implies not only mere falsehood but an intent to deceive as well, and I’ll bet that plenty of theists will be willing to point this out even more times.

  • Kingasaurus

    Avoiding the argument about AA’s new billboard for the moment, I just think it’s fascinating that these people can’t let a rare smattering of secularist advertising pass without loud and obnoxious counter-programming.

    Don’t let anybody see those atheist ads, folks! We need to throw up our own message next to it RIGHT NOW or who knows what could happen?

    America is buried in religious advertising, but any ads trumpeting the contrary position must be met with an immediate attempt to blunt the message. They can’t just let it pass. A fascinating window into how their minds work.

  • ihedenius

    Artistically “God is” is very nice. But then you read the text.

    The “You KNOW it’s a myth”. Something about it makes me want to laugh. Something about all the obviously-made-up clichés stapled on top of each other maybe.

  • Carlie

    Anyone claiming religion isn’t a scam needs to read the post below on the pastor paying less than 1k in taxes on his 105k salary.

  • A pastor cheating the tax system is not a reflection of his religion. It’s a reflection of the problems with our tax system and of his incredible dishonesty.

  • Deanna

    Something to think about over the holiday…I don’t know what you all think of Jesus but I assume you believe that he did live since he is an historical figure. It is believed that he lived on this earth only 30 years and that he had only about 1000 followers at the time of his death (he started with 12!) Over two thousand years later he is still both worshiped and crucified daily by millions of people all over the world. That’s quite an impact! Many of us on this site have already outlived him. What kind of impact will we leave on humanity?

  • @tim,
    Yes. I am tired of them and yes they are cheap. I’d say that they give a lot of bang for the buck, however. Would I use a billboard for my business? No way, but I might buy billboard advertising for advancing a cause or getting a simple social message across. To date, I’ve seen an evenly mixed bag of brilliant, dull and outrageously stupid (“It’s only a myth” being the latter)atheist ads. As far as how much attention is spent on them, it’s still a relatively new development in the “movement”. Once the novelty wears off, I’m sure attention will be focused on something else.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    I assume you believe that he did live since he is an historical figure.

    Not a good assumption. If this were a biblioblog where the readership had repeatedly dissected mythicist arguments and found them underwhelming, sure, but this not such a blog. Note, though, that neither the readership of this blog or a biblioblog is likely to find your following observation all that compelling:

    It is believed that he lived on this earth only 30 years and that he had only about 1000 followers at the time of his death (he started with 12!) Over two thousand years later he is still both worshiped and crucified daily by millions of people all over the world. That’s quite an impact!

    An impact, yes, but not an entirely positive one, nor one that implies the truth of what has been attributed to Jesus of Nazareth.

  • @Deanna,

    “I don’t know what you all think of Jesus but I assume you believe that he did live since he is an historical figure.”

    Methinks you assume way too much, my dear.
    There are many, many historians that would disagree with you. You were raised in the certainty of the historicity of Jesus. I was as well, but have long since come to the conclusion that the Jesus of the New Testament is a fictional character, at best a poorly slapped-together composite of several itinerant Jewish preachers of his day. I suggest you make a sincere effort to search out information that challenges your beliefs. If you were taught (and believed) right all along, then nothing is harmed…right?

  • Zietlos

    Deanna: When people write the story of my life 500 years after I die in order to glean extra power against the (then-)current totalitarian establishment, inputting gross fallacies and opposing viewpoints while stealing holidays of other religions then claiming them as our own, I feel my impact will be just as significant as his.

    …Which is not at all. You’re worshipping Mithras… “You KNOW they’re all SCAMS”

  • JD

    I don’t think it needs to be blunt at all. All you need to do is to have an ad that more or less says “We’re here, if you’re like us, come meet us”. That will still cause a sh!t storm from overly sensitive people, and people can see that and note who is being more hostile.

    However, if it’s too blunt, then I worry that it will turn off people that are “on the fence” because it seems too hostile, even if it might be justified. I don’t think it will convince people that aren’t questioning, though being too blunt might needlessly galvanize the opposition too.

  • Robert W.

    To all,

    As a Christian I applaud those that view this billboard as the wrong message.

    For those that think it is the right message let me say this-

    Atheism is a scam.

    All of those who are sending money to this or any other atheist organization have been duped and since intent behind this billboard is to offend and thus raise more funds, then the definition of scam is met.

    Now I truly believe that atheists are wrong and that those that promote it are promoting a lie, but I do think they have the right to believe as they wish.

  • Robert W.

    One more thing, can we please at least agree that the purpose of these billboards is to offend and not just to say here we are? The more Silverman insists on this false claim he loses credibility.

  • Robert, responding to name calling with more name calling isn’t helpful. It only escalates the mean-spirited rhetoric. (in response to your first comment)

  • Robert, I would assume that the strategy is to use a catchy, insulting blurb that will immediately grab the attention of not only closet atheists, but also the media. The media will talk about these billboards at length and thus provide free publicity.

    The question is, is this the kind of publicity that is useful in the long run? Obviously, many people disagree.

    There’s also a bit of hypocrisy in sponsoring these billboards. As far as maintaining a degree of civility is concerned, I think billboards such as these serve to inflame discourse between opposing parties. The thing is, if we atheists truly value rational discourse, how does using inflammatory rhetoric promote that process?

  • Robert W.

    Timberwaith,

    If I wasn’t clear I apologize. I am a Christian but I wasn’t meant to call names.

  • OK, Robert. That’s cool, but just be aware that what you wrote in your first comment isn’t best way to get folks to hear you out—even people such as myself who hate the billboard.

  • Robert:

    For those that think it is the right message let me say this-

    Atheism is a scam.

    All of those who are sending money to this or any other atheist organization have been duped and since intent behind this billboard is to offend and thus raise more funds, then the definition of scam is met.

    You’re making exactly the same mistake. Atheist organizations do not own atheism. Even if American Atheists were actually scamming people, that says nothing about atheism.

  • Erp

    Anyone claiming religion isn’t a scam needs to read the post below on the pastor paying less than 1k in taxes on his 105k salary.

    That shows that particular minister was being less than ethical partly because he was taking advantage of an unethical law and partly because he asked the accountant for a fee break since he was a poor minister when he wasn’t. However the billboard stated ‘all religions were scams’ and that is not proven by one example.

    he had only about 1000 followers at the time of his death (he started with 12!)

    I find the evidence good that Jesus did exist; however, 1000 followers when he died I think is far too large. Even 100 is probably too large though a fair number of people might have turned out to listen to him most probably vanished after his execution never to return.

  • jolly

    Robert, how is atheism a scam? Anyone who donates money knows what the money is for- they aren’t promised anything that doesn’t exist.

  • Richard Wade

    Deanna,

    It is believed that he lived on this earth only 30 years and that he had only about 1000 followers at the time of his death (he started with 12!) Over two thousand years later he is still both worshiped and crucified daily by millions of people all over the world. That’s quite an impact!

    I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make. A short life and a long-lived and widespread impact means…what? If you’re implying that this shows that the claims about him are true, that is a fallacious argument so old it has a Latin name, “argumentum ad populum,” or argument from popularity. It basically says that because a large number of people believe something is true, therefore it is true. A large number of people believed the world was flat, but the actual Earth did not gradually morph from a disk to a sphere as folks began to see that Eratosthenes was right. No, it was always spherical, regardless of the popular view.

    There’s another story about a short-lived character who had an idea that quickly spread to several followers. Chicken Licken thought the sky was falling, and within just a few minutes Henny Penny, Drakey Lakey, Cocky Locky, Ducky Lucky, Goosey Loosey, and Turkey Lurkey all passionately believed his claim.

    In the end, Foxy Loxy was the one who had the most “impact” on their lives.

  • cortex

    I like the sign. It’s a rallying cry for atheists to attend a conference, so the more affirming and empowering to atheists it is, the better. Christians will almost certainly raise a fuss, but it’s typical that they would think it’s directed at them – they think everything is about them.

  • J. J. Ramsey

    cortex, how is it empowering to say something inaccurate?

  • cortex

    J.J. Ramsey – Well, it may be a bit of an exaggeration, but it’s not far off the mark, and if there’s any place where it’s appropriate to exaggerate a bit, it’s on a billboard. Bob’s bar & grill probably doesn’t actually have the coldest beer in town, but the sign makes its point, nonetheless.

    Also, I don’t think empowerment is necessarily highly related to accuracy in general.

  • Christians will almost certainly raise a fuss, but it’s typical that they would think it’s directed at them – they think everything is about them.

    Cortex, there are five buildings displayed on the right hand side of the billboard. One of them has a cross on the roof. I think it would be fair for Christians to assume that the message of the billboard concerned their religion, along with the four other religions represented by the four remaining buildings. If they (or any of the other four religions) raise a fuss over their religion being called a scam, I think that’s perfectly understandable.

  • Peter

    I L-O-V-E all of these atheist billboards.
    Awesome! They are ‘telling it like it is’.
    I actually LIKE the colors/fonts/Caps/etc., but even if I didn’t who cares. We are going for impact, not a media arts award.

    The important thing is that they will get media coverage, and they shatter the taboo that says religions can’t be openly doubted or criticized.

    I also love that the art depicts MANY different houses of worship. This counteracts the christian defensiveness whereby they feel they are selectively be ‘persecuted’/offended. Also, believers of each faith do essentially believe that the OTHER faiths are scams, but here they have to see their faith lumped in with the rest.

    Lastly, these advertisements (and mainly their media coverage) indeed DO help reach borderline atheists and closet atheists. That was part of my story for how I went from believing the taboo that I just couldn’t critically examine this issue, to being solidly atheist and mostly proud of it.

  • I’m not usually on the side of the tone warriors, but this one is just kind of ugly.

    It’s perfectly appropriate to call religion a myth- all are. But are all religions scams? No. That’s a really strong word that only applies in certain cases and I don’t think there’s much point in using it as a form of public outreach.

    People will get pissed off at our nicest message, so might as well take the high road, don’t give them any actual cause to be offended.

  • Vystrix Nexoth

    Sincerity does not add anything to the truth of a claim.

    They should put that on a billboard!

    As for these “You know…” messages, what I don’t like about them is the presumption to tell people what they think. That kind of emotional manipulation, more than anything else, would turn me off from this message, even if only out of spite.

    Given how religion is based on emotion to the exclusion of reason, emotional turn-offs like this will turn emotional people away.

    As for the “…it’s a scam” part, I’m of two minds. It’s technically false and perhaps we ought to keep the high ground. However, the boldness is refreshing, and the dominance display may appeal to conservative, pack-mentality types (for what the hell that’s worth) who might not have otherwise been persuaded. All for the low, low price of having to speak on their level…

    </rambling>

  • it’s amazing to me how many people, doubting people even, get offended when religion is called a “scam.” dood, it’s the Original Scam. study some history, yo.

    “nothing fails like prayer” is the most powerful thing one can say to believers and weak doubters both. it’s not a scam? it does “some good?” show me. show me the miracles. the proof. the benefit. even unlike the most corrupt, biased corporation or industrial entity or even social or political movement, religion FAILS. i mean, the Soviets won the race into space; microsoft and intel brought us computers, even halliburton enriched lots of contractors in the search for “saddam’s WMDs.” for all they never found any. but religion? nothing, nada, zip. there is literally no benefit anyone can point to, that is the direct result of “faith alone.” feelings, sure. but results that can be shared and invested and exploited? no. cause those supposed from religion aren’t, you know, real. and that is why religion is the Ultimate Scam.

  • David

    I would like to see a billboard that says,”Fix our deficit problems-Tax the church”.

  • AxeGrrl

    MikeTheInfidel wrote:

    This isn’t helping dispel the stereotype of the angry atheist much. Sure, it might be reaching out to fellow atheists, but if we want to gain both recognition and acceptance, this isn’t how to do it.

    timberwraith wrote:

    Just to be clear, I think the common refrain of the loudest voices of both theists and atheists tends to be a variation of: “Yay for us. Fuck the other people.”

    Put another way, both sides tend to spew invective at the other without the intent of anything approaching meaningful communication.

    It makes both sides look like a bunch of shallow, mean-spirited assholes. If that’s the kind of image that people want to project, by all means, put up some more billboards just like this one. I’m sure Christians will answer with something equally vile.

    Then, we can all be satisfied with having wasted our money on maintaining our hateful, two-dimensional perceptions of other people.

    Matt wrote:

    Honestly, if I’d seen one of these billboards when I was on the fence about my faith, I don’t think I would have become an atheist. This plays into the stereotype of atheists as arrogant, rude, know-it-all jerks. It may win some conversions, but I think it will turn many more people away.

    JD wrote:

    I don’t think it needs to be blunt at all. All you need to do is to have an ad that more or less says “We’re here, if you’re like us, come meet us”. That will still cause a sh!t storm from overly sensitive people, and people can see that and note who is being more hostile.

    Thanks so much to the posters above:) I was going to write a comment, but you guys expressed everything that I was going to 🙂

    Again, I’d LOVE to see more ads by the Seattle Atheists ~ I think their signs, with their pitch-perfect tone (imo), provide a consistently thoughtful, intelligent and positive representation of atheism…….and we can always use more of that 🙂

  • Unrein

    Sheesh. Sometimes it seems people think these billboards are saying “You KNOW you should beat up a christian!” or “You KNOW you should shoot up your church!”. Being provocative doesn’t equal being hateful.

  • AxeGrrl

    Unrein, I don’t think it’s so much that people think that signs like this are ‘hateful’ (at least among atheists), it’s just that there’s a great diversity of opinion in the atheist community when it comes to what we think is the best strategy to make points and draw people in.

    This gets demonstrated every single time there’s a thread on the topic of atheist ads around here 🙂

  • I like it. There’s no reason to treat religion with kid gloves. Now, if only someone will put it up for acupuncture and homeopathic medicine.

  • staceyjw

    I LOVE these, and I especially love the SCAM one because it is about ALL religion, not just xtianity.

    KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK American atheists

  • staceyjw

    I’m with Davidd, we need to tax the church!

  • Phoena

    The whole capitalization hand-wringing amuses me. Who knew that capital letters were so scary and confusing to so many people?

    Anyway, I find myself extremely offended by religious groups spending money on billboards. WTF? They sell religion as if the money tithed is to do “good works” and goes to helping the poor and needy, etc. Instead the money is spend on advertising (so the church can make MORE money!) and on building huge, fancy church buildings! That right there proves that chrisianity is a scam and the fact that their believers are too stupid to realize the money is going to all the wrong places makes me have even less respect for believers.

    Clearly churches need to be taxed since they have this kind of money lying around.

  • Neon Genesis

    Does ts the Christian billboard really say God is a husband to the widow? What does that even mean?

  • Teweldemedhin

    I don’t think I like this one, actually. There’s a significant difference between a scam and someone preaching something they earnestly believe regardless of how incorrect those beliefs are or how weak the reasoning is. Certainly there are religious scams but I’d be amazed if you could show that they all are.

    Actually that is exactly how successful scams involving a lot of people work.
    Do you remember those e-mails instructing you to forward the message to ten of your friends otherwise something bad would happen to you and/or your loved ones? The originators of those e-mails know the scam but most people that forward those e-mails are sold to the content of the e-mails.
    Pyramid schemes also work the same way, the persons operating the scheme know it is a scam but most people who help in spreading the pyramid actually believe in the selling story of the scheme.

  • Chestrock

    Its a great truth! Any church is the largest ponzi scheme out there but yet they are not prosecuted whatsoever. At least in most ponzi schemes people do get monies back sometimes, depending on when you enrolled. Here you get no return for your invested other than another humans word that they “know” about a supposed and implausible afterlife and that by donating you will be helping to buy your way into it, in so many words. What churches are is a jack, because you get nothing in return physically for your investment. If the churches were considered corporations, which they are since they take peoples money and invest it in themselves by fixing up the infrastructure buying real estate and advertising, then they would be sued religiously for being liars and thieves.