American Atheists Puts Up Rapture Billboards April 18, 2011

American Atheists Puts Up Rapture Billboards

First, there was the American Atheist billboard that read “You KNOW it’s a Myth”:

Not long after that, AA put up a billboard that went after all religions in general. It read: “You KNOW they’re all SCAMS”:

Now, AA’s latest billboard targets the upcoming “arrival” of Jesus. It reads: “The Rapture: You KNOW it’s Nonsense. 2000 Years of ‘Any Day Now’“:

That billboard’s going up this week in Oakland, CA; Houston, TX; and Fort Lauderdale, FL — why there? There will be “Rapture Parties” taking place in those cities! (Because, you know, Jesus is coming back on May 21st.)

“This is nothing new,” said American Atheists President Dave Silverman. “Self-declared Christian prophets have a long track record predicting the end of the world. What distinguishes this latest round of warnings, though, is the sheer scale, and the cultural backdrop of ‘gloom and doom’ over everything from the economy to the environment.”

Mr. Silverman added: “Every time someone has predicted the rapture they’ve been wrong, but most of the time the preachers make a lot of money in the process. In my opinion, it’s an excellent scam — if you can handle the
complete lack of ethics involved.”

It’s amazing how much attention these billboards get. On paper, they’re just supposed to reach out to all those closeted atheists out there. But it’s really all about the publicity — and I have no doubt these billboards will get their fair share.

The only people who don’t seem to care about the billboard’s message are the atheists complaining about the poor design.

Just FYI, the Oakland billboard is supposed to have cost $27,000. I’m not sure if that’s courtesy of a private donor, but I suspect American Atheists would only keep these billboards coming if they were paying for themselves (via donors or subsequent donations).

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Great! Now if only I could get a grant to counter all these gun show adverts along the highway that say “GET ONE WHILE YOU STILL CAN” we could perhaps change the national conversation away from things that aren’t real to issues that are.

  • Can we at least get a different font? Dave Silverman, if you read this blog and the comments, call us over at HCH and we can get you a great designer to help you design the next billboard!

    Great ideas, and great publicity, by the way.

  • I still want to go to these people’s houses with a moving truck on the 22nd, start taking all their stuff, and act very surprised when they try to stop me. Sadly, these nutters would probably shoot first and… well, they’d just shoot, they aren’t synaptically active enough to ask questions.

  • Ron

    I think it’s ironic here that the “Rapture” part of end times mythology is not 2,000 years old. Much of it is very young, and much of what people actually believe has been invented in the last twenty years or so in the Left Behind series.

  • Rich Wilson

    Interesting insight into Rapturers (and birthers and anti-vaccers and climate change deniers and…)

  • Rainne

    I could have designed a better billboard on my pirated copy of Photoshop. Seriously, AA, get with me next time! Let’s talk! I’ll even do it on the cheap.

  • Nordog

    2000 years?

    FTR, the doctrine of the Rapture is well under 300 years old, and is of American (or at least colonial) origin.

  • Azkyroth

    I’m pretty sure…yeah, what Nordog said.

  • @Matt Osborne,
    Your comment really strikes a nerve.
    Since when does being a free thinker or atheist equate with being anti-gun or anti-commerce?
    Firearms and the firearms trade don’t make people stupid or religious, Matt. The gun ads may be annoying to you, but not everyone that enjoys firearms or supports the 2nd amendment is a right-wing religious lunatic.
    While I agree that some of the wing-nut propaganda about gun grabbing liberals is a bit over the top,it does have (at the least) a small basis in reality…unlike religion.

  • Michelle

    Usually I think these billboards are obnoxious, but this one really did make me laugh out loud. There may have even been a small snort in there.
    It is still abrasive, but at least it is funny too.

  • Steve

    The Rapture can’t come soon enough. Take away all the Jesus freaks and leave the world to sane people

  • NotYou007

    Great! Now if only I could get a grant to counter all these gun show adverts along the highway that say “GET ONE WHILE YOU STILL CAN” we could perhaps change the national conversation away from things that aren’t real to issues that are.

    Well Matt I’m a gun carrying atheist and I’m a member of the NRA. I have a concealed firearms permit and don’t walk out the door without being armed and there are a lot of other atheist that carry as well.

    So yes, go out and purchase a firearm. Learn how to use it, train with it and get a permit to carry concealed if you can.

  • @NotYou007,
    You rock.

  • Eris

    Another gun-owning atheist here. And a lesbian, to boot. Quite frankly given the extreme rhetoric of the religious right-wing with it’s talk of non-Christians not being citizens, and left-wingers being traitors, and with their constant attempts to restrict by law the rights of GLBT people, I can’t understand why anyone who is not a straight, white, evangelical Christian would ever oppose gun ownership. There are a lot of scary people down here in Texas.

  • Rich Wilson

    There’s no war on Christmas.
    Jesus isn’t coming back.
    Nobody is going to take your guns away.

    Maybe it’s just because I’m the lefty sort of atheist, but I read Matt’s comment not as anti-gun, but anti “they’re going to take our guns away!” paranoia

    Like those Bumper stickers “I’ll keep my guns freedom and money, you can keep the ‘change'”. Obama has been here for 2 years. Has anyone taken your guns away?

  • Ray

    ugh… Who designed these billboards? The obnoxiousness of the messages make them hardly inviting. I don’t think that most closet atheists and weakly religious people out there are going to find an anti-religious message appealing; I think that a majority of the target audience likely views religion as “not too bad,” “okay,” or “a good thing” that “helps a lot of people.” Calling the good, well-meaning, religious people in the targets’ lives “IDIOTS!” is not the best way to befriend them.

  • Alex

    I actually wonder how many people really would want a gun for protection if it wasn’t marketed so well by the NRA and gun manufacturers.

    A couple of years ago, I was working on a defensive tactics facility for a law enforcement academy. We were invited to sit in a class for close quarter engagement given by an FBI instructor. He noted that law enforcement organizations focused too much on marksmanship (distance accuracy is really only useful for game hunting) He noted that the majority of armed engagements happened within a few feet and accuracy was not issue. He said what is an issue is hesitation and the offender will be the one to fire first. He also noted that armed offenders are typically more experienced with handguns, actually practice more than law enforcement officers and have fired more rounds.
    A few months after that class, a couple of sheriff officers from our county had an arrest warrant to pick up a domestic abuse offender. They located him at a gun club of all places and attempted to arrest him in the parking lot. The offender pulled his gun and killed both of them! So I’m a little skeptical if a normal everyday person could outdraw an armed criminal that doesn’t have any reason to hesitate.

    In a newspaper story a few years back, a veteran and retired police officer was awoken one night by someone at his front door trying to break in. He grabbed his gun and got to the door as they were opening it. The intruder was armed and shot first. The retired police officer survived but the robber took his gun along with his other guns and valuables. They finally caught the robber, I think he was only 18 or 19, drug addict etc. He made a statement I found interesting. He noted that he targeted homes that have american flags hanging outside. He said it was like a sign that guns were in the house. He noted that guns were his favorite item to steal since they were easy to sell and brought in the most money.

  • NotYou007

    Alex is being a troll. Ignore it.

  • Parsley Victorious


    What is it that Alex says that makes you accuse him of trolling? I ask this seriously, since it’s possible there are things going on here that I don’t understand.

    The way I read it, he’s not even explicitly disagreeing with anything you’ve said, nor did he make any claims against guns, gun owners, the NRA, etc. He didn’t offer insults.

    All he did was offer a theory, and tell three stories that sort-of vaguely back up his theory. I have no idea whether the stories mentioned are true or not. It’s entirely possible that his theory is false and all his stories are mistaken. But that wouldn’t make it trolling, it would just make him wrong.

  • Drew M.

    @Matt Osborne

    It’s empty-rhetoric spouting marionettes like yourself that make me ashamed to label myself as a liberal.

    If you’re going to kick off the comments with a hijack, can you at least try to make an intelligent argument? There are indeed some, but I’ve yet to see someone of your ilk make them.

  • Drew M.

    On topic:

    I would really love to see a rapture billboard that says something to the effect of, “Can we have your stuff?”

  • @Alex,
    I’m a former subject control and firearms instructor and private military contractor. Nothing you mentioned is an argument against firearms ownership or the use of firearms for self-defense. What you HAVE given are reasons for firearms training and discipline.
    All you’ve managed to establish is that some scumbags practice more than some cops and that some cops are now dead cops because they may have hesitated or were ambushed.
    Yes, shit happens. And? Have you ever been in a firefight? ANY type of fight? Do you have any concept of what really happens in the real world?

    When seconds count, a cop is only a few minutes away.

  • Dan W

    Ignoring the thread derailment here, I have to agree with previous commentors concerning the idea of the rapture. That idea has only been around for 200-300 years, and it was started by Christians in the U.S. as far as I know.

    Also, once again American Atheists needs a better graphic designer for their billboards.

  • Parsley Victorious

    @Drew M.:

    Nevermind the stuff; I’d be ecstatic if they’d even agree to admit they were wrong when the prediction fails to come true.

    None of this “We misinterpreted!” or “We were spared!” or any other rubbish excuses.

    I just want them to admit, publicly, that they made a prediction and they were wrong. That can’t be that hard, can it?

  • Fascinating. Pride yourself on being rational and then get hot-headed when someone points out the irrationality of being paranoid about gun ownership rights. I love irony.

  • To be honest, the whole gun control “derailment” thing was a welcome distraction from having to say more of the same thing again about these idiotic and hideous billboards. But since people want to get back on track…here we go:
    Same font, same “You know”, it’s ugly as hell, poorly designed, arrogant or insulting message….blah, blah, blah. Did I leave anything out?
    Oh well, it’s not my money they’re pissing away. If that’s the way American Atheists want to spend their supporters dough, then all the power to them.

  • @bobby,
    There is a basis in reality for the paranoia, irrational or not, but nobody is defending irrationality.
    Irony my ass. If you don’t like guns or gun owners, fine. That’s your right. Just come right out and say it. I can respect that more than the alternative.

  • Roxane

    It’s not about the font. I doubt xians are reacting to the artistic value of the billboards and bus signs. If we waited for atheists to decide whether the signs should be pleasing or annoying, none of them would ever go up.

    If the world has come to the point where everyone and his wife thinks that they have to pack heat every time they set foot outside the door, I hope I’m one of the first ones shot. It’s not a world worth living in. If you feel differently, go right ahead–it’s your right to pose a threat to me.

  • Steve

    Actually, I think this is a case where the “you know” thing is totally appropriate. It’s one thing to say people know what really goes on regarding to the truth of religions or if they are scams. But only crazy people truly believe in this rapture nonsense. Any halfway sane Christian thinks it’s BS too.

  • CanadianNihilist

    love it.

  • I’m sure the American Rapture-believing Christians would find the billboard much more accepting if the font were one of the nice warm “Jesus holding a puppy dog” fonts.

    Perhaps American Atheist wanted the billboard to be “in your face” and chose the font and color scheme as they did on purpose with specific intent…

  • Stephen P

    I think it’s ironic here that the “Rapture” part of end times mythology is not 2,000 years old. Much of it is very young …

    The billboard is correct, but it’s not very well put. The “rapture” is recent, but the “any day now” part is indeed 2000 years old (well, almost). The gospels have Jesus promising to return within the lifetime of his listeners.

  • Drew M.

    @Parsley Victorious:

    Agreed. I would love to see that as well, but it’ll never happen.

  • Defiantnonbeliever

    I think this campaign is a great counterpoint to the perhaps too nambi pambi of the ‘There may be no god’ type that seems to ask for permission to speak. This is a no apologies approach that could appeal to those who laugh and say, ‘Damn right, finally, where do I sign up?!’

  • Tony

    The 21st? That’s a Saturday!
    Thanks for ruining the weekend jebus. If you really loved us you would show up on the 16th and spare us from a week of work. Slacker.

  • Peter Mahoney

    Sorry to diverge from the tangential chat about guns, but…..

    I think these billboards are AWESOME!

    I couldn’t give a damn about the font, the color, etc., (although frankly they seem fine to me).

    Think about the likely RESULTS! Lots of folks will see them (or hear about them on the news) and almost noone (except a few on this blog) will care about the color/font/style.

    People will hear this message and they will stop and THINK. THINKING is our foot in the door.

    Prior billboards have brought in new members/donations. More importantly, the billboards publicly break the TABOO that tries to keep people from publicly acknowledging that most religious ideas are downright silly/crazy/delusional.

    Keep the billboards coming!

  • Love it. Love the font. Love the color. It is like a giant foot up a stoopid person’s behind. I will increase my donation to AA this year.

    Stoopid ideas deserve to be ridiculed (and should be done so with annoying colors and fonts). It’s all good!

  • Ugh, more of this “you know” framework which isn’t just confrontational but confrontational in a bad way. Believers or people who are on the fence will just be turned off by that sort of thing. It also seems disturbingly similar to the claims made by some religious groups that atheists and agnostics really deep in their hearts know God exists but deny it for their own reasons. Responding to bad rhetoric with bad rhetoric is not helpful. The “be good for goodness sake” and “probably no God” billboards and “not alone” billboards are all much better (I especially like the last one in terms of its ability to raise awareness to people who don’t realize how many non-religious people are out there).

  • Daniel

    I am a veteran, hunter, and atheist. I own several guns.

    However, I think “Get one while you still can” is absurd. The “victimization” of gun owners just strikes me as silly with fears of you know, licensing and registering guns (exactly as we do with cars) equating to some theoretical national seizure of firearms.

    Who exactly would be doing the seizure here, anyway? Local police? U.S. Military? While I only know a couple of cops, I know a lot of soldiers, and by and large they are all gun owners who swore to defend the constitution in their oaths. I can easily imagine almost all of them refusing to carry out an unconstitutional act. I don’t imagine the police being any more willing to do so.

    You certainly couldn’t pay me enough to have me go to half the houses in America and demand their guns. I’d be shot within a week.

  • Doug Kirk

    Atheist and gun owner here as well. Just want to throw in on the high-jacked thread too. I too think the “they’re taking our guns awayz!” paranoia is a bit much. I’ve seen too many people equate sensible gun regulations (assault weapon ban anyone?) to the forcible removal of all guns from all homes in America. Long story short, many irresponsible and deluded gun owners and especially gun rights organizations like the NRA make it very hard on responsible and reasonable gun owners nationwide.

    Back to the billboard, I think it’s great. Ugly as it is, it’s clear and has a good message. I think a funny next step would be to track down these end of times cults and, on video and in writing, try to get as many members as possible to bequeath all their possessions and savings to the organization on the day before the rapture happens. Then offer the chance to get their stuff back free of charge with the simple caveat that they stand up, on camera, and declare everything they believe to have been proven wrong.

  • L.Long

    He said…”In my opinion, it’s an excellent scam — if you can handle the complete lack of ethics involved.”….
    Sorry but I take the other stand on this. I envy the ability of preachers to con the delusional of their money. I wish I had low enough moral values to do so. Con men of all types get away with what they do because people as a whole are incredibly stupid, fearful, and greedy. How can anyone with any education and enough experience just watching TV (NOT dancing with the stars) and not know a con? Can’t wait to see how foolish they will look on 22May, no sympathy.

  • Alex

    @NotYou007 @the godless monster. I’m not a troll. I just related some true experiences and stories. If you are in law enforcement you have to agree that much more training is needed. And law enforcement agencies really have to battle to get the funding.

    Here is a link to one story:

    I wish I would have wrote down the FBI instructors name, if I knew my honesty would be challenged

  • I like the bottom one–“The Rapture: You KNOW It’s Nonsense…” Do they make a T-Shirt with that logo? Seriously–I’ll buy one! Contact me at my e-mail…..

  • Kristi

    I can’t wait to see one on May 22nd, then Oct. 22nd that says “We’re still here ~ and so are you, what’s that mean?”

    These always make me laugh… every time I hear May 21st… How full do you assume the churches will be on the 21st and the 22nd (when people realize they are still here) Do you think they will think they were not worthy? Or do you think they will be thinking they are here to “help” all the rest of us who didn’t get “saved”?

  • @Daniel:

    Who exactly would be doing the seizure here, anyway? Local police? U.S. Military? While I only know a couple of cops, I know a lot of soldiers, and by and large they are all gun owners who swore to defend the constitution in their oaths. I can easily imagine almost all of them refusing to carry out an unconstitutional act. I don’t imagine the police being any more willing to do so.

    How soon we forget Kent State…

  • Drew M.

    Good point. Today’s soldiers are the exact same ones who opened fire 40 years ago.

  • downtown dave

    We are taught in the Scriptures not to set dates, but because there are people who still attemp to do so, that doesn’t make the Scriptures wrong.

  • ewan

    You’ve got to love the fact that the AA event is on the 21 and the 22nd.

  • Jaxon

    Yeah, it would be better if AA researched the beliefs more thoroughly before publicly displaying such a message. Rapture theory is actually less than 200 yrs old in the Judeo-Christian lineage. But kudos for making a statement contrary to the American norm.

  • The Rapture actually took place about 8 years ago. But no one was worthy of being taken to heaven, so nobody noticed

    Iowans will be partying all the same, though.

  • shawn1200

    There is now a youtube video by another group that is debating Camping’s billboard as well as that of the Athiests group in it. Here it is:

    Does anyone know anything about them?

  • Eleanor

    Just wanted to let you know that the hotlinked images are no longer viewable–I hope you have them saved to your server or at least your computer because it’s so important for blog posts to have longevity.

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