Less than two weeks after they went up in Charlotte, North Carolina, the site of the Democratic National Convention, the American Atheists’ billboards criticizing the presidential candidates’ faiths have been taken down:
According to a press release from the organization:
“It is with regret that we tell our members and all of those who treasure free speech and the separation of religion and government that American Atheists and Adams Outdoor Advertising have mutually agreed to remove the billboards immediately,” said Amanda Knief, American Atheists’ Managing Director.
“No subject, no idea should be above scrutiny—and this includes religion in all forms,” Ms. Knief said. “We are saddened that by choosing to express our rights as atheists through questioning the religious beliefs of the men who want to be our president that our fellow citizens have responded with vitriol, threats, and hate speech against our staff, volunteers, and Adams Outdoor Advertising.”
When I asked AA Vice President Kathleen Johnson for further comment, she explained that wasn’t anti-atheist discrimination on the part of the billboard company:
… the billboard company elected to take them down because of the threats that they received directly. If it was just us receiving the threats, the billboard would have stayed up.
They have apologized and have offered a full refund. They also offered to put up a message supporting us and thereby continue our original contract without our exact message but since it wasn’t going to be our message, we decided to accept the refund instead and put that money towards future campaigns.
Knief also added that the threats occurred not long after an article about the billboards ran on the front page of the FOX News website.