Northeast Florida Coalition of Reason Gets Atheist Billboard

Which area is getting the latest atheist billboard?

Northeast Florida!

That sign can now be seen in Jacksonville and St. Augustine.

Reaching out to the like minded isn’t the only goal of the effort. “We also want to let the general public know that those of us who don’t believe in a higher power live in the area, too,” added Stephen Peek, coordinator of Northeast Florida CoR. “Folks may not know that people like us can be found everywhere. We’re family members, friends, neighbors and coworkers. So we think it’s time that we became open about our views, just as others are open about theirs.”

Local religious leaders are troubled by the presence of the billboards:

“It does concern me,” said the Rev. Armand Egnew, pastor of Crosswalk Community Church, an Assemblies of God congregation in Fleming Island. “It throws confusion out to people… who are not solidly grounded” in their faith.

Good. Let them be confused, and let them see the light we have to offer, and let them walk away from the church. They’ll be better off because of it.

Also, I’m internally debating whether or not I want to see the billboards get vandalized. I hope they don’t, because it’s just a sad reflection on our society… but it’ll only mean more press coverage, right?

Anyway, that’s where my mind is every time I see a new billboard now. I think there’s something wrong with me.

  • Heidi

    Oh noes! Confusion? What if they started thinking for themselves??” This could lead to asking questions! dun-dun-duuuuuunnnn!

  • Valhar2000

    This could lead to asking questions!

    Like: So where does all my tithing money go?

  • http://www.zuuthreads.com Wade Law

    “Also, I’m internally debating whether or not I want to see the billboards get vandalized. I hope they don’t, because it’s just a sad reflection on our society… but it’ll only mean more press coverage, right?”

    SEE? YOU ARE CONFUSED! THAT IS CONFUSION! HERESY IS CAUSING THE MASSES TO BE CONFUSED! PRAISE ONE TRUE GOD AND FORGET THAT THERE ARE SEVERAL HUNDRED OTHERS! FORGET SCIENCE, FAITH IS THE ANSWER TO THE CONFU- I can’t keep this up, you get the point.

  • http://freethinkersofet.com/ Vicki

    I think the pastor is more worried about losing some income than anything else!

  • http://reanhouse.blogspot.com Sarah

    “nyway, that’s where my mind is every time I see a new billboard now. I think there’s something wrong with me.”

    Unfortunately that’s what past experience has led us to expect.

    Personally I look forward to an atheist billboard being vandalized. It helps prove our point far more eloquently than the billboard itself can.

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    These religious leaders just have no faith in the power of their message or the commitment of the faithful do they? Kind of sad to invest so much of yourself in something you appear to be so unsure of.

  • Richard Wade

    I’m all for the billboards, and I want to see more of them, but I’m not hoping that they get vandalized. Being attacked in such a way is a two-edged sword.

    Seeing violence and vandalism done against atheists shames and embarrasses a few of the more thoughtful Christians, but it normalizes violence and vandalism for many more of the thoughtless ones. People who might have bigotry, fear and hate for non-believers, but who would hesitate to actually commit crimes are encouraged to cross that line the more they see others doing it.

    Lynch mobs grow larger as they shout their way down the street toward the home of the victim, they don’t get smaller.

    If you’re hoping for vandalism to gain publicity or to “prove a point,” ask yourself if you would want it to escalate, and how far? Vandalizing atheists’ cars or homes? Burning their homes? Physical attacks? Murder?

    When one level of persecution becomes common enough, it usually escalates to a worse level.

  • Stephen P

    “It throws confusion out to people… who are not solidly grounded” in their faith.

    Apparently the pastor doesn’t rate the intelligence of his flock any higher than the more vociferous atheists rate it.

    Though Vicki’s suggestion is also plausible.

  • http://hollvn.tumblr.com Holita

    I am glad to see this, because atheism can be lonely when you think that it is a “fringe element”. It is definitely not, and making it something that is recognized and accepted in a Christian-normative society is going to be tough.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    Imagine you are in a trade that is quickly losing its relevance due to advances in technology. You stand to lose a lot of money as a result of these changes. A reporter walks up to you and shoves a microphone in your face and ask for a reaction.
    I’m willing to bet that the overwhelming majority of you would respond with something along the lines of, “This sucks.”
    I’d say the pastor’s response was predictable. I can’t stand lazy reporters.

  • http://www.secularplanet.org Secular Planet

    This is great! Northeast Florida atheism! Woo!

    The Jacksonville billboard is actually in Orange Park (Jax’s largest suburb), literally less than a mile from my old apartment! I’ve gotta go and take my picture in front of the sign (before it’s torn to pieces)! It’s about a block away from where a church put a billboard with Satan I wrote about a year and a half ago! Ha ha!

  • muggle

    Imagine you are in a trade that is quickly losing its relevance due to advances in technology.

    I am. I’ve been clerical/secretarial for 36 years. It’s obsolete as soon as the young execs coming up who aren’t afraid of using computers replace the retiring baby boomers who are. Computers can do everything we secretaries do now. I just say I’m glad I’m at the end of my career and not the beginning. (2 years, 11 months away from retirement at most but who’s counting?) And I advice young people not to go into it. If I wasn’t looking eagerly forward to retirement or wasn’t able to, I’d be studying some new trade.

    I’m with Richard. Vandalism is a bad, bad thing and could either be as benign as teenage hyjinks or could be an indication of some real angry hatred towards us. I don’t want to worry which or if the teen hyjinks are really that harmless or if it’s gonna get worse. I’ll take a pass. One can hope against hope that we actually get to celebrate it’s being left unscathed. I doubt it but one can hope.

    That said, you’d be surprised how angry people get at me for advising young people not to go into a career field for which I have obsolete skills.

    • Jim Jones

      > I am. I’ve been clerical/secretarial for 36 years. It’s obsolete as
      soon as the young execs coming up who aren’t afraid of using computers
      replace the retiring baby boomers who are.

      Try TV/VCR repair. Or small appliance repair. Both vanishing fast – why bother?

  • Nicole

    Hooray Jacksonville Atheists! As a stay at home Mom living in Jacksonville I am definately in the minority here as a non-believer. I wish we had some of these billboards on my side of town!

  • bernerbits

    “It does concern me,” said the Rev. Armand Egnew, pastor of Crosswalk Community Church, an Assemblies of God congregation in Fleming Island. “It throws confusion out to people… who are not solidly grounded” in their faith.

    Right, because bad things might happen if people hear about other views from someone other than their pastor!

  • Lexie Little

    This makes me very happy. I live in Jacksonville, and also lived in Orange Park, not far from where the billboard is going up. I was very pleased to see this on the news a few nights ago, it was of course the main story, because the news has nothing better to report here.

    Here is how the local news portrayed the story…”ORANGE PARK, Fla. — For more than sixty years, Calvary United Methodist Church has been part of the scenery along Blanding Boulevard. The cross outside the sanctuary clearly indicateswhat goes on inside. However, this week a local atheist group promises to erecta billboard just a few blocks away that will question Calvary’s mission and that of other churches.

    “We might go down there and camp underneath it for a while,” said Calvary Pastor Rick Cornwell.

    The message, “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone” is expected to soon greet drivers along Blanding Boulevard. Another billboard will go up in St. Augustine. Both are sponsored by the Northeast Florida Coalition of Reason, a collection of local atheist groups.

    “The [signage] is about letting non-religious people that they are not alone and they need to come out of the closet and let the world know that we do exist,” said COR spokesperson Eric Coggins.

    The billboard is part of a national campaign by similar atheist groups. The Coalition of Reason hopes to dispel myths about those who label themselves as “freethinkers” and “humanists.”

    “Non-religious people don’t want to take over the world, they just want to be equal, participatory, and be a part of the big picture,” said Coggins.

    Pastor Cornwell viewed the billboard for himself on the group’s website.

    “I thought it was really interesting that they capitalized “God.” Just by that mere fact in some way they are acknowledging that there is a God,” said Cornwell.

    Questioning faith is sometime seen as taboo in the Bible Belt. However, pastor Cornwell doesn’t mind the question. In fact, he thinks it might help him fill the pews on Sunday.

    “I think anytime someone directs attention to “there is a God”, that’s really good stuff,” said Cornwell. ”

    They would naturally put a positive religious spin on it though. In this area, it is near impossible to turn around without hitting a church. It’s worse than Starbucks and Wal-Mart combined. This is much needed.

  • OP Atheist

    Like lexie above me, I am also an atheist who lives in Orange Park an man she’s right. A church on every corner(sometimes two, like at the end of college rd.). Btw, a littl update about this sign. The saint augustine one has already been vandalized. It’s leaning backwards as if it has been pulled down from behind by a large truck that just couldn’t quite finish the job.


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