Atheist Billboard Goes Up in Louisville

Kentucky now has an atheist billboard, courtesy of the Louisville Coalition of Reason!

It’s up until August 28th, thanks to $4,100 from the United Coalition of Reason.

Reaching out to the like minded isn’t the only goal of the effort. “We also want the public to know that people who don’t believe in a god are part of the Louisville population,” added Edwin Hensley, coordinator of the Louisville Coalition of Reason. “People like us can be found all around: in families and among friends and co-workers, including cheering kids at soccer games. We can even be found in churches, temples, and mosques!”

Leave it to a local priest to find something negative in that simple message:

“Some people are offended merely by our existence,” Hensley said, “and so matter what we do those people will be offended.”

“It’s a disturbing sign, or at least potentially disturbing sign,” said Fr. Elias Henritzy, a Roman Catholic priest.

Fr. Henritzy, a Dominican priest at Saint Louis Bertrand Catholic Church in Old Louisville, said he is not offended, but he is troubled by the billboard and what it might do.

“I think God really made us to be close to Him and have His love draw us close to each other more,” Fr. Henritzy said. “It’s a saddening sign in some ways, if that’s the real intent of it to draw people away from God.”

“Our answer is not so much what we turn people away from, but what we turn them to,” said Hensley, “which is rational thought, evidence based thinking, evidence based belief.”

While Fr. Henritzy’s faith is strong, he worries about those whose faith may not be.

“I’m hoping this isn’t an invitation to like a dead-end path for a lot of people and that’s the real danger of it, I think,” Fr. Henritzy said.

“A billboard in and of itself is not going to convert somebody. No one is going to drive down the road, see that billboard and say, ‘oh I’m now an atheist,” Hensley said.

It’s anything but saddening. It’s uplifting and a wonderful sign for any atheist to see.

I’m sure the discussions started because of the billboard will be useful for everyone who sees it, though, regardless of their beliefs.

How soon until this one gets vandalized? Let the guessing begin…

(Thanks to Wayne for the link!)

  • Jonas

    What I see as sad in this discussion is Fr. Henritzy’s apparent dislike of those of another religious stripe than himself.

    There are several ways both atheists, and theists could work together, for the common good. To align yourself, or believe you can only work with members of your own faith,

    “..We are meant to be close to [God].
    [God]‘s love draws us closer together”

    This is limiting. Christians, and non-christians should be able to work together, without feeling a need to convert each other.

  • Richard Wade

    The operative words in Fr. Henritzy’s three statements are “disturbing,” “saddening,” and “danger.”

    Padre is feeling insecure.

  • http://secularshawshank.wordpress.com Andy

    It’s amazing how uncontroversial this billboard is. It’s basically saying, “If you happened to be this kind of person, here’s a group of likeminded people you may not be aware of…” That’s it. That’s the whole sign.

  • Matt Becker

    I would love to have a bill board like this near any highway I go on. I’d probably start driving that road even more often just to look at it – it’s such a nice change from seeing passages from Revelations.

    My bet: 3 days before it’s tagged.

  • mshka

    i saw one of these in new orleans yesterday and had a little freak out in the car. luckily, i wasn’t driving.

  • http://smalldogbigstick.blogspot.com Brittany

    I bet it doesn’t get vandalized, I bet it gets taken down.

  • stephanie

    But, think of the children. They’ve got such innocent minds. A billboard like this? It could lead to… to… objective thought.

  • Matt

    @Andy

    Seriously, I’m with you. It is a very benign, uncontroversial message. Then again, most of the religious folk in that community probably didn’t know the atheists existed. They probably thought they were fire breathing monsters that lived across the ocean.

  • Don Rose

    It just makes me smile every time one of these billboards go up. I used to feel so alone as an atheist, but thanks to facebook groups, and atheist internet sites, I have some hope for the human race (or at least the growing atheist portion of the human race).

  • Ben

    Oh, and it WILL be vandalized not by a Christian or whatever BUT by an Atheist because we need to feel victimized so we can get our message out.

    /snark

  • http://uzzas.blogspot.com/ UZZA

    Is it just me or does anyone else find it creepy to hear a catholic priest talking about having his love draw us close to each other?

  • littlejohn

    I believe it will ascend into heaven where it will sit on the left side of god (jebus has the right side taken).
    But be careful, every man in the state is a damn colonel, whatever that means.

  • poopiehead

    i lived in ky and its about time one of these signs went up cause the Christian religion is ass rapping everyone there they control everything so good for us

  • Hammurabi

    Bets on how long till it is vandalized? My money is on the 8th.

  • http://www.cloverwise.com/ocd Tim

    It’s a credit to them that they can find anything to be upset about at all with such a benign billboard…it must really take some mental gymnastics. But as Hensley said, they find the mere existence of atheists “troubling,” and find it “offensive” when anyone dares acknowledge our existence. And as if it’s going to convert those with “weak faith…” all atheists have is a billboard. Christians have billboards, TV spots, posters, etc….their messages are ubiquitous throughout all media; and they never “convert” anyone that way.

  • http://stuffelaineispissedoffabout.com Elaine

    Hey y’all! I’m a Kentuckian by birth and lived there for much of my life. Good for them! I’m so proud of my Commonwealth (it’s not a state) today!!!!

  • http://atheistcamel.blogspot.com/ Dromedary Hump

    “It’s a disturbing sign, or at least potentially disturbing sign,”

    What exactly does “potentially disturbing ” mean. How does a sign have the potential to be disturbing, if it’s not disturbing at face?

    Sounds like the old fool is worried about his job. At the rate Catholic churches are shutting down, he probably sees this as one more “potential” loss of his meal ticket.

  • bigjohn756

    August 28th? And, it hasn’t been vandalized yet? I’m amazed by the great restraint shown by the Louisville Christians. Surely, they should be able to destroy other people’s property more quickly than that. Where is your commitment Christians? Come on, get busy, stifle free speech!

  • http://st-eutychus.com Nathan

    Has anybody actually measured results (ie a boost to web traffic) from these billboards?

    They work as a PR stunt, but they’re only going to keep getting publicity for a limited amount of time.

  • Michael

    was raised as a Catholic, after that Athiest, then a Christian, the finally made up mind, am a full blooded Atheist. Am a American, I can change my mind. Kiss me!

  • Neruda

    While I like this, I wonder if it might be misinterpreted.

    As in the “You are not alone” part being misconstrued as meaning that god is “always with you” …even if you don’t believe.

    Of course, anyone who follows the link will be clear on the meaning, but i’d assume most don’t scribble down the URL.

    Anyway, on balance I think I prefer the “There is probably no god…” version. Of course, that might make Mr. Potentially Disturbing’s head explode…

  • Jay

    I have a hard time understanding why even a Christian would find this sign offensive or disturbing.

    As an atheist, seeing it would be a nice sight.

    But more importantly, for people who are losing faith or have recently lost it, it may be a very welcoming beacon, letting them know they’ll be alright and are among like minded individuals, whether they knew it or not.

  • Dan W

    “Fr. Henritzy, a Dominican priest at Saint Louis Bertrand Catholic Church in Old Louisville, said he is not offended…”
    Bullshit he isn’t. If he wasn’t offended by it, then why did he say it’s a “disturbing sign”? I seem to recall a certain bunch of bus ads in Iowa that had the same wording (except for the name of the atheist group), and people were similarly “disturbed” by that. In fact, it was my state’s Governor, who I won’t be voting for this November: http://blogs.desmoinesregister.com/dmr/index.php/2009/08/06/gov-culver-atheist-bus-ad-is-offensive/

    Mr. Hensley is right of course; there are some people who are offended by even the existence of atheists, and thus will claim to be “disturbed” or “offended” by any atheist billboard or bus ad. Even the most unoffensive ones.

  • Einar S

    Well beeing and atheist myself i am not really enraged when seeing christian bilboards (not that there really are any nearby since i live in norway and well, there is not manny bilboards along roads here.. : p) also christians are not taken that seriously here in norway, i mean if your screaming that people will go to hell if they fall of the path of god you will probably be looked upon as abit crazy here.. the local priests are werry kind people and don’t come bearing with the message that you are doomed if you don’t believe in god, they don’t try and convert you that badly eighter. Here priests care more about human bonding, and reflecting upon our own lives and sins, that you should do unto others as you want them to do to you and so forth.. which really are good values to learn, especially for kids.

    having never really believed in god, i took my christian comfirmation at apropriate age (which is pretty usual here even though you do not believe in god, and well there are nearly none that i can think of that i know which can say without a doubt in their mind they believe in god..) one of the reasons of comfirmation is probably that you get cash from people and that it is a tradition here..

    I think the extreme priest/believers should learn from this, beeing extreme will do nothing but scare people away from religion, only kids would fall for the “you will go to hell if you do not do this..” strategy..

  • fritzy

    “I think God really made us to be close to Him and have His love draw us close to each other more,” Fr. Henritzy said.

    Based on the spotless record of humanity being uniformly united by god belief throughout history.

    “It’s a saddening sign in some ways, if that’s the real intent of it to draw people away from God.”

    A billboard has the ability to draw people away from faith in god? Doesn’t speak too highly of faith or god.

    “I’m hoping this isn’t an invitation to like a dead-end path for a lot of people and that’s the real danger of it, I think,” Fr. Henritzy said.

    “Dead-end path?” This coming from a man that represents an organization that rapes children then covers it up. I’ll take it as a complement.

    BTW Fr. Henritzy, “weak faith” is “the glass is half empty” way of saying “strong rationalism,” you pessimist.

  • SickoftheUS

    Neruda wrote:

    As in the “You are not alone” part being misconstrued as meaning that god is “always with you” …even if you don’t believe.

    I agree, I don’t think they “previewed” the sign as a believer might. For 4100 bones for a month of message, I think it could be worded more confidently.

  • Geek Gazette

    This is great! I didn’t even know there was a group in my general area. I have to go see this sign now.

  • Lobar

    Mr. Hensley’s words were the perfect counter to all the priest’s negativity. He couldn’t have planned it better.

  • Kristoff

    And to think, right when I move out of that state (er, “Commonwealth”), Reason moves in…

  • Love

    This is so exciting! :) It makes me more proud to live in Kentucky, and only 30-45 minutes from this sign. I’m definitely going to check out the website.

    Oh, and to the earlier commenter: Kentucky is a state… it’s just a commonwealth state. Still a state though, technically. However, the fact that it’s also a commonwealth obviously makes it twice as cool as other non-commonwealth states. But I guess I’m a little biased :)

  • muggle

    You mean it isn’t yet? That’s some kind of record. My guess is it will be before I’m done typing this comment.

    I agree with Richard. If I was face to face with that preist, I’d say, “Oh, ye, of little faith.” When they get defensive like that it rather belies how scared they are of losing their fantasy. I always think, “you have no more faith than I do.”

    Personally, I’d think you’d have trouble misconstruing that to promote belief in god but ymmv.

    Is it me or was that news report actually more biased towards us than against us? Or does it just seem that way because the preist makes himself look like a fool all on his own?

  • http://www.thenailthatsticksup.com Sam

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