If You Like Blunt Atheist Ads…

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has a couple billboards now up in Denver

And that’s the least controversial thing FFRF is announcing this week.

They’re also putting a sign like this in the Mississippi State Capitol beginning on December 20th:

At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail.
There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell.
There is only our natural world.
Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds.

These all seem pretty uncontroversial. I doubt you’ll be hearing anything else about them in the coming weeks…

  • Steve

    “Yes Virginia, there is no God” – I can’t help but thinking that could actually make some kids cry and seems truly mean-spirited in that context. I realize we need controversy to get a strong message across, but seeming to target pre-adolescents is questionable in my mind, whether it was intentional or not.

  • Samiimas

    ‘There is no god’

    That’s what atheists believe, that’s the one and only thing that separates an atheist from a theist. So when this simple statement of what atheists believe gets trashed as being ‘offensive’ and ‘militant’ can we stop pretending it’s because of tone or being a dick an just admit that these people are pissed because atheists are being allowed to express their beliefs?

  • Mike G.

    Am I this dull in the morning? I don’t understand the “Virginia” part if these were put up in Denver. Or am I just ignorant, and the reference is to something in pop-culture. I am racking my brain here.

  • Samiimas

    Am I this dull in the morning? I don’t understand the “Virginia” part if these were put up in Denver. Or am I just ignorant, and the reference is to something in pop-culture

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yes,_Virginia,_there_is_a_Santa_Claus

  • Myrmidon

    Am I this dull in the morning? I don’t understand the “Virginia” part if these were put up in Denver. Or am I just ignorant, and the reference is to something in pop-culture. I am racking my brain here.

    See this link.

  • Meredith

    Mike G. Says:

    Am I this dull in the morning? I don’t understand the “Virginia” part if these were put up in Denver. Or am I just ignorant, and the reference is to something in pop-culture. I am racking my brain here.

    Yes, Virginia is a part of Christmas folklore.

  • James

    Cue Christians being offended in 5, 4, 3, 2…

  • Myrmidon

    Server hiccups and we’ve got three identical links ;)

  • Mike G.

    Wow! Thank you all so much, I have never heard of this. :) So, as it stands, the case was my ignorance.

  • http://www.bluefrogdesignstudios.com/thebluefrogsays/ The Big Blue Frog

    I really wish they wouldn’t go so far as to say there is no god. I’m not a big fan of positive statements that will then need defending. I much more prefer the “There is probably no god” billboards.

    I do like the “you know it’s a myth” billboards, because we can prove that it is a myth, because of the contradictions and anachronisms involved in the nativity stories.

  • http://www.correntewire.com chicago dyke

    i like the juxtaposition with Santa Claus. it forces adult believers to confront the fact that they know Claus is myth, and at the same time, in no way connected to the Christian mythology of the bible, and that they gave up belief in Claus even as most of them lie to their children about him. just like they’re lying to themselves about baby jeebus. brilliant ad.

  • Luciferadi

    “Yes, Virginia . . . there is no god.”

    I’m offended by the structural awkwardness of that sentence.

  • Will

    The first one seems a little harsh. Encouraging free thought is great, but blatantly telling people to abandon what they’ve accepted all their life, especially during this season, is kind of harsh. That’s like me going up to my 8 year old brother on Christmas Eve and telling him Santa isn’t real.

    P.S. – I /AM/ an atheist.

  • Rob

    Love it. That should fire up the “hate speech” rhetoric from militant Xians. Good. I hope it makes them uncomfortable, having to explain their lies to children. Somehow exposing lies is seen as hateful by Xians. The irony is just redonkulous.

  • Defiantnonbeliever

    @steve, “seeming to target pre-adolescents is questionable in my mind”

    Preteens are directly targeted with gobs of religious propaganda at this time of year, so much so that Christians think they own December. I felt had to give up gift giving during the holidays entirely in protest, and cringe at the idea of profiting from the season. If there was actually some space to celebrate the solstice without the implied and blatant hypocrisy and lies nonsense, perhaps I could enjoy it again. We need to take back the season that’s become a celebration of Christian tyranny before it can be joyful again, as I see it. Can there be another way?

  • cortex

    I would be embarrassed if the Santa sign was in my neighborhood. It’s unbearably smug, even for an atheist sign.

  • http://www.correntewire.com chicago dyke

    cortex, if the sign had a picture of an blue woman with many arms and a necklace of skulls dancing on the body of a dead man and read “yes, virginia… there is no Durga” would you also find it “overly smug?”

    same deal. stop privileging monotheistic belief as if it’s “more sensible” than belief in pagan or ancient religions. they’re all same.

    myth. and it’s not “smug” to say so, it’s fact.

  • mkb

    I like the Ellen Wheeler Wilcox quote and have used it for our Ethical Society bulletin.

    Also, all the Christians who complain that atheists only target Christianity and not Islam should note that these signs apply equally to both religions.

  • Samiimas

    cortex, if the sign had a picture of an blue woman with many arms and a necklace of skulls dancing on the body of a dead man and read “yes, virginia… there is no Durga” would you also find it “overly smug?”

    Shouldn’t Durga also be holding a weapon in every hand?

    Because that would be an awesome billboard.

    On another subject I’d like to ask that any one complaining about how this sign is smug please go to every single church I’ve ever seen and explain how their signs stating ‘God exists’ or ‘Jesus Christ was ressurected’ as a proven fact are smug and you’re embarrassed to share the neighborhood with them.

    Can you also get the local GOP to take down their signs saying Obama is doing a bad job? Their simple statement of what the Republican party believes is unbearably smug.

  • NotYou007

    I love both of those billboards. The Santa one is my favorite though.

  • cortex

    Chicago dyke – Yes, I would. And I don’t think I’ve implied that any religion is more sensible than any other.

    Also, if I considered myself a Christian or a Republican, I would be embarrassed to see the signs that Samiimas has described in my neighborhood, too.

    I don’t expect anyone to take any sign down. I’m just saying that a sign like that one would make me less, not more comfortable with coming out as an atheist in my community.

  • Steve

    The contention over the billboards brings to mind something attributed to good ‘ol gautama:
    “When you know something that is hurtful and untrue, do not say it. When you know something helpful and untrue, do not say it. When you know something that is hurtful and true, do not say it. When you know something that is helpful and true, find the right time to say it.”

    Of course, how to judge what is helpful, true and the right time are up to the individual. I think we all agree what’s true and that what the churches say is untrue…sometimes hurtful and sometimes helpful, depending on the content and the audience. And the truth is that these signs are both helpful and hurtful…so someone help me here, does helpful trump hurtful? I’m thinking that’s another judgement call.
    Geez, why couldn’t that buddha guy be more straight forward like the god of the old testament? Oh yeah, he was just a man and god was just a fake mouthpiece for some priestly-leader-tryant types.

  • Daniel

    I’ve always enjoyed Terry Pratchett’s spin on the Virginia quote from his novel Hogfather.

    “Wherever people are obtuse and absurd . . . and wherever they have, by even the most generous standards, the attention span of a small chicken in a hurricane and the investigative ability of a one-legged cockroach . . . and wherever people are inanely credulous, pathetically attached to the certainties of the nursery and, in general, have as much grasp of the realities of the physical universe as an oyster has of mountaineering . . . yes, Twyla: there is a Hogfather.”

  • Quantum Penguin

    I would love to see these up here in Colorado Springs. Anything to watch the Focus on the Family folks get their panties in a bunch.

  • cypressgreen

    James says,

    Cue Christians being offended in 5, 4, 3, 2…

    Too late! They were outraged about the 2010 War on Christmas/Persecution Fest 6 months ago.

  • Defiantnonbeliever

    @Steve, people can hurt themselves when their cherished untruths are challenged, or they can start to reexamine them. I’m sure many were devastated at the suggestion that the earth wasn’t the center of creation, and apparently millions more people had to suffer and burn before it was ‘time’ to inform them that it wasn’t so.
    It seems to me that a good joke playing with the irony of such a Santa statement, is rather kind in comparison to continuing the risk of resurgent theocracies.

  • http://skepticat.blogspot.com/ Skepticat

    Heh, I predict the sign at the Mississippi capitol will start a shitstorm of epic proportions. People down here are full of rage and we make great targets.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    @Daniel,

    Thanks for your comment. :)

  • http://www.anthonyrmiller.com Tony

    While I find the Santa sign funny I think it’s a bit much.

    For kids being raised in a Christian home I can see where this would cause emotional issues.

    If it featured another deity I wouldn’t have an issue because it wasn’t specifically targeting kids.

  • Remus

    Hmm at first I thought the santa sign was a bit over the line, almost crude.
    Then it hit me. It’s controversial, but it can’t be overlooked. Everybody who watches it will have some reaction to it, be it good or bad, but it will not be ignored.

  • flatlander100

    Sorry, but I’m with Steve and BlueFrog on this one. I do not like the “Yes, Virginia” billboard. It targets kids, and young ones. I’m an atheist and I find it in bad taste and offensive.

    The others are fine. But not that one.

  • http://www.correntewire.com chicago dyke

    Chicago dyke – Yes, I would.

    well, that’s intellectually honest and i respect you for that, for all i disagree with you.

    let me try another approach: for all you arguing that the Santa sign “hurts children,” what do you think hurts children more?

    1. a sign most younger children probably can’t read or understand because they’re so young the point is lost on them, and they probably won’t even notice except to say “mommy! look! is that Santa?” while driving to the toy store to “suggest to Santa” what toys they want

    or

    2. having the moment when they first realize their parents have been LYING to them, for years, and that there is no Santa. and perhaps later on, that there may not be any ‘jesus” either, as they first use the internet or encounter someone in school who is not a Santa-worshipping “Christian?” or that Santa is NOT a truly “christian” myth, but is in fact a pagan demon figure from the mythology of central and northern europe, and that the entirety of the nativity mythology is a late invention that most Biblical authors had no knowledge of? etc?

    people you don’t know and never meet, who don’t talk to you or come to your school or home, who put of one of zillions of billboards you see as a child and mostly ignore because you’re a kid and billboards mean nothing to you, cannot and do not hurt you as much as the realization that your own parents and members of your family and “beloved” church community have lied to you. as all who push “Santa loves you and Jesus wants him to bring you gifts in December” does to every child. don’t tell me there are adults here who were raised to believe in Santa who didn’t realize he’s not real, or that realizing such was disappointing. at the very least.

  • http://www.correntewire.com chicago dyke

    meh, sorry for the typos.

  • http://cultwords.blogspot.com/ P.

    The first of the signs in the Mississippi seems overly pushy (mostly just the last line; “your religion is a stupid myth” is, in my opinion, the closest atheists come to “you’re going to hell”), although that might just be me being an overly sensitive theist here. (To be fair, I’d feel the same if it was pushing Christianity instead. There’s no place for proselytizing in a capitol building, whether for one religion or against any religion.) I really, really, really like the second of those, though.

  • Defiantnonbeliever

    hmmmmmmm, “Grinches”, “Scrooge”s, “angel haters”, “elf haters”, “burn in hell for ever”, “kill joys”, “Satan worshipers”, “witches”, “demons”, “fools”, “scienceism”, “Holy war”, 1,000s of movies, stories, and tv shows telling the lies, etc. ; who’s making kids cry, and is over the top?
    Seems to me you can still enjoy the fairy tales without believing them, all the more so as you can start to spot the fallacies and poke holes in the accepted beliefs.

  • Synapse

    I’m just waiting for the
    “Christians are Insane” campaign.

    “Bob hears voices and says it is the walls talking to him, and is locked up in an asylum.

    Joe hears voices and says it is the Lord talking to him, and gets his own radio show.”

    If you hear real voices in your head routinely telling you to do things, you’re not talking to God – you’re insane.

    Christian-Insanity.com”

  • Robert W.

    Chicago Dyke,’

    myth. and it’s not “smug” to say so, it’s fact.

    Its not a fact. It what’s you believe. And I do think Santa billboard is aimed at children and its not the right ( not the legal right obviously but, the moral right)of any group to tell this to children. It is no different then this group telling kids there is no Santa.

    Just think how angry you get when Christians tell children there is a God. Some of you call it child abuse and when we tell that to your children you resent it. It is no different.

    And most Kids who are as young as 6 can read this sign and still believe in Santa.

  • Samiimas

    Just think how angry you get when Christians tell children there is a God. Some of you call it child abuse and when we tell that to your children you resent it. It is no different

    I’d love to see a quote from someone on this website complaining that a Christian billboard with Santa saying ‘Yes Virginia there is a god’ or something similar is child abuse. Not someone pointing out that dragging a child to a building every week where they’re told ‘you have to _________ to be a decent human being and get into eternal paradise.’ is brainwashing them into _________.

    I’m sure you can robert, you’re not the type to exaggerate or just completely lie about things like this.

  • Peter

    Awesome ads. KEEP THEM COMING!

    Santa and God… two great myths… with Santa refuting god… how fun!

  • Enci

    awesome!

  • Emanuel Goldsein

    I now see tha the FFRF is not simply asserting that atheism is a “lack of belief in God” but in fact making the direct claim that “there is no God”.

    And such a direct claim, as opposed to simply a “lack of belief”, carries a Burden of Proof.

  • John B Hodges
  • http://thebeekeepersapprentice.com Bee

    In my experience, any holiday that MIGHT convince people, christian or otherwise, to stop being complete assholes for one day of the year is a good thing, no matter the symbolism/mythology/idiotic tradition behind it. As for the ads…ads are no more than a distraction, no matter the source or the message or the product being sold – be it an atheist sticker on a city bus or a lightup church sign.

    As an atheist, I reserve the right to assimilate any tradition/myth/holiday, religious in nature or secular, for my own nefarious purposes. Resistance is Futile.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000586562927 Donna Hamel (muggle)

    Darn, why couldn’t that first one have made it up in Denver when we lived there and my daughter was a kid? She’d have been thrilled that Santa agreed with us.


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