It’s not unheard of to see flying overhead banners touting churches or theism:
God-LESS America — atheists.org
Atheism is Patriotic — atheists.org
“The purpose of the banners is to highlight the fact that atheists are everywhere, in every parade, on every beach, and in every state, city, and town,” said Dave Silverman, President of American Atheists. “Atheism is alive and growing in the U.S.”
… in Southern states like Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas and other conservative states like Montana, Kansas, and Utah, there apparently wasn’t a single pilot to be found who would fly a banner promoting atheism.
Justin Jaye of Fly Signs Aerial Advertising, who is orchestrating the flights for American Atheists, said out of the 85 people in the country who fly these sign-pulling planes only about 17 have agreed to fly the messages.
“I’ve been in this business for 20 years and I’ve never run into so much resistance on people flying,” Jaye said. “I’ve had pilots who are actual atheists who said, ‘Justin, I am an atheist and I won’t fly it because I can’t wear a bulletproof vest.'”
Jaye said while some feared for their lives, others feared for their marriages. He had one pilot say his wife would divorce him if he made the flight.
One pilot in Indianapolis thinks those banners are somehow offensive:
Red Calvert, a pilot and president of Pro-Air Enterprises in Indianapolis, said his reasons to decline the flight were based on his personal beliefs.
“I respect our country and I respect our churches and we’ve got enough problems in our country without stirring up some more,” he said. “If those people want to do something they believe in, fine, just don’t include me.”
Because saying atheists are equally as patriotic as religious Americans is “stirring up” trouble…
These banners are a brilliant move on AA’s part because they know the mere idea is enough to spark interest in their campaign and, thus, their message. They know people are going to resist and that’s going to allow Dave Silverman and Blair Scott to get soundbytes in news articles and TV spots all over the country — before the banners even go up.
It’s already working and it’ll only get bigger when the banners begin to fly.
***Update***: Here’s the current schedule for where the banners will be flying.