Why Was This Atheist Billboard Rejected by EMC Outdoor in Knoxville?

Of all the atheist billboards to get rejected by advertising companies, this one will amaze you:

“You don’t need God — to hope, to care, to love, to live.”

What’s wrong with that? You don’t need a god for any of those things. And if you feel you do need god in your life, well, this billboard isn’t directed at you.

Still, that harmless message has been deemed “too controversial” in Knoxville, Tennessee.

First, some background: The Center for Inquiry’s “Living Without Religion” campaign began in March with bus ads and billboards in Washington, D.C., Indianapolis, and Houston. It soon expanded to Portland, Oregon.

Now, thanks to a $10,000 donation from the Stiefel Freethought Foundation and $5,000 from the Andrew Norman Foundation, the plan was to take that message to Grand Rapids, Michigan; Niagara Falls, New York; Durham, North Carolina; Washington, D.C. (again); and Knoxville, Tennessee. In all those cities, you’ll be seeing bus ads and billboards… except for the last city.

In Tennessee, advertiser EMC Outdoor rejected the ad, calling it “too offensive to a large percentage of Knoxville residents.” As far as I know, they didn’t explain their rationale any more than that.

Their contact information can be found here.

If you’re so inclined to leave them a (polite-but-stern) message about why they’re making the wrong decision and how this billboard is not-at-all offensive to any religious group, I’m sure they’d love to hear from you. Let us know what you told them in the comments, too.

***Update***: CFI informs me that “EMC acts as an agent for whomever owns the billboard space. It is the owner of the property who refused to run the copy. We do not know who that property owner is.”

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • gski

    I don’t understand how the offensiveness is not seen.  It is telling a group of people that the creator of their life and of the universe is not needed.  All they see is “You don’t need God” period.  They see this as a direct attack on the world as they know it to be, from people they despise and who’s mere existence is offensive to them.

    • Anonymous

      If that’s the line for offensive, one can never admit that they are simultaneously atheist and moral or happy.

      • Rieux

        That’s about the state of affairs, yes. And it’s why religious privilege is so closely related to atheophobia.

    • http://a-million-gods.blogspot.com/ Avicenna

      No, its telling people who are suffering from hiding their faith that there are other options. It’s giving courage to people who won’t or don’t know how to speak out. 

      It corrects the vaguely malicious idea that atheists are some sort of amoral figure that cannot feel basic human feelings.

      In short it’s just a way of telling people that Atheists exist.

      • gski

        I believe you are correct for the group
        of people you mention. However I doubt that is the group that is
        taking offense, which is what I thought the OP was addressing.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

      So… no message is inoffensive enough?

      • gski

        From their point of view that is exactly right.

    • Charming senorita

      Just as offensive as telling people they are going to hell if they dont believe in god or accept a certain god…

    • Anonymous

      Which is exactly why we can’t let them boss us around, because what it does in reality is deny dissenters their speech.

    • Nodtveidt

      I agree with this. It’s all about how it was stated. It would actually be less “offensive” if it said “You don’t need a sky fairy”… but it’s directly calling out their sky fairy by “name”… as if Christians have exclusive rights to the word “god”… but that’s another ball of stolen word wax altogether.

    • Rieux

      Fair enough. It’s an honest (and likely correct) answer to Hemant’s question: the billboard is offensive to people because of those people’s serious atheophobia.

    • Daniel Hendricks

      You are aware that no majority has a majority of followers, right?  

      Even if you lump all 40,000+ denomination of Christianity together (ignoring stuff like that Lutheran dogma asserts that the office of the Pope is the Anti-Christ and many denominations don’t consider LDS to be Christian), you still only get about a third of the population.  As the largest religion, it is a plurality, but not a majority.

      No matter what religion you are, most of the other people on the planet believe you are wrong.  That may or may not be offensive to you, but it is a simple fact.  A fact that is really all this billboard asserts.  “Hey, there are people with differing religious views.”  If this is a shock to you, you really need to get out more often.

    • Jeff

      The religious(note that I’m not picking on any single religion) don’t “know” anything – they BELIEVE a lot of stuff. There’s a big difference between belief and knowledge. The last part of your comment would do Hitler proud. That’s the same kind of “reasoning” he used to “justify” his attempted genocide of the Jews.

      • Jeff

        gski,

        Note that I’m not accusing you of anything. I didn’t mean for the post to sound as if I were. I was merely trying to underscore the type of thinking that religion can engender and what the results of that can be. I tried to edit the post but I can’t find any way of doing that.

  • Tyler

    To whom it may concern:

    As an evangelical youth pastor from Canada, I have to say that I find your decision not to run the billboard advertising that God is not needed to care, love, etc., (the Center for Inquiry) is misguided and unfair. 

    We’re all in this together, and from where I stand, I want to treat others the way I would want to be treated, even if I ultimately disagree with their message (well, actually I don’t disagree that atheists are very moral, caring and loving people. Atheists can be immoral too, but so can many supposed Christians. We can have a debate over where morality comes from, but that’s not the issue here). And while I don’t like the idea of putting up billboards myself very much (I think it cheapens the message), hey; if that’s your thing go for it. Freedom of speech & all that, right?

    While EMC Outdoor is free to choose what billboard messages they present or do not, I just feel that the decision was unfair, that’s all. My two cents. 

    Tyler

    • Zack

       This is why I hate Canada, even our Evangelicals are too damn reasonable, nice and moderate. :P I couldn’t have said it any better than “We’re all in this together, and from where I stand, I want to treat others the way I would want to be treated” though, an Internet high five to you sir. Truly, you are a gentleman and a scholar.

    • 123

      ” Atheists can be immoral too, but so can many supposed Christians.”

      If Christians who behave in an immoral fashion are supposed Christians(not real Christians) then Atheists who behave in an immoral fashion aren’t real Atheists-they are just random assholes.

    • Glry2hm48

      Tyler, you claim to be an evangelical youth pastor but your thought are not a bit of a person who knows his Bible. Christianity is  a choice, yet your permissive thought toward “get lost because you are already lost ” got my attention that in Canada we have youth pastors who are ignorant of God’s Message than the third world Christians.
      Praise the Lord your pastor is not my pastor.

      • guest

        Glry2hm48 your comment makes no sense to me. Could you rephrase it, put a period in some of the sentences and then…. maybe….maybe… I could understand what you’re trying to say?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Reed/692599362 Paul Reed

    “too offensive to a large percentage of Knoxville residents.”
    Which means one uber-Christian working for EMC Outdoor had a major tantrum

  • cipher

    They needed all of the available billboards to advertise the Ark Encounter.

  • Tyler

    Reading over that email now I realize how casual and non-professional it sounds. Whatever. I wrote it on my phone early on a Sunday am.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=553145445 Gordon Duffy

    I was very disappointed to hear that you rejected the CFI billboard as
    “too controversial”. I would be suprised to hear of a more harmless
    message that could be put on a billboard.

    It seems like, where non-believers are concerned, no message is harmless
    enough. Even saying we exist can be deemed “offensive” and “controversial”.

    I think you need to take a good look at your policy and reconsider.

  • Annette

    Dear Sir or Madam:It is with great frustration that I learn about your unwillingness to host CFI’s “You Don’t Need God–To Hope, To Care, To Live, To Love”.Is it really offensive–to make the world a little more open to the non-religious?Let me give you some examples of what might reasonably be called “offensive”.”You can’t Hope, Care, Live, Love without JESUS!””If you believe in God, you can’t Hope, Care, Live, and Love.”These two examples above are offensive because they are exclusive.  They are lies.  They are unkind.The billboard that was submitted to you by CFI was inclusive.  It responds to the very common (at least in America) belief that if one doesn’t believe in deities, they are immoral, dangerous, wicked, foolish, and possibly controlled by an evil spirit.  I think it’s a very honest, decent thing to post a board that would support an underrepresented, marginalized group that is so despised by most of the population of this country.  Why is that offensive?  I’m encouraging you to reconsider.Thank you,

  • Mary B

    Here’s a copy of what I just sent…

    I am writing to you in regards to your recent decision to reject the
    billboard from Livingwithoutreligion.com claiming it’s “too offensive to
    a large percentage of Knoxville residents.”. As a Knoxvillian, I do not
    understand your argument. First of all, must all billboards in
    Knoxville be in agreement with the “majority” of people in Knoxville?
    That said, I would like to point out the Adult Superstore billboards
    that litter the highways.  I personally do not like these messages and
    would stick my neck out and say the majority of Knoxvillians wouldn’t
    condone them as well. But then again, how could I prove that? That said,
    what proof are you utilizing to make your determination? Is this a
    personal belief? If so, I would contend that there will be many beliefs
    and thoughts on the subject. Different points of view are what expand
    our minds and open our thoughts to new and different ideas and concepts,
    even when we do not initially agree with them as that usually comes
    hand in hand with ignorance. What our beautiful city needs is to be
    educated on what other beliefs are out their versus Christianity that
    currently is advertised just about everywhere you look in our city. I
    personally, find that offensive as no other sides or perspectives are
    represented.

    Second, I am thoroughly confused how the message “You don’t need God — to hope, to care, to love, to live.”  is
    what you deem as offensive? Can you please further expand upon that? If
    I were an Atheist or Agnostic would I then not be welcome in Knoxville
    because I am too offensive for what you’ve determined is the majority?
    Do you think all Christians are truly that close minded and labeling
    them as well? Now that, I find offensive.

    I am asking you to rethink your decision on this billboard. As I
    think it would make an excellent point of discussion for our residents,
    and open our minds to new perspectives. Furthermore, this billboard may
    give support to those who do not believe in what your “majority” do,
    allowing their voices to be heard and represented. As last I checked,
    our country laws permit Freedom of Speech, for a reason.

    Kindly,
    Mary Barth

    • Anonymous

      an excellent point you made about the adverts for the adult stores.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ian-Hopping/100002320295437 Ian Hopping

      I’m trying to imagine an adult superstore.  I keep getting pictures of those retail parks with the large chains in warehouse like buildings, and one that has rows of shelves with sex toys on.

  • Oceantosummit

    I just sent this out to EMC’s contact folks:

    To Whom It May Concern:EMC Outdoors recently denied a secular organization the ability to use a billboard to promote a message that said “You Do Not Need God….to be good, love” etc…You claim it is too controversial, yet provide no explanation beyond this. Would you also deny advertising to a group that wished to have a billboard with an image of a long-haired, bearded man with nails through his hands and feet and a shredded face and forehead due to thorns wrapped around his head? Would you allow this violent and disturbing image to be shown to children riding in school buses? I am guessing your answer would be yes. Do you not find such hypocrisy disturbing? The first sign promotes happiness, love, goodness without violence or fear. The other shows disturbingly violent imagery that is distasteful and gross.Rethink your priorities. Secularists and atheists do the right thing because it is right. We do this because we understand the true concept of right from wrong.With regards,Eric C.Concerned citizen and atheist

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_E2YKNJBKUJEL7IN6HROUXSNCAY david

    –remember that at that time you were seperate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without HOPE and without God in the world.”  http://atheistlegitimacy.blogspot.com/

    • Nodtveidt

      *yawn* Yet another Bible thumper.

    • Anonymous

      I don’t see how we can derive any “hope” from Jesus. We have no evidence at all that he can resurrect anyone other than himself and make it “stick,” for example; otherwise we would have to postulate that in 2011 Lazarus in his deathless body still walks the earth like a character from Highlander.

      • Jeff

        Actually, we have no evidence at all that the biblical Jesus ever even existed. We do, however, have a great deal of evidence that suggests that he didn’t. Lazarus and the Highlander. I like it. LOL

        • Erp

          There are a lot of reputable scholars in the field including atheists/agnostics who would disagree that there is no evidence that Jesus didn’t exist.    People might disagree on how good the evidence is but something started Christianity and people thinking a charismatic leader didn’t stay permanently dead after his execution by the Romans makes more sense than any other option (note I didn’t say the leader really did rise from the dead, that is impossible, only that people thought he did).   People can believe remarkable things (see Sabbatai Zevi who still has followers or Menachem Mendel Schneerson whose followers seem to be divided on whether he was the messiah or not). 

          • Anonymous

            Religions don’t need historical “founders.” Nobody founded Hinduism, for example; and Buddhism doesn’t even need an historical Buddha because it makes some claims which we can test scientifically in the here and now, like the effects of Buddhist meditation on the brain. 

            Yet that doesn’t stop people from creating elaborate stories about legendary or mythical figures, like the tales of King Arthur or the descriptions of Prester John’s kingdom in Asia. 

            • Jeff

              AA,

              Ya got it in one. :-)

          • Jeff

            Erp,

            I hear where you’re coming from but a few simple examples will suffice to clarify my position. First, the best dating of the earliest gospel in the bible is 70 CE. The others are much newer. There’s no way that any of the authors knew the man even if he did exist. In fact, Paul is responsible for Christianity as we know it and, according to his gospel, he never met Jesus but instead saw it all in a vision. Secondly, there are no records from the time of his supposed existence that make any mention of him or his disciples or any of the of supposed well observed occurences(such as the dead rising). In addition, no records of the time make any mention whatsoever of Nazareth. They mention all sorts of places around where it was supposed to be but not of it. In fact, historical records indicate that the site that it was supposed to be located on was in fact, at the time, a system of caves used as a graveyard. There is a town called Nazareth now but historical records show that it was constructed probably some time in the 2nd century CE.

            In addition there is some seriously screwed up geography going on there. The place where he supposedly cast the the demons into the swine and they ran down the hill and drowned themselves in the sea is around 200 miles from the sea. That’s a hell of a run and a hell of a hill. :-)

            As far as the story having had to start somewhere, I agree. However, we have stories of Odin, Thor, Zeus, Apollo, etc. The same is true in pretty much every culture. The fact that the stories exist in no way means they were inspired by an actual being. Somewhat reminiscent of old Paul and his vision, no?

            Now, I’m not flat out insisting that Jesus never existed. I wasn’t there, I have no way of knowing for sure. All I’m saying is that the available evidence is overwhelmingly against it.

            There are only three sources from years of  yore that make mention of Jesus and all three were not only written long after the time he supposedly existed but all three have been discredited by scholars centuries ago as being interpolations of existing works or outright forgeries. That doesn’t leave much to go on.

            • Erp

              First I completely agree that the miracles did not happen which fully explains why no outside party commented on them.  However people within a group will pass stories around that grow in time; people’s own memories will mutate.  Give a few decades of oral tradition and we get what we get.   Also though 40 years is a long time it certainly does not put it outside of living memory even in the 1st century CE (average life span was short but it was not unknown for people to live to 70 or more).  However I doubt any eyewitnesses contributed anything substantial directly to the written gospel accounts.   Note that ancient (and modern) figures acquire stories and sometimes deliberately cultivate them (see Augustus Caesar or for modern the various stories about George Washington [e.g., Parson Weems or David Barton's stories about him]).

              Second, Nazareth may well have existed at the time though at most as a small village supporting the nearby large city of Sepphoris (and the New Testament accounts do indicate Nazareth was insignificant).  Pottery has been found that dates from about the 1st and 2nd century CE.   It is a bit tricky to excavate in the middle of a modern town (especially if the landowners have a  fear that if anything significant is found they may lose their land).   Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence especially when no large scale proper excavation has been done.

              Third, Paul did say he met James, brother of the Lord, and is working with (and disagreeing with) a Jerusalem community which means something existed before Paul (and existed separately after, see the Ebionites).    Brother seems to have meant literal brother or at least close blood relation.  Note if it were a title as some have speculated, why did it vanish after James’ death?

              Personally I think there was a seed much like Joseph Smith with the Mormons.  Though the mythic seed and the seed in reality can be quite different (a problem for the Mormons is we actually know a fair bit about the seed in reality).

              • Jeff

                Good points, erp. One of the major problems we have in determining exactly what may or may not have taken place in antiquity  is the practice of writing a document and putting someone else’s name on it to give it more “authority”. That really screws up the academic works.

                I agree wholeheartedly about the story building aspect of things. My own Irish ancestors were notorious for doing that. Sometimes it was an embellishment that grew over the years and the person actually existed, sometimes it was pure myth. After a few thousand years of tradition and no reliable evidence either way it’s pretty much impossible to discern the truth of the matter.

                As far as James goes, it doesn’t necessarily mean any kind of familial relation. As far as something existing before Paul, there’s no doubt of that. If the man existed(and in this case I think he did), according to the writings he started out as Saul of Tarsus persecuting the Christians. That would be hard to do if some sort of sect didn’t exist. As far as the brother issue goes, it’s common for Christians to call each other Brother and Sister. I’m not saying that was the case, just that it would have been in character. so the appellation is really inconclusive.

                Now Joseph – that’s a good one. I liken him to L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology. He made all that shit up. And, yeah, it’s a problem for the Mormons. :-)

                As far as Nazareth goes, like I said, historical information indicates that the area was a graveyard. It wouldn’t be in any way surprising to find shards of pottery there. Ancient funerary practices and all that, you know. At any rate, if it was a graveyard, no Jew would have lived there. Come to think of it, people still don’t tend to take up residence in graveyards.

                Anyway, good discussion. I’m off here for the night. It’s getting late and I’m about bushed.

                Have a good one.

                • Jeff

                  Oh, one thing I meant to mention and forgot to was Paul/Saul’s “vision”. He supposedly had spent 2 or 3 years in Egypt prior to returning and having his “vision”. It’s amazing that the story he told about Jesus exactly parallels the Egyptian story of Horus. Hmmm.

                • http://thingsfindothinks.com AndrewF

                  Sigh… parallelamania of dying and rising gods is dead in mainstream scholarship… though it rears it’s head on atheist websites all too frequently.

                  The idea that Christianity ‘borrowed’ from egyptian mythology is not held by any mainstream historian that I know of – it was rejected some decades ago, largely because the methodology which supported the theory was shown to be seriously flawed: take the Christian language of resurrection, call something else by the same name and ‘woah’ they must have borrowed it! In any case, Horus didn’t die, so how does that ‘exactly parallel’? Not exactly a good start, is it?

                • Annette

                  Many, many ancient Mesopotamian religions have the themes of death and resurrection.  To say it doesn’t line up perfectly with Horus in no ways negates this simple truth.  The Jesus myth is just one of the many death/resurrection THEMES found in  ancient religion.  It was oversimplification to claim Jesus’ story was “exactly” the same as Horus’s, though.

                • Jeff

                  You’re right, Annette. It was late and I was tired. “Exactly” is too blanket a statement to use. What would have been more correct to say is that the Horus story was rewritten and wrapped in Jewish trappings. The major elements are all there, though. There are also a lot of parallelisms to the story of Mithras. I think that major elements were taken from both and likely other    “Mystery School” religions and traditions as well.

                  ell.

                • Jeff

                  AndrewF,

                  Take a look at this site:

                  http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_jcpa5b.htm

                  You’re going to find a lot of what you just said contradicted.

                  Of course, they modified the story and wrapped it in Jewish trappings.

                  It wouldn’t have been palatable otherwise.

                  Do you have any proof of your first statement?

                  I’ve seen this same tactic used many times by Christian Apologetics and it’s no more valid now than it has ever been.

    • GeeH

      Is there more to this sentence fragment?

  • exe

    “I understand you have rejected billboards from Livingwithoutreligion.org as being “too controversial” for the local residents of Knoxville, TN.  I think that is exactly why it is needed.  I believe that people can advance when they are exposed to a variety of ideas, and then are allowed to make their own choices.  For too long, we have been exposed to one-sided obnoxious billboards threatening hellfire from religious groups.  I think it is important to present the idea that people themselves can take it upon themselves to make the choice to be good and caring, without religion’s message of burning in hell.”

  • http://thingsfindothinks.com AndrewF

    It’s not offensive (but then, Cultural Christians[tm] tend to be more prone to taking offence and forget that Jesus – who they generally don’t bother to read – said we’d be offended and worse for his sake), but perhaps it should read:

    “You don’t need to believe in God — to hope, to care, to love, to live.”

    Christians couldn’t complain about that, as it is entirely consistent with Christian theology.

    • Rieux

      Christians couldn’t complain about that, as it is entirely consistent with Christian theology.

      Oh, right—because “Christian theology” couldn’t possibly be something that millions of people make up for themselves. And of course your personal gloss on Christian theology means that other Christians “c[a]n’t complain about” things that you personally don’t find contradictory.

      Yeah.

      • http://thingsfindothinks.com AndrewF

        You’re having a go at  me because I agree that Christians ought not be offended? 

        • Janus

          You’re of course right that Christians shouldn’t be offended. I think the posters above mean that Christians often ignore their own faith and beliefs when confronted with a message they don’t believe in. It incites fear and criticism in their hearts. I know this is a gross generalization, but it is still common nonetheless. I don’t expect all Christians to be so high-handed, but I certainly don’t expect most of them to be accepting of this message of ‘otherness’ either.

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      I like how you imply that “cultural Christians” (I think you need to look up the definition of that word) are somehow more likely to take offense when compared to “true” Christians like yourself. As if we do not have numerous examples of passionate, devoted, Bible-believing Christians who promote censorship when confronted by messages they disagree with. Apparently, those people aren’t real Christians. No True Scotsman, anyone?

      • http://thingsfindothinks.com AndrewF

        You’re reading way too much into my comment.

        Of course, there is such a thing as a true scotsman – someone with a scottish citizenship. Just because I have red hair and a scottish rugby jersey and can mimick the accent and like to call myself scottish doesn’t make me Scottish. Likewise, there IS a criteria for being a Christian: following Christ, who, as it happened, said that people will say things you find offensive – get over it.
        When I say ‘cultural Christian’ I mean those who want to keep the cultural tradition of Christianity without actually following Jesus. There’s plenty around – you don’t generally find them in church except maybe at Christmas, Easter or to get their baby christened. 
        That is not to say that there aren’t “passionate bible-believing Christians” who, like you say, want to silence opposition. I’m simply speaking from my experience.

        • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

          Yes, that’s exactly what “cultural Christian” means, and you know as well as I do that those types of people are the ones who are least likely to work themselves into a frothing rage over this billboard. You said exactly the opposite, that these people who don’t really care about religion are the ones who are going to be offended. You’ve claimed that “real” Christians (like yourself) are less likely to be bothered, when evidence shows quite the opposite.

      • Elbanosear

        I didn’t realize how often that one comes up.

        • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

          All the  time, unfortunately, and not just by Christians. Look at all the moderate Muslims who proclaim that various suicide bombers weren’t “real” Muslims, because of course “real” Muslims wouldn’t do something like that.

  • LP

    I’d guess that a pro God billboard with a Muslim message like “Allahu Akbar” (God is great) would be rejected as well.

    • http://thingsfindothinks.com AndrewF

      Did you hear about the Aussie billboard where some Mulsims put up a sign saying that Jesus was a prophet of Islam? http://st-eutychus.com/2011/how-to-be-on-message-and-engaging-with-the-message-of-jesus/

  • Some Lady

    I wish the people making these billboards would phrase it “a god” instead of “God” with a capital “G.” it implies a god exists, but you just don’t need him, rather than you don’t need belief in a god.

    • Anonymous

      I could see variations on this billboard where you substitute words like fetish, guardian angel, patron saint, daimon, avatar, etc., for “a god.”

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      I agree! I also think it feeds into Christians’ sense of self-importance when atheists go around talking about “God.” It allows them to continue to believe that their deity is special. Of course we know that atheists lack belief in all gods equally, but that’s not the message that Christians are taking from these billboards. They’ll just continue to think that their god is so important that even atheists address it specifically.

    • Jeff Irick

      I agree wholeheartedly.  It give the Christian “superman in the sky” much more credibility than it deserves – which is to say no more than any other mythical being. I happen to know Christians who actually believe that everyone else “knows” that Christianity is true and that their “superman” knocked up a virgin in order to give “birth” to himself so that he could have himself tortured and killed as a sacrifice to himself to “forgive” humanity for something he(according to their beliefs) was actually responsible for himself. The Christians who hold that “everybody really knows it’s true” believe that everyone who believes in a different religion or no religion at all just don’t want to “obey God”. How do I know this? I’ve had many of them tell me so. They’ve been so indoctrinated since birth that it’s nearly impossible for them to truly understand that everyone DOESN’T believe what they believe.

      Phrasing and capitalization such as that on the billboard only reinforces this belief and should be avoided at all costs. It’s time that the “I know better than everybody else and I’m better than everybody else because of it.” learn better.

      There’s a Christian church, bookstore, gift shop, etc. on practically every street corner in Knoxville. I don’t see them being in any way picketed or protested by the Muslims, the Jews, the Amish, the Wiccans or the atheists that are here. The same goes for the radio shows and television shows that inundate the airwaves. Nor do we see any group other than the Christians spewing persecution and hatred toward any and everyone that doesn’t believe what they believe. Nor do we see any other group trying to shut everyone else up so that only their voice can be heard.

      I wonder how they would feel if we put the shoe on the other foot?

      This is what I actually sent EMC:

      EMC,

       

      You are, of
      course, free to accept or reject any advertising you choose. However, think
      about this:

       

      There’s a Christian church, bookstore, gift shop, etc. on
      practically every street corner in Knoxville.
      I don’t see them being in any way picketed or protested by the Muslims, the
      Jews, the Amish, the Wiccans or the atheists that are here. The same goes for
      the radio shows and television shows that inundate the airwaves. Nor do we see
      any group other than the Christians spewing persecution and hatred toward any
      and everyone that doesn’t believe what they believe. Nor do we see any other
      group trying to shut everyone else up so that only their voice can be heard.

       

      What you are doing is exactly at odds with what your “good
      book” supposedly teaches. What happened to tolerance, understanding and love?

       

      Think about it.

       

      Jeff Irick – Free thinker and proud of it.

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      I completely agree with Some Lady.  The continued use of “God” instead of “gods” in atheist ads implies that it exists, and it keeps reinforcing the locals’ sense of privilege instead of challenging it. It inadvertently gives the Christian god a status above other gods it does not deserve. “God” belongs in the same category as Zeus, Ra, Shiva, Thor and all the rest. They’re gods.

      You don’t need to believe in gods–
      to hope, to care, to love, to live.

      Christians would still pretend to be “offended,” but they’d have to work harder at justifying it, and they’d look more absurd trying.

  • bk

    If you pay the $, they should let you put up the billboard.  But, let me ask a more important questions:

    If there is no God, then what is “love?” What does it mean to “care?” Who decides what these terms mean unless there is a moral imperative and an absolute truth/standard to judge good/evil and right/wrong and caring/uncaring?   

    • Anonymous

      Funny, social mammals seem to handle these problems just fine without a god theory. Does my cat Hypatia need to believe in a god to justify her desire to rub up against me and solicit my petting?

      • bk

        are you suggesting you and your cat have the same conscience ability to reason, care, love, and create?  

        can we all agree that the capacity of humans far out-distances any other species?   if so, why?  why does the human race differ so dramatically from any other species?and, I will ask again, can someone define “good” without a moral absolute?  if you don’t believe the moral absolute comes from a divine being, than okay, that is cool. Where does the moral imperative come from then?

        • Anonymous

          Again, you want to make this more complicated than necessary. Babies, children and retarded adults don’t reason beyond some elementary level, yet they seem to figure out how to express emotions and respond appropriately to others’ emotional states based on cues from body language, facial expression, tone of voice, etc. This ability derives from our pre-rational evolutionary equipment as social hominids, not from abstract speculations about gods and absolutes.

          • bk

            Now we are talking about interpersonal social responses?  I thought I was asking about defining “good” or “moral” or “evil” and “immoral” for that matter. 

            Does a speculative theory on pre-rational evolutionary equipment answer this question?  

            Thanks AdvAtheist for a spirited yet civil debate.  Rest assured, I am not here to argue and to be “right.” I just thought this was an interesting conversation and I am thankful for the opportunity to ask questions.

            • http://www.facebook.com/Kyrie.Firelight Kat Tuggle

              Love thy neighbor as thyself is not exclusive to the Bible.  It appears in every culture.  The idea of ‘God’ is something we create in our own minds; the ‘bad’ and the ‘good’ in religion does not come from an external power, but from us.  Even the Bible says that ‘God’ is in us.  Concepts such as ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ ‘moral’ and ‘immoral’ do not originate in an external force or being.  They come from inside us, just as naturally as tears when something makes us sad, or a smile when something makes us happy, or laughter when something is funny.  They do not have to be taught or indoctrinated.  They simply are.

        • Anonymous

          Because we are more evolutionary advanced. Duh! Because our brain is much larger. There are lots of animals – in particular primates – that show empathy, self-awareness, altruism, selflessness and yes a consciousness. That also goes for more intelligent ones like dolphins or elephants. And yes, even cats and dogs can certainly show love or at least emotional attachments.

          Morality has evolved. Again, we are social animals. Treating other people well is in your own best interest when you have to live with them to survive. It’s only in more complex societies that sociopathy pays off. In small tribes, not so much.

          You can also scientifically prove that. Take a look at people with damage to their brain, especially regions like their prefrontal cortex. They usually show changes in their personality, but also – and here is where it gets interesting – they can lose their sense of morality and their social inhibitions. They suddenly act in ways that aren’t socially acceptable anymore.

          There are  simply no moral absolutes. The Bible is largely immoral for example. And societies throughout human history have shown immoral tendencies.

        • http://profiles.google.com/aquaria40 L J

          My cat has a better sense of ethics and more compassion than 99% of  Christians.

          Just look at the bigoted, hateful and STUPID assertions you’re pulling out of your nether regions to justify believing the delusion that a genocidal scumbag tyrant of a deity is real.

          You’re a repulsive excuse of a human being.

    • Rich Wilson

      If it takes the existence (if not the belief) in God for me to decided that Ex 21 and Gen 22 and pretty much all of Job and… oh you get the idea.

      Then fine.  God has lots of examples of what NOT to do.  (And admittedly, some examples of what TO do).

      Oh wait, he didn’t actually say which is which, so I still need to make that decision.

      What is he for again?

    • Rieux

      Why, pray tell, does the existence of a deity do anything to invest “love,” “care,” “a moral imperative,” or “an absolute truth/standard to judge” anything in particular with meaning?

      You seem to be laboring under some rather basic illogic.

      • Anonymous

        That’s why I never get either. Theists claim that their god somehow gave us morals, but it certainly can’t be in the form of his holy book, since that’s immoral in large parts. And an innate morality imparted by a god would be indistinguishable from one that evolved naturally.

        • Rieux

          Sure—but even more fundamentally, the Euthyphro dilemma blows a big hole in the foundation of what I gather bk believes.

    • Anonymous

      So we are to take the absolute insanity and barbarism of the Bible, the Torah or the Koran as a moral source? I think not

      Humans are social animals. We exist in groups and not alone. Society can decide what it considers right and moral. We always have. That’s why moral standards change. Some things we considered acceptable centuries or even a few decades ago are abhorrent to us now.

      We can discuss what kind of society we want to live in. We know what harms people and what hurts them. We try different things to see what works and doesn’t. We see how many freedoms or restrictions there can be for a society to function. The present state isn’t always ideal, but in theory it should continue to improve. That’s why we have things like philosophy, ethics, law and politics.

      • bk

        So morals change and we all get to decide what is moral and what isn’t? 

        For some cultures then it is perfectly moral to practice infanticide. Most, of course, are repulsed by this but for some cultures, this is a perfectly “moral” act in their context.  

        Doesn’t there have to be a moral constant that applies regardless of what the “society decides?”   I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust that society can always get this right.  

        • Rich Wilson

          Yes, morals evolve just like organisms evolve.  And as such, they aren’t perfect.  And there are different versions all in play.

          “The Moral Landscape” (Sam Harris) proposes that it is possible in theory to come up with objective morals.  Not that it would always be easy, but can be done.

          If you really want God to be giving us an absolute fixed morality, then wouldn’t you have to either accept that Ex 21 is moral (women and children are chattel) or that God made a mistake, or changed his mind, or something?  In which case, how is it absolute?  Try this shoe on for size: 

          The bible was written by various people at various times, and each part reflects the customs and morals of the time in which it was written.

          In THAT context, Gen 21 makes perfect sense.  Women WERE chattel then.  And today in many cultures still are, but that view is evolving.

          And since you mentioned cats and caring somewhere- caring and love and altruism all exist outside the human species.  Maybe not as ‘advance’, but we’re more ‘advanced’ than other species in a few other ways, in particular language, so it’s hardly surprising.  Most days I’d go out and find you half a dozen links, but I have an early flight and it’s past my bedtime.

        • Anonymous

          So if we somehow know all moral absolutes, why was it acceptable for those cultures to violate them? Of course the Christian response to that is some nonsense about free will. Which, even if it were true, negates the whole purpose. So god somehow puts this “moral constant” into our heads and then allows us to ignore it? Either shows that god is stupid or capricious. In any case, it’s wishful thinking

          If there are moral absolutes and we don’t know about them, but just do our own thing, then the concept is irrelevant. We might as well make up your own stuff as we go along. Which is exactly what we do.

          Here is what Richard Dawkins has to say about the topic (you know it’s over when the glasses come off):
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxdgCxK4VUA

        • http://www.facebook.com/Kyrie.Firelight Kat Tuggle

          Just because a society judges something as ‘moral’ or ‘immoral’ does not give that judgement validity.  Most of the infanticides practiced in China are not done because it’s considered ‘right,’ they’re performed because it’s considered ‘practical.’  The underlying evil here is the societal judgement that boys are more valuable than girls.  Giving a higher value to one group of people over another violates the whole idea of basic respect for humanity.  EMC is ‘wrong’ to block this billboard because of the same root cause.  They are giving higher value to one distinct group.  Society does not always get it right; unfortunately God does not always get it right either.  There is infanticide in the Bible as well, based on the judgement that the Israelites are of higher value than other peoples.  The judgement that boys are more valuable than girls also surfaces in its pages.  Reference the circumstance of Isaac, who was saved from sacrifice, and Jephthah’s anonymous daughter, who was not, although both of their fathers were equally ‘godly’ men.

    • Annie

      BK- Let me ask you this.  When you find yourself in a moral dilemma, how do you decide what to do?  If you think about this, I believe you use the same tools that atheists do.  We think about how our actions will affect ourselves and other people, and make a decision based on what would be the best for all.  If you are standing on a street corner and see a cyclist get hit by a car, do you run to your minister or bible to tell you what to do?  I doubt it.  I bet you would do what I would do- run to the cyclist, assess the situation, call 911 in necessary, and offer to help.  If you would only take these actions because you believe you will be rewarded in some way by your god, then I guess we could say that I am actually more moral than you are.

      • bk

        Annie, thanks for the reply.   I’m not sure where you got the idea that I’d only respond due to being “rewarded.”  I just asked who decides what is “good.”
        Quick question for you: if a dog sees another dog get hit by a car, what does the uninjured dog do?  Why are humans so different? Is our superior ability to reason, care and create random? 

        • Greg

          Sorry to cut in, but as someone that has actually found it happen to my family’s cat, I feel I can give an answer: the dog came and fetched me to help the cat. You’re making a false assumption there that the dog wouldn’t do anything.

          Now granted, had the cat not been part of our ‘pack’, the dog may not have fetched me. But all that means is that there may be a difference in what we as humans consider our ‘pack’ and what animals consider their ‘pack’.

          In fact – and I’m aware this is going to be only an anecdote – I think you’re severely underestimating our animal cousins.

          My mother is an epileptic and took our two dogs for a walk. The furthest point from our house, she had a seizure. One dog stayed with her to guard her, and the other ran back to get me and my father. The dog that came back to get us insisted that we followed her until we found my mother.

          Like I said, only an anecdote – but still, you might find it surprising.

        • Anonymous

          We have the ability to reason because our brains are larger and more advanced. Jeez, is that really so hard to understand?

          As for animals, you will find altruism in all social species. And that also goes for comparatively less advanced ones like certain birds. They all show behavior here and there that benefits more the group than the individual.

    • Drew M.

      I don’t trust anyone who needs a god in order to define morality. If you are only good because you fear the wrath of an omnipotent being, then you really aren’t good.

      True morality comes from the ability to empathize with your fellow human beings: You don’t do bad stuff because you know that it hurts them.

      • bk

        Thanks Drew…  Where did I suggest that I am “only good” because I fear the wrath of an omnipotent being? 

        I said this in a response to Stev84:  For some cultures then it is perfectly moral to practice infanticide. Most, of course, are repulsed by this but for some cultures, this is a perfectly “moral” act in their context.  

        Doesn’t there have to be a moral constant that applies regardless of what the “society decides?”   I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust that society can always get this right.

      • bk

        Thanks Drew…  Where did I suggest that I am “only good” because I fear the wrath of an omnipotent being? 

        I said this in a response to Stev84:  For some cultures then it is perfectly moral to practice infanticide. Most, of course, are repulsed by this but for some cultures, this is a perfectly “moral” act in their context.  

        Doesn’t there have to be a moral constant that applies regardless of what the “society decides?”   I don’t know about you, but I don’t trust that society can always get this right.

        • Drew M.

          My apologies. I inferred that you cannot define Love or Care without a divine being setting some sort of arbitrary “moral imperative.” And from there I deduced that you require a god and all its trappings in order to be good.

          I stand by what I said even if it is not true about you. If there should be a moral constant, it should not come from some bronze age document and the people who follow it blindly.

          Let’s take your infanticide-happy cultures (for which you failed to provide a cite), for example. My first assumption is that this does not occur in and first or second world countries. I would ask, why do they practice it? Are the infants they killed disabled in some way and they would be a burden on an already poor tribe? Are they just starving and the child will only grow up in misery? Do you honestly believe that raising a child in either circumstance is the moral thing to do? Of course, this is pure speculation because I have no freaking clue what the context is. Got a cite for these cultures? If they do it for reasons such as having the wrong color eyes, I’ll agree that it is wrong.

          Nothing sickens me more when someone in a position of privilege acts as some sort of morality defender in cultures outside his own – not that I’ve inferred this about you.  A global moral constant would be incredibly stupid.
          I’ll take my bets on society’s moral standards any day of the week.

          • Rich Wilson

            Pretty sure he’s equating infanticide with abortion.

            • Drew M.

              /facepalm

              I’m sure you’re right. The difference between a zygote and an infant is just too subtle to call.

              • bk

                Thanks for the guesses, but no, that’s not what I was talking about.  India, China and Uganda are major examples where female infanticide has been practiced in the past 20 years.  A quick google search will provide plenty of evidence of cultures who have or do practice infanticide.  

    • Greg

      My immediate thought is: if there is a god then what is ‘love’? What does it mean to ‘care’? How can a god possibly provide an absolute truth/standard to judge good/evil and right/wrong and caring/uncaring? I see no reason to believe that something which has not been proven to exist can help us with any of these questions.

      Seriously, as it is, there’s no problem with it from a non-theistic world-view. Language is a human construct (which you will hopefully agree is a truism), and therefore we decide the meanings for any word, whether it is ‘stone’, ‘pizza’, ‘football’, or ‘love’ or ‘morality’.

      Are you seriously trying to imply, that without a god we have no reason to call a ‘rock’: a ‘rock’?

  • Sarah Moglia

    My message:To whom it may concern: I am curious as to why the CFI “Living Without Religion” billboard was rejected. The billboard is not claiming that any religious group is wrong or bad, simply that it is possible to live an acceptable life without believing in any god. If you have ever allowed a religious message to be portrayed on one of your billboards, then this is blatant discrimination. I urge you to reconsider your decision and allow the CFI billboards to be placed up. Quite frankly, if seeing a sign that says “Atheists are okay” is enough to drive the residents of Knoxville insane with rage, perhaps they need to be educated in tolerance…something this billboard will do.Thank you.

  • Peter Mahoney

    It is good to write
    to the billboard company that denied CFI the ability to post this message on
    their billboards.

    BUT…. perhaps more important would be to write to their local and state
    NEWSPAPERS (letters to the editors, letters to reporters who cover
    social/community/religion issues, etc.) sharing our points of view on this.

    My thought is that the letters to the billboard company will get deleted or
    stuck in a file, and change no one’s mind, and never really see the light of
    day.

    BUT…  a newspaper, radio station, etc. that gets 50 emails about a topic
    will then realize “Hey, this is news” and will cover it, thus getting
    free publicity for CFI’s message. 

    KNOX NEWS:
    http://www.knoxnews.com

    Email your letter to letters@knoxnews.com.

    Or online: http://www.knoxnews.com/news/yournews/
    Phone: 865-342-6296

    Knoxville Daily
    Sun:

    News Tip Line: (865) 206-1073

    To submit your opinion on any topic, you may send it by
    email to:
    :
    publisher@knoxvilledailysun.com

     

     

    KnoxvilleTimes.com

    http://www.knoxvilletimes.com/index.php/ct/12/contact/staff/continue/1/

    If each of us submits
    comments to the local newspapers (copy/paste your comments to their editorial
    boards or news teams, and call their news hotline number) I am SURE we would
    get some local media coverage there about this.

  • Peter Mahoney

    Sorry my post above has so many empty lines: I wrote it in MS Word and pasted it in, and it didn’t have so much dead space until it posted on this blog. Sorry.

    Meanwhile, perhaps a tactic with all of these local stories could be to have a group of us who would make sure that local media outlets are informed about these issues (e.g. writing/calling local news groups every time there is a local violation of church-state separation, discrimination against nonbelievers, etc.).

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      Yes this is an annoying failing about Disqus. It is possible to click the edit function after you’ve posted your comment, and delete out all the computerese gobbletygook that appears and all the added spacing, but it’s a tedious pain in the neck. I do it because I’m picky about details and presentation.  It usually takes several tries of saving the edit before I get all the mess straightened up. 

  • Annie

    When I went to the site provided, I noticed that this company’s address is in Pennsylvania, not TN.  So, I read up on the company and it appears they don’t actually own the billboards, but rather act as a national clearinghouse for finding a billboard in your targeted area.  My question is this:  Is this the only way to get a billboard in your targeted area, or can a company or organization contact a local billboard company directly?  I would think it would be cheaper to contact a local company than to use EMC Outdoor’s “services”.  Also, they have a blog!  Perhaps some comments in the blog section would be helpful too.  You can find it here: http://campaigns.emcoutdoor.com/blogs/index.php?blog=4

  • Against Religion

    Is there a lawsuit in here anywhere?

  • Brin

    I live about two hours away from Knoxville (which isn’t that far in TN), and this doesn’t surprise me in the slightest. I’d be more shocked if they accepted a billboard like that. The term “atheist” is thrown around as an insult to science teachers that students dislike. Atheists are tormented daily for their belief (or lack thereof), regardless of age or location. I’m pretty much terrified to admit to being one myself in this area. It’s sort of sad that one of the places that needs that sort of billboard the most is the one that would never dream of putting one up.
    I’m sending an email, regardless.

    • Jeff

      Brin,

      I hear where your coming from. I’ve been persecuted many times and even suspect(though I can’t prove it) that I’ve lost a job or two by proclaiming myself a free thinker instead of allowing myself to be mentally and emotionally enslaved by what, to me, is obviously left over mythology from a time in Man’s
      when we didn’t know any better. I stand up and fight on anyway. Take a look at the Holocaust to see where this is headed if we don’t. We’ve already had one President openly proclaim that he didn’t believe that atheists should be allowed to be American citizens. In case you don’t know who I’m talking about, he’s the father of another President we had recently.

    • Anonymous

      Hi Brin. Just want to say that I too am disappointed that the billboard was rejected, but I do live in the immediate Knox area. I am an atheist. I dont hide this fact at all and I have never been tormented.  I certainly am not terrified to admit my lack of belief. I have had some really good and healthy debates with xtians who are my clients. I have yet to lose a job because my views came out.  I hope for the day when this area evolves and moves away from a church on every corner. thanks

  • Daniel Hendricks

    EMC Outdoor,I am writing to express my dismay that you have refused to run the center for inquiry’s billboard because it is, “too offensive to a large percentage of Knoxville residents.”  I find your reasoning questionable.  First off, as an English teacher looking through your other billboards, I immediately notice the text-speak of “Un-limit’d” and “Find the one that’s perfect 4U”.  Both offend my sense of grammar.  I note you take political ads, almost sure to offend the opposing political party.But most interesting, I note in your mall advertising section, an advertisement for Alpha USA.  Alpha USA describes themselves as “The Alpha Course is a practical introduction to the Christian faith, a place where guests have an opportunity to explore the meaning of life in a relaxed, friendly setting. ”   This seems to be setting up a clear practice wherein you allow Christian advertisements, but not those of other religions. This is highly troubling, not in the least from a legal standpoint.I would strongly ask that you reconsider your decision to ban Atheist billboards while allowing Christian ads to use your services.Regards,Dan Hendrickscc: Knox News, Knoxville Daily Sun, Knoxville Times

  • Daniel Hendricks

    Bah – too slow to edit.  No religion has a majority of of followers. 

  • http://www.fineartlampscapes.com Larry

    Here’s what I sent:
    Hi,I recently read you folks rejected a billboard with this message:“You don’t need God — to hope, to care, to love, to live.”Apparently you rejected the ad, calling it “too offensive to a large percentage of Knoxville residents.”How exactly is that offensive?  Are you saying most people in Knoxville insist you believe in a God or you must live a empty horrid life?  Or that if you you don’t believe in God that you can just forget about trying to “hope, care, love and live?”I would understand if the billboard addressed believers and stated something like “Your religion is silly” or something similar that would be offensive, but I just don’t see how the original board targets believers at all, it targets non-believers who may not be aware there are many others like them.I would appreciate any more clarification on this subject you you don’t mind.Thank you in advance.

    • http://www.fineartlampscapes.com Larry

      Dang copy and paste removed the spacing, at least the email looked proper :)

  • Anonymous

    If I were to take a guess maybe it would involve the notion that some
    Christians are perplexed by the idea that if you try hard enough, you
    can love, hope, care or just generally be your own person devoid of God
    in the background.

    Perhaps the ad would have went up if instead it said the following:

    “The devil is always looking for those of you who are not capable of loving, caring or hoping.”

    The implied message being that such virtues are only the sole provence of the lord.

    http://scallywagandvagabond.com/2011/08/if-i-can-raise-a-billboard-advocating-love-for-god-why-cant-i-get-one-up-that-chooses-not-to-acknowledge-him-either/

  • Tez Skanza

    Here’s my email to them:

    I don’t find anything ‘controversial’ about the atheist billboard
    proposed in Knoxville, TN. I, and many others would like to know what
    your company finds so ‘bad’ about this. The sign is a simple, positive
    message that communicates to people that god is not required to be good.
    It is not an attack on religion, not making a negative statement, or
    offensive in any other way.

      Now, a billboard with Deuteronomy 13:6-10 or Exodus 35:2 can be
    offensive as they promote murder. Please keep that in mind, and I’ll be
    waiting for a response containing an explanation for your rejection.

    Thank you,

    Let’s hope they respond (I doubt it)…

  • Sara

    I live in Knoxville, and cannot say I am surprised.   We are inundated with church billboards, anti-abortion billboards, God’s warning – “Don’t make mecome down there” billboards, etc.  I do not know if any of these are EMC Outdoors or not.  Lamar seems to be the big player in the billboard business here.

    This is what I wrote to EMC Outdoor:

    I notice that EMC Outdoor has rejected a billboard by the Center for Inquiry as “too controversial.”

    There is nothing controversial about the Center for Inquiry billboard. 
    It is the truth.  Many people do hope, care, love, and live every day
    without God.

    Real controversy is refusing
    business due to expected, not actual, pressure from a religious
    majority.  Even if such pressure would be forthcoming, it does not mean
    that the billboard’s contents are controversial.  It means that some
    people are too closed-minded to allow any thought with which they
    disagree to be expressed.  That goes against the ideals on which this
    country was built.

    Please rethink your decision and allow the Center for Inquiry to purchase their billboard space.

  • JFP

    Here’s mine:

    Sirs -I am very disturbed to hear that you have refused to run a very inoffensive Billboard designed for CFI.  This country is founded on many principles and a major one is freedom of speech. What would have happened if we had never allowed African Americans to sit on buses where they want or to drink out of any available drinking fountain since it might “disturb many people”. Are there any African Americans who work at your company?Religious organizations have been running ads on billboards and buses for decades and the non-believing community stands up for their right to buy those ads. What logical consistency do you have not to extend the same chance for those of non faith to do the same?There are 30 million non-believers in America. How much longer will you contribute towards discrimination towards this group?Do the right thing and reverse your previous decision. Let law abiding and peaceful groups utilize your services since they can’t erect their own billboards. ~ JPeters

  • Anonymous

    While “The X of the Future” trope has fallen out of fashion in our culture, as Neil DeGrasse Tyson recently complained in another context, I’d like to see atheist groups which put up these billboards to start framing atheism as something futuristic; learn about “iAtheism” now to get ahead of the game. I don’t mean that we should wear jumpsuits and unitards, of course, but we could emphasize that religion characterized the past, and it just doesn’t seem to fit in the 21st Century despite efforts to “modernize” it. Perhaps we could even replace ” the New Atheism” with “the New Normal.”

  • Anonymous

    Missed the contact info on the first read. got it now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Kyrie.Firelight Kat Tuggle

    I live half an hour outside of Knoxville.  I think the really sad part about the billboard controversy is that ads are going up in all of these other places, but not here.  It makes us seem like a cultural backwater, when in some ways Knoxville is really progressive.  Most of my friends are skeptics or non-Christians, and those who are Christians tend to be very liberal and accepting.  If enough of us got together, we could represent exactly how major the ‘majority’ is a little better.  There’s a deep divide here, though.  A few years ago someone came in to the local Unitarian Universalist congregation during a children’s play and shot and killed several people, because of the church’s ‘liberality.’  Maybe that’s what has the EMC on edge, I don’t know.

  • http://twitter.com/RobinEdgar Robin Edgar

    The billboard advertisement would be more truthful if it said -

    You don’t need to believe in God to hope, to care, to love, to live.

    As someone who can claim to know that God exists in much the same manner that Carl Gustav Jung could make that claim, I can say with some authority that people actually do need God to hope, to care, to love, to live, or to do anything else for that matter. . . because, without God, no human being would exist. . . Even if you do not believe what I just said (as is your right) a lack of belief in God is one thing, whereas a direct or indirect denial of the existence of God is quite another. This billboard advertisement, as it is currently worded, at least indirectly denies the existence of God. 

    That being said, I do not believe that the ad should have been censored or suppressed.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Snake65 Christine Snake Dizard

      Wow.  It’s nice that you don’t think the ad should have been censored, but the rest of your post makes my head hurt.
      IF there is a god, then you are correct, we would not be here without him.  However, stating said existence as fact, based on your belief, and saying that the statement would be more truthful if it acknowledged your belief as fact, is demeaning at best.
      It would only be more “truthful” is god were a proven fact.  As much as anyone or however many believe in the existence of god, belief alone does not equal truth.

    • gsw

      You right, it indirectly denies the existence of god. In my opinion this is a mistake, we need billboards that state, unequivocally that gods were invented to make shamans rich and powerful and have no external existence!

      Having been invented as a thought experiment, they must therefore exist in the imaginations of the shamans’ followers.
      For atheists there is no god and still they breath. Amazing! 
      Let us all stop pussyfooting.

    • gsw

      You right, it indirectly denies the existence of god. In my opinion this is a mistake, we need billboards that state, unequivocally that gods were invented to make shamans rich and powerful and have no external existence!

      Having been invented as a thought experiment, they must therefore exist in the imaginations of the shamans’ followers.
      For atheists there is no god and still they breath. Amazing! 
      Let us all stop pussyfooting.

  • Electromagnetic Compatibility

    I am agree with the point,its fair enough.

  • http://www.emscan.com/emxpert/EMx_datasheet.cfm Electromagnetic Compatibility

    Its totally correct,everyone has right to say about every religion.

  • http://www.interstateoutdoor.com/ billboard advertising

    aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  • John the English

    You colonials! Daft as a brush or what?


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