The FFRF’s Controversial ‘Fool Me Once’ Billboard Campaign

The Freedom From Religion Foundation just began a new billboard campaign in Oakland, California that’s bound to upset devout Christians. They pull no punches and go right after delusional thinking — specifically the kind that leads you to believe Jesus is coming back one day.

Check out these new signs:

They’re also bringing back one of their older billboards:

In its “fool me once” campaign, the Freedom From Religion Foundation is asking onlookers to use their judgment not just to reject Camping’s irresponsible predicts of “Judgment Day,” but all unsubstantiated religious claims.

FFRF’s message: instead of worrying about the unknown and unprovable, wasting time, money and energy in speculating over the nonexistent: “Make this world better.”

FFRF has placed five different bold messages on 40 billboards throughout Oakland, the home base of Camping’s Family Radio show, with two for good measure in San Francisco.

While FFRF is taking advantage of the publicity surrounding Harold Camping “end of the world” prediction this Friday, this isn’t just about him. Plenty of Christians mock or ignore Camping, but they still wrongly believe Jesus is returning.

Among respondents to the survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and Smithsonian Magazine, 41 percent said they expect Jesus’ Second Coming in the next 40 years, while 46 percent said it probably or definitely won’t happen.

I’d love to say that 41% of people are in for a disappointment, but I can’t.

Christians who believe Jesus is coming back just keep moving the Deadline back another few decades when it looks like their fairy tale won’t come true. They’re quick to tell you he’s coming back in their lifetime… and they’ll never admit it was all just a lie.

At least FFRF has no problem stating the obvious truth. Jesus ain’t coming back. It’s up to us to make this world a better place.

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.

  • Rich Wilson

    Speaking of raising money http://www.atheistmedia.com/2011/10/pat-robertson-those-struggling.html

  • David Brown

    The goal post must be on wheels.

  • http://twitter.com/OaklandSkeptic Tucker Phelps

    As an Oakland native, I can’t wait to track a few of these down.

  • Efrique

    I find the last one somewhat meh, but I think the others are great. I applaud their efforts.

  • Robert

    So the probability of Judgement Day is a Poisson distribution then.

    • Anonymous

      With a lambda of zero

      • Charles Black

        If I remember my mathematics correctly the Poisson distribution is
        f(k,lambda) = lambda^k*e^-k/k!
        So when lambda = 0, f(k,0) = 0^k*e^-k/k! = 0*e^-k/k!
        =0/k! = 0

        • Anonymous

          As it should be when the expected number of events is zero :)

  • Anonymous

    The apostles believed that Jesus would return within their lifetime. It’s been “any day now” for 2000 years

    • Annie

      Love this!  Can I suggest we all use this as our status on various social media on the 21st?  Would you mind?

      • Charles Black

         Good idea lets use these as our profile pictures on Facebook, Bebo, Twitter etc.

      • Anonymous

        Of course not. I hardly came up with it

  • Seth Moon

    I assume the first 4 billboards relate to the rapture(s?). Only wacky nutjobs and atheists (same thing pretty much) believed those were actually the Raptures. There was no supporting evidence for either of the “proclaimed” raptures.
    “Every Day is Judgement Day” sounds like something out of a fortune cookie XD
    “In Reason we Trust”. Are you implying that Christians don’t use reason?

    • Rich Wilson

      “In Reason we Trust”. Are you implying that Christians don’t use reason?

      I think it implies that all Americans (including Christians) use reason.  Which I think is more inclusive than implying that all Americans (including atheists) trust God.

    • Tnuanes

      Wacky nutjobs raised $80 million?

      Huh. Not your average nutjobs.

      • Seth Moon

        Nutjobs raise big money all the time. Getting support from extremely liberal people who are too dumb to know what their money is actually going to.

        • TheBlackCat

          I think I can guess where your political affiliations lie.  

    • Kamaka

      Are you implying that Christians don’t use reason?

      Implying? Faith is belief without evidence. That seems beyond reason to me.

      There’s no supporting evidence for the existence of gods, or baby jesus, for that matter.

      None. Zero. Nada. Bupkiss. So concerning their religious beliefs, christians are not using reason.

      • Seth Moon

        And you have scientific evidence of how the Big Bang (which I believe in) was conjured up? “Particles, atoms, and electrons” is not an answer. How were those things created? Did the basic elements on the periodic table just appear out of thin air?
        I have also known a lot of Atheists (correct me if I’m wrong) who believe in life on other planets. That is a theory. Which is basically you having Faith in something backed by evidence, but not actually proven.
        Evidence of God = The Universe, dimensions, and everything in between.

        • Rich Wilson

          Did the basic elements on the periodic table just appear out of thin air?

          Depends on what you mean by ‘basic elements’, but since you refer to the periodic table, other than H, no.  Heavier elements were/are created out of H in stars.  If you’re talking photons, electrons, quarks, etc, then if you really want to you could read some Stephen Hawkings.

          life on other planets. That is a theory.

          No.  That is at best a hypothesis.  

          Which is basically you having Faith in something backed by evidence, but not actually proven.

          Nothing outside of mathematics if ‘proven’.  You can watch person A shoot person B in the head, but you cannot prove that it was the bullet shot from person A’s gun that killed person B.  Maybe B had an aneurysm a millisecond before the bullet reached  his head.Theories are proven to the extent that you know the bullet killed B.  Theories are not proven to the extent that it could be an aneurysm.

          Evidence of God = The Universe, dimensions, and everything in between.

          That’s not evidence.  That’s you deciding that since science doesn’t (yet) have all the answers now that there must be a God.If you had lived in Ancient Greece you would have considered lightening to be evidence for Zeus.Science has a history of giving us answers, and correcting its own answers that were incorrect.  Religion has a history of giving us answers that science has proven incorrect.  There are still a few answers from religion that science has not yet successfully corrected, but history is on science’s side.  Religion has yet to correct an answer of science.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2C6XFSMIUYAZUDZ4CWUWLV7CEY Josh Pearson

          “How were those things created? Did the basic elements on the periodic table just appear out of thin air?”

          I love that fallacious argument. It’s based entirely on the faulty assumption that the universe had to “come from somewhere”. Where is it written, other than in religion, that existence had to have a beginning? Even when a religious person tries to play this “trump” card they always forget that this argument plays against them too. If everything has to be created, then your god had to have been made by something even greater, and so on so forth. It’s a logical pitfall, since the argument is “where did it come from” adding a useless step (god) is silly. What created your god? What created that which created your god? What created that which created that which created your god? etc., etc. Your is a trickle-down deity system. At least that’s what your argument opens up anyway.

           If it’s so easy to believe that the 13.8 billion year old universe was predated by an invisible being that waited over 10 billion years before even forming the earth, let alone the wait to “create” humans, then why is so hard to accept that existence just always has been?

          “I have also known a lot of Atheists (correct me if I’m wrong) who
          believe in life on other planets. That is a theory. Which is basically
          you having Faith in something backed by evidence, but not actually
          proven.”

          Faith is believing without evidence, which you contradict yourself. Yes I believe that there is life out there in the universe, a notion that is undoubtedly true. You hace to realize though that beliving in alien life doesn’t equivicate to them being higher-order sentient lifeforms. It actuallity, what life we discover out there will be microbial at best. Even though mountains of evidence for water, and habitable locations, are pouring in every year. Coupled with the size and age of the universe it is faulty to assume we are the only planet with life. Will we ever meet alien life? Who knows. But that doesn’t negate the fact that alien life is statistically more likely than any single god-concept in this planet. Reason being, there is ample evidence to support the alien life hypothesis. One single discovery of a non-terrestrial microbe will be proof of alien life, proof that no religion could even hope to provide.

          When you jump out of a plane would you use a parachute or hope that your god would save you? Faith is like jumping out a plane without a parachute and hoping. Atheists use parachutes, ones that we made sure were packed correctly. We don’t close our eyes as the ground rushes at our face and hope to live, we pull the rip-cord and safely land on the ground. Faith makes you go splat.

          “Evidence of God = The Universe, dimensions, and everything in between. ”

          This is not evidence. You claim the universe proves your idea of a god exists and I contend that the universe is actually proof that your god never existed. Neither of us can be proven correct, but the a priori when looking at the cosmos and its massive size and age is that no god was involved. You draw your own conclusions of the unfathomable cosmos and need  god to give you comfort about the fact there are objects out there larger than our solar system. You need a god to make the reality of how incredibly small we are not uncomfortable. You need a god to make death seem like a new frontier not the absolute end it is. You need these things and because of that you see god where you want to.

          Your religion paints your god as an engineer, a being that “designed” an incredibly complex existence.
          From Wikipedia, on Engineers “Engineers must weigh different design choices on their merits and choose
          the solution that best matches the requirements. Their crucial and
          unique task is to identify, understand, and interpret the constraints on
          a design in order to produce a successful result.”

          So, if your god is such a great engineer I ask you to solve these logical problems for me:

          1) If childbirth is supposed to be painful because humans, the children of your god, sinned, then why do non-humans also experience pain during childbirth?

          2) Why isn’t there a universal, built in, language that all humans can understand? If your god truly wanted to be heard and loved (read: worshiped), why did he make his words known through a human-created language?

          3) Why is the universe so massive and old if only built to house a single species and its “beasts of burden”? Surely an engineer would have found a way to make our solar system all that there needed to be. Such a massive universe is a waste of energy and time if just for a single species.

          4) Why are there non-biblical animals in existence, as well as, why do we keep discovering new life-forms in areas that have no use for people(deep-ocean, volcanoes, deep in the crust etc.)? ”
            
          5) Why is it then we can’t eat every green plant or consume every animal? Why are so many poisonous to us if they were created for our consumption? Why do useless plants and animals even exist, if as Genesis says, they are ours to subdue, rule, and consume? 

          6) How is a binary star system, millions of light-years away, evidence that your god exists? For that matter, how is Jupiter or the Moon evidence? What about black-holes? Supernovae? Nebulae? In what capacity is any cosmic body proof that your god exists?

          This of course isn’t an exhaustive list of logical oddities concerning Christianity, let alone every other religion. Can you answer any of these questions with evidence or without rhetoric and hyperbole?

        • TheBlackCat

          “And you have scientific evidence of how the Big Bang (which I believe in) was conjured up?”

          Your choice of words once again belies your biases.  There is no reason to think it was “conjured up” (which implies an intelligence using magic).  Just because we don’t yet have enough evidence to tell which of the probably half-dozen scientific explanations available right now is the right one does not mean your non-scientific answer with zero evidence is any more valid.

          ” Did the basic elements on the periodic table just appear out of thin air?”

          Ignoring the fact that air is made of atoms (I think you mean “out of a vacuum”), yes, that is exactly what happened.  That event, however, happens quite a while after the big bang compared to how far back we can understand it.  In fact it is something we observe in “atom smashers” all the time.

          “I have also known a lot of Atheists (correct me if I’m wrong) who believe in life on other planets.”

          Many atheists and theists think the probability that we are alone in the universe, based on the evidence we have available, is small.

          “That is a theory.”

          No, it is a hypothesis.

          “Which is basically you having Faith in something backed by evidence, but not actually proven.”

          No, a theory is “a scientific explanation for a set of phenomena that is backed by an overwhelming enough amount of evidence to convince most experts in a given field of scientific study that it is the best explanation currently available”.  It has nothing to do with faith.  A hypothesis is the same, it just doesn’t have enough (if any) evidence to be convincing yet.  Science rejects the very concept of “proof”.

          “Evidence of God = The Universe, dimensions, and everything in between.”

          And how would you tell the difference between a universe with a god and one without.  You need to provide justification for this, just saying something like “without God the universe wouldn’t exist” without providing any evidence to back it up will only make you look clueless.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-Hickey/30117548 Patrick Hickey

      Remember the rules of modern Christianity:

      1. Believing that winged scorpion horses will imminently attack the earth: totally reasonable.

      2. Believing that winged scorpion horses will attack the earth on a specific date: totally insane.

      This is not a healthy double standard.

      • Nordog

        What’s modern Christianity?  Do you mean contemporary, or modern in the philosophical sense? 

      • Seth Moon

        Those are metaphors, but you probably wouldn’t understand what a metaphor is either.

        • Charles Black

          So Seth please enlighten us how you’re able to tell which passages in that book of yours is metaphor or not to us non-believers. I’m looking forward to your reply.

        • Ratsnake

          Oh yes, the typical “You are taking it out of context.”” Or it’s just a metaphor”, excuse that materializes when the bullshit in the Bible is pointed out. 
           
          Some of you take that shit literally and some of you don’t. Get on the same page already. If your God can’t communicate clearly then he is inept, doesn’t care or doesn’t exist.

        • TheBlackCat

          Metaphors for what?

          • Rich Wilson

            For “I don’t like that story”

    • http://twitter.com/Cafeeine Cafeeine

      “Only wacky nutjobs and atheists (same thing pretty much) believed those were actually the Raptures.”
      If you’re implying that atheists actually believed these dates were factual, you aren’t really paying attention are you?

      What happens is, atheists take supernatural claims A, B, C…. etc, examine them critically and reject them. Theists admonish atheists for rejecting their own preferred beliefs, but some apparently also consider giving any thought to all the other claims, even if its only to reject them to be scornworthy too. Its almost as if its the critical inquiry that they object to…

      • Seth Moon

        Well you guys weren’t smart enough to do the research that the percentage of people who believed in the Rapture was so small (blown up by the media like always) and insignificant, that you’re wasting your time, money, and efforts placing those signs. The 10 people inside the state that believed in it might get offended, but otherwise you’re killing billboard space.

        • Rich Wilson

          You seem to be assuming that ‘we’ put up the billboard.  Research much?

          • Seth Moon

            If you put one penny into the funding of that billboard, you helped put it up.

            I generalized and am sorry for that.

        • NickDB

          Well you guys weren’t smart enough to do the research that the
          percentage of people who believed in the Rapture ON A CERTAIN DATEe was so small (blown up
          by the media like always) and insignificant,

          Fixed it for you.

          The percentage of people who believe in the rapture is actually quite large.

          • Seth Moon

            Are you in Rapture town or something? There’s more Tea Party followers than those Rapture people.

            • TheBlackCat

              Citation needed.

        • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

          These billboards aren’t really aimed at the folks who literally believe the Rapture will occur tomorrow.  But I’m sure you already knew that. 

          It’s called “humor.”  Try it sometime.

    • Thin-ice

      Uh-oh! Seth believes in the Rapture, but not ones that have a date predicted for it. (See my comment below about this.)
      Surely Seth, your question is rhetorical! OF COURSE we imply that Christians don’t use reason. What other explanation is there for people like you believing in the Rapture (the “no-date” kind) and several dozen zombies coming out of their graves and wandering around Jerusalem during the “resurrection” (Matt. 27)??

      • Seth Moon

        Nobody knows when the Rapture will happen, as clearly stated inside the bible.
        The antichrist is a for sure sign of the end of the world. He/She will proclaim to be the savior of humanity, and many people will follow his/her influential actions. Since it is the antichrist, he/she will eventually doom everyone that follows him/her. Like a cult ;)

        • Michael

          How do you know that the Rapture didn’t happen centuries ago?

          • Seth Moon

            Because we’d all be dead. lol

            • Michael

              No, the people who were saved would be dead. We’d be the people left behind.

              • Seth Moon

                And the world would be in ruins.

                • Michael

                  But we’d get used to it and consider the state of the world to be the normal state of things. In a generation or two our children wouldn’t think it was ever different.

        • TheBlackCat

          First, there is no clear statement about the rapture in the Bible period.  It is an interpretation of a subset of modern evangelical Christians, but no one in the Bible is it explicitly stated nor is it accepted by all Christians.

          What WAS clearly stated within the Bible that the end of the world would occur within the lifetime of the disciples.  In fact it was clearly stated multiple times.  
          Modern evangelical Christians ignore those clear statements and instead add in their own feel-good notion that they will get to avoid the senseless totrue that their loving god is supposed to inflict on everyone.

    • ckitching

      “We know that reason is the devil’s harlot, and can do nothing but slander and harm all that god says and does.” – Martin Luther, Last Sermon in Wittenberg, Second Sunday in Epiphany, 17 January 1546

    • TheBlackCat

      “There was no supporting evidence for either of the “proclaimed” raptures.”

      No kidding, that the whole point!  There is no evidence there ever will be rapture, either.

  • Dianna

    How many people think it already happened long ago?

  • http://twitter.com/DangerousTalk Staks Rosch

    On the one hand, I am all for just about any atheist billboard, but on the other hand I have to wonder who the intended audience is? Camping’s followers are a pretty small number and I don’t think the billboards are worth their attention. Still, it might generate some good publicity that could be used to reach a wider audience. 

    • http://twitter.com/FelyxLeiter Felyx Leiter

      No one expects a billboard to change the mind of a zealot.  The Rapture is something that even casually religious people have heard about, though (especially this past year), and it’s more food for thought for the fence-sitters about one of the more ridiculous aspects of religious belief. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Carvin/100001033684440 Andrew Carvin

    LOLS. Love this. =D

  • Thin-ice

    Here’s what I love (and wait for it, it will happen just like it did back in May):
    When the Rapture doesn’t happen, the Christians who don’t put a date on it, disown the Christians who do and hypocritically call them delusional.
    BOTH kinds of Christians suffer exactly the same delusion, which is believing in bullshit like this.

  • http://diff-path.blogspot.com Stargazer

    “Every day is judgement day.  Use yours.  Use reason.”

    That the best one by far.  Also, I truly wish our currency had “In reason we trust” instead of god.  I really don’t understand how it’s possible/legal/constitutional that “god” is on our money anyway.  Can’t FFRF do something about that?

    • http://www.frommormontoatheist.blogspot.com Leia

      There is a petition on the White House’s website to have it removed. They also have one for removing “Under God” from our pledge.

      https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions#!/petitions

      You will have to look for it, and there are a few other petitions worth signing too.

  • Anonymous

    Love the billboards. The first one may be a little too “inside joke” since it requires people to instantly remember what “family radio” was about, which I’m guessing a sizable part of the population doesn’t. The “Fool me once” and “Every day is judgement day” signs are wonderful.

    I wonder sometimes about the sheer amount of anger and derision that Christians who believe in Judgement day but don’t put a date on it direct at the Christians who dare to predict a date. It seems like the latter Christians are violating a pact;

     Thou shalt never be so specific as to make our religious claim falsifiable

    The fundamentalists who put a date on the end of the world are detrimental to the beliefs of the religious majority. Those beliefs have been carefully constructed as to be so vague, so nonspecific and slippery, that they can never actually be tested. In the religious worldview, the existence of no evidence in favor of your proposition is not a problem, just as long as there is no glaringly obvious evidence that frontally contradicts that claim. The Harold Campings of the world make testing the religious claim possible and since they will of course fail, weakens the position of faith. No wonder they don’t like him.

  • Anonymous

    I like them.  Demonstrate how one nutty claim is bunk.  Next time they make a claim demonstrate how that is bunk too.  Whittle away at the belief in gods, demons, angels and such nonsense. 

  • http://twitter.com/Grikmeer Rob Grikmeer

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qHuqiiEnRN8

    Great and appropriate song by Bruce Dickinson, singer of Iron Maiden.

    God’s Not Coming Back.

    • Rich Wilson

      Thanks.  This one seems appropriate too: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKo4FMzt_hM

  • Billy

    Everyone thinks it’s going to happen in their lifetime *rolls eyes*

  • Gerry

    These people seem to have a desperate need to believe that this  “end of the world” thing will come IN THEIR LIFETIMES. But people have been around for thousands of years, and will be here for thousands yet (I mean, we’ve already been here for thousands, so what’s a couple more?).

     What is it exactly that makes it so important for the “end” to come right now, or next year, or in forty years? Taken in total, it seems like religious belief is driven more by ego than anything. Well, that and finally getting to see all the people they don’t like finally punished.

    Their self-importance seems out of proportion to any actual evidence.  Does god love them more, letting them get to see the end? Or does he love them less, destroying the world while they’re here?

    All I can guess is that religion is driven by a combination of ego, revenge, and what else, guilt? Is that about right?

  • Marsh

    So if PEW found that 41% think Jesus will come back in 40 years, next year they should find that 41% think he should back in 39 years, and then 38, 37 etc… but I suspect that for now until …ever… they’ll get the same ol’ “41% think he’ll come back within 40 years”

  • Alla & Greg M

    I do not see any point in such messages.  It looks like its intend is to convince believers to change their believes.  We all know very low yield process.  Beside why should we care or want to convert somebody – isn’t it annoying, when somebody tries to convert us?

     Much more important and practical in my opinion would be advertizing for strong implementation of separation of state and church and advance of science education.  If it results in reducing of number of believer it will be organic and lasting result.


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