‘Out of the Closet’ Atheist Billboards Go Up in Arizona

It’s happened in Madison, Wisconsin; Raleigh, North Carolina; Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Columbus, Ohio.

Now, the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s “Out of the Closet” billboard campaign is heading to Tucson and Phoenix.

The following eleven billboards will be up in Arizona for the next month — nine in Phoenix and two in Tucson:

This is a great billboard campaign and it keeps getting better.

What do you think of the new ads?

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

    Really like “deeds not creeds”.  Short, snappy, to the point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sarah-Isenberg/100001183272849 Sarah Isenberg

    OMG I love this!  The only billboard I would want my face on LOL

  • Jchealey

    Billboards like, “We’re too old to have imaginary friends,” “Faith without reason is true blindness,” “I believe in reason, not in religion,” (I think that’s what the Spanish billboard says), “Serve humanity, not a fictional god,” “I’m a childhood Christian indoctrination survivor and an atheism convert,” and “Airplanes fly without faith and so do I,” are very insulting to religious believers, implying that they have imaginary friends, they’re blind, irrational, they don’t serve humanity, their god is fictional, they indoctrinate their children, and that faith is a bad thing and our downright false in most cases. For example, theists aren’t blind, they aren’t always irrational, they do serve humanity from time to time, and they don’t indoctrinate their children.

    Atheism activism has to be based on advocating atheism, not ridiculing theists or the religious.

    • Ckallas2

      Ridicule is one of the weapons in an atheist’s arsenal. It allows religious deference to be questioned and overturned.

       “[the claims above] our[sic] downright false in most cases.” 

      They are all true specifically regarding religious mindsets. Gods ARE fictional, religious children ARE indoctrinated, if you believe in a god then you ARE irrational in that respect. 

      Yes a religious person can be rational, but not in regards to his or her religion. Yes some religious people serve humanity, but many of them serve perceived godly mandates. 

      Rational religious people are rational despite their religion, not because of it.

    • Dmacabre

      Why?

    • Anonymous

      Religion doesn’t deserve any special consideration or deference. There is way too much of that already

    • Rhubarbara

      I have to agree. It’s one thing to give practical reasons for people to become atheists. Morality needs no religion. Humanism is rewards all people for good deeds. Science can’t move forward without secularism.

      But saying “I believe in reason, not religion” is just an empty insult. You shouldn’t throw mud at the people you’re trying to reach out to. It just makes it twice as hard to reach out to them and makes the campaign seem petty and pretentious.

      • http://www.facebook.com/maik.both Maik Both

        I don’t believe the purpose is to reach out to religious, but rather the ‘lone atheist / agnostic’; in fact, expect the religious to be simply offended and not consider for a second changing their mind. Hence the messages, if so targeted, are perfect for this purpose. And the religious will get offended no matter what, so ignore them and their response.

    • Rich Wilson

      My position on this is not fixed, and has been moving lately.  I guess I’m sick and tired of turning the other cheek.  Congress can almost unanimously equate morality with religious belief, and and gets some criticism for wasting time and passing frivolous resolutions, but for the most part nobody notices the morality part.  That vote was far more offensive, IMO anyway, than any of those billboards.  And granted, nobody offended by those billboards will see that.  I’m not sure what the answer is, but smiling when someone tells me I’m amoral because I don’t bend my knee to their God just isn’t in my playbook anymore.

    • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

      I’m not sure what the problem is with any of these. In so far as they are accurate representations of opinions. But I’m deeply confused by what you see as wrong or rude with “”Airplanes fly without faith and so do I” or “”I believe in reason, not in religion”. The first of these is pretty basic, unless you think that we need to respect people who think that airplanes are kept aloft by faith? This seems to be pushing very close to the point where one is essentially saying that any public statement of atheism on a billboard would be considered to be ridiculing theists. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/brandie.winchester Brandie Lynn Winchester

      What about signs that that say to be anti-god you are anti-american, which makes you a traitor…. if they can make billboards that are completly ignorant, perhaps speaking our mind and defending our views is nessarry

    • Walldodger1969

      NO NO NO religious people need to be told …they are Frigging( would use the udder word but don’t want to offend[ain't my wall]) ignorant!.. they do not…think logically cause they have been brainwashed at such an early age ..their brains are hardwired..to reject any fact of logical thought….they need to grow the F____K up.

    • Dan

      These billboards aren’t just trying to convert Christians. They are a lot about letting people know that atheists exist. Just realizing that atheists are more common than people think has been shown in studies to decrease people’s negative views of atheists. It’s easy to have terrible stereotypes of atheists when people think of them as a few old white men in academia who are angry at God and want to be immoral. When people realize that atheism is much more common and that people like their next-door neighbors are atheists it decreases bigotry.

      Also, being in your face to increase visibility worked wonders during abolition, women’s suffrage movement, and the civil and gay rights movement. I think it is a fallacy for you to think that only gently messages are going to change our culture; If anything history has shown that aggressive tactics are what changes a culture. (And as a propduct of heavy religious indoctrination I am offended that you say theists “don’t indoctrinate their children.” You are wrong, most do).

    • Daveycms

      They don’t indoctrinate their children? Really? Isn’t giving your children one particular viewpoint and encouraging them to never ever question it upon pain of eternal torture the very definition of indoctrination?
      It wouldn’t be indoctrination if they at least said that it was alright for the child to question and seek answers for themselves, but no – in this case they simply have to have faith that the religion they just happened to be born into is the only possible correct answer.

    • Anonymous

      Good.  I’m glad that people with ridiculous ideas feel ridiculed.  You know how they can change that, don’t you?

    • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

      they don’t indoctrinate their children.

      Bull. Maybe some don’t, but you didn’t make that qualification. Mine tried. Hell, right in my bedroom for the longest time I had a plaque that said approximately “raise up a child in the way he should go, and when he is grown, he will not depart from it” (not sure if it was a Bible verse or not, can’t find anything like it at biblegateway.com, so maybe not). That line is pretty damn clear what the goal was: indoctrination.

      • Anonymous

         Proverbs 22-6:Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
         

        • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

          Yes! That looks like it! I should have figured it was Proverbs. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/philldwill Phillip D Williams

      To most theists just telling them I don’t believe in god is insult enough.  When I tell them I don’t believe in god they often get offended and ask “Why?” and it’s impossible not to insult them at this point.  I’m an honest man, I don’t like to lie or sugarcoat things.  If the truth hurts someone, that’s their problem.  I don’t believe in god because I think it’s irrational and I feel faith is a plague of the human mind.  These billboards are much kinder than the truth while also getting the point across that not everyone is brainwashed.

      “they don’t indoctrinate their children.”

      This is complete bullshit and you know it.  No kid would believe in god if you told them the truth.  Parents lie (unknowningly) to their own kids, brainwashing them into believing in fairy tales.  I am not angry at the parents as they are also brainwashed, so they believe what they are doing is right when it’s not.

    • Jim

      Religion, by definition, is irrational.
      Religion is perpetuated by indoctrinating children.
      The idea of a god is imaginary, so believing in one is no different from having an imaginary friend.

      Atheism is based on honesty. The billboards are honest.

      • Afinati

        Agreed.

  • Jchealey

    I do like “deeds and not creeds” as Rich mentioned.

  • Anonymous

    1. I think there are some really strong ones here. I like the bits about “no gods required,” “imaginary friends” & “Serve humanity, not a fictional god.”

    2. People care more about a single person being hurt than thousands. (A single face causes more donations than a pictures of widespread destruction.) In that sense, these billboards are a great approach. They attach a human face to what some see as an ugly word. Good job.

    • Sandland

      You might like those bits because they make you feel better about your bitterness towards organized religion, but it’s not going to help the cause.

      Theists aren’t bitter about religion because they’re still in one. The job of this campaign should be to convince and inform, not boast superiority.

      Let them be bitter at religion *after* they become an atheist and look back at what they once stood for.

      • Anonymous

        I disagree. I’ve never belonged to a church, so I’m not that bitter.

        Some people don’t know that it’s all right to not believe in a deity. Some people have never really thought about the absurdity of the god concept.

        I suppose there’s different way to look at any campaign, but I like this one. 

        • Afinati

          I’ve never belonged to a synagogue, church, mosque, etc in my life. But I am very bitter. Of all the social causes that needs progressed, this is pretty high on the list for me. Just seeing my generation falling into the same line is maddening.

      • Alla & Greg M

        I think those billboard are actually aimed to closeted freethinkers – not believers.  The task of converting believers is probably not worth an effort – the yield is low and honestly, if I do not want them to try converting me, it is not fair for me to try converting them.

        In my opinion our goal should be mutual support of freethinkers, ensuring separation of church and state, and promoting sound education.  I do not need mass de-conversion of believers to live life free from religion oppression.

      • Rieux

        You might like those bits because they make you feel better about your bitterness towards organized religion, but it’s not going to help the cause.

        How in the world could you possibly know that? Different kinds of messages routinely reach different people.

        And what makes you think deconverting theists is, all by its lonesome, “the cause”?

        Theists aren’t bitter about religion because they’re still in one.

        Absurd overgeneralization. There are millions of theists—and especially wavering theists—who are indeed “bitter about religion.”

        The job of this campaign should be to convince and inform, not boast superiority.

        “Should” according to whom? You? I don’t recall the FFRF asking your permission to post these particular messages.

        This is not FFRF’s first billboard campaign. They know perfectly well what they’re doing. (One thing they’re doing is trying to recruit people who are already atheists to join the FFRF; apparently you can’t be bothered to consider that, or to think about the kinds of messages that could be useful to that end.)

        Let them be bitter at religion *after* they become an atheist and look back at what they once stood for.

        How about you let FFRF and their billboard models “be bitter,” or friendly, or conciliatory, or in-our-face when they see fit, without your presumptuous pretense that you know both what their goals should be and how they would best go about reaching those goals?

  • deityfree

    A few of them are conversation stoppers, not starters and certainly don’t represent how I want to be represented. I deserve to be just as critical of my own statements and say that there’s room for improvement.

  • Hayden Rylan

    Billboards are fine to support the same marketing message elsewhere, but do these? Unfortunately, the typeface is too difficult to read, the contrast is inadequate, and a few are too long for billboards. To be effective, you can’t waste readers’ precious time just trying to decipher the words at 70 MPH…. they won’t do it. Sans serif, high contrast, no more than 7 words, and have a “call to action” (if they agree, what do you want them to do?).

    • Sfsd

      nahh i think 70% of people who get a good look at it would be able to read it

  • Anonymous

    I like the Atheist ones, they’ve got a little more punch to them than the agnostic and freethinker ones.

  • Timothy

    Sweet, some one tell me where these are being put up so I can go find them.

  • mkb

    Love the billboards.  Love the dog.

    • Rieux

      I dunno—there’s an interesting sort of clash between the cute little dog and the “USAF pilot” bit in the bio line.

  • Vanessa

    If it was me on those billboards, I think I would take a more positive approach. I’m always telling people how much happier and freer I am ever since leaving Christianity. I would want my billboard to say something like “Freedom from faith = Freedom from guilt, shame, and suffering.”
    That way, those who experiences those things as I did when I was a Christian might be a little more inclined to change their point of view. When I was a Christian, I experienced guilt and shame on a regular basis and didn’t know I could live life any other way until I met a freethinking friend that gently shoved me in the right direction. I think a gentle shove makes more of an impact than a jarring insult.

    • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

      I think a gentle shove makes more of an impact than a jarring insult

      Depends on the person. Some don’t notice the gentle shove, like a flea trying to push around a dog. But if the flea bites. . . 

  • Drew M.

    Five bucks says someone calls INS on Joe Hernandez and Zenaido Quintana.

    • Anonymous

      I’m sure Sheriff Joe is already putting a posse together.

  • Anonymous

    I love them. The only exception is the “We’re too old for imaginary friends!” one, partly because those horrible glasses make me think of hipsters rolling their eyes and sneering the phrase.

    I appreciate the inclusion of the Spanish phrase (nice alliteration too, and likely to stick in your head) for a state with a large latino community. Hopefully campaigns in other states with large Spanish speaking communities (Nevada, California, Florida etc.) can do that as well. There have to be a fair number of atheists, especially atheist young people, languishing in the extremely Catholic latino community.

  • Shanti

    I would die of joy if I saw these in Gilbert and Mesa!

    • Rich Wilson

      I would really love for my mother in Mesa to see my face on one of those.

  • Jennifer

    I have to say that as a lifelong atheist who is comfortable and confident in my beliefs, seeing normal people like me believing things just like me feels very warm and fuzzy.

  • Julie Watson

    How awesome!!!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RNLNSF5WHVV5ZZSDLXJXPNIXMY Silver City Kid

    Joe Paterno is religious… so I’m an Athiest.

  • Anonymous

    Airplanes fly without faith… except when they’re flown into buildings.

  • Jill

    Very cool!  I live in Phoenix; looking forward to seeing these around town!

    • Steph

      me, too!  I thought I was the only one in Phoenix.  Great to see this.

  • Justin

    Your font gives atheists a bad name.

    • http://floatboth.com MyFreeWeb

      At least it’s not Comic Sans.

    • http://www.swazzle.net Zammbi

      I personally like it.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/DJRVGKGG36KNLNMZAVT4EXOF3M Ed-words

    I’m still waiting for “With Friends Like God, Who Needs Enemas?”

    (I might have to do it myself.)

  • Patrik W

    The “good for goodness sake” guy looks like Hemant’s bigger, stronger brother.

  • Tex

    Makes me want to put my face on a billboard around here (Shreveport, La “Louisiana other [even more religious] side!”) :-D  Unfortunately I think Id better wait until Ive got my degree and am ready to get outta this town :( .

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/FDGYHBEWVNGUG763L5X4TON3JQ Nazani14

    The format of these is just about right for banners on blogs, etc.  FFRF should encourage people to scatter them about the internet.

  • Mr Z

    I’d like to see more thought provoking ads:

    If you think you’ll go to heaven, why would you choose to not be murdered?

    If objective morality is god given, why do you get angry when sinners steal from you?

    If hell is real, why don’t your God’s chosen people believe in it?

    If you think I need a god to get through life, you undervalue me and underestimate the tenacity of humanity.

    If I told you that god speaks to me, would YOU believe me?

    I don’t need a copilot, I’m the only captain of my life.

    If you spoke in tongues and I interpreted, would YOU believe me?

    You have to be good on the basis of your own efforts… I just don’t need an imaginary friend to help me.

    Chance works in mysterious ways. I believe in probability math.

    Religion is the original addiction. I’m clean …. now

    I prayed that your prayers would not be answered. God listens to me.

    No harm no foul? Remember the crusades?

    Miracles do happen. You believe that … right?

    Sin is the law created to make you guilty. How will you vote in this election?

    Amputee + prayer = atheist

    Mass murderer + divine forgiveness = eternal bliss?

    Why are all the famous pedophiles monotheists?

    ….. 
    I could go on

  • Anonymous

    I would avoid using the “Conversion” term. Atheism is more like a sudden realization of the blatantly obvious after a lot of hard questions about your world view up until that moment. Atheism is a result of a lot of critical thinking and the courage to brave taunts of hellfire and accusations of immorality. Conversion is best used when we switch over from one fictional despot to another.

  • wayne k

    I am SOOOO sick and tired of religion in my face almost constantly, that I cannot insult them or ridicule them enough.  If they’re offended, GOOD!  They have been offending me for 75 years.

  • I LOVE JESUS

    There are no atheists in a foxhole.

    • Afinati

      That’s an argument against either foxholes or how religion is a reflux crutch.

  • I LOVE JESUS

    If we evolved from a monkey, why do we still have monkeys?

    • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

      Troll. Has to be a troll.

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

        Or a Poe.

        • http://nathandst.blogspot.com NathanDST

          Trollicus Poeius?

          • I LOVE JESUS

            Are you a Priest?  They know a lot of Latin.  Now how did I know this?  Yes, you must be a priest.  DST – Divinity of Saint Thomas. 

        • I LOVE JESUS

          HAHA!   This coming from a unicorn! 

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

            Not just any unicorn, the Unicorn. She may be invisible, but we have faith that She is pink.

            • I LOVE JESUS

              That’s o.k. Anna.  Jesus loves the mentally ill too.  That’s why He loves you so much!

              • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

                The Flying Spaghetti Monster barely tolerates you. So you lose. You will drown in an eternal ocean of marinara sauce after you die.

                • I LOVE JESUS

                  Yes, I am sure you and Anna will.  Shame.

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

                The IPU loves you, too. Peace Be Unto Her. May Her Holy Hooves Never Be Shod.

                • I LOVE JESUS

                  See, I knew you were mentally ill, and you just proved it  You poor thing, hallucinating about being a pink unicorn.  Friendly piece of advice for you:  GET HELP.

                • Rich Wilson

                  Ah, cutsie troll likes to project!  How cute!

                  But now that we’ve fed it, I fear we may have to keep it.  And troll poop STINKS!  

                • I LOVE JESUS

                  What is this, social hour at the nutfarm?  You 3 are 3 nuts in one shell for sure!

                • Anonymous

                  I’ve started getting my irony meters from Germany because they make them extra tough for when Internet trolls go all uber ironic.  Most meters just break when that happens, the needle goes round and just sticks there.  Sometimes the glass breaks with the force of the needle swinging so hard.  I really thought I’d found an irony meter tough enough to handle Christian Internet Trolls but apparently I need to get a stronger one because it just broke.

                • Rich Wilson

                  For me you’ve drummed up that Dawkins with a ‘deer-in-the-headlights’ look he gets when he realizes that the person he’s talking to actually thinks the earth is 4K years old, and that the bible contains no contradictions.

                • I LOVE JESUS

                  So are you in the same psychiatric hospital as Anna?  Or are you in another one?  Just asking.

                • Anonymous

                  Yeah, we’re all visiting you.

                • I LOVE JESUS

                  I see you are being delusional again, Captain Kidd.  No wonder you are in the nut farm, thinking you are a pirate.  So where is your parrot?  Do yourself a big favor, change your profile pic.  The one you have now  is way too ugly. 

      • I LOVE JESUS

        Yes, you sure must be a troll.  Thank you for admitting it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Lauren.D.Clifford Lauren Clifford

    Atheists, Agnostics, and Humanists can be religious.  I attend church with them every week at a UUA church.   They’re not irrational.  They just religiously go to church.  

    It’s too bad the word “religion” gets a bad connotation, but it is true that most religions endorse a creed.  Which impedes free thinking, and I think impedes individual’s opportunity to get to know God.  (My opinion!!! :)  )

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

      I would agree that most religions impede free thinking, but the crux of the problem is that atheists don’t think that there is any god to get to know. Even a creedless religion like the UUA provides a space for people to express/support belief in the supernatural. As an atheist, I simply don’t believe in supernatural things: no gods, no goddesses, no afterlife, etc.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Lauren.D.Clifford Lauren Clifford

        And that’s fine with me!

  • Anonymous

    i drive by religious signs every day. “jeebus wants” this, “gawd says” that, blah blah blah. am i offended? i suppose not, or at least, i try not to make being offended by such worth my time. but it does amuse me, when this sort of campaign goes up, how quickly the religious come here to say how wrong and offensive it is. oh, really? so you all are willing to take down the billboards and signs in front of the dozens of churches and houses of worship that litter every block in my neighborhood, and every other in america? didn’t think so. by the way, you’re not just “offending” me, but also every muslim, wiccan, jew, hindu and jain in america, in addition to me, with your assertions that your invisible buddy is the best and most right out of them all. i’m just more honest than most because i admit that it’s invisible and never speaks to anyone and probably isn’t worth worship. like all of them are, including the one your faith tells you is ‘real’ even as it tells you not to worship the Baals and Ashoreths of other faiths. 

    • Afinati

      Who’s Ashoreth?

  • Shaun

    Religion has been about stories, riddles, wife’s tails, poems, verses, I say so’s, old and new books, known and unknown authors, promises, legends, you musts, rumors, prophecies and such.

    I have been told that “god” was so powerful that “it” could do whatever “it” wanted to do.

    Having said that, why doesn’t “god” make us all believe “it” by showing us something that we can’t refuse instead of givings us bunch of riddles to solve? Wars has happened for “it”. Would have been much easier if “it” came on clean and straight.

    I am an atheist until this happens! 


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