Atheist Billboards Rejected by LIND Media Company in Ohio

Remember how the Mid Ohio Atheists said they were going to put up the following billboards?

That second billboard was inspired by a local church (that put up a billboard with the same message). Both were supposed to go up next week…

But now we have a problem. The company tasked with getting the billboards in place say they no longer wants to put them up:

Michael tells the story this way:

We contacted LIND Billboard Company and worked with a very Nice Sales Rep named Kristin Yoshioka. We spent several weeks exchanging emails, planning locations, and reviewing the graphics for the Billboards. In late October everything was ready to go. They had the final Graphic, had done the mock ups and we had approved them. Everything seemed to be going off with out a hitch and I was extremely pleased with the company.

Earlier today, though, MOA President Ron Stephens received this email from Maura Siegenthaler, the Vice President of the LIND Media Company, letting him know the billboards were not going to go up:

That’s it? They’re canceling the contract weeks after planning everything out and that’s all she can muster? No explanation? No nothing?!

Why would they do that? What was wrong with the billboards that no one seemed to notice until just now?

Stephens asked and Siegenthaler sent him a follow-up email:

The content of the proposed displays was supposed to have been approved beforehand by senior management at Lind, but unfortunately was not. When the content of your proposed displays did recently come to the attention of senior management, it was felt that a legal opinion was needed as to whether the content of the proposed displays might constitute a violation of the terms and conditions of Lind’s lease agreements for the billboard structures at which the posters would be displayed. Legal counsel determined that such displays could constitute a violation of such lease terms and conditions. Moreover, the inflammatory nature of the proposed displays would no doubt be considered offensive to much of the community and would be harmful to Lind’s community reputation and goodwill. Lind has always and will continue to reserve the right not to publish advertisements which, in its sole opinion, are obscene, unnecessarily offensive and/or not in the best interests of the community at large. We regret any inconvenience this might have caused your organization and Lind will bear the costs it has already incurred in the production of the displays without charge.

So our billboards are inflammatory. The one that lets other religious skeptics know they’re not alone is somehow that awful. The one that calls on people to be skeptical of what they hear — with the exact same wording used by a local church’s billboard just recently — is not good enough for them.

Meanwhile, LIND has been approved other ads like this one:

If we’re obscene and offensive, surely the Jesus one has to be even worse, right?

Michael has the contact information for the LIND folks at his site. Give them a call or send them a note letting them know there’s nothing inflammatory about getting people to question their beliefs.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • benjdm

    Email sent.

  • Aimeejoe3

    We still have a ways to go.  :(

    In other news……Columbia SC is now featuring some billboards sponsored by ColumbiaCoR.org.  I am curious to see how well these do.  Lamar is the company and they obviously did not have a problem with these billboards.  So lets just see how things go.  We are making headway even if it is slow.

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

    I sent this:

    I was disappointed to hear of your last minute sabotage of Mid Ohio
    Atheist’s attempt to put up billboards. I hope you will be reconsidering
    and apologising.

    You clearly allow billboards that deal with the topic of religion.
    Perhaps you have not considered that there is nothing that can be said
    about religion that will not be offensive to someone.

    Or is it really just that you wanted to deny an atheist group the chance
    to spread their message?

  • Andrea Keene

    email sent:
    Ms. Siegenthaler:
     
    I see that your company permits billboards stating that “Saturday is the TRUE Lord’s Day  Antichrist changed it, avoid his mark”.  Is this not offensive?  Is this in the best interests of the community at large?  I also see that you permit billboards from the Lutheran Church.  Are the Seventh Day Adventists offended by these?  Are the Lutherans offended by being told they have the mark of the Antichrist by worshipping on Sunday?
     
    Religious billboards are offensive to anyone not of that religion.  And to those of no religion.  And yet there seems to be an assumption by your company that as long as the billboard is supporting a religion, they are free to offend anyone else.  But a billboard supporting lack of religion is somehow more offensive and you won’t permit those.  Why is that?  Would you permit a Muslim billboard?  A Buddhist billboard?  A Jewish billboard?  Why would you not permit an Atheist billboard?
     
    I’ve seen a picture of one of your billboards that says “There Is No God.  Don’t Believe Everything You Hear.”  This billboard is from a church.  I understand that a local Atheist group wanted to put up a billboard with *identical* wording, and you refused on the basis of it being “offensive”.  How is it offensive if one group says it and not another?  Are they not the same words?  Do they not both encourage people to consider what they’ve heard and take the time to learn more?  Is it not actually offensive in either case?  Or is it only that you don’t want the Atheists to offend the Christians, but you don’t mind if the Christians offend the Atheists?  I’m not sure how you can have offensive in one direction but not in the other.
     
    I urge you to reconsider your refusal to permit the billboards from Atheists.  Religious descrimination is not an admirable trait in a company.  In fact, it is offensive and not in the best interests of the community at large.
     
    Best Regards,

    • http://www.miketheinfidel.com/ MikeTheInfidel

      The church’s billboard was actually done with the Lamar group (out of Baton Rouge, LA) not Lind (out of Mansfield, OH). Still, it’s a pathetic justification for denying it.

  • NewEnglandBob
  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I’m getting so sick of this. Mid Ohio Atheists should approach the same billboard company but posing as the First Church of God’s Perfect Love, and see if they have any problem with putting up this billboard. (It’s not real. I did it on Photoshop)

  • Anonymous

    Maybe they’ll send a nice apology.

  • PJB863

    In a way, this reminds me of the lesbian couple in Iowa who were refused service by a cake decorator on the basis of their sexual orientation.  This is covered under  public accommodation in Iowa’s human rights statute.  Would this not be covered under Ohio’s nondiscrimination statute as a refusal of public accommodation based on the Atheists “religious” beliefs?

  • Anonymous

    edited

  • http://www.facebook.com/UnitedCoR Fred Edwords

    This is just so you’ll know how it often goes. Not every billboard company approached by the United Coalition of Reason wants to run our billboards, either, even though our billboard slogans are rather benign. So we then turn to a competitor billboard company. On all but two occasions we’ve been able to find somebody else who will run our ads, and so we have gone with them. The others have thus simply lost our business. And since we’ve run ads in Ohio before, I’d recommend that Mid Ohio Atheists try another vendor. 

    That said, it is, in my view, unethical for staff of a billboard company to lead a client on like that, ruining a group’s campaign timing.  Timing matters a lot to advertisers, and so this jerking around of Mid Ohio Atheists is, at the very least, completely unprofessional. 

    Fred Edwords
    National Director
    United Coalition of Reason

    • http://www.facebook.com/eukota Darrell Ross

      I would say the timing it was quite intentional on LIND’s part. Their legal counsel likely let them know that even if a the FFRF or some other group manages to sue them, this action would still thwart the existing thorn in their side thus allowing them to meet their goals. They can always choose to fight a lawsuit or just give in with a fake “oops” after-the-fact.

      If the timing was intentional, then most letters written to the company are likely providing a kind of laugh for them as they would have planned for it.

      If Mid Ohio Atheists do find another advertiser, it might be good to point out that LIND discriminates in some way in a public forum and that the new one does not. A forum like a newspaper or some such.

  • Anonymous

    It is sad how I’ve just come to accept this kind of discrimination as normal. If the company had refused a NAACP sign for being “inflammatory” because it asked people to join their organization, the sign company would probably be sued. If they keep this up, maybe we should do the same.

  • Jackatkins

    THE CURE FOR ALL MENTAL ILLNESS
     
    http://www.thecureforallmentalillness.com

     

  • Erik Cameron

    Isn’t this grounds to sue? 

    • Anonymous

      I should think so but IANAL. Seems like it would fall under federal anti-discrimination laws.

  • Anonymous

    Someone on an Amazon discussion board referred to the “Don’t believe in God? you’re not alone” boards as “hate literature” !

    Sadly, I’m not kidding.

  • Dune10121

    Surely this deserves a law-suit


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