Really, Really, Really Inoffensive Atheist Billboards

***Update*** (from Hemant): If you’d like to make one of these kinds of billboards a reality, please read this post and support Katie Hartman‘s proposal!

Richard Wade here.

In the continuing debate over the benefits and drawbacks of “in your face” atheist billboards versus “soft sell” atheist billboards, the assertion that the religious public will claim that they’re “offended” whether the message is strident or mild is frequently put forward.

As a good skeptic, I thought that perhaps this proposition should be put to a test. So in a half-serious, half-lighthearted spirit, I propose that we try displaying billboards that are truly innocuous, so that the only thing that might provoke “offense” would be the word “atheist” in the billboard sponsor’s name. Then we would see if the claim is true that “our mere existence is what offends them.”

Below are my suggestions. The sponsoring organizations depicted are merely my whimsical choices. Their approval of these billboards is not implied.

*Update:* Many commenters are saying that they’d donate to have an ad or ads like these published, and they’re asking about who will do it. Please, don’t expect me to. My life is already filled to the brim with family responsibilities. If any atheist group wants to use any of these ideas or something similar, go for it! I’ll be very happy to join in contributing money toward it.

puppies are cute
mmm chocolate
buses carry many people
blue skies fluffy clouds
drive carefully

As a counterpoint to these, it would be interesting to see if a billboard such as this one (my invention) would stir any controversy at all:

burn forever

About Richard Wade

Richard Wade is a retired Marriage and Family Therapist living in California.

  • Michael

    The puppies one is asking for trouble from cat lovers.

    • http://www.facebook.com/steven.satx Steven Satx

      There’d also be the claim that we were targeting children with that one.

      • Michael

        Because only children like puppies? Feh, Blaspuppy!

        • Boris Bridva

          I lol’d.

      • Anonymous

        Well, all children are atheists..

        So..

        • Leigha7

          Uh, how do you figure?

          • Anna

            Well, all babies are atheists, but most of them are taught to believe in a god by the age of 3 or 4, so I would say it’s inaccurate to claim that all children are atheists. The vast majority don’t stay that way past toddlerhood.

        • Paula M Marshall

          All BABIES are atheists. What about the 4-year-old boy who went to heaven? He believes!

    • Dimple

      Cat lovers don’t have souls.   Wait, nevermind.

      • Paula M Marshall

        Cat lovers are tolerant, egalitarian, clean, quiet people. Dog lovers are little hitlers who like it when they get their a**** kissed.

  • Anonymous

    Well done Richard!  I really enjoyed these.

  • Johannsone

    Chocolate called. They refuse to be involved with anything “un-heavenly”.

    • Guest

      Tell them “devil’s food” has been trying to reach them for three weeks and they’d damn well better answer.

  • http://twitter.com/0xabad1dea Melissa E

    This is actually a good idea.

    It would probably spawn a host of “what are those atheists REALLY up to” conspiracy theories…

    Also, good photoshopping.

  • http://twitter.com/WilliamRDickson William R. Dickson

    Actually, as a cat lover, I find even the puppies one so entertaining that I could not object. And I think these might actually serve to make a point. This may not be a bad idea at all.

  • Ms. Crazy Pants

    I actually love this idea.   “Puppies are cute” (kittens would work for me too) and the “Please drive carefully” are my favorites.

  • Richard Hughes

    I really like the bus one.

  • Stephanie

    Best billboard I’ve ever seen was a plain black billboard with white text saying, “Stop the porn. Be reborn -God” then right down the road, an adult video store. It was so hilarious lol.

    • http://twitter.com/ErnestValdemar Ernest Valdemar

      On I-74 between Cincinnati and Indianapolis, there is a billboard that is shared between two local businesses in small-town southern Indiana: A Christian anti-abortion propagandist and a “therapeutic Asian massage” parlor. 

    • sharon bowler

      I think that actually makes sense. The people who imagine that they speak for God and also disapprove of porn have placed it where it will be read by the people they are trying to communicate. Now if they own they owned the adult video store, that would be something.

    • Melanie

      For a few months last year, here in Vegas we had a billboard along the I-15 that just said ‘GOD’ with an arrow pointing upward. The businesses that surrounded it? Stripclubs, naturally.

  • Rod Chlebek

    Chocolate!

  • Melanie

    People would probably find putting the word ‘atheist’ on a billboard offensive. “What if my kids see that word? I’d have to explain what atheists are and it might them think!”
     
    That said, it’s a very cute idea.

    • Melanie

      “might *make* them think”

      More coffee is needed!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Sweet/1280927267 James Sweet

    Oh please please please actually do this.  I vote for the “Puppies are cute”, because the snark is more obvious in the others.  It’s a feel-good message that will make people smile, and it even serves a practical purpose: To remind people that atheists, far from being loveless Spocks, are just as manipulated by baby animal cuteness as anybody else.

    And when the inevitable complaints from residents come in, it will be HILARIOUS.

    • Danchamp

      If I were insane I could take it as how pets supposedly don’t go to heaven and something something athiests

      • Michael

        Or that puppies are atheists?

  • Evan Kelley

    There is a genius to this madness.

  • Icaarus

    In all seriousness, try taking the puppy one, throw in a couple of kittens, and maybe a catchphrase like “there is no such thing as too cute” -Sponsored by the FFRA

    • Efulwood

      Can God make a puppy do cute He can’t stand it?

  • Fitcoachdave

    I like the chocolate, but maybe the swirl on the top of the chocolates could have the atheist “A” design (kinda subliminal message that way)

  • http://www.facebook.com/christopher.dennison Christopher Dennison

    Can we say    PHOTOSHOPED.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Gilded Gilded Ryan Beckenbaugh

      no shit.  did you bother to read ANY of what he wrote at the top?  geeze….

      • http://www.facebook.com/christopher.dennison Christopher Dennison

        Oh look, the douche with the funny name can read. Still a douche.

    • Dan Lapoint

      Yes, but you can’t spell it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/christopher.dennison Christopher Dennison

        Really poindexter. You have an opinoin? Real original, ass.

    • http://www.facebook.com/musiclover1991 Charlene Kathryn Gorman

      Herp-a-derp

    • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

      THANKS CAPTAIN OBVIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • http://www.facebook.com/christopher.dennison Christopher Dennison

        SAYS CAPTAIN ASSHOLE.

        • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

          LMFAO

  • Diane McCarthy

    What, no “Babies are yummy”?

    • Littlewoodimp

      ohhhh, now wouldn’t THAT spark off some anti atheist rantings!!!! Could be fun ….. no, we shouldn’t, we should be above such things….

    • Anonymous

      “Babies are cute” would work really well too.

  • Vanessa

    I would actually help pay for these billboards, especially the puppy one!

  • Anonymous

    Loving the blue skies and fluffy clouds one, it works on several levels.

  • mkb

    Love the puppies.

    I am amazed at what people manage to take offense at.  I was part of a Facebook group memorializing people from my hometown.  The picture on the page was an ornate cross.  I asked if it could be supplemented with a graphic of flowers — not an A, not a happy humanist, flowers — to represent the non-Christians in the town. The response of some in the group was to go on and on about how rude my request was.  They even admitted that I asked politely but said that that didn’t matter.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Edward-A-Peters/1403567549 Edward A Peters

      And I’m sure a polite “No” is all that you would have needed. Not a huge explanation about why or how horrible it is to even ask. :-)

    • cipher

      Where was the town?

  • http://www.facebook.com/Gilded Gilded Ryan Beckenbaugh

    I like the blue skies and fluffy clouds….it’s got a SLIGHT mockery going on, but its too subtle to really piss too many people off.  brilliant.

  • http://www.allourlives.org/ TooManyJens

    I would seriously donate for one of these.

  • Michael Appleman

    I think this is a great idea.

  • Yukimi

    I’d vote for the Please Drive Carefully one because it’s a very good and positive message that serves the public so if they complain they’d put themselves as the bad guys.

    • Anonymous Atheist

      Here’s a real-life example of this, on a smaller scale:
      In December 2011, a group of military atheists at Travis Air Force Base (Fairfield, CA) submitted a sign for the base’s ‘holiday card’ display (4x8ft signs). Its message was “Have a safe holiday season.” 
      First it was rejected. Then after some publicity, it was reluctantly allowed. And then, it was partially censored, and threatened with vandalism.
      http://freethoughtblogs.com/almostdiamonds/2011/12/20/a-censorious-christmas/

      • http://www.facebook.com/cburschka Christoph Burschka

        That would indicate that it’s not the mention of atheism that angers the Christians; it is anything that even tangentially hints at our existence. (Scratch that; many Christians say Happy Holidays as well, and these are also the bad guys in the “War on Christmas”. So what angers them is the very concept of someone who does not shape their life around religion.)

        • Steve

          Here’s a good one then, “Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas. Whatever floats your boat.” -American Atheists 

          Then have all sorts of holiday symbols to include a Festivus pole.

  • Meredith Hertzler

    This has had me laughing for 10 minutes. Thank you!

  • Littlewoodimp

    The “drive safely” one would be worth a go, just to see.  The others could be accused of sarcasm …. which of course they are.  But “drive safely” could test the theory out.

    • Seekin

      I can hear the responses now…

      “How DARE those atheists tell me how to drive?  Boy, when they die they’ll find out about being careful!”
      [Add lot's more caps, exclamation points, poor grammar and spelling for improved accuracy of the prediction.]

      • Km_dickson

        Should they also add unnecessary apotrophes?  ;)

        • Panda

          I think you accidentally a letter. :O

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-De-Fleuriot/611844223 Mike De Fleuriot

        How can you forget Comic Sans?

  • http://elodea.myopenid.com/ Chuckl

    I’m pretty sure you can already find multiple versions of the “Burn Forever” billboard throughout the Carolinas.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Luther-Weeks/100001027655434 Luther Weeks

      As Jack Benny said “I’m thinking, I’m thinking”…

    • Atoswald

      I actually thought the “Burn Forever” billboard was real until I read the fine print above it. I have seen numerous versions of this billboard all over the south … Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia and South Carolina have all had their own versions of this. I also recall seeing one in the midwest, although I am not sure if it was in Wisconsin, Missouri, or North Dakota.

      • Gollie3

        We’ve had a similar billboard here in Cranston Rhode Island. Can’t stand those.  I’m not an atheist, but I am enjoying your conversations – kittens are cute, better get them on their own billboard!

    • Anonymous

      I think I’ve even seen one similar up here in Maine. Billboards aren’t allowed, but there is one church that just outs a REALLY BIG sign out front, visible from the highway, that says things along the line of eternal hellfire.

    • http://profile.yahoo.com/25NWAK2CAMPKOJ57WL5XXTLRBI NiciEvans-MeMyself

      And Arkansas – There are about 3 with similar messages along the bypass around town at the moment.  Had I thought of it when we moved, one of the PROS about the location would be that I no longer have to drive past them.  

  • Linda Turnipseed

    I also like the puppy one. Add kittens and have it say “Puppies and kittens are cute.”

  • Robert DeCaire

    I’ve seen billboards that are basically identical to that last one.

    I think that if you want to test the hypothesis without a lot of background noise, just put “Atheists exist” in white text on a black background, with sponsor logos at the bottom.  That would eliminate any confounding factors due to chocolate or puppies.

    • Hypatiab7

      The fundies of every religion would consider that a threat. That is how
      what they call their minds work.

  • Xeon2000

    I’d love to see a billboard like one of those. My favs are the puppies, blue skies, and drive safely.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fieldsb Brian Fields

    “Good without God” should
    have been a completely inoffensive slogan – Turns out it wasn’t. I
    think any billboard with the word “Atheist” in it will get blowback.
    They simply don’t want us to exist in the public eye.

    • Hypatiab7

      Just in the public eye? They don’t want us to exist at all.

    • Trina

      The worst problem with ‘good without god’ is semantic.  The phrase implies that there *is* a god and that the billboards acknowledge it.  Of course, the other problem is exactly as you described.

  • http://garicgymro.wordpress.com/ garicgymro

    I like this idea, but it’s actually not the best way of answering the question. There’s an analogy to be made with sentences that begin, “I’m not racist but…” The reason this is a bad way to begin a sentence is that, *whatever* follows it, you’re priming the audience to expect you to say something racist. If you say, “I’m not racist, but chocolate is great!” then there’s a real danger that people will assume what you’ve just said about chocolate is subtly racist.

    There’s a similar problem in the case of the atheists ads. Because it’s not obvious why on earth an Atheist society would be posting such an ad, you imply (through the very act of putting up the ad) that there’s some connection between puppies, or chocolate (or whatever) and atheism. And the person who sees the ad may assume all sorts of bizarre things, which would introduce an extraneous variable.

    In other words, this might not actually be the best way to test whether or not it is the mere existence of Atheist societies that offends people. Much less fun though it may be, a better way to answer that question is to have an ad saying simply, “Hi, we’re atheists”.

    • Christoph Burschka

      you imply (through the very act of putting up the ad) that there’s some
      connection between puppies, or chocolate (or whatever) and atheism.

      I can see the headline. “The Devil’s Tools: Church Leaders Condemn Puppies, Chocolate, Safe Driving” :-D

    • Taxihorn

      Doesn’t “Buses carry many people.” avoid this problem? The ad points to its own medium, and after a good laugh, I would thankfully look for who used the ad space in such a bemusing fashion, sparing me the usual onslaught of “Buy this!” As for “Please drive carefully.”, I worry that someone who feels threatened by atheists may assume any instruction would include an automatic “or else…”

      • Arinen

        Pretty sure the “or else…” is usually implied in most driving safety billboards anyway.

        On that note, my favourite one of those was a massive one on the side of a road in my city that said in big, red and black letters “Distracted Drivers Kill”. Thanks for that, government.

  • http://www.laughinginpurgatory.com/ Andrew Hall

    One of the basics of advertising is pairing your product with something pleasant — it’s basic behavioral conditioning. That is why the “I’m a Mormon” Youtube shorts are so good. 98% off the  video is about an attractive person leading a productive, happy life. The very last bit is where you find out the person in the vid is a Mormon.

    • T-Rex

      I think you meant to say “moron”?
      I kid, I kid.

  • http://criticallyskeptic-dckitty.blogspot.com Katherine Lorraine

    Those are hilarious and awesome. We must do this!!!

  • Kathy Orlinsky

    I like Please Drive Carefully.  It conveys the image that atheists care about people (which, if we’re also humanists, of course we do).  I think we should be doing more to push Sean Faircloth’s agenda of showing that not only are atheists normal people, but that we’re on the right side 

    • http://stochasticscientist.blogspot.com/ Kathy Orlinsky

      I accidentally cut off this comment, so it’s reposted below.  Sorry!  I’d delete it if I could.

  • http://stochasticscientist.blogspot.com/ Kathy Orlinsky

    I like Please Drive Safely.  Aside from saying nothing one way or the other about religion, it conveys the message that atheists care about people (which, if we’re also humanists, of course we do).  I think we should be doing more to push Sean Faircloth’s agenda of showing that not only are atheists normal people, but we’re also on the right side of social issues.

    That said, the chocolate one is awesome.

  • http://www.facebook.com/codejunkie Nick Fotopoulos

    It’s not completely innocuous.  Puppies are atheist after all.

    They would probably accuse us of using things that are appealing to lure their children into our heathenistic world of sin, debauchery and baby eating…

    • http://profiles.google.com/tychabrahe Lauren Eve Pomerantz

      Are puppies atheists?  

      Kittehs follow the truth of Ceiling Cat.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Helen-Krummenacker/1216292033 Helen Krummenacker

        Every cat worships his or her own self.

        • Aljaž Kozina

          For every cat knows that Ceiling Cat is in each one of us :)

    • Hypatiab7

      Nah. If puppies are atheist, then so are chairs. Another way in which
      fundamentalist ‘minds’ work.

  • Jacob Bates

    For the love of Nothing, please have that Drive Carefully sign read

    “Please Drive Carefully, not everybody has an afterlife to fall back on. — American Atheists”

    • Deven Kale

      I almost always prefer to add something substantial, but sometimes all I have to say is -

      THIS!

    • Raquel

      Hahaha I’m rolling from this comment. Completely hilarious.

    • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

      “Not everybody”? How about “Nobody”?

      • Spencer

         That ruins the joke, you dingus-head.

        • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

          Well excuuuuuuse me! *humph*

          • Brian Macker

            The truth sometimes hurts.

            • matt pierpoint

              Sometimes rocks and/or fire do too. Especially if thrown from a small distance or lit directly at your feet. In fairness, however, it’s rare to have a rock lit directly at your feet. 

              • Charlie

                However, had they burned witches during the industrial revolution they probably would have gone to coal power.  More efficient.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-GK/507761207 Joe GK

      Love it!

    • Brian Macker

      Love your modification.

    • Anonymous

      Funny. After life doesn’t exist though. 

  • Bob Speeter

    This whole proposition made me smile and have a good laugh. Great stress relief for a Thursday. I really would like to put one of these ideas to the test. Puppies and drive carefully were my favorites.

  • http://kaleenamenke.blogspot.com/ Kaleena

    I think this is actually a really fantastic plan. And hilarious too!! Where do I sign up?

  • http://rrlane.blogspot.com rrlane

    This is already been done and the point that our existence is all that’s needed for anger from the religious has already been proven.  I’ve already seen “This highway was adopted by the _________ atheists of _________” defaced while other roads were left untouched.

  • http://www.facebook.com/donnamanning Donna Manning

    I like these…. I prefer a kinder, gentler approach… I am very put off by the militant atheists. I liken them to the militant christians who equally offend me. I’m more drawn in by kindness and consideration, so these appeal to me.

    • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

      Who would be an example of a “militant atheist”???

      • Arinen

        The Amazing Atheist on youtube comes to mind. But basically any fundamentalist atheist hellbent (hehe) on converting everyone to their way of thinking. Yes, we have fundies too, I think they’re just fewer and farther between.

        • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

          The Amazing Atheist is a douchebag, but a bold one. I don’t see why being bold requires being called “militant”. it cheapens the word and makes it trivial

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=559507254 Sarah Powell

        The people who appear (sometimes on threads such as this) and insult theists, call them (not just their beliefs) ridiculous and wrong, and refuse to be respectful toward them. 

        I happen to be an atheist who believes that there was something to that “turn the other cheek” thing, if only as a guideline, rather than a rule. I believe one of the comments up above sarcastically remarked that “That is how what they call their minds work.” It’s needlessly inflammatory. Even if there are some theists who rail against atheists and make sweeping generalizations about how evil or unintelligent or hateful they are, there is no need for some atheists to turn around and do the same to all theists.I’m not the original poster, of course; this is just my interpretation.

        • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

          so, a militant atheist is someone who is an atheist who believes in standing for their beliefs? Did i get that right???

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=79700149 Aaron Dighton

            There’s a difference between sharing your belief and trying to force someone to accept it. 

            That’s how I see ‘militant anythings’. 

            Sharing your atheism with someone is fine.  But if you’re doing that with the intent of arguing with them if they disagree with you, then you’re being a militant atheist. 

            Now, if they come here and start making fun of atheists, have at. 

            But arguing with them, or making fun of them when they’re not even here, is kind of pointless and tasteless.

            • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

              since when was making fun of christians “forcing atheism”??? 

          • Sarah Powell

            No, you didn’t get that right.

            A militant atheist is someone who attacks others for *their* beliefs, forcing them to then, in turn, stand up for themselves.

            Attacking others != standing up for yourself. Basic difference between offense and defense, there.

            • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

              so, basically, since some Christians view our VERY EXISTENCE as offensive, does that mean we are “militant” by default??????? LOL!!!! Get outta here!!!

        • Anonymous

          Agreed. There is no need for us to stoop to the fundies’ level of name calling, insults, and bigotry. Absolutely, we need not respect their beliefs, but I still believe everyone deserves respect as a fellow human being.
          On the Freedom From Religion Foundation page on Facebook, things were pretty heated around Christmas. There was one young woman who came to the page and posted that she didn’t understand how anyone could be an atheist. Naturally, this sparked a lot of commentary, and from her replies you could tell that she was just coming to pick a fight….but I was shocked and disgusted when one of our own called her a “dumb fucking cunt” and later said “come here bitch I’m going to hold you down and make you pregnant”. In my opinion, attacking someone’s gender is just as bad as attacking their race. No one else batted an eye until I called the guy out on his comments. And even then I had to explain the difference between “relevant insults” (such as, “You’re a moron if you believe in talking snakes”) and irrelevant insults (which merely attack someone’s gender, race, etc and don’t pertain to the actual issues). I mean, everyone would have understood that calling someone a “dumb nigger” is bad when someone starts a religious debate….but no one reacted to “dumb cunt” and rape threats. Unbelievable.
          Anyway, to me that’s what a militant atheist is….someone who simply attacks and belittles, dropping themselves to the level of people like, say, Shirley Phelps. They’re not interested in constructive debate and discussion; they just want to make people mad. They make the rest of us look bad.

          • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

            So attacking and belittling is “militant” behavior??? Ok………………………………………………….

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-De-Fleuriot/611844223 Mike De Fleuriot

          Turn the other cheek, gets you slapped on both sides of the face, Neville Chamberlain.

          • http://www.twitter.com/a_okafor007 Anthony C. Okafor

            WORD

      • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

        Just to name a few qualities of militants: pretty much anyone who thinks the entire world should convert to atheism or anyone who calls religious people “morons”. There’s no shortage of atheists who fall into that realm of belief. You can find large numbers of them in most internet forums.

        Yes, there’s a sizable contingent of religious people who are intolerant toward atheists and other minority philosophies and religions. There are more than a few who call for our conversion to the dominant faith and actively encourage the ridicule and condemnation of anyone who does not share in their version of theism. So too, there is no shortage of religious leaders who will readily dismiss atheism and other competing faiths/philosophies as hurtful foolishness. We don’t have to repeat their terrible behaviors. We could actually try for something better, rather than stooping to the lowest common denominator.

        • http://www.facebook.com/alewis2 Adam Lewis

          “Just to name a few qualities of militants: pretty much anyone who thinks
          the entire world should convert to atheism or anyone who calls
          religious people “morons”.

          I’d agree with the first part and the second if that is applied scattershot to ALL religious people.  But I hardly think that since I’ve called the likes of Ray Comfort, Eric Hovind, and Sye Ten Bruggencate morons, that makes me “militant.” 

          Come to think of it, using that test for militant atheism, many Christians are militant atheists since they do, in fact, label morons like Comfort, morons. 

          • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

            That completely misses the point.

        • Greg

          “pretty much anyone who thinks the entire world should convert to atheism”
          So you are honestly saying that any atheist who believes that not only atheism is true, but that it is advantageous, and the world would be a better place if everyone were atheistic is ‘militant’?

          Seriously now? You’re essentially saying any atheist with the courage of their convictions is ‘militant’. I can’t agree with you there.

          I guess it’s the old joke – militant Muslims become suicide bombers; militant Christians blow up abortion clinics; militant atheists write books.

          • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

            It’s not about throwing bombs, Greg. This is about the tendency to dehumanize others, believing that everyone else is inferior to oneself, and being willing to use hostility as a regular means of engagement. Some militants employ physical violence and some do not. Nevertheless, dehumanizing hostility is usually a prominent feature.

            Even so, lets address that question: do atheists throw bombs? Net yet. Unless you count the ones who support western governments who invade other countries to “quell the evil Muslim hordes” who happen to be living on top of our oil. Who needs terrorism when you have Western imperialism? We have soldiers from the poorer part of society’s class structure throw our bombs for us. I believe a very famous atheist who endorsed such matters shuffled off the mortal coil recently.

            So, whats the difference between violent militant atheists and violent militant Muslims? One throws their own bombs while the other one outsources.

          • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

            Oh, and as far as I’m concerned, if you want the whole world to be atheist, then not only are you militant, but you aren’t much better than the average evangelical Christian who thinks the whole world should believe in his/her version of god. Wanting to eradicate everyone else’s version of god-belief is intolerant, regardless of whether you are a believer or a non-believer.

            Yes, I’m quite aware that I’ve just described a very large fraction of people who visit websites such as this–perhaps the majority.

            I am not a friend to this kind of atheism. Nor will I ever be. I’d rather spend time around a group of theists and spiritualists who truly embrace pluralism rather than a bunch of atheists who think the entire world should convert to their way of thinking.

            Ironically, you reproduce the tribalism so much of you criticize and thus have fashioned your non-belief into a religion.

      • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith
    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-De-Fleuriot/611844223 Mike De Fleuriot

      Seems to me that the Militant atheists are the one actually doing the fighting, while the rest of you guys are sitting in pubs cheering us on, and questioning our motives and methods. You might as well call yourselves agnostics, for all the good you do, Phill P.

      • Deven Kale

        Since when was being an activist a requirement for being an atheist? To my knowledge being an atheist just means that you don’t believe there are any gods. If that definition has changed to demanding that we must also proselytize, I may drop the label and start calling myself something else.

        I don’t think I’ve ever met a Militant Atheist, but by your wording, I assume that you would call yourself one. If you are a typical example of them, I may agree with the original commenter. At least in the sense that the Militant Atheists are approximately as offensive as the Militant Christians. In a sense, I hope you’re just trolling.

      • Sarah Powell

        Just so you know, although I usually label myself as atheist for my own and others’ ease, I actually *am* an agnostic—and that doesn’t mean I’m confused or unsure; I’m absolutely certain that, while within our own universe with its physical laws no supernatural entity can exist, neither theists nor atheists have one shred of evidence of what exists outside of our universe.

        So for you to say “you might as well call yourselves agnostics” is not only a little superfluous since I and possibly other of “us” actually ARE, it’s also mildly offensive. Not all agnostics are indecisive. The name is actually used by some people to mean a solid stance such as this one:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strong_agnosticism

        Also, it’s the attitude that you expressed in your post (the only good atheist is an atheist who tries to convert others, basically) that I find particularly ironic, since for me, logic aside, the biggest reason I reject religion is the sheer number of times some fanatic has tried to convert me. It’s just irritating for the person on the other side of the “militant” diatribe.

  • Spendler2000

    sure they’re cute, but I’d rather see some promoting ideals such as acts of compassion, kindness, courage – the same values that the churches try to claim a monopoly on – only without the religious trappings. I’ll bet my bottom dollar we can say it better.

    • Trina

      Excellent idea.  The fact that we would say those things at all would surprise many people, and I think it’s a rare atheist who doesn’t agree with those concepts.  Certainly no rarer than the number of religious people who disagree with them.

  • Annie

    I like them all, but I think my favorite is “Buses carry many people.”  You can’t logically argue the truth of that statement, but it might be amusing to watch some people try.

  • Keulan

    It would be interesting to see the reactions from religious people if an atheist group actually did put up a billboard like those. I bet some would still find a way to be “offended” by them.

    I haven’t seen billboards exactly like the last one, but I am aware of ones like this… http://fstdt.com/QuoteComment.aspx?QID=63360
    …which implies that we’re a bunch of immoral people for not believing in god(s).

  • Anonymous

    I love them all. I just know some christian would complain about any one of them.
    I think the “Buses carry many people” one has the best/only actual message. All the more reason for someone like Bill O’Reilly to start a tamptrum about how intolerance is part of his rights etc. and it offends him to know there might be atheist on a buss.

  • http://www.facebook.com/AnonymousBoy Larry Meredith

    The “Buses Carry Many People” one had me laughing. It’s just such a pointless remark. All the other ones could be seen as associating atheism with something cute, yummy, nice or safe. But there’s nothing positive or negative about “buses carry many people.” LOL.

    • http://profiles.google.com/tychabrahe Lauren Eve Pomerantz

      “Damned atheists always promoting that global warming/greenhouse gas/carpool & public transportation ecology crap.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joe-GK/507761207 Joe GK

      I think the emphasis was on “many,” as in there are many kinds of people on a bus.

    • Autolykos

      Also it can be misread as “can marry” if you have to read it quickly, which is kinda weird. Like it.

  • Scott

    I think this is an awesome idea.  Tell me when and where to send it and I’ll write a check.

  • Anonymous

      It would not matter one iota what the message said. The term Atheist is what they hate, period. They believe we have no right to exist. Their omni-potent infallible god made us. That is what they can not stand. It is their perfect god that made the mistakes. That they can not reconcile in their little minds. It must put them all in vertigo.

     I was talking to my wife yesterday about our beliefs. A being(s) that could/can do more than humans is just as possible to exist as we are. It is the magical  creation and eternal punishment we reject. Religious people say magic is wrong, but it is perfectly alright for their god to use magic.

      We came to the conclusion that we are merely Amagic.

    • Ulrike Dunlap

      I love this! From now on, I will no longer be an atheist: I will be an Amagic! (easier to spell, too :) )

  • http://www.facebook.com/musiclover1991 Charlene Kathryn Gorman

    I vote for the “Puppies are Cute” one, the Chocolate one, and the Drive Safe one!

  • johnny

    ha in santa clarita, ca there used to be a billboard that just said “FEAR GOD,” which few saw as controversial. i vote for “drive carefully” though.

  • JenniferT

    Not in my name. Can’t abide puppies.

  • JenniferT

    Not in my name. Can’t abide puppies.

  • Sue Blue

    All of these should be put up at once, everywhere.  My favorite is the last one, but I don’t know if most fundies would get it.  It’s too similar to the sentiments they post all the time, everywhere they can.  They’d probably think it was put up by a new iteration of the Southern Baptists or something.

  • Marshall

    This article made me convert to Christianity then back to atheism based on how awesome it is

  • Guest

    I’ve actually seen billboards somewhat like the “burn in hell” one…. and we’re the threat? 

  • Parse

    The inevitable outrage would be along the lines of, “How dare they spend money on billboards when there are children starving in Africa!”  Basically, atheists shouldn’t waste energy on fixing small problems (like public awareness and recruiting members) while there are bigger problems out there.

    Of course, this complaining would be doubly delicious if the billboards got placed next to religious billboards.

  • Roving Rockhound

    Brilliant! I would suggest that they go up in easily vandalized locations, so there’s no physical barrier for them to overcome.

  • Roving Rockhound

    Brilliant! I would suggest that they go up in easily vandalized locations, so there’s no physical barrier for them to overcome.

  • heisenberg

    The last “extreme” xtian billboard example wouldn’t draw much attention in most of the south. If you take the interstate from Little Rock, Arkansas to Memphis, TN there are many white text on black billboards that scream about rejecting god and going to hell. My particular favorite is about not sparing the rod on your children. They’ve been up for ages, I remember them as a kid and even from just a few years ago.

  • Anonymous

    I’m totally down with this, DO IT!

  • Ubi Dubium

    I’ll have to chime in for the “Blue skies and fluffy clouds” one.  With all of those awful religious billboards out there trumpeting some message or other about heaven, I love the subtle dig that ours is just about the sky.

    But no kittens?  Puppies are cute, sure, but not nearly as cute as kittens!

  • Margy

    Thanks, Richard, for making my day! These are hilarious, especially the puppies, chocolate, and “Buses carry many people.” You are SO awesome, dude!

  • Guest

    I’m rather fond of the “puppies” ad.  You know, every time you masturbate God kills a ……

  • Anonymous

    -presents proposal to Skepticon team-

  • Secular Planet

    They’d all be considered offensive because they contain the word “atheist.” It’s that simple.

    • Antares42

      You have not read the post that accompanies the pictures:

      “I propose that we try displaying billboards that are truly innocuous, so that the only thing that might provoke “offense” would be the word “atheist” in the billboard sponsor’s name. Then we would see if the claim is true that “our mere existence is what offends them.” “

  • paul mason

    I think the word ‘atheist’ should be in the actual message. People who are driving and see these things won’t necessarily look at the sponsor print at the bottom, so:

    “Atheists love puppies too.” would be better for testing the hypothesis given.

  • http://a-long-night.blogspot.com/ Rafiq

    I can think of warnings to go with each of these advertisements – except the one about burning forever.
     
    Puppies are cute. WARNING: Promote responsible pet ownership. Do not give animals as gifts. Before buying make sure you are able to look after them properly for life.
     
    Hmm. Chocolate. WARNING: Eat chocolate responsibly. Excessive chocolate consumption can lead to tooth decay and obesity.
     
    Buses carry many people. BEWARE of pickpockets.
     
    Blue skies and fluffy clouds. WARNING: Remain aware of your surroundings. Beware of pickpockets, traffic and potholes.
     
    Please drive carefully. Do not look at elevated billboards while driving.
     
    ___________
     
    Now come to think of it, I can think of a compulsory warning for the hell-fire ad.:
     
    WARNING: Religion can seriously impair mental function.

  • Brian Macker

    Thes posters made my day. I was cracking up at the thought of someone finding them offensive, but you can bet the farm someone will object.

  • Marmoulak

    Richard,

    This is such a brilliant idea! I posted this on Tumblr this afternoon (with links to this page) and it has already been ‘liked’ and reblogged by over 500 people. I’m seeing a lot of nice feedback from both atheists and theists, which is unheard of! 

    You can see the Tumblr blog post here: http://marmoulak.tumblr.com/post/16539639305/richard-wade-from-the-friendly-atheists-blog

    I will send an e-mail to NYC atheists tomorrow, and I think everyone should do the same with their local atheist group and get this going.

    Kudos! Love the idea!

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      Thank you Marmoulak, you reported my intention very accurately. I’m completely blown away by how powerful Tumblr and microblogging is for spreading ideas quickly. 

      I hope something positive comes from all this. If people focus a little more on accurately understanding each other rather than focusing almost entirely on struggling to get others to agree with them, I think we will all benefit.

  • werdna_nabur

    I would definitely donate to a campaign of this nature!

  • Fake

    The soft approach is an excellent idea. One thing we atheists lack is a marketing department. The in-your-face approach is probably one of the most ineffective ways of encouraging the devout to question their beliefs as well as reassess the assumption that atheists are devil-worshipping assholes. Why not try something new? I love the idea of showcasing our compassionate side with well-wishes, such as “We hope your ride to work is a safe one,” “Do something good for someone today,” etc etc.

    • Annie

      I never thought the intention of putting up billboards was to encourage the devout to question their beliefs.  There are several reasons why a group might spend the money on billboards, and I thought is was more for these reasons:

      1. To let closet atheists know there is a group in their area and to attract more atheists to these groups (“you are not alone signs”).
      2. To let people know that atheists are not bad people, we are ‘regular’ people who the reader may interact with often (NC ads).
      3. The recent ads with the babies on them were great for new parents to consider that there is no rule that you must baptize your baby… even if your parents/inlaws make it seem that there is.

      The mission of any group is often to attract more members and to create a positive image of their group.  Richard’s clever signs above would, in my view, accomplish both of these things… plus they would bring a smile to many faces.

  • http://itsmyworldcanthasnotyours.blogspot.com/ Anonymous

    I like the “puppies”, “chocolate”, and “drive safe” signs.

    I’m almost positive that last one — “Worship at our Church or BURN IN HELL” — would, in fact, not even raise an eyebrow from the Christers.

  • Anonymous

    I like the “Buses carry many people” ad. If someone would donate the money, I am sure I can get PhillyCoR to get these on buses in Philadelphia.

  • Rebecca H

    Am I the only one here who LOVES “Blue skies and fluffy clouds”?

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      Hi Rebecca,
      So far, four others say it’s their favorite or one of their favorites. A few others just like them all.  

  • http://www.quietatheist.com/ Slugsie

    I propose a double down on the experiment. Run similarly innocuous adverts, but link them to a Muslim group (with their assistance obviously).

  • Antinephalist

    Did anyone else read those billboards in the voice of Brick Tamland?

  • Nude0007

    I think they want us to waste money without getting our point across, while they continue to do just as they please.  We don’t need inoffensive billboards, we need shock value and hit  ‘em where it hurts billboards!

  • Anonymous

    This somewhat reminds me of the recent flood of Scientologist backed billboards, put up under the guise of A Foundation for A Better Life (or some-such non committal BS).   They say general gooditudes and have a positive picture attached, kinda like one of those Motivational Posters. Should the [a][A] theists  take a similar course?

  • http://www.facebook.com/liberalism Katie Hartman
  • Danmorris907

    “Buses carry many people” is the best one because it at least references the cause a bit :->

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    I think it is a great idea to put up billboards without any challenging propositions or snark.

    My favorite is “puppies are cute”. It would be a stretch to find snark or anything challenging prevailing religion in that statement. Even cat lovers cold agree that puppies are cute… they just might like kittens better.

    The whole point is to point out that atheists are people too.  Normal people.

  • An idea

    It might make it less innocuous, but I think it needs a tie in to be serious at all. So I propose going with the baby animals are cute theme, with the line ‘all this cuteness wasn’t created in 7 days’.

  • Gollie3

    I’m impressed with the level of discussion here! It is so nice to hear people for the most part making sense and sharing laughter and good info.  Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/RevMichaelDowd Michael Dowd

    This is a great idea!  I love them all and would be happy to donate to the cause.

    Co-evolutionarily,

    ~ Michael

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Malcolm-Senior/100000098804319 Malcolm Senior

    Picture a newborn baby : I AM AN ATHEIST : DO YOU HATE ME ?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Malcolm-Senior/100000098804319 Malcolm Senior

    Picture a newborn baby : I AM AN ATHEIST : DO YOU HATE ME ?

  • http://larianlequella.com Anonymous

    Keep in mind, the freedom to offend with billboards is strictly a theist privilege.  Us atheists are just too damn uppity it would seem:  http://larianlequella.blogspot.com/2010/12/start-2010-war-on-christmyth.html

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1490122280 Scott Plumer

    Why not a nice Bible quote, like this one:
    Deuteronomy 25:11-12
    11 If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, 12 you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.

  • Jesse Vega

    I’m not an atheist. I’m a Christian who is not offended by your very existence. Anyway, I like the safe driving message. The other ones just seem silly and a little snarky. I think that public service messages would give atheists a better public image and make some people more accepting of you and your message. I say “some people” because, hey, it’s a free country. Some people will just hate you no matter what you do.

  • Melisa Beliwicz

    I am not an Atheist but I found a link to this on G+ and had to check out the billboards.

    Drive safely is by far my favorite, I see similar messages from all sorts of groups so I would not have even noticed the atheist part if not for the context in wich I encountered it. 

    The chocolate one however I really don’t like, it gave me a horrible craving and I have no chocolate in my house with which to satisfy it.  If that one was put up you all would be blamed for making kids and pregnant women, who REALLY want chocolate and are not always reasonable about its availability, cry.

  • Guest

    I can see how people who are fearful of atheists could take many of these in the wrong way.  They may see us as wanting to hurt or attack the puppies or terrorize the busload of people. 

    I think I’d prefer to see a slogan that attempts to show how we atheists are/can be good people, too.  Not that we’re better, but just showing our goodness.  Maybe even showing real life atheists who do/did good deeds. 

    For instance an atheist firefighter who saved a lot of lives, atheist soldiers who won medals, etc. 

    Slogans like “Ethics are the product of our own minds.” “Morality comes from within.”  “I know right from wrong and I choose to be good.”   “Helping others comes naturally.  I don’t need any reward for it.”  “I don’t need anyone to tell me to be a good person.  I do good because I want to help people.”  “I treat my fellow humans with respect.”
    “I respect your beliefs.  Please respect mine.”  “I respect your opinion.  Please respect mine.”

    I’m interested in getting them to see us as real people, just like them.  We can go Shakespeare: “Hath not an Atheist eyes?” Something to gain their sympathy for us as humans.

  • Steve

    Give me all of your money and I’ll get it done!

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com James Smith

    In my personal experience, being atheist is enough.  You can say nothing and you will be despised, threatened and ostracized.  


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X