Inoffensive Atheist Billboard Challenge: Accepted!

Yesterday, Richard Wade got people thinking about how angry people would get at an atheist group’s billboard even if it were completely inoffensive.

mmm chocolate

Well, Katie Hartman of Skepticon is taking the idea one step further.

She wants to put up a cute, inoffensive billboard. All she needs are your donations and suggestions. Here’s a template of her idea:

We’ve priced billboards in the Springfield area and think it can be done for as little as $2,000 –- and if we end with more? We’ll put it on buses in St. Louis and Kansas City.

They need to figure out what image should go in the empty space and that’s where your votes could help them out. So please vote and please chip in if you find the idea entertaining :)



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.

  • Travis Morgan

    I choose the kittens graphic and I think it should read, “Kittens are Cute.” The alliteration flows better than, “Baby animals are cute.”

    • Laura

      Ah, kittens are overrated. Better leave it as “baby animals are cute” to stick with the broadest-possible-stance angle; lest they be accused as being anti-puppy or something ;)

      • Travis Morgan

        “Mmm, Chocolate” and “Buses carry people” crack me up the most though.

        • Michael

          Could an atheist society plausibly trademark “Buses carry many people” if they used it enough?

      • Kevin_Of_Bangor

        Kittens are very overrated but sadly the kitten option is winning.

      • Marco Conti

        How about “Kittens and puppies are cute”?
        And I too would like to see the word “atheist” more prominently displayed. I also agree with combining this message with a more community oriented one.
        I think a good idea would be to start with “Kittens and puppies are cute” and nothing else, then a week later add the community message and a week later add the atheist message. I think it may generate even more interest.

  • David McNerney

    Beware, this is exactly the kind of trickery that Satan uses to ensnare unsuspecting souls.
    ;-)

    • Keith Collyer

      Eminently likely, given that cats are the spawn of satan

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mark-Klotz/563520478 Mark Klotz

    But wait; Shouldn’t it read “Baby animals are delicious”? Because we atheists eat babies, don’t we? ;-)

  • Kelly

    I voted for  Less Awkward Puppies & Kittens (http://istockpho.to/we37rt). I love the idea, and I love seeing giant billboards of cute animals.

  • mattb

    It’s going to be great, because, as we all know, it’s offensive that we even EXIST. I look forward to the offense drawn from these inoffensive billboards.

  • Anonymous

    These don’t appeal to me whatsoever. 

    I understand the idea behind them, but there is such a huge disconnect. If you want to be completely inoffensive. Just put a billboard with the word “Atheists” or list the good deeds committed by Atheists. Juxtaposing Atheists with chocolate or cute puppies will just confuse people. And that’s the last thing we need to be doing. 

    At the very least “Atheist” should be set on an amazing beautiful shot from Hubble with perhaps the text “It’s larger than you can possibly imagine.”

    • Anonymous

      Honestly, I’m just supporting it for shits and giggles. No one puts up billboards like this and I’d like to see the result of doing so.

      • Supermoves3000

        I agree with the “shits and giggles” angle.  I am halfway expecting some outraged religious person to cry that atheists are using adorable kittens to try to indoctrinate children.

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

          oh we all know that will happen LOL

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

          oh we all know that will happen LOL

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

      Juxtaposing Atheists with chocolate or cute puppies will just confuse people. And that’s the last thing we need to be doing.

      A little confusion might be productive in this case. I can see the local media picking up on it as a funny/weird story, which would give the Skepticon folks an opportunity to explain exactly why they put up the billboard.

    • OkayWithThe

      I would have suggested that, or “Atheists Exist”. But eh, it might be amusing to see what the media makes of this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bjstone80 Betsy Stone

    These are great!  In the future, maybe we should continue this trend of agreement by promoting deeper issues.  Perhaps a billboard to promote an anti-suicide or abuse (domestic, child, elder, animal, etc.) help hotline with the atheist sponsor displayed in the corner.  If we can make a more public display of our interests in bettering our communities, instead of just telling theists that we’re good people, maybe they’ll take more notice.

    • Esteban

      I couldn’t agree more. Use the billboards for dual purposes, both promoting atheism and an important social issue.
      I’d love to hear the complaints for a billboard advocating atheism in the element of offering suicide help.

      • Jeffrey Markus

        As much as those billboards have a place, this one has a specific point. And that point is to show we are not monsters, we are normal people, not everything is us out to get you or out to get the establishment. It is as simple as looking at a couple of kittens playing. 

        • Pwspearing

          It’s also an interesting experiment–if local religious types decide that they are offended, we have proven that they are offended by the “A” word, not by the actual message.  I suspect that’s the case, but I’m willing to reconsider if the evidence is there.  I thought “Don’t believe in God? You’re not alone.” was pretty inoffensive, but not everybody saw it that way.

      • http://twitter.com/rgaltizer R G Altizer

        I like it. “Some people are concerned with a  life after death; we want to help you get through this one.”

    • usclat

      I so agree with you and the new billboards. I’ve often wondered why we atheists continue to react to religions and superstitions. By default and implication to call oneself an atheist is to deny religions. So let’s move on! I love the idea of relating our rationality and reason with worthy human/global issues. I’m not suggesting that atheists stop agitating or promoting in favor of reason and against myth, but there has to be an evolution in our strategies as well. Great job!!

      • Tox Lox

        I actually find the whole idea very positive, and would love to see it. Its almost like stating: We are starting to arrive at a point where we CAN move on to bigger issues. We’re atheists. We’re people. (established and done.) We’re your aunts,uncles, fathers, mothers, cousins, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. We’re still the same people who have always loved you.  Lets move past this, it doesn’t have to be a big deal.

         Show them that being Atheist doesn’t change a thing about the good people we are. We’re not scary, we have a difference of opinion in ways that are personal. We care about life, decency, lawfulness, and our fellow humans in all the ways that do matter. That’s the bigger message that has always needed to come across, and that some billboards have failed at. That we’re still the same people you always knew. We’re just finally figuring out things for ourselves.

  • Achess

    These could go viral. But I want the word “atheist” to be clearly visible at the bottom. Also, having actual puppies in the image would help.

  • Mrh5028

    I give it a week until somebody spray paints “And delicious” under that

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

    How about:

    “Christians are generally nice people. ”

    “we don’t like it when large organisations become corrupt. “

    • Demonhype

      Too easy for them to spin.

      1.  “See, atheists acknowledge our moral superiority!  Now if they could just believe…”

      2.  “Atheists are communists and will destroy our Capitalist Empire!”

      Or some such variation.  It doesn’t matter that they don’t say that at all.  As I learned by dealing with my brother recently, people in denial can go to amazing lengths to spin anything to fit in their rich fantasy world–and  these give them too good a fingerhold, they wouldn’t have to work at it at all.

      I mean, no doubt they’ll spin these too, but the unbelievable mental-twister will at least be entertaining and they’ll have to work for it!  :)

  • MichaelD

    No pictures of bunnies? boycott!!! boycott I say!!!!

  • John P

    Yeah,  what’s wrong with the tried and true “Babies Are Delicious”?

  • http://twitter.com/TachibanaEri Patience Virtue

    Well, I’ve been keystroke hacked so I can’t put in card info right now, but as soon as I get this sh*t sorted out I’m totally chipping in! :)

    Also, totally voted for those adorable bulldogs! But the kitties punching through the billboard was a close second for me! :D

  • Anonymous

    Mark my word….  “Baby Animals are Cute” will be equated with “pedophilia” and “bestiality”. If the idea is to be completely innocuous, something with NO way to misinterpret would be better.
    “Flowers are pretty”  “The sky is blue”  “God is a Myth”..  just  kidding on the last one.

  • Bob Speeter

    All baby animals are not cute, (ever try to cuddle with a baby alligator) but that is beside the point. I agree that the wording does not flow off the tongue smoothly. Some variation of the wording would sound better. “Kittens are cute” or “Puppies make us smile”. 

    • Demonhype

      Baby alligators is cute!  Not so cuddly and could probably take your finger off, but so tiny with the eyes and the little squeek?  Cute is more lookies than touchies anyway.

  • Michael

    Lots of people complaining that this answer to the challenge isn’t doing it right.

    So who’s going to make the next attempt?

  • Ronlawhouston

    Honestly, I think Richard is a fricking genius.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jessica-Jones/100000175481467 Jessica Jones

    As a good skeptic/atheist, I demand that she provide proper evidence for her currently unfounded assertion that baby animals are cute. There must be a picture.  Preferably a kitten, with duck sauce.

  • kenneth

    Who’s going to pay for the inevitable vandalism damage when some angry hillchuck throws a brick through it (circa day one after it’s put up)?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Travis-Dykes/19217851 Travis Dykes

    Oughta post that down here in Louisiana, may not be controversial enough for some of yall, and it may not have a message other than we exist and we like chocolate, but trust me down here it would make some peoples brains explode…

  • Anonymous

    hmm… I get the idea of seeing whether people will still be offended or not so as to prove that it is Atheism they are offended by not the billboard. But I think that people are just going to sneer at this and call it stupid. They will still be offended, but will project it as mocking rather than anger so that they can again hide their real reason.

  • reg griffin

    I LOVE this idea, it’s challenging their assumptions about us without being challenging to their personal beliefs. I see this as the way forward & potentially a lot more powerful than other more “in your face” campaigns.

  • reg griffin

    How ’bout “Cute baby animals don’t go to heaven”?

  • Kristin

    I would prefer billboards similar to the “I am a Mormon” ones, but about atheists. They could show how we are good, normal people. This would be mine:

    I made my first charitable donation at age five.
    I started a dance class for children with disabilities at the age of 23.
    I think baby animals are adorable.
    I believe in the importance of being a good person, and I strive to do so every day.

    My name is Kristin, and I am an atheist.

    • Kristin

      Just wanted to clarify that I meant that example for bus shelters, etc., as that is a lot of text for a road sign. However, the same idea could be used for a billboard. It could feature pictures of people who are considered “good”– a doctor treating a patient, a firefighter, a member of the Armed Forces, etc.– and say “I am an atheist.”

  • Top Squirrel

    The proposed texts are cute but without substance. And theists will just accuse us of trying to pull something that they can’t figure out.

    Here are three texts that have substance and may make a good magazine ad, but have too many words for a billboard:

    First one:

    Hi, we’re atheists. [pic of 2 or 3 attractive families with children
    smiling at camera.] “You believe
    in God? OK, we don’t.” Our main rule is just the “do onto others…”
    one. We don’t do the right thing in fear if punishment, but because it makes us feel good. That’s what we teach our
    children.
    ————————————–
    Second one:

    ‘[Same pic, smiling families with kids.] Hi, we’re atheists. We’ve never burned anybody or go around telling people what to believe. We don’t push a church — we have no church. Atheism is not a religion like bald isn’t a hair color. It’s the freedom from
    religion. It’s real easy to try. It starts with “I don’t know.”

    Third:

    [Same pic of smiling families] Hi, we’re atheists. We make up our own minds what to believe. We don’t hassle anybody. Other names
    for us are Freethinkers, Humanists, agnostics. All we want is to be
    accepted like all other community members and allowed to enjoy our
    families … and our lives.

    We make great neighbors. Especially if you like puppies or kittens.
    ————————————

  • Mikel

    I dunno about the chocolate one….they will be saying atheists are pushing hedonism. Wait, that might not be so bad… :)

  • Anonymous

    The chocolate billboard will offend dentists.

  • LanceThruster

    Show stars, galaxies, or the sun…and add this Sagan quote -

    Carl Edward Sagan : We are star stuff which has taken its destiny into its own hands. The loom of time and space works the most astonishing transformations of matter.

    What I particularly like about it, is that unlike religionism, it is *completely* inclusive!

  • http://lizheywoodwriter.blogspot.com/ Liz Heywood

    How about this:

    THIS IS A SIGN

    & an atheist link below.


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