Update: Atheist Billboard Featuring Slavery Bible Verse Will Not Go Back Up

Just as quickly as the PA Nonbelievers’ slavery billboard was torn down

… Lamar Advertising has replaced it with a different billboard altogether:

Overnight, someone removed part of the sign, probably with a knife, said Andrew Rebuck, general manager of the Lamar Advertising office in Lemoyne. The company put up a different image at 8 a.m. Wednesday, he said.

Brian Fields, the president of the PA Nonbelievers, tells me American Atheists will reimburse them $650. (The total cost for the billboard was $1300, which was split between the two groups.)

To my shock, Lamar Advertising offered to reimburse American Atheists for the full cost of the billboard, but the money was declined. Not sure why… maybe AA wants Lamar to “owe” them a billboard-to-be-named-later. (***Update on 3/10/12***: I’ve been told by AA reps that this information regarding refunds is incorrect. I’ll fix it when I know more details.)

Fields added that the PA Nonbelievers have plans to put up another billboard (on their own) within the next couple of weeks.

It won’t use the slavery theme.

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.

  • Glowickie

    They need to put it on a much higher billboard.

  • http://www.bdkeller.com/ Brett

    Good riddance. What an awful, idiotic, unintelligent choice of billboards to use. 

    • Pastafarian

       Welcome to the club, that’s how we all feel about the bible(s) or so called holy books (Not as a billboard to use, but as a means of telling people how to mandate their lives)

      • Anonymous-Sam

         Oh, I don’t know. I find the Bible and the Qur’an (so far) to be pretty horrid, but my opinion of the Tao Te Ching is infinitely higher. Have a read:

        The supreme good is like water,

        which benefits all of creation

        without trying to compete with it.

        It gathers in unpopular places.

        Thus it is like the Tao.

        The location makes the dwelling good.

        Depth of understanding makes the mind good.

        A kind heart makes the giving good.

        Integrity makes the government good.

        Accomplishment makes your labors good.

        Proper timing makes a decision good.

        Only when there is no competition

        will we all live in peace.

    • Min

      Which bible passage do you think would be a better way to illustrate the hypocrisy and immorality that is rife throughout it?

      • Victoria

         Genesis 19:8. Leviticus 19:20-22. 1 Samuel 15:3.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Weaver/100000377905225 Mike Weaver

    Use the digital billboards. Then if it’s vandalized I bet the police get involved.

  • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

    It seems to specifically target African Americans. Is there any particular reason for that?

    • Erik Cameron

      Not really, almost all white and black people agree that slavery is wrong, so both are probably the target audience.

    • Guest

      It isn’t “targeting” African Americans. However, these verses were used to justify slavery in the US, which is the reason for their choice of this particular imagery.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    To my shock, Lamar Advertising offered to reimburse American Atheists for the full cost of the billboard, but the money was declined. Not sure why… maybe AA wants Lamar to “owe” them a billboard-to-be-named-later.

    That makes sense to me.  It’s not Lamar’s fault that the billboard got vandalized, and it would be unfair for them to bear the brunt of the cost.  AA certainly got $650 worth of exposure.  It seems like a fair and reasonable compromise.  And one that isn’t likely to cause other ad agencies in the future to decline contracts due to the very real loss risk.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, and no.  

      The reason Lamar wants to reimburse is because when accepting the ad for a certain time period they were responsible for the safety of the ad.   Their billboard is obviously to easy to climb.    If they said tough luck then other customers would be hesitant to do business with them.

      On the other hand the atheist ad is more likely to be vandalized and if billboard sign companies had to assume all the risk then they would be less likely to accept the ads in the first place.   Which I think in part is what is motivating the AA not to require reimbursement.   They are in essence self insuring.   Which means in the future it wil be easier for them to get businesses to agree to put up their ads.

      This particular incident is in the public eye so reputation here is paramount.  Both sides are trying to look overly fair in order to gain a good reputation.

  • http://www.thinkyhead.com/ Thinkyhead

    It’s frustrating when a seemingly clear message is misinterpreted by fallible Human beings. I’m not going to go so far as to say it’s a problem of education, or culture, or of being mentally disadvantaged, because clearly whether people are black, white, red, or green, whether they’re rich, poor, or in-between, whether they’re college graduates or early dropouts, when people are attached to an identity or an ideology, they are incapable of thinking outside the box, and often go out of their way to miss the point. So next time, don’t put up anything that could possibly be taken as offensive. Maybe a picture of a puppy.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1742797601 Deanna Joy Lyons

      I’m guessing you missed this:  http://www.nepafreethought.org/news/view?newsId=19

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=638289862 Kevin Jackson

    Lamar should have insurance for those types of things. They should have reimbursed. It would be like dropping my meal on the way to the table. I wouldn’t pay for another one.

  • Benjamin Daniels

    I think it’s really sad they are not going to put it back up.  It is thought provoking and confrontational and that is exactly why the god botherers need to make them actually think a little more about what they believe in.  I’m thinking of taking a copy of this, making it into a bumper sticker and going for a walk in a church car park. 

  • Benjamin Daniels

    I think it’s a real shame they are not going to put it back up.  It is genuinely though provoking even if it’s confrontational to the god botherers, it’s good for them to have to face up to the foundation of their beliefs.  I like it so much that I think I’m going to make a copy, turn it into a bumper sticker and go for a walk on Sunday in a church car park.

    • Wintermute

       I agree you with that the message isn’t offensive, but I have to ask, given that many people were obviously getting the wrong impression from it, does it make more sense to dig in our heels, or does it make more sense to adapt the ad campaign in a way that is less likely to lose the message amid the outrage? For example, a lot of publications won’t use the word ‘niggardly’ anymore because it provokes so many angry responses, even though there’s absolutely no racial connotation to the word. I don’t like the idea of being concerned trolled, but if the message is being lost here, then we need to consider that when we plan the next ad.

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

         the message isn’t being lost, it is being intentionally buried and we are helping them do it.

    • Kristen White

      I’m not offended, but I think the ad overdoes it. The text would have been enough to make the logical argument that the bible supports something so morally disgusting. The picture creates visceral revulsion at seeing human suffering. It’s an emotional sledge hammer. I understand that it reflects the outrage many atheists feel about the suffering caused by religion, but I don’t think the purpose of the billboard is to be an outlet for our feelings, it’s to help people see the flaws in religion. I think many reasonable people would be put off by the billboard and see it as heavy handed. 

  • Anonymous

    Just go with the Bible verses. No images. Just the Holy Inerrant Words of God.

  • T-Rex

    Maybe the passage about stoning children that disrespect their parents? Problem is, the godlodytes just don’t understand their own book and look on these ads as godless heathens promoting these Biblical acts. Or they say we take the passages out of context. Sometimes there’s just no getting through to idiots like that. Maybe running ads in newspapers, magazines or on television is the way to go? Atleast the vandals would be taken out of the equation. Every billboard and bus sign put up by atheists and free thinkers seems to get vandalized.

  • Drew M.

    I’d say go for a racy pic and Genesis 19:32-33.

  • Annie

    In the linked article, the general manager said he won’t press charges.  Does that mean they know who did it?  Or was that his way of agreeing with the vandalism?

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregm766 Gregory Marshall

    Who knew quoting their own holy book would illicit such a reaction.

    • LutherW

       Maybe next time it could be in Latin.

  • Matto the Hun

    Lets not forget the reactions Christians had to The Brick Bible recently. Seeing the actual horrid passages from their own Bible illustrated in all their “glory” was apparently too much for some Christians to stomach.

    No matter what wicked text from their holy book we pull out many of them will refuse to see it for what it is and scam bloody murder.

    Never the less, there will be a good number of people who will have the intellectual honesty to look it up and start thinking about it. I never would have known such a thing was in the Bible when I was younger and believed. I rather wish I saw such a billboard back then. 

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

       I remember being in church and hearing the pastor preach about a runaway slave. I was appalled. I never knew anything like that was in the bible beforehand.

      I bet most people do not.

      It’ll be a shock, but if instead of buckling we could just stick to the message, “this is in your bible, not such a good book after all” we’d be fine.

  • Anonymous

    I have to agree with other commenters that these signs are very poorly designed.    From a distance all you are going to see while driving past is “Slaves Obey Your Masters” with a picture of a black slave with a restraining collar.     You would also see “Atheists”.   So it is going to look like the atheists are racists.    It should say “blah, blah – THE BIBLE”  and the location in the bible in smaller letters.   Some people are so stupid they wouldn’t know it was a bible quote by the Colossains 3:22.

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

       The word Colossians is bigger and more prominent on the board than the word Atheists.

      • Anonymous

        It is in a skinny font that is hard to read on the beige background, and is in the middle. The atheist font is bold on white and highlighted at the bottom. When I first looked at it my reaction was WTF.

  • http://twitter.com/carterkid17 Junius Carter

    I think not using the bible verse is actually a good idea.  It should lead people to go read the bible that way the can see the problems with the bible for themselves.  Black folks geting upset because of the image should get over it because slavery was a lot worse than that.

  • George

    Illustrations on the signs will all be open to interpretation.  Usually someone will be offended.  Text taken from the bible cannot be denied.  Let’s not begin a cycle of hatred  by becoming regarded as “Evangelical Atheists”.

  • Ionian

    I do think that the concerns raised about co-opting images of slavery to make a point about atheism is problematic. It’s generally best to avoid ironic racism unless you know your audience gets it and is comfortable with it, and that will never be the case with a billboard.

    I wonder if there isn’t a more positive way to do this, by making the condemnation of the text more explicit. Something like showing a young girl reading 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and explicitly rejecting it.

  • http://twitter.com/Marta_Daniels Marta Daniels

    Absolutely racist and unacceptable thank God someone took it down.

  • Robert

    White folks AKa Gentiles are just mad because The Hebrew Israelite were in fact as you call us Negros. The whites as usual tried to steal our heritage but that doesn’t matter because in the end God Gets the last say so. Whites used the bibles scriptures to justify enslaving black people when in fact the bible was not even talking to the gentiles. This is why what goes around comes around notice the white race is getting smaller they are the minority and the black race is now owning more land and property my will the tables turn. Instead of cheering on atheist ( people who read the bible everyday just to attack the truth in it) We should all be praying the fact is the devil dose not care if you are atheist or Christian it is all the same to him. He dose not like human existence period.

  • Robert

    It Does not matter what religion you are there is only one God believe it or not either way we still have to be judged by him. You can be an atheist and chose not to believe but your still going to be judged.


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