‘Our Families Are Great Without Religion’ Campaign To Begin in Dallas-Fort Worth; Already, Fox Affiliates Are Complaining

The Dallas–Fort Worth Coalition of Reason is about to embark on a new advertising campaign called “Our Families Are Great Without Religion” that will highlight how “family” is not synonymous with “Christian”.

Here are the images that will be cycling through on the billboard along I-30 in Grand Prairie (Tom Landry Freeway) beginning Easter weekend — each image will be up for one week:

The following ad will also appear during pre-show ads at the Green Oaks Movie Tavern in Arlington (***Update***: Zach Moore writes: “After this early publicity, the Green Oaks Movie Tavern has decided to disallow our ads at the last minute. Our money is being refunded, and we’re currently pursuing other theater opportunities):

DFWCoR Coordinator Zachary Moore explained that “too often in our culture, the word ‘family’ is code for ‘religion.’ Organizations like ‘Focus on the Family’ and the ‘Family Research Council’ profit from the assumption that families need religion.” In contrast to those religious groups, Moore said that families in the DFWCoR “raise their kids to examine religion critically, not just to be dogmatic atheists. Our parents want to inspire their kids to love knowledge rather than faith.” Photographs of families from the organization will be shown on the campaign billboard and on the movie theater advertisements.

Beautiful, no? :)

Not only that — the DFWCoR is prepared to help any families that join their member groups:

several member organizations within the DFWCoR specifically cater to families with kids, offering secular “Sunday School” programs and Camp Quest Texas, a week-long residential summer camp for the children of local atheists. “It’s never been easier to be an atheist parent in Texas,” Moore boasted.

So this should go over pretty smoothly, right?

Of course not.

The local FOX affiliate says the ads are “targeting kids” (?!?!):

Umm… targeting them with the knowledge that both religious and non-religious families can be equally happy? Blasphemy, I know…

The best part of the video happens at the 2:33 mark when the host asks the reporter which movies’ previews will show the ads — you know, so parents can prepare their children for the heresy that will inevitably ensue.

After finding out the ad will play twice before all movies in April, the host stares blankly into the camera, visibly disturbed, and says, “So, parents… keep that in mind.”

On a brighter note, the same station invited one of the couples to speak with them in-studio. Will and Angel Crowley did a fantastic job.

And that’s not all! A FOX station out of Austin did another segment on the ads, calling them “anti-religious.”

That’s news to me. I don’t see any anti-anything statements in those ads… what did I miss?

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.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    LOL, they’re only ‘practicing’ atheism!  Heh, we’re professional atheists around here!

  • Anonymous

    That stuck out for me as well. How exactly does one “practice atheism” other than not going to church?

  • http://twitter.com/boggits james blessing

    obviously you’ve got practise atheism, otherwise you just don’t believe in god…

  • CA_agnostic

    If you don’t practice, how can you get good at it?

  • Guest

    You missed the fact that this is Fox in Texas, and anything not pro-religion is anti-religion by default.

    Anyway, how is this targeting kids? To me it seems more like it’s targeting atheist parents, closeted or otherwise, who may be worried about raising their kids without religion.

    But hey, everyone remember that if an ad that challenged your beliefs runs before movies, you shouldn’t let your kids see any movies until it goes away, because having their beliefs challenged by those eeeeevil atheists is dangerous. It might disrupt the brainwashing, you know.

  • Lillihandra

     Don’t joke.  It’s happened.  I grew up in that kind of environment.  Anything not explicitly for my parents’ particular flavor of religious right bigotry was automatically “evil” and “of (or from) the devil”.  I wish I was joking.  I got chewed out and grounded because I wrote a story about angels helping people that didn’t specifically mention god telling said angels to go do it.

  • Pcranny

    DFWCoR Coordinator Zachary Moore explained that “too often in our culture, the word ‘family’ is code for ‘religion.’From where I’m sitting (UK) the word “family” in the name of a US organisation is code for “Right wing religious bigot.”

  • Matto the Hun

    I’m not sure it’s even code anymore, it should be pretty obvious by now.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

     Pretty soon we will get groups like the Family Brotherhood; the Family Nation; Concerned Family Counsels; Familiar Family Friends or the otherwise known as the  FFF.    

  • Andi

    Actually, I think the third link is the Fox news affiliate in Austin: 
    http://www.myfoxaustin.com/subindex/about_us/personalities .  So it’s a different station.  The “anti-religious” makes me cringe, as does “targeting kids”.  

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

    Whoops! Fixed. Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Can someone tell me where they get “targeting kids” from, ar even “anti-religious”? Looks like I will be going to the movie tavern in Arlington to watch the hunger games.

  • http://drzach.net Zachary Moore

    After this early publicity, the Green Oaks Movie Tavern has decided to disallow our ads at the last minute. Our money is being refunded, and we’re currently pursuing other theater opportunities.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    We should call the theater and ask them if any Church ads will be playing before our movie, you know, so we can talk to our kids about it.

  • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

     Good thought.  I’m just so sick of explaining to my niece that some crazy people out there think their imaginary friend is *real*.  It just confuses her and makes her sad for all the crazy people.

  • Anonymous

    Try the movie tavern on central

  • Matto the Hun

    It’s always with projection with the religious right. They target kids, so they assume everyone else operates in the same insidious manner they do  They claim the DFWCoR ads are anti-religion because when they, the conservative Christians preach it’s anti-everyone-who’s-not-them.

    Also I see church ads at the movies often, and usually it’s a church that’s having some kind of service at the theatre or you can watch church (live?) on the screen, something like that.
    Sooooooo, what… no outrage over that? No? kthxbye

  • Alex

    Well, this is clearly political; I don’t think the people behind Faux News knee-jerk reactions believe even a half of what they are saying. What I’m wondering is if this can be turned into a sort of a game. You know, we blow the whistle, FN wags their tail… that sort of thing :) Or maybe even exploited somehow?

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

    I watched that news cast and I didn’t hear any complaining from Fox News, just, well News. 

  • Chris Kilroy

    Interesting how the report completely twists the facts. Nowhere does the group say they are targeting children. And since when does one “practice” atheism? Do we sit around and chant “I do not believe in god?” 

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

    We “practice” atheism like we “practice” breathing…and we’re all born doing both!

  • gurudwara

    “That’s news to me. I don’t see any anti-anything statements in those ads… what did I miss?”

    If yer not with us, yer agin’ us.

  • Anonymous

    I guess christians in Texas expected the “without religion” families to look like the Addams Family or wear Che Guevara-style fatigues and berets or something. 

    I’d like to spread the meme of characterizing atheism as something characteristic of life in “the future” which we can have now as early adopters. Can the families in these kinds of billboards wear vaguely “futuristic” clothing which looks stylish instead of ridiculous?

  • amycaswell

    The Addams family (as odd as they were) was actually pretty functional compared to other families portrayed on TV

  • Anonymous

    Ok, a) how does this “target children”? and b) how does one “practice atheism”- I wanna make sure I’m doing it right ya know lol

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    Well the bottom picture is obviously targeting kids, why else would they have Mr. and Mrs. Clause in their summer attire?    I believe this is the earliest shot in the yearly War on Christmas to date. 

    FSM and coffee

  • Kayla Knopp

    Those are beautiful, but let’s get some non-hetero families in there too!

  • Jessica Lynn Frame

    Definitely a must!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Dooby-T-Cat/1232064093 Dooby T. Cat

    Agreed! Although, there weren’t any “non-hetero” families that volunteered for this campaign. Many are out as being ‘non-hetero” just not out as “atheists.” One of these days…

  • Anonymous

    I think their heads would have exploded if there was a same sex couple with children saying “our families are great without religion.” :) Hopefully one day that will happen. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Trieger/100000865490192 Bob Trieger

    This is actually my favorite news channel and the local news is not as bad as the national Fox News Network.

    PS. I am a perfect atheist.  I practiced for many years. And, we all know that practice makes perfect.

  • amycaswell

    I know what you mean. I’m from the area too, but they did a terrible job with this story. They did better with the follow-up, but it was a different anchor.

  • http://twitter.com/LaMenta3 Hillary

    Wow…I don’t even…wow.

    You’d think that by now I would stop being so gobsmacked over the insane leaps of logic people make about atheist ads, but every time I can’t follow the path they took, I find myself jarred. The best I can come up with is they’re targeting kids because there are kids in some of the ads? Or maybe because they’re colorful? Does that mean that a billboard for an adoption agency with a baby on it is targeting infants?

    Or maybe “the godless are coming for your children” is just a good ploy for ratings. Parents, be sure to blindfold your kids before going outside, otherwise they might start asking questions about why those people who don’t believe in god look just like them and haven’t spontaneously burst into flame yet.

  • Anonymous

    Good for them!  What a great campaign.  It seems to me that Fox’s objections to these ads are just further evidence that somehow, simply by existing, we atheists are a threat to all religions.  What rubbish.  Don’t get me wrong—many of us are a threat to religions, but that does not mean that every possible view that does not involve a deity is anti-religious.

  • Anonymous

    You’re totally correct. This is just further evidence that if we publicly proclaim out existence and try to do something as innocent as say “hey, we’re good people!” it is going to be perceived as threatening and evil. Our very existence, and our message that we’re good people, is antithetical to the constant teachings of churches that godlessness is evil and that you have to believe in their god to be good. No matter how innocent and peaceful our statements are, they are threatening and diminishing to that, and will spark a reaction in people conditioned to believe that as atheists we are immoral and evil and scary.

  • Anonymous

     Right on ganner918—just look at the billboards that have been rejected on the buses in PA—they could not be less offensive!  Yet somehow, our existence is a major threat in and of itself to the religious.

  • Anonymous

    I saw this ‘story’ here in Austin last night. and was a bit surprised it was even newsworthy. DFW is about 250 miles away and, especially for Texas, Austin is quite progressive and tolerant. I honestly don’t understand why the religious community could get so bent out of shape by something so inoffensive, whether this campaign aimed (seemingly) at closeted Atheists, or the PA bus ads, with one word on them. I really do want understand why this kind of thing freaks them out so bad, even if it is some kind of unsatisfying, bat-snot crazy answer.

  • Ursyl

    I think it freaks them out because their basic operating paradigm is that happiness is not possible without their god.

    Proof that that is false, whether one is without any deities or just theirs, violates that concept. I suspect that for some, it’d be as if gravity had just been proven to be false.

  • OverlappingMagisteria

    “That’s news to me. I don’t see any anti-anything statements in those ads… what did I miss?”

    You missed the word atheist which automatically invalidates any type of positive message that could possibly be there. Because, as we all know, atheists are evil child eating monsters who hate God and, by extension, everything. Seriously, our children must be warned about this, lest they suffer the traumatic experience of seeing happy atheist families!

  • Rieux

    Very nice ads indeed. The only design quibble I’d have is that the kid in the green hooded costume is hard to see, because she’s turning toward the dog (and in the ad in which she’s more in close-up, the problem is compounded because her green costume makes her blend into the green background).

    Concur on the hetero-heaviness; hopefully that can be redressed next time. As a member of a (growing) multiracial family, though, I’m happy to see that demographic represented.

  • http://drzach.net Zachary Moore

    Rieux- thanks for voicing your concerns, and we share them. Participation in this campaign was open to everyone in the DFWCoR, and although we do have a sizable GLBT demographic, none volunteered. But specific outreach to the GLBT community is one of our goals for a future campaign, and we plan to continue our presence at the Dallas Pride Parade (http://youtu.be/o4gDx3n-8ME).

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Margaret-Whitestone/100001682409207 Margaret Whitestone

    “Targeting kids” is OK when religious people are giving them little Bibles outside their schools, luring them to church with “bus ministries” and the like.  But when families that include children say “we’re good without gods” suddenly it’s a travesty.  

  • Julie Carter

    I’m really happy that these ads are going up right here where I live! Thrilled. Of course, just looking at the moronic comments on the Fox4 website (myfoxdfw.com, if you want to go comment!!) just made my blood boil. The xtians over there are just a bunch of close-minded idiots. Ugh. I don’t call all xtians idiots, but the comments over there are just asinine.

  • http://drzach.net Zachary Moore

    DFW’s FOX4 News just ran this follow-up piece: http://youtu.be/aj-4pF84Uu4

  • Popeyewooly

    how are they targeting kids? I don’t get it…..

  • Popeyewooly

    so, i’m not all that upset with the theatre not running the ad, even though you would never know it was about religion if you didn’t contact the organization. They have a policy that excludes ads that have anything to do with religion… and a lack of religion being specified still deals with religion. I’m more turned off by the stupid fox and their dramatic pregnant pauses. But what else is new!!!

  • amycaswell

    I’ve been to that Movie Tavern, many times, and I’ve seen plenty of advertisements for churches.

  • Val0221

    “Practice atheism?” We don’t “practice” atheism.  How can this person be so stupid?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=532665943 Leoal Nelson

    Note on the news lady saying “practice atheism”….. I was wondering, is that anything like how I “practice” not playing hockey? If that’s the case, I would like to say that I am an avid practitioner of not playing hockey. I practice not playing hockey every single chance I get!!!

  • http://goo.gl/BdHLc GoddlessPoutine
  • http://goo.gl/BdHLc Godless Poutine

    Argh… messed up on this comment.  Please feel free to delete, Hemant!

  • http://goo.gl/BdHLc Godless Poutine

    The theatre has decided not to run the ads.

    FOX4 on Rejected Atheist Theater Ads


    Argh… Guess I can’t embed Iframes.

  • wendy

    I will agree to disagree with the billboards purpose as atheists agree to disagree with billboards that try to spread a different message.

  • Anonymous

    When was the last time a christer ad was targeted or told to be taken down, cupcake?

    Do any of you christers know how to keep up with this issue?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/LKNP4NSXXH2LRSQAOHWKKTTEB4 Paul

    Only in Texas would you target children at a place that has Tavern in it’s name (i.e. Movie Tavern)

  • Kevin mays

    Can anyone say discrimination?