Winning Entries in the Design-Your-Own-Atheist-Billboard Contest Now Up in Ohio

After an online contest held in January to design their next billboard, the Mid Ohio Atheists selected two designs (both created by Elliot Fuller) and they went up yesterday in Mansfield!

In addition, they put up the following billboard as a response to a sign a local church put up last summer (which strangely used the same wording). They ran a similar billboard back in November:

How soon before the complaints begin? The crazies are already rearing their heads…

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.

  • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

    The “Reason is a Virtue” billboard is fine.  The other two will likely not contribute to the deconversion of a single person. If the intent of these two billboards is to deliver a message to atheists that are still in the closet then they really don’t seem do well in that area, either. If I’m a closeted atheist, there’s nothing in either billboard that I don’t already know.
    Overall, it seems atheist billboards are slowly but surely improving, but a large number of them still are little more than random expressions rather than carefully directed messages.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

       What billboard could really have a major impact? I think the point is just to (1) let closeted atheists know they’re not alone, and (2) make people think.

      It’s a war of attrition against dogmatism.

      • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

         

        “What billboard could really have a major impact?”

        Well, billboard advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry and I’ve contributed to that sum myself. It wouldn’t be a multi-billion dollar industry if it wasn’t highly effective.
        In regards to “making people think”, for the most part, that’s not going to happen with those who need to hear these messages the most.
        Ever hear of willful ignorance? Unless someone FIRST makes a commitement to follow the facts no matter where they may lead, no amount of “truth” or” facts” is going to make people “think”.
        As far as letting closeted atheists know that they are not alone…they’d have to be blind, deaf and dumb (in both senses of the word) to not know this already.
        Putting slogans like I see here on t-shirts or on placards at protests is one thing. In those cases it’s all about expression and making a statement. Billboard advertising is usually driven by a desire to market something, whether it be an idea, a product or a service.
        All I’m saying is that there isn’t a whole lot of marketing going on here.

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          I don’t think any billboards used for advertising are likely to have a major impact on how people think. Like I said, they’re just another tool in the advertiser’s arsenal. It’s rare for any single ad to have a big effect (although it has certainly happened). Mostly, it’s just a process of wearing people down. Advertising is powerful; individual advertisements usually are not.

          In terms of getting the message out about atheism, I doubt very much there is anything that can be expressed on a billboard that will result in somebody becoming an atheist. But it can help plant the seeds of doubt.

          • The Godless Monster

            An individual ad or message viewed and/or repeated numerous times can indeed have a major impact. That’s how I make my living.
            A single viewing of a billboard ad will likely have little to no impact, but that’s not what this type of advertising is all about. It’s meant to impact upon those that drive by the ads daily.

            “… I doubt very much there is anything that can be expressed on a
            billboard that will result in somebody becoming an atheist. But it can
            help plant the seeds of doubt.”

            I agree…if the ads are on target and well executed.

          • Joe Black

             I see church billboards all over.  In a nation w/ such numerous religious faction attempting to dominate in so many fashion politically, socially and publically; I receive great satisfaction that any contrary or opposing idea is displayed in like manner.  In addition to the particular details of the purposed message. 

      • Nordog

         And we all know how fighting a war of attrition worked for LBJ.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ellenbeth EllenBeth Wachs

    I didn’t see the contest rules so I am curious to know what criteria or design element requirements were put to the participants.  It seems all they were going for was readability. 

    • Gus Snarp

      With billboards, readability and simplicity are everything. With some of what’s gone up in the way of atheist billboards in the past, if those were the criteria, the were a step in the right direction.

      How are things going these days in good old Polk County? Hope all the shenanigans down there wrap up in your favor in the end. I’m glad someone where I grew up is fighting the good fight.

    • http://twitter.com/MidOhioAtheists Mid Ohio Atheists

      The only thing required was to make a billboard with a message promoting atheism.  

      All the entries and voting results can be seen here —  http://midohioatheists.org/?p=1457

  • jdm8

    I think the third one would do better as: “Don’t believe everything you hear” then “There is no god” below it.

    • Kevin_Of_Bangor

      They screwed up on that one big time.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

        Yup.  The god-botherers will “hear” the claim of “there is no god” and then follow the instruction not to believe it.

        Better would be:  “There is no god…you have to think for yourself” or something similar.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      I would have gone with “Don’t believe everything you think you hear”.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      That one is a word-for-word copy of a religious billboard.  The thing is, if you don’t know that, then it misses the point.

  • DG

    I guess it depends on the purpose of the billboards.  FWIW, I didn’t see too many crazies on the comments, apart from those simply disagreeing, unless the definition of crazy is to disagree. 

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    Wait, can I be the first to criticize the color scheme, fonts, etc., while not doing a damn thing myself to contribute to a better ad campaign? 
    I’m being facetious of course, since usually blogs about atheist billboards end up more about insulting the display choices than about how these ads can make a difference for some people, congrats to those who did put in the time/effort to put them up, etc. (By the way, to me the billboards look awesome. Easy to see the message, short and to the point [important for those who are driving by quickly], and likely to get local media coverage, etc.). 

    • Joe Black

      I like blue background better.  

  • Gus Snarp

    I like these a lot. Especially the first two. The third one I don’t generally care for, but as a response to the silly church sign, it’s pretty good.

  • Darwin’s Dagger

    The emergence of the God concept in the human or proto-human mind probably took several to tens of thousands of days. So that 1st billboard is wrong too.

    • Joe Black

      Na, when the first cave man walked outside and beheld sun of god from unkown origin, he immediately thought, “Dam, I could make some money with this con job”. 

    • Sindigo

      The days refer to periods of time or ages. They are not literal days.

      • Darwin’s Dagger

        What periods of time or ages? Do you mean in the way that the days in Genesis are explained as taking place over vast stretches of time by old earth creationists? What does that have to do with an atheist billboard? Are they borrowing the same metaphor to make their point that man created god(s)? Sure, you can’t fit a complex explanation of the emergence of the idea of God on a billboard, but why does echoing the simpleminded metaphors of creationists make sense?

        • Sindigo

          Easy tiger. I forgot to add the tag.

  • http://twitter.com/MidOhioAtheists Mid Ohio Atheists

    I’d like to address a few of the comments posted on here..  

    First our goal is not conversion of theists to atheists.   The idea that we could put anything on a billboard that would cause a theist to let go of their beliefs is silly at best.  Our only goal in regards to theists was to let them know that there are people in Mansfield who do not believe in a God, a concept in our area most people simply can’t wrap their head around– that we exist.  Mansfield Ohio isn’t exactly a mecca of diversity and tolerance.  We have in the last year had to deal with Christians threatening to picket a local Wine Bar for letting us meet there, with Mansfield City offering to pay city employees to attend good Friday Church Services and with the Pastor of the McElory Church of Christ putting up 5 billboards in Mansfield in a direct response to finding out there was a local atheist group, including the originally ill-fated ‘There is no God. Don’t Believe everything you hear.” billboard which was a direct jab at us, and then when we called him on it and the local NBC news station did a piece he called me Satan on the Cleveland Ohio NBC news for ‘trying to make them look silly’.  As for our purpose in regards to atheists,  someone in the comments implied that atheist groups don’t need to promote their existence to non-believes because the atheist communities are so easy to find.  That might be true in some places and when people are involved in and pay attention to the Atheist Communities it can seem like everyone must know they exist.  However I personally had no clue Mid Ohio Atheists existed just a year ago.  I live less then 10 miles from its President and Founder and had no clue it existed, I had even worked at the same place of business as him for three years before finding out the group existed and up until that point I was pretty sure I was alone in my thoughts.  So our goal for sure is to make ourselves known in our local community so that other people will no go through the years of feeling alone.  The Billboard ‘On the First day man created God’ simply implies that on the first day the concept of God existed was only because it was created by man.  I would have thought that easily apparent, and it was the winner by popular vote.   If you don’t like it you should have submitted a better on to the contest or voted against it.   

    For those of you who don’t understand the back story with the ‘There is no God’ billboard our original blog post is here —- > http://midohioatheists.org/?p=691

    Then you can read here ——> http://midohioatheists.org/?p=1120 about our first attempt to put up the same billboard with another Company called LIND Media who rejected the billboard as obscene, offensive and not in the best interest of the community, even though it was a borrowed message put up by a Church.. Finally I would like to thank those who supported us. It is by no means easy to be an atheist in Mansfield Ohio and to step up and be an out and vocal member of a group is to make your self a target here, so thank you very much for your support. To the Snarky atheists who have nothing positive to say about our attempt to simply announce our existence feel free to step up and do something better in your community, by all means show us hows it suppose to be done by getting out from behind your keyboards and doing something in your communities, I promise I won’t jump at the chance to point out ever single short coming in what ever it is you attempt.  

    -Michael Adams

    • Joe Black

      Well said Michael, excellent statement and also rebuttal.  You handled it well, imo.  I enjoy what I perceive as near absolute differing style and stance of the free thinking community compared to the theist concerning contrary expression.

       IE:  You’d be hard pressed to find snarky critcism of any promulgated presentation even allowed in a church.  Merely the group mentality nodding of heads in unison w/ exclamation of, “That’s right, praise jesus”.

      You took the time to discuss w/ factual effect and oppsing thought.  Good job.

      And also good point.  Quite possibly what I like best about the billboard, is the advertisement that the Mid Ohio Atheist group exists and is available.

  • Elliot Fuller

    Thanks for the shout out! I had fun making the billboards for the contest. My main goal was to design them so they were, simple, easy to read (at driving speed), and somewhat though provoking, but like Michael said, the main goal of these billboards is just to let people know that atheists exist, pretty straightforward.


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