‘Out of the Closet’ Billboard Campaign Begins in Spokane, Washington

The Freedom From Religion Foundation’s “Out of the Closet” billboard campaign — in which real, local atheists appear on the ads — is now up in Spokane, Washington!

These are the seven billboards going up this week as part of a month-long campaign:

“The nonreligious are at least a quarter, 25% of the Washington adult population — claiming conservatively 1.2 million state citizens, yet there are many Americans who have never knowingly met an atheist or unbeliever, much less someone who is proud to advertise their nonbelief,” said Dan Barker, FFRF co-president. Barker, author of Godless, was formerly an evangelical minister who “just lost faith in faith.” He works with [Ray] Ideus on the new Clergy Project, a support group for clergy who have lost faith and are trying to leave the ministry.

The FFRF’s campaign has already taken place in Madison, Wisconsin; Raleigh, North Carolina; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Columbus, Ohio; and Phoenix, Arizona.

This particular campaign, unlike the others, seems veeeeery white… but other than that, I have little to complain about. I think it does a great job of humanizing atheists.

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.

  • Collin

    Spokane is in Washington state.

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

      You’re right. I wrote that in a very unclear way. Fixed!

  • http://twitter.com/arensb arensb

     My one quibble is with the first billboard, which shows an atheist family. Two of the children look too young to have reached any firm conclusions as to whether there are any gods or not. Ideally they’d be labelled “children of atheist parents” rather than “atheists”, but that would have messed up the layout of the billboard.

    • Gus Snarp

      I was reading the post and wondering if I would be willing to do this with my family if this came up in my area. I quickly decided that while I might pose with my wife, I would be uncomfortable putting my children on the sign for two reasons. One is the fear of repercussions for them, but the other is that they’re pretty young. One is old enough that he’s heard a little of the concept of god(s), and says he doesn’t think they exist, but he’s not old enough to have really thought much about it, and his exposure has been fairly minimal, so I’m not sure it’s fair to make him a poster child for something he doesn’t really understand.

      The counter argument is that it’s an atheist family, not specifically atheist children. It does serve the purpose of showing that atheists are fairly ordinary people, trying to raise good children the best way they can, just like anyone else.

      It’s a mixed bag.

    • Heidi

       You didn’t read it, did you? The children aren’t labeled at all. I would guess that Joshua and Chandra Alto are the parents.

      • Randomfactor

        “Two atheists, and their family.”

        • Heidi

          Exactly

      • arensb

         You’re right. I didn’t pay that careful attention to the text. That’s what comes of spending as much time looking at that billboard as the average commuter who’ll pass it on the road.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      We are all born atheists. Atheism doesn’t require coming to a conclusion. It requires no intellectual analysis. The children will be atheists simply in the absence of having been actively taught to believe in some religion.

      I think it is perfectly reasonable to identify children in such a family as atheists. It is only in the case of religious children, where they “believe” something that they are not intellectually equipped to believe, that I would define them by their parents beliefs. It makes no sense to define everything a child doesn’t believe in (or may never have even heard of) in terms of what his parents don’t believe in.

      • Blacksheep

        I disagree. It’s actually easier for a child to grasp the idea of a supreme being than the idea that this world came about randomly. I work with kids who are of all faiths, and I can assure you that atheism, in my experience, is a concept to be grasped just as faith is. 

        I have a close friend who is an atheist and is trying to raise his kids that way. He was dismayed a few years ago because his child “got a hold” of a book that described a God who loves each one of us. His frustration?: “She loves this f__cking book – she wants me to read it to her every night.”

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          Your observation is not supported by the many comments we’ve seen over the years from atheist parents who simply avoid exposing their children to religious ideas before they’re able to understand the actual basis of nature. Atheism isn’t a concept to be grasped at all.

          I would be dismayed, too, if my young kid came home with a book that presented God as real. That’s worse than pornography, and any adult who would give such a book to a child is guilty of abuse. Religious books for kids are designed to rot their minds.

          • Blacksheep

            My life experiences are not qualyfied by posts on a blog, hopefully yours are not as well.

            You sound a little narrow minded. It shouldn’t anger you so much when someone has a different take than you do. Your response is exactly why people of faith fear atheists – it’s the all too familiar totalitarian view of the world. (My favorit bit is “worse than pornograhy.” I believe that you would choose a book about a loving God over a book of porn for your 7 year old daughter. If not, you are already guilty of abuse in your mind).To sum up your opinion: people who’s child raising opinions differ from your own are guilty of abuse. You’re a funny guy, C.

            • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

              I would far prefer that my seven year old daughter see a pornography book than a child’s religious book. The pornography will do no harm; the damage done by a religious book can last a lifetime.

              I do not believe that people raising their children in different ways to mine are guilty of abuse. I do believe that all parents who raise their children to believe in a god are committing child abuse, however (albeit currently legal abuse).

              • Blacksheep

                Based on your response, I will avoid atheism (and atheists babysitting my kids) at all costs. I will not avoid atheists – just mean spirited, narrow minded people.

              • Jlpaventy

                Funny to read some guy claiming his 7 year old viewing porn would not cause her any harm calling peoples thoughts irrational. 
                What a fraud.

    • Josh Alto

      At the end we stated my wife and I were atheists. It is an atheist family as we do not teach that gods are real nor do we attend places of worship. We feel this accurately represents our family without stating the religious or philosophical positions of the children. The children are free to study whatever philosophy and religion they find compelling.

  • http://twitter.com/nopaniers Chucky

    These advertisements remind me of LDS – something about being sound bytes and very, very white. Here’s my (Christian here) response.

    “Truth is real. God is imaginary”

    Is atheism a positive claim now? Considering how few of you are prepared to defend that position, it’s strange you chose it in an advertising campaign.

    “On bended knee. Not for me”

    Sounds arrogant.

    “Now preaching REASON not religion”

    False dichotomy and sounds arrogant.

    “Freedom from religion lives”Absolutely it does. You live in the freest countries in the world, and you’re free to believe or not to believe as you see fit. But that’s also a country in which atheists are a minority. You are the ones who benefiting from those attitudes towards you.

    “Our morality comes from reality.”

    This quote works much better the other way around. Leah Libresco converted for exactly that reason. 

    “Atheist family: Good without a god”

    Good luck fighting the negative stereotypes. Maybe a better way would be not to pull down Christmas nativity displays or with the way some atheists (not all obviously) behave online. But yeah. Negative stereotypes suck.

    • http://anummabrooke.myopenid.com/ Brooke

      These are very tired, but I’ll do due diligence on one of them (writing as another Christian).

      > “Is atheism a positive claim now?”

      I’ve never heard anyone who identifies as atheist describe their position as “I have scientifically proven there is no God.” They repeatedly describe their position as, “I am an atheist about the Christian God in the same way Christians are atheists about Zeus, or Baal.”

      Or are you “agnostic” about Marduk?

      The appeal to etymology is a fallacy. “Atheism” means what it means according to use. Pretending otherwise is a pretty tactic, but not an argument of substance.

      • http://twitter.com/nopaniers Chucky

        > I’ve never heard anyone who identifies as atheist describe their position as “I have scientifically proven there is no God.”

        Which is why it puzzles me why you want to advertise atheism like that.

        > “I am an atheist about the Christian God in the same way Christians are atheists about Zeus, or Baal

        You’re trying to hitch a ride on monotheism. Monotheism replaced polytheism, and offered compelling reasons to believe in a single God. If you also accept the arguments for monotheism (say those of Athenagoras which would work just as well against paganism as against atheism), then why are you an atheist?

        • Drakk

           >”Monotheism replaced polytheism, and offered compelling reasons to believe in a single God.”

          What, like, “Say you believe this or we’ll burn you alive”?

          • http://twitter.com/nopaniers Chucky

            The arguments I’m thinking of, it was pagans persecuting monotheists (feeding to the lions and all that), not the other way around. Justin Martyr even writes to convince people not to kill them, Athenagoras too. Check out http://www.ccel.org

    • flyb

      But gods are imaginary. They are fiction just like Endorian ewoks, Santa, or the invisible unicorn in my closet, all created by humans.

      • http://twitter.com/nopaniers Chucky

        I can easily go to my cupboard and feel that there’s no unicorn inside, or point out that Saint Nicholas was a real person, and offer positive historical evidence for my views. So what is your evidence that God doesn’t exist?

        • rlrose328

          What is your evidence that he does?  The burden of proof lies with you, and you cannot use the bible, a book supposedly written by the being you are trying to prove exists.

          • http://twitter.com/nopaniers Chucky

            So you’re making a positive claim, and advertising it… and you still think you don’t have to offer any evidence? Why not?

            I guess having looked at it from both sides of the fence, I think the theist picture fits much better with what I see, and does it over a wide range different things, from why anything exists at all, why you’d expect fine tuning, to questions of meaning, purpose and moral value. It seems to me that even if you can offer a possible atheist solution, several ad-hoc solutions are exponentially less likely than a single simpler explanation: that God actually exists.

            • Pepe

              But Chucky, why do you think it has to be the Christian god that makes sense? Have you looked into other religions and came to the conclusion that they’re all false, except for the Christian one?

        • flyb

          The invisible unicorn is in MY closet. And it is so deft that one cannot possibly feel it. It works in mysterious ways.

          St. Nick may have been a real person, but Santa Claus, the one that most children have been taught to believe in that soars around in a sled pulled by magical flying reindeer is not real. It would be ludicrous for a sane, rational adult to believe otherwise.

          Where is evidence that FSM does not exist? That game can be played forever, which is why the onus for proof is on the one making the claim of existence.

          • http://twitter.com/nopaniers Chucky

            > soars around in a sled pulled by magical flying reindeer is not real.

            No kidding. He was made up by CocaCola as advertising campaign. Similarly FSM was made a polemic made by Henderson against YEC and intelligent design.

            > It would be ludicrous for a sane, rational adult to believe otherwise.

            One thing that gets me is if you believed in an infinite multiverse (to explain away fine tuning, say) surely it would irrational not to believe that somewhere in one of these universes, Santa actually does exist. In fact all the things you’ve mentioned as absurd – ewoks, unicorns, Santa - would almost certainly exist in one or other universe.

            On the other hand if God exists, there’s no particular reason to call all these absurd possibilities into existence.

            Where am I going wrong?

            • matt

              I’m curious as to why believing any of that makes the Christian god real.  The bible mentions nothing about quantum physics.   Although that would’ve been a nice thing to include seeing as it was divinely inspired and all.

              • http://twitter.com/nopaniers Chucky

                I wasn’t trying to prove the Christian God is real. It is your advertising that claims he isn’t, and so it is you who have the burden of proof.

    • LesterBallard

      “Now preaching REASON not religion”
      “False dichotomy and sounds arrogant.”

      Yes, we know Christianity is based on reason.

    • LesterBallard

      And for you, as well;

      Arrogant. “There is a supernatural being who created me special. Who created the whole big universe, just for me. This being loves me. He listens to me. He speaks to me. Upon my entreaties he abrogates the physical laws of his universe, just for me. He died for me. All for me.” 

      • houndies

        absolutely lester! god blessed ME and watches over ME because i lived and my neighbor/friend/cousin/ (take your pick) was killed/maimed/lost everything/ (take your pick). my team won because god felt i was important enough to deserve the victory (and afterall, those xtians have victory in jeezuz). ugh! the list of arrogance runs for miles when it comes to the xtians! i could write a book! teaching reason though…oh my! let’s not do that, that’s truly arrogant. maybe this guy has never looked up the definition of arrogant or else he follows the xtian doctrine that says if you admit to being anything other than a tiny worthless worm in the eyes of god, you are arrogant.  

      • http://twitter.com/nopaniers Chucky

        > Who created the whole big universe, just for me.

        If you’re going to critisize my views at least do me the courtesy of getting them right. I’ll pretend you eat babies, and you can pretend I think the universe was created for me, and we will get nowhere.

        • LesterBallard

          I do eat babies. Preferably raw with Sriracha.

        • houndies

          I remember being in some nondenominational churches growing up and hearing those words from a couple of pastors and followers. “god created this whole big world just for us.” just sayin. there are xtians out there who do believe that because that’s what they are taught.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      “Truth is real. God is imaginary”

      Atheism is not a positive claim. But atheists have many views, which often include positive claims. It is a reasonable assertion that gods are imaginary, as long as one is open to the possibility of being wrong. People make positive claims all the time based on very high, but not 100%, probabilities.

      “On bended knee. Not for me”

      Being unwilling to kiss the ass of an egotistical god (especially one we don’t even believe in) is hardly arrogant. A human being demeans himself by bending his knee to anything.

      “Now preaching REASON not religion”

      Not a false dichotomy at all. Religion follows from theism, and theism is inherently based on a lack of reason. It is not possible to be religious and completely rational.

      “Freedom from religion lives”

      An overly optimistic view, IMO. It is certainly under attack in the U.S., and the rights of atheists are assaulted daily. Maintaining freedom from religion demands constant vigilance. You prove this yourself by claiming that atheists should not be working to remove nativity displays from public settings!

      “Our morality comes from reality.”

      This represents the only objective viewpoint about morality. It makes no objective sense when turned around.

      “Atheist family: Good without a god”

      How is a negative stereotype contained in this beautiful assertion?

      • http://twitter.com/nopaniers Chucky

        > Atheism is not a positive claim.

        Yet you advertise a positive claim. That’s what makes it strange.

        > A human being demeans himself by bending his knee to anything.
        I disagree. I don’t view myself as lord over everything and anything.

        > Religion follows from theism, and theism is inherently based on a lack of reason. It is not possible to be religious and completely rational.
        It’s not possible to be human and completely rational. We all love, forgive. If we acted like rational agents in game theory, we’d be jerks. But many people do think about this question rationally, and many of those are theists.

        Am I really understanding you correctly? You think Kant, Descartes, Planck,, Pascal and Leibnitz were all irrational because they disagree with you about God? Why is it that you think intelligent, rational people can’t disagree on this issue, when all the evidence is that they can, and do?

        > You prove this yourself by claiming that atheists should not be working to remove nativity displays from public settings!
        How does allowing nativity scenes in public violate your rights, specifically?

        > This represents the only objective viewpoint about morality

        What do you mean by “This”?

        > How is a negative stereotype contained in this beautiful assertion?

        I think you misunderstood. I am not here just to pull atheists down. Please reread what I wrote.

        • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          Yet you advertise a positive claim. That’s what makes it strange.

          Your assertion that “atheism” is somehow making a positive claim is what is wrong. It doesn’t. Atheists may choose to do so, and since the non-existence of any god is likely beyond reasonable doubt, it’s quite rational to make the assertion that God is imaginary. It’s no different then stating that unicorns are imaginary. If we all had to frame every statement with a probability, communication would get awfully cumbersome!

          It’s not possible to be human and completely rational.

          That’s certainly true. But some of us are a lot more rational than others (and your comments about love and forgiveness are a non sequitur, since there’s nothing irrational about either). Religion demands a huge lack of rationality, and in most people, it spills over into the way they operate on many levels. You can only compartmentalize so far.

          Am I really understanding you correctly? You think Kant, Descartes,
          Planck,, Pascal and Leibnitz were all irrational because they disagree
          with you about God? Why is it that you think intelligent, rational
          people can’t disagree on this issue, when all the evidence is that they
          can, and do?

          Yes, all were irrational in this respect, and if you’ve read them, it definitely spills over into some pretty poor thinking about many other things. I do think people can disagree about the existence of gods; but I consider anybody who believes in gods to be strongly irrational (which doesn’t mean they aren’t intelligent). Believing in something for which there is no objective evidence is pretty much the definition of irrationality.

          How does allowing nativity scenes in public violate your rights, specifically?

          The Constitution explicitly grants me the right to be free from religious ideas presented by the government. A nativity scene sponsored in any way by the government, or present on public land, tramples that right. It’s obscene, and should be fought whenever it occurs.

          What do you mean by “This”?

          I mean the concept of an absolute morality, imposed by nature or by some god, is irrational. Morality is a human invention. We define it, we modify it, we adopt what works- empirically.

          • http://twitter.com/nopaniers Chucky

            > Your assertion that “atheism” is somehow making a positive claim is what is wrong

            That’s almost the exact opposite to what I actually did say. I said the advertisement made the positive claim, which most atheists don’t.

            > and your comments about love and forgiveness are a non sequitur, since there’s nothing irrational about either…

            I guess I know a little about game theory, where agents are meant to act rationally. In that framework self sacrifice is irrational, because your payoff is less. Dawkins puts it well in his essay in the Portable Atheist. Acting in a “super nice” way he says is irrational, goes against our evolutionary instincts and is “super stupid”.

            > Yes, all were irrational in this respect, and if you’ve read them, it definitely spills over into some pretty poor thinking about many other things.

            Like?

            > Believing in something for which there is no objective evidence is pretty much the definition of irrationality.

            They provide their evidence, carefully reasoning out the reasons they have for believing in God. Why do you think they don’t?
             
            > A nativity scene sponsored in any way by the government, or present on public land, tramples that right.

            Why are you allowed to display these advertisements in parks and on roadsides, but people aren’t allowed to display nativity scenes?

            > I mean the concept of an absolute morality, imposed by nature or by some god, is irrational.

            So you think that Sam Harris is irrational. Why?

            It seems to me you just label anyone who disagrees with you “irrational”. I have a simpler view. If someone offers a rational argument then they’re being rational. If they don’t, they’re not. That doesn’t mean you have to agree, because there might be stronger arguments against. But going around accusing everyone you disagree with of being irrational is… well it’s irrational.

            • allein

              “Public land” is not the same thing as “in public.” Public land refers to government property. Billboards are generally owned by private companies. “People” are allowed to put up all the religious imagery they want on their private property, no matter how visible it is to the public. Government entities are not.

    • Randomfactor

      “Sounds arrogant.”

      And “every knee shall bow” doesn’t?  I get that joke tossed at me all the time.

    • Thackerie

      Who the heck is Leah Libresco? And why should I care what this person said/did/wrote/thinks?

      Oh, wait, now I remember. She’s the former catholic who pretended to be an atheist in a couple of Internet postings and then rejoined the church in order to attention-whore her “conversion.”

      Didn’t work out too well, though, since very few people had ever heard of her before. After a few stories about “prominent atheist blogger converts to Roman Catholicism” came out, many comments in atheist forums posed this question:

      “Has anyone here ever heard of Leah Libresco?”

      I don’t recall anyone answering “yes.”

      • http://twitter.com/nopaniers Chucky

        She and Hermant had a discussion on “Unbelievable” podcast. IMHO being popular has no bearing on who makes the better arguments. Google it, it’s worth the listen.

    • RobMcCune

      Good luck fighting the negative stereotypes. 

      Thanks. Your post shows the sort of kneejerk reactions and assumptions that need to be overcome just to be heard properly. Or maybe I’m being a little to hasty, do you apply the same sort of scrutiny to Christian billboards?

  • Jake

    If you wish to further the stereotype that atheists are arrogant, than most of those billboards are perfect.

    Perhaps they could find advertisements that are not based upon pulling believers, and their religion, down in order to push atheists up. The first billboard comes close, but could be better. There is also the problem someone mentioned about showing children in an atheist advertisement when a large portion of the skeptic movement is against giving children any kind of label, religious or atheist, till they come of age and decide for themselves.

    • LesterBallard

      Arrogant. “There is a supernatural being who created me special. Who created the whole big universe, just for me. This being loves me. He listens to me. He speaks to me. Upon my entreaties he abrogates the physical laws of his universe, just for me. He died for me. All for me.”

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      That you see the positive assertion of people’s beliefs as “arrogant” serves only to demonstrate the weakness of religion, with its demands for humility (which is not a virtue).

      That you see any of these views as pulling down believers simply demonstrates the weakness of your own convictions.

    • advancedatheist

      There is also the problem someone mentioned about showing children in an atheist advertisement when a large portion of the skeptic movement is against giving children any kind of label, religious or atheist, till they come of age and decide for themselves.

      Besides, everyone knows that atheists hate children, according to the Christians who have had the cultural monopoly on telling the world about atheism for the past 2,000 years.  

    • Jim Hudlow

      I agree about having children in any theist or non theist ad. I understand it is trying to bring in the concept of family but young minds should be free to investigate and decide on their own and this billboard does not send that message.

      • Josh Alto

        We wanted to support families like ours being accepted as we were so we decided to have a family photo. I assure you the children are free to pursue religion and philosophy even if it differs from ours.

    • Xuuths

      “… a large portion of the skeptic movement is against giving children any kind of label, religious or atheist, till they come of age and decide for themselves.”

      Really?  Have a citation for the evidence to support this?

      I certainly don’t have a problem with it.  Has there been a survey done on this topic?  I don’t recall having my opinion requested, ever.  I agree with the poster who points out that everyone starts out as an atheist, and gets religion shoved down their throats, and sometimes convert to theism.

    • Josh Alto

      We stated I and my wife were atheists, and that it was an atheist family (we do not teach that gods are real, and do not attend places of worship). I feel this accurately reflects our family without claiming any religious or philosophical positions held by our children.

  • Joe Zamecki

    I like these billboards. They’re not perfect, but they’re nice. Friendly. I like the smiles. That’s good for our movement.

  • Gus Snarp

    Not only are they very white, but they seem to skew older. Of the people pictured alone here, only one appears to be under 65 and 4 of the 7 total picture people who are older. I don’t know about the choice to use predominately white people, I hope that was just who they were able to get to do it and not a conscious choice, because it’s problematic. But the older people seems like a very conscious choice and a good one, in my opinion. Younger people are already leaving religion in droves, and while they certainly need encouragement and support, showing older folks breaks a stereotype. We tend to think of older people as being more, not less, religious, and polls bear this out. But here they’re showing older people, who have lived a long life, accumulated knowledge and, hopefully, wisdom, and who perhaps feel a bit closer to the end of their lives when we’re all supposed to want to convert to save our mortal souls, but these older folks have settled on atheism and are unafraid. I think they make a good statement to theist viewers, like the families, that anyone could be an atheist, that we’re just ordinary people and not demons.

    • Jim Hudlow

      Gus…see my reply to Philbert re the diversity issue. We were very aware of the issue believe me.
         I belong to 2 secular organizations in Spokane: 1. Inland Northwest Freethought Society, a subset of the Freedom From Religion Foundation to which we pay dues and 2. The Spokane Secular Society. Your observation is correct…while the S3 group is much younger (I am the old curmudgeon there) the INFS members tend to be much older and since this is the group involved with billboards though Stacey and Dave R. are members of both groups.
         Anyone near Spokane from Sept. 7th through 15th come visit our booth at the Spokane Interstate Fair. You will have to wend your way through a dozen xtian booths to find ours I am sure.

      • Jim Hudlow

        I meant to say that since this is the group that was involved in putting up the billboards this was the membership we drew from to get folks to photograph.

    • http://annainca.blogspot.com/ Anna

      I’ve only been to one atheist event, a book talk at the Palo Alto Humanist Community, and I would guess at least 70% of the audience was over 65. I wonder if older atheists are more likely to be involved in these groups. Most are probably retired, so they have more time, and the groups might be their main form of socialization. Probably the same reason a lot of senior citizens get involved in churches?

  • MegaZeusThor

    I think these are really solid. Some people have pointed out valid criticisms, but before I read them, I thought FFRF knocked it out of the park. Still do.

    First, I love that one of them reads “Good without a God.” The ‘a’ make a difference. It should come across that we think gods are myth, not something real that we choose to be without.

    Second, they make good use of ‘real’, ‘reason’ & ‘reality’.

    Finally, the blurbs are short – good for a billboard. The colour design is pleasing to me. Smiling faces don’t hurt. Names show that these are real people. 

    We’re not going to win overnight, but it’s great that we’re continuing to make progress. Maybe in future decades such campaigns will be unnecessary.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      First, I love that one of them reads “Good without a God.”

      Actually, it’s “Good without a god“. By writing “god” as a common noun, it emphasizes that this is not a statement about the Abrahamic god (which is named “God” and therefore requires a proper noun form) but about gods in general.

      • MegaZeusThor

        Right you are.

      • Josh Alto

        Thank you for understanding this everyone. I worked to keep this phrasing as I had written it. It was first changed to the more common form “Good without God”. I had to ask that it be reverted to my original wording before printing. I feel the distinction is important, and this way more accurately represents my wife and I.

  • Philbert

    You can only take this “veeeeery white” business so far until you descend into tokenism. FFRF has done half a dozen other posters, most (all?) of which have featured non-white people. Which is good, the posters should reflect the population. So I really doubt they were being malicious or careless in ending up with mostly (or all? I’m not sure how Mr Schafer would describe himself) white folks in a place like Spokane, WA.

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

      I agree — FFRF has put a *lot* of minorities (not just racially, either) on their billboards. I’m not angry/upset about this. Just thought it was something to point out.

      • Christie

        Also, it’s worth noting that Spokane itself is very white (85%, with 5% hispanic and <2% any other race) compared with places like Columbus or Raleigh.

        • Xuuths

          Coeur d’Alene and Spirit Lake, Idaho have demographics which are even MORE white.  Idaho has less than 1% black, for instance.  It also has a lot of retirees, hence the age is a good representation of reality.

          • Jim Hudlow

            We are doing a Good Without god booth at the Kootney Co. Fairgrounds this month too….should be interesting…

            • Jim Hudlow

              Oops…I mean towards the end of August…

    • Jim Hudlow

      Here was the situation…In order to be in a picture you had to volunteer. Volunteers were mainly from people who attend meetings regularly as that (and group email) is how the word got out. Apparently many non active members choose not to receive emails or simply did not respond to this summons. I joined the group (in Spokane..I know all these wonderful folks) 6 months ago. I can only remember one other Black man besides Stacey ever attending a meeting and I have only seen him once. Hence the dirth of diversity in this set of billboards. The topic was discussed in meetings as diversity is an important and sensitive issue. We encourage ALL who want to join our ranks to do so. I am glad Stacey and his wife volunteered. Stacey is a very active voice in our ranks and I am pretty sure a member of the board of our chapter. There simply were no other active members of any race who from our chapter who chose to volunteer. Now…I take personal responsibility for this information as I am not on the board but attend all meetings so this info is solid from everything I know and have been told but if you find an error then kick my butt…not the organizers. Jim

  • Aaronlane

    The main font is difficult to read. Especially for a billboard, which you want to be immediately apparent. Some people (drivers) only see it for a fraction of a second. A scribbly handwriting font isn’t the best plan for that. 

    • KimbolinaS

       Agreed.

    • Jim Hudlow

      Aaron…you are right…I drove by one billboard here in Spokane. It is prominently displayed but against a blue sunny sky it is hard to read. The sky background and cream colored writing match the sky and clouds in the background and it does not stand out. Damn…I hope they take this into account in the future. However, lit up at night they should look great.

  • Johnny Lowry

    As a member of the atheist community in the Spokane area, I can attest that we don’t have much diversity in the area of race. Not due to any discrimination, but due to population statistics.
    Spokane City has a population of about 208k~; and Spokane County (which Spokane is the main metropolis for) has about 473k~. Spokane as a whole is about 89% white, so it should not come as a surprise that a small group in this demographic has few non-whites.

  • Mehman

    Font is kinda sucks.

  • KimbolinaS

    There’s a typo in the Facebook link option. It posts as Spokane, Idaho.

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

      It was a typo on my part. Fixed it for the blog but FB ran with the original. No biggie!

      • KimbolinaS

         I still posted it!

  • Barbara

    Beautiful ad campaign. The ones with married couples and families always choke me up a bit. I married young, before I knew what I really believed about life, and got sucked up in the archaic thinking that being religious somehow equates to righteousness. My spouse is adamantly against any of my atheistic beliefs shining through and possibly influencing our children. I may be stuck between a rock and a hard place, but is it such a joy knowing that there are people like in those billboard campaigns, living life as they see fit. Nonbelievers are getting a voice, and it has a beautiful ring to my ears.

    • Onamission5

      I sincerely hope that one day, Barbara, you too will get a chance to live life as you see fit. It is the very least that anyone deserves.

  • JohnK

    I would love to see a campaign in which atheism stands on its own as a concept and doesn’t need to be the negative version of something. Every headline is based on criticizing religion. 

    That’s not showing repect to diversity, that’s simply criticizing people who are different.

    Making the statement “God is imaginary” is an opinion, not a fact, and is the same as me putting up a billboard that says, “Blue is the best color.”

    Kind of meaningless.

  • Raavequeen

    The URL for this page says “spokane, idaho”. wth?

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

      Typo on my part initially. Sorry!

  • Joe

    What is the point of all this? Why care so much that others believe. You sound like many religious people who think they are somehow more enlightened then everyone else around them. 
    “Humanity”, “Good” those are imaginary, if God is. Just made up ideas by society that in the end don’t mean a thing. 

  • Cococonure

    I think the campaign is great and the volunteers very brave. The local news, KREM, I think, said it has “ruffled a lot of feathers.”

  • Kid Ego

    As an Atheist resident of Spokane, WA, I am so happy to see these billboards!

  • the insider

    From all that is natural we are born into a world with the definition of our existence outlined by a vocabulary created by people, left only to become a programmed part of our society regulated by the borders of our minds and that which transcends the interpretation of our language. At what point will we realize true power is in the infinite circle of wisdom bestowed every human being where as the source, an internal search for wisdom, is only to be defined by a willingness to break through the conditional formatting of history.
     
    To rise above is to see below, if in your view is less than you, your eyes deceive what your mind perceives. Let us not stand in opposition of one another yet become a higher example free from negative persecution designed intentionally for fluid continuity in effortless succession towards evolution itself.
     
    The path before us is best realized with a vision of transparency in the reflection of self image free from the iron cast of superficial stereotypes, resulting in a coherent example perfectly suited for a life of reason.
     
    All of life is training for that which lies ahead.
     
     
     
    My title: homo sapien 
    My faith: human being 
     


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