Pat Robertson Whines About Atheist Billboards

Remember these billboards put up by American Atheists?

Pat Robertson doesn’t like them.

Ok, ok, that’s not a surprise. BUT. In his rant against billboards (at the 0:57 mark), he manages to rattle off several lies.

1) “Billboards stay up forever unless somebody comes and buys the billboard…”

I assure you the atheist billboards come down on the expiration date. No one’s eager to give our groups more time than we paid for.

2) “[The billboard companies] can deny somebody the right to put up an offensive billboard.”

If they’re truly offensive? Yes, the companies can deny them. If it’s a billboard openly espousing or criticizing religious beliefs? Not necessarily. If the companies allow a pro-Christian billboard to go up, they must allow pro-atheist billboards, too.

3) “There’s no First Amendment that says the billboard companies have to put your atheist message up…”

The First Amendment says the government can’t discriminate on the basis of religion. And the Civil Rights Act of 1964 explains ways companies can’t discriminate.

Robertson says it’s a mistake to put up atheist billboards because drivers would have to see them “All. Day. Long.”

But Christian billboards condemning everyone to hell? Not a problem at all…

(via Atheist Billboards)

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.

  • randall.morrison90

    And atheists whine about crosses, even in private businessess, etc.

    So what?

    You people aren’t goint to get control, and will self destruct.

    Read Richard Carriers latest post on “atheism PLUS”…he is already admitting atheism can’t support a movement on its own.

    • ScarabDrowner

      Please post a source to support your claim that atheists complain about crosses on private property.

      Thanks.

    • Jose

      I worked for a company that had a cross in every room and advertised as, “a company owned by God.” Everyone in the marketing department was an atheist and none of us cared. Why? Because it was a privately-owned business and we thought it was funny.
       
      Most atheists couldn’t care less about what people do in private, but publicly-funded stuff is way different, hence the WTC cross ruckus and the suits about the Ten Commandments in courthouses.

      As long as they’re getting government funds to support a particular religion in defiance of the establishment clause, we will “whine.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-Buchy/542338898 James Buchy

       I’d like to see where ANY atheist complained about ANYTHING on PRIVATE property. The operative word here is PRIVATE.

      • Erp

        Anything is going a bit too broadly, stuff on private property can violate zoning laws or building codes or noise and other public nuisance laws.   However the protests there are content neutral; it doesn’t matter whether it is a cross or a tower if it exceeds the height allowed by the building code and a person complaining might well be someone of the same religion (or could be an atheist).

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Well, there was the discussion about the Bible in the Doctor’s office 

        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2011/07/25/a-bible-in-the-doctors-office/

        Although it bothered some people, I don’t think anyone supported the Dr. being forced to remove it.  It was more an indication that the Doctor might not be a good Doctor.

        • ganner918

          I know I’ve been to doctors that had Bibles in waiting rooms along with whatever random magazines and stuff. Never thought twice about it.

    • Gina

      The post you refer to is very recent and is definitely not universally loved.  I am amazed you would have seen it, as most atheists haven’t or will.

      You either follow “atheist” blogs quite closely or you are a troll.If the former, you seem pretty obsessed with what atheists are into on a day to day basis.  But I am voting on the latter as your argument has already been put forth by atheists who are not fans of the post in question.

      So I will give you a 5/10 for topicality.

    • Coyotenose

       A Christian who has to lie to have an argument. Such a shocker.

    • Shaun

      I don’t personally need an atheist “movement” to still be a logical, reasonable, thinking human being, that isn’t gullible enough to believe in fairy tales and superstition. Thanks for your meaningless and worthless comment Randall. Way to go. I don’t know what to do now. Where is my atheist movement?! What will I do?! Oh, yeah. Still not believe in fairy tales.

    • MyScienceCanBeatUpYourGod

      “You people aren’t goint (SIC) to get control, and will self destruct.”

      Oh no! He’s discovered our insidious plan! Science really is fake, cel-phones and cars only work because of devil-magic and the Earth really is 4000 years old!

    • RobMcCune

      Read Richard Carriers latest post on “atheism PLUS”…he is already admitting atheism can’t support a movement on its own.

      If that’s all you took away from Carrier’s blog post, I’ll remain very skeptical about the ‘opposition to crosses on private property’ claims your making.

    • http://twitter.com/silo_mowbray Silo Mowbray

      “You people aren’t goint to get control, and will self destruct.”

      Desperate extinction burst.

  • asonge

    Erm, it isn’t the First Amendment that says that businesses can’t discriminate on the basis of religious preference, it’s the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and other various state Civil Rights Acts that govern places of public accommodation and certain businesses. The First Amendment only speaks to government action.

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

      You’re right. I’ve edited the piece to reflect that.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1674805833 Beryl MacLachlan

         I don’t think that the Civil Rights Act prohibits religious discrimination except by “places of public accommodation,”  as defined section 42 USC § 2000a.  That’s pretty narrow: basically “lodgings; facilities principally engaged in selling food for consumption on the premises; gasoline stations; places of exhibition or entertainment.”

        There’s also § 1981: “All persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right in every State and Territory to make and enforce contracts, to sue, be parties, give evidence, and to the full and equal benefit of all laws and proceedings for the security of persons and property as is enjoyed by white citizens, and shall be subject to like punishment, pains, penalties, taxes, licenses, and exactions of every kind, and to no other.

        This, as you might guess from the references to “white persons,” this section only prohibits racial discrimination.  It’s no use at all for religious discrimination.  Mostly, when people think that the Civil Rights Act prevents all discrimination by businesses, they’re thinking of this section.

  • Brixtongunam

    The first amendment says the government can’t discriminate based on religion. It has nothing to do with private companies.

    There are however federal statutes that make discrimination based on religion illegal in a lot of situations.

  • Dna M Collins

    We “whine” about crosses on government property because such displays violate that little thing called the Constitution.

  • Guest

    Well, since the entire MO of atheism has been ‘that religious symbol in a public place gives me unparalleled emotional and psychological distress, I can’t take it, I need counseling!!! (or at least all religious symbols to be banned from  the public forum)’, I wouldn’t say much about a religious person taking offense at billboards that are, let’s be honest, meant to be offensive. 

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

       well done for spotting our “entire MO”

    • Sindigo

      While your characterisation of atheists defending the constitution is pejorative, ridiculous and typical of the level of debate we’ve come to expect from those on your side of the fence I agree with you on the signs being designed to cause offence. Some of us were against them from the start.

      However, Pat Robertson would have taken offence whether that was their original intent or not. He’s the sort of idiot who believes that his beliefs should be protected from criticism even though he has no problem criticising everyone else’s. Something which, again we’ve come to expect from those on that side of the fence.

      • Pseudonym

        While I agree with you about Pat Robertson taking offence at the drop of a hat (A dropped hat! How anti-Christian!), that was clearly the intention in this case. AA holds the legal high ground, but it doesn’t hold the moral one.

        • Sindigo

          You mean with the tone of these billboards? I agree.

          What they say may be true but the message is exactly what the theists mean when they say we’re shoving atheism down people’s throats.

          • Pseudonym

            Yes, that’s what I’m saying.

            FWIW, I understand that many churches put up “you’re going to hell”-type billboards in some parts of the US. I don’t live in the US, so I’ll take your word for it.

            My mother taught me from a young age that two wrongs don’t make a right. Fighting stupid with stupid may make you momentarily feel better, and you may legally be in the right, but it’s not morally right.

            • Sindigo

              I’m not in the US either, though I’ve seen some pretty egregious examples of religious billboards here in the UK they rarely tell me I’m going to hell but rather make lame puns.

              The problem I have with these atheist billboards is not the immorality of them; I think the religious should be criticised and their ideas ridiculed where appropriate. The problem is that AA should be above those sorts of tactics. These billboards won’t help but just add fuel to their fire.

    • Dna M Collins

      Since when is the truth offensive?  

      • The Other Weirdo

         Truth is always offensive to those who peddle lies.

    • Coyotenose

       Thanks for reminding us that you and your ilk aren’t bright enough to grasp the difference between “offensive” and “illegal”, and between “private land” and “public land”, but we already knew.

    • george.w

      Just in case there is some small part of your brain that wants to know the truth, we take offense at religious expression on the public dime. Privately-funded religious expression in the private (in the sense of non-governmental) sphere is fine.

    • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      I’ve never encountered anybody who takes offense at a religious symbol in a public place, or who suffers any sort of distress as a result. Atheists that I know don’t take offense at religious billboards.

      As long as the symbols are not placed by the government, or supported in some way by government resources, there is no issue. Folks like you always seem to miss (or choose to miss) the point that the fight has absolutely  nothing to do with the symbols themselves. In fact, the odds are that atheists are more concerned with rights issues than theists, and are therefore more likely to support freedom of religion for theists than theists are likely to support those same rights for atheists.

    • RobMcCune

      It’s not ‘a public place’, its public property i.e. government property – which violates the establishment clause. Whenever we try to take it down christian whine about losing access to the cross’s or commandemt’s magical powers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-De-Fleuriot/611844223 Mike De Fleuriot

    I wonder when the American Atheists will get enough coin to have a couple ads on prime time national tv. 

  • WoodwindsRock

    And those billboards condemning you to hell DO exist. I have seen them.

    I don’t particularly like these particular American Atheists billboards myself, but if Christians can put up offensive billboards themselves, then they have no room to complain.

    ‘Robertson says it’s a mistake to put up atheist billboards because drivers would have to see them “All. Day. Long.”’

    What a joke. It’s perfectly okay for Christians to shove their beliefs down our throats whenever they want (All. Day. Long.), but when a couple of Atheist billboards go up it’s incredibly excessive. Essentially he’s saying that Atheists should have no voice whatsoever. He’d be complaining about the billboards whether they were offensive or not. They could simply say “Atheists. Yes we exist.” and he’d be saying the very same thing.

    • Tyrrlin Flamestrike

      OT for a sec, I love your name (I’m a woodwind repair tech and a clarinetist).

      And I think a your billboard idea of “Athiests.  Yes we exist.”  SHOULD be put up.  Why not?  :-)

      • Glasofruix

        It’s been done, and complaints were voiced.

    • Margaret Whitestone

       It’s  typical Christian Privilege. Their messages are plastered all over the place and that’s OK.  We put up a billboard or sign and their screams are heard for miles, they often get vandalized, and we sometimes even get death threats.   Free Speech about religion is for Christians only in this country, except when they allow it for others in circumstances they dictate. 

  • Gunstargreen

    Yeah, the companies could deny putting up the billboards Pat, but they didn’t. The same way they don’t deny Christian billboards. Not everyone shares your views. Deal with it like we do every single day.

  • Stefanierenecozette

    Pat is ignorant and ridiculous.. don’t know why anyone listens to him

    • The Other Weirdo

       Because other ignorant and ridiculous people need a spokesman.

  • http://dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

    Robertson’s whining serves to demonstrate that the billboards are having their desired effect. If he was smart, he’d just ignore them. But we know he’s not the sharpest nail in the cross, don’t we?

    • Sindigo

      “sharpest nail in the cross” Ha! 

      P.S. I’m stealing that.

    • Pseudonym

      According to AA, their desired effect was to critique the invocation of religion in public debate. Clearly they’re not doing that.

      But I happen to agree that the actual desired effect was to extract a “we’re offended” response from the likes of Pat Robertson. However, that’s such an easy thing to achieve (it often happens by accident, after all) that it could have been done with far less expense, and without AA looking anywhere near as incompetent and stupid as it currently does.

  • Margaret Whitestone

    He’s the last person who should be whining about anything.  He’s a vile, hateful old man.

  • Ibrewwedit

    Wow, I find HIM repugnant, and his belief in fairytales. Why is truth not a defence when it comes to religion? the statements on these billboard are more easily defensible than his doctrine! sometimes I feel sad that my children will still have to deal with the indoctrinated. The religious lie has gone on long enough!

    • http://slrman.wordpress.com James Smith

      Truth and rational thinking are always fatal to any religion.  That’s why they all work very hard to suppress both.  Nor are questions and criticism permitted, either and for the same reason.

  • http://slrman.wordpress.com James Smith

    As usual, the religious reich cries “persecution!” whenever they do not get their own way.  This usually means they have been prevented from persecuting others as they have been permitted to do for far too long.  

  • Sebastian

    Hopefully not everyone looks at the world like this.


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