American Atheists’ Latest Billboards Taken Down Following Threats

Less than two weeks after they went up in Charlotte, North Carolina, the site of the Democratic National Convention, the American Atheists’ billboards criticizing the presidential candidates’ faiths have been taken down:

According to a press release from the organization:

“It is with regret that we tell our members and all of those who treasure free speech and the separation of religion and government that American Atheists and Adams Outdoor Advertising have mutually agreed to remove the billboards immediately,” said Amanda Knief, American Atheists’ Managing Director.

“No subject, no idea should be above scrutiny—and this includes religion in all forms,” Ms. Knief said. “We are saddened that by choosing to express our rights as atheists through questioning the religious beliefs of the men who want to be our president that our fellow citizens have responded with vitriol, threats, and hate speech against our staff, volunteers, and Adams Outdoor Advertising.”

When I asked AA Vice President Kathleen Johnson for further comment, she explained that wasn’t anti-atheist discrimination on the part of the billboard company:

the billboard company elected to take them down because of the threats that they received directly. If it was just us receiving the threats, the billboard would have stayed up.

They have apologized and have offered a full refund. They also offered to put up a message supporting us and thereby continue our original contract without our exact message but since it wasn’t going to be our message, we decided to accept the refund instead and put that money towards future campaigns.

Knief also added that the threats occurred not long after an article about the billboards ran on the front page of the FOX News website.

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.

  • Richard Lucas

    Is anyone investigating?  It seems like communicating extortion threats might be against the law.  Were any of the threats from other states?  

    • http://twitter.com/TreeroyWoW Treeroy

      Why would America care about whether it was illegal or not? They’re all religious and don’t give a damn about those actually think.

      • Sjoerd Westenborg

        20% is non-religious, not to mention that plenty of religious Americans are quite capable of appreciating secularism and free speech. You shouldn’t lump them all together. Very insulting and absolutely not constructive.

  • observer

    I was not aware that “shooting the
    messenger” is part of the Christian Love™.

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

    Theists feeling butthurt get angry and utter death threats.

    Tell me again how believing in a jealous sky fairy makes you a better person?

    • Findog53

      Speculation is not allowed in a court of law, do you have proof this was a theist?

      • http://twitter.com/joelvb Joel Benjamin

        I have no proof that it was a theist who threatened violence. I guess you’re right; it could have been an atheist threatening violence against an atheist message. I wouldn’t say that is likely.

        All the people who threatened to murder those who ridiculed Mohammed also could have been atheists and not Muslims, but not likely either.

        On one side of history’s march towards freedom is reason and tolerance – on the other side is bigotry, prejudice, and a whole lot of religion.

  • http://twitter.com/butterflyfish_ Heidi McClure

    So we’re negotiating with terrorists now. Got it. Death threats = Get your way.

    • SessionZero

      I don’t blame them for not wanting the billboard company’s blood on their hands should the threats prove to be more than puffery.

    • http://twitter.com/joelvb Joel Benjamin

      We atheists and humanists have reason, science, kindness, and tolerance on our side; they have bigotry, prejudice, hatred, and a whole lot of religion.

      They may win their violent battles with reason in the short term; but the march of history favors the values that we hold dear.

  • TheOnlyKarsh

    Makes me think that Malcolm X might not have the violence monger he was portrayed to be.

    Karsh  

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=682310412 Peggy Moran Dellinger

    With “love” like that, who needs hate? 

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I hope they can publicize some of the threats.  Or the next campaign can address freedom of speech and this supposed “free will” thing.

    • amycas

       The next campaign should just be billboards with the death threats posted.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Franklin-Bacon/1403711134 Franklin Bacon

         Don’t be giving them any ideas…

  • smrnda

    Some religion of love if you threaten a billboard company. On the other hand, if believers were so secure they were right, would they let a billboard like this get to them?  It’s as if *atheism is being driven from the public square by threats of violence.*

    Please note the last sentence, and ask how many religious billboards get this kind of attention, and then tell me religion is being persecuted in the US.

    • Leibnizian Christian

      Atheism is so coddled in the media it makes me sick.  How often do you ever hear anything negative on TV besides FOX NEWS that ever takes shots at atheists?

      • Baby_Raptor

        I’m hoping you forgot the snark tag. 

        • RobMcCune

          Nope, he’s a troll. Prepare for him to take a philosophy dump.

          • Leibnizian Christian

            Disagreement =/= trolling

            LOL

            • Coyotenose

               Saying something so incredibly, stupidly wrong that it has to be deliberate = trolling. Suck it up, whiner.

              • Findog53

                Where is the whining. An atheism taken down and again it’s Christians faults. Was it a Christians fault with Jeffery Dahmer, The Aurora shooter and the Sikh temple shooter? Again you were all very well represented there.
                  Also can you non-theists do any better than troll and trolling. Somebody with Downs Syndrome could.  

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson
                • Findog53

                  I like butting heads with you, at least your sarcasm and mockery is more relaxed than others on this site.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Never take trolling too seriously.  And I don’t think you’re always a troll, but this ‘representation’ bit sure it.  Especially since you keep doing it after it has been shown to be a steaming pile.  At least come up with some examples that are actually atheists.  I’m almost tempted to give you examples, since they are out there.

                • Findog53

                  the uni-bomber comes to mind

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  I’d give you the unibomber.  The other one I was thinking of was the guy who shot Rep. Gabby Giffords in AZ.  What I’m honestly having a hard time thinking of is an example of someone who was not only an atheist, but it was their ’cause’.  I don’t deny they’re out there- people who hate religion so much they’d bomb a church in the name of atheism.

                • Findog53

                  There are plenty of bad apples on both sides of the fence is my point in all of this to these people on this sight who mock theist beliefs. The word jebus comes to mind, sky fairy and flip flop zombie. the whole point is nobody is perfect, even my higher power.

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  Assuming you’re a monotheist, you’re the first one I’ve ‘met’ who said their higher power wasn’t perfect.

            • amycas

               Posting long screeds about how much you hate liberals, atheists and Obama on every post regardless of the topic=trolling

              • Guest

                What’s it called when you post long screed about how much you hate christians?

                Looking at the comments thats…most of them.

                And they didn’t say “Death” threats, the article says “threats” likely from Christian businesses who buy from them. Free Speech – say whatever you like. But there may be consequences and maybe to your pocketbook. I suspect that that’s the only kind of “threat” that would get the boards removed.

                • amycas

                  A “tu te quo” fallacy doesn’t mean yours aren’t trolling. I don’t know why you’re addressing me about the death threat thing, since I never said anything about that to you.

          • amycas

             lol @ philosophy dump

      • RobertoTheChi

        *facepalm* Please go away…knuckle-dragging fool.

  • bummed

    i am sympathetic, but i find it quite craven that they bowed to these threats. i think the next billboards should quote the threats and attribute them to “christians”.

    • Baileybuster

      OH, this is genius!!  Do it…do it!!

    • http://twitter.com/joelvb Joel Benjamin

      I agree that they should quote the threats – but let the readers do the attribution themselves. It’s obvious where the threats are coming from but it’s important not to make assumptions on the readers’ behalf; let them do that for themselves.

  • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

    Although, “vitriol, threats, and hate speech” are poor ways to respond to such messages, what exactly does the organization in question expect? Common sense dictates that these messages–especially the first one–are going to generate tons of negativity.

    Although many religious folks get their asses in an uproar over the mildest of critiques, there are far more constructive ways to approach these matters. American Atheists have taken their usual vitriolic, broad-brushed method of “reaching out” to people. They are quickly becoming the PETA of atheism.  PETA has done its worst to make vegans, vegetarians, and animal rights supporters look like a bunch of crazy assholes. I fear AA is doing something similar for those who do not believe in deities.

    Sadly, I expect a lot of folks to circle the wagons and come to AA’s defense in spite of the organization’s abrasive, poorly crafted PR. Somehow, people can’t seem to understand the simple notion that if you behave like assholes, people will think you are assholes. If they already think you are assholes anyway, as so many religious people do, then you are hardly doing much to challenge their prejudices. I can easily imagine a future where people come to see both vocal Christians and vocal atheists as obnoxious, fanatically backward people.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      I think we need a ‘bad cop’ in the spectrum.  I realize most Americans don’t see the spectrum, and will associate AA with AU and ACLU and FFRF, but I’m not convinced that hugs and flowers always work.

    • Kamakanui

      Although “vitriol, threats, and hate speech” are poor ways to respond to
      such messages, what exactly does the organization in question expect?

      Huh? Threats and vitriol are the standard response to any questioning of religious belief. Every last living time. Of course, when the religionists can get away with setting you on fire or stoning you to death, they like that better than just crappy-old self-inflating threats.

      Religionists are bullies, and every bully who ever lived has played the victim card.

      “It’s never appropriate to insult another person, it’s never appropriate to disrespect another person.”

      Said in absolutist terms by some Xtian ‘pastor’ about these billboards. As if his opinion matters, as if he holds some moral high ground, while he threatens those who disagree with him with *eternal* torture.

      ‘Pastor’ guy, you are a parasite and an extortionist, and it is completely appropriate to hold you in contempt. You and all the rest of your ilk.

      I can easily imagine a future where people come to see both vocal
      Christians and vocal atheists as obnoxious, fanatically backward people.

      It’s not atheists who want to toss an 11-year-old girl into a fire.

      • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

        Your response epitomizes what is wrong with AAs message and the approach of some of the most vocal parts of the atheist movement.

        So, four fifths (or more) of the US populace (those who ID as religious in some way) support tossing 11 year old girls into fires? Four fifths of the US populace are bullies? Those who are members of socially frowned-upon minority faiths “play the victim card”? Four fifths of the populace support stoning people?

        This is the message you and AA are sending, whether it is your intention or not.

        If you carelessly form generalizations about such a broad segment of society, you can expect people’s responses to be harsh… and rightfully so.  The genius behind this approach is that you can then complain about how poorly people are treating you. In the process, you can reinforce your sense of being wronged, feel your anger deepen, and respond with more irrational abrasiveness the next time around. The process continues, reinforcing itself quite nicely. There is an odd kind of beauty to the way in which such social patterns perpetuate themselves, no?

        However, other than enabling yourself to feel a sense of superiority and a strong sense of alienation, do you really think this approach will accomplish much in the long run? Religion has been around for a very, very long time. If you think a minority of non-believers will bring about its fall by pissing on religion’s leg and congratulating each other on the wet spot, I think you might be in error.

        Again, there are calmer, more rational approaches, but from what I’ve observed in the words and deeds of the many vocal atheists, the us vs. them rush that comes from pissing off the opposition is far more interesting.

        Have fun, folks.

        • http://www.shadesthatmatter.blogspot.com asmallcontempt

          I agree and disagree with your sentiment, Timberwraith. I find the AA billboards distasteful and about as subtle as a 2×4″ (and, personally, I could have thought up about ten better ways to phrase it – I think these billboards work against AA’s aims, if their plan was to attempt to destigmatize atheism…yeah, not so much)…but as for their characterization of believers, I’m not sure it’s so far off.

          I don’t know any believers who advocate stoning, or the uglier parts of the belief, but there are SOME. There are extremists on both sides – Christians who WOULD advocate stoning gays, and on the other end Christians who are so liberal as to keep only the most tenuous bits of the faith. 

          But there’s this large, problematic swath in the middle that validates the existence of the extremists and advocate their own problematic beliefs (patriarchy is the first thing that comes to mind; though most churches aren’t as gross and Calvinist as, say, Mars Hill, most churches DO preach some version of subservience for women). And what about hell? If that’s not bullying, I’m not sure what could qualify!

          Coming from that belief background, I could have interviewed several good, upstanding people in the church I attended (a totally non-interesting, smallish non-denominational church in the Midwest), and, if pressed, would have expressed beliefs about gays that would be darn near indistinguishable from the WBC crew. The only difference was that a sense of propriety made them keep it under their hats rather than picketing funerals. 

          So…I don’t know, I guess. You’re right that it’s unfair to paint with such a broad brush, but no matter how nice the outside looks, these ideas are rotten to the core. What to do?

        • Coyotenose

           “Four-fifths of the populace…”

          Perhaps Dr. Jones might be of assistance in grasping the problem here:

          “You stood up to be counted with the enemy of everything the Grail stands for; who gives a DAMN what you think?!”

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      It’s just thet them cullud folks gotta stop bein’ so pushy. They gotta un’erstan’ y’cain’t go rushin’ people t’change the way things have been fer a long time. If the culluds want respeck, they oughta act all nice and polite, so reg’lar ‘Mericans don’ have to think too much too fast. But no, they go down t’ Mississippi an’ git the Klan all riled up by sayin’ the way they sees things too loud an’ too fast, an’ what ‘zactly do they expect?‘Course they got themselves killed. They’s the ones t’blame, fer bein’ so pushy and uppity.

      • http://hauntedtimber.wordpress.com/ timberwraith

        I had come to expect better from you Richard, but alas, even you.

        • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

          And I’ve come to expect exactly what you said from you, timberwraith. For some reason, your disapproval of me is not regretted.  It’s also not much of a response.

          I would not have agreed with the AA billboards if I were on their ad committee. AA’s generally edged approach is not my style, which is why I’m not a member.  But “not my style” is not sufficient reason for me to condemn their efforts, or to posture as if I and only I know what is best for atheists, and certainly not a reason to engage in blaming the victim when they are intimidated into silence either in their concern for themselves or for the billboard company personnel.

          As Rich Wilson said, there is room for a wide spectrum of approaches, a varied cast of characters, including diplomats, and firebrands, and people in between.

          Change is not just in the wind, it’s right here and now, and as theists sense that they’re losing their grip on society, they’re becoming more obdurate, more extremist, and more dangerous. If atheists become too concerned with their tone to the point of obsequious timidity, then the theists’ push-back won’t just be a resistance, it will be a reversal. There is no guarantee that this country cannot devolve into a theocratic, plutocratic, despotic nightmare.

          For change to continue in a forward direction, we need both the polite atheists and the pushy ones, and we need to stand up for the rights of all of them to express themselves, regardless of whether or not we personally have the same style.

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

            Thanks, Richard. That was nuanced and pretty complete.

            I’m one of the pushier atheists. Not as pushy as, say, PZ Meyers, but definitely pushier than Hemant. My goal is a little different than the gentler atheists – my intention is to help completely marginalize theistic thinking, and crush the power of churches and religions in the political arena. I don’t have any illusions about actually achieving this in my lifetime, but I hope to create a great deal of butthurt among the Religious Right along the way. The more butthurt the better.

    • RobMcCune

      Good point people are just going to circle the wagons around AA. Many of them are probably the same people who circled the wagons to condemn the FRC shooting. You’d almost think they abhor violence and threats as means of promoting one’s goals.

    • Margaret Whitestone

       Right, because those Christian billboards are so loving and respectful of others.

      • matt

         Wow that one IS intense.

      • Gregg

        I don’t remember any ATHEISTS posting death threats about this billboard, do you???…lol.

      • Findog53

        Why don’t you just file a lawsuit like your factions always do. I’m surprised nobody has yet. Come on hurry now people!!

      • Sjoerd Westenborg

        To be fair, they only address the lunatic atheists. That cannot be more than .5% of all atheists, right?

    • Baby_Raptor

      There’s nothing any more offensive in those billboards than there is in the typical church sign, and nobody ever complains about those or goes off on these types of rants about them. Why are we the only ones being assholic? 

      Oh, right, because we’re the minority. 

      People needs to put their collective big girl panties on and accept that sometimes they’re going to see things that they disagree with. The response is not violence, threats or pontificating about how “rude” it is to not go along with the majority. 

      • amycas

         Maybe atheists should complain about them. Not ask for them to be taken down, but maybe we should start a blog/twitter/facebook campaign to take pictures of all the offensive religious billboards so the religious will get the idea.

    • amycas

       Well, seeing as how every atheist billboard gets vitriol and threats lobbed against the makers, I really don’t see how we could put up any billboards without getting threats.

  • Leibnizian Christian

    I would have kept the billboards up, after all it’s free-speech. 

    Though two can play at this game, I would have put up a billboard right next to the advocates of ‘NATUREDIT’ therefore God does not exist” and stated something along the lines.

    “Christianity

    Giving haters  a cognitive ‘purpose’ to their ‘purposeless’ , valueless, meaningless ideology”

    In the middle of this billboard I would have Jesus next to an angry Silverman with the AA logo over David’s head.

    I mean it is what it is, this cultish group is obsessed with bashing Christianity.  And I think if the anti-Theistic, anti-religious fanatics that are the American Atheists want to dish it out, they better learn how to take it as well. 

    IMO Christians have been way too easy on them.  Except that one time when James White completely destroyed David Silverman in a debate on the existence of God.  That was priceless.

    Silverman – “I can’t see God, therefore he doesn’t exist”

    • Coyotenose

       Angry little violence-endorsing, lying cretin, aren’t you? You aren’t upsetting anyone, troll. You’re only making your own life and deeds more valueless.

    • http://www.facebook.com/don.gwinn Don Gwinn

      If the AA want to dish it out, they have to learn to take it as well?  

      So, if the AA wants to put up billboards that theists find offensive, they should be willing to allow the theists to put up offensive billboards, too?
      But offensive theist billboards are all over the place, and the AA doesn’t try to censor them–much less issue death threats.

      Or did you mean to say that if the AA wants to threaten to kill theists for buying ad space, they should be willing to get death threats in return?  That makes a certain kind of crazy sense.

      If you meant what you actually wrote, which was that if the AA wants to “dish out” speech that offends some people, then they are obligated to “take” death threats against their business associates, then I can’t help you.  That’s silly.

    • amycas

       I don’t think you would be allowed to use the actual AA logo.

    • RobertoTheChi

      Troll.

  • Santiago

    Totally sucks

  • Leibnizian Christian

    Also one last thing, why are all these so called ‘skeptics’ so quick to blame Christians for these death threats.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a set-up and lo and behold it was actual atheists calling in.  THINK A BIT HERE

    Village atheists are more common in modern times.  Anyone who thinks atheists can do no wrong are out of their minds.  The hate goes both ways, Anti-theism is on the rise and I wouldn’t be surprised if this was all a sham. 

    Though before everyone starts crying about my comment, I still thknk it is more likely that these callers of threats were in fact Theists, however I can’t say that I am 100% sure that they were.

    • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

      Your proposed billboard is a devastatingly clever retort.

      If you did this, I doubt that
      you or the billboard company would be getting any threats of violence
      either from rabid, murderously outraged atheists (even though there are soooo many of those) or from misguided Christians hoping to garner sympathy and martyr points for their religion.

      If you did get threats, I would be among the first to speak up in support of your rights, and do denounce any threats against you.

      • Leibnizian Christian

        “If death is the unequivocal and
        permanent end of our existence, the question arises whether it is a bad thing
        to die”

        - Thomas Nagel  <— Atheist Philosopher

        But why speak up for me?   For what?

        How do "rights" or
        "values" emerge from valueless matter?  Matter has properties (Shape, mass, color,
        texture, and so on), but moral value isn't one of them.

        If God doesn't exist, human dignity, worth,
        and moral duty must have emerged from valueless processes.  In fact, and in contrast, from valuelessness,
        valuelessness comes.

        A Solely materialistic universe might
        produce in us feelings and beliefs of obligation – like the protection of our
        children or the survival of our species – but that's a different matter from
        actually having such obligations we OUGHT to carry out.

        How do "rights" or
        "values" emerge from valueless matter?  Matter has properties (Shape, mass, color,
        texture, and so on), but moral value isn't one of them.

        If God doesn't exist, human dignity, worth,
        and moral duty must have emerged from valueless processes.  In fact, and in contrast, from valuelessness,
        valuelessness comes.

        A Solely materialistic universe might
        produce in us feelings and beliefs of obligation – like the protection of our
        children or the survival of our species – but that's a different matter from
        actually having such obligations we OUGHT to carry out.

        • RobMcCune

          Philosophical trolling, awesome! You are such a refreshing change.

          • Leibnizian Christian

            I have an idea guys, how about we debate the existence of God so I can show how irrational believing in an unconscious, unintelligent, purposeless NATUREDIDIT is?

            I’ll take it easy on you layman that are probably only atheists because you don’t want a God to exist and have something above you being accountable for.  So what do you say?

            1.◊p → ¬[◊p • ◊ ¬p]

            2.◊p

            3. ∴ ¬[◊p • ◊ ¬p]

            4. (◊p • ¬[◊p • ◊ ¬p]) → ☐p

            5. (◊p • ¬[◊p • ◊ ¬p])

            6. ☐p

            7. ☐p → ☐g

            8. ∴ ☐g

             

            where p = God is perfect and g
            = God exists

            • RobMcCune

              Alvin Plantinga has gone insane!

              • Leibnizian Christian

                That’s not Alvin Plantinga that is Charles Hartshorne

                You have no idea what you are talking about

                 ROFL

                ANaturalism  = irrational thinking that leads to believing in multiverses

                • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

                  “are probably only atheists because you don’t want a God to exist and have something above you being accountable for ”

                  You’re probably a Christian because you’re afraid of not having a Big Brother watching over your every thought.  Like the abused spouse who fears the blows, but fears even more the insecurity of leaving.

                • RobMcCune

                  Which ever theologian you are, you’ve gone insane. Besides hating the laws physics, what other scientific theories can you barely contain your contempt for?

                • amycas

                   Sorry, it’s just that you theists seem to keep recycling the same bad arguments. It’s hard to remember which one used it first/created the latest version of it.

            • Coyotenose

               Hmm, school is just starting back. I think this dimwit is from one of those private “schools” where Defending the Faith Online is an actual long-term, graded assignment. Maybe it was even a summer assignment, and he’s scrambling to complete it.

              Theory bolstered by his urgent, URGENT, full-bladderish need to have someone address his arguments that have already been refuted thousands of times (so he can then move to the next claim on his checklist.)

              Theory also bolstered by the fact that almost any adult can parse what is moronic about Leibniz’s arguments.

            • pureone

              Two gods are even more perfect. 

              • amycas

                 If you can define perfect to mean whatever you want, then I would think that  being nonexistent but still able to garner worship and praise from most of an entire planet = perfect. Therefore, god does not exist.

            • amycas

               You got me. I’m an atheist because I just love sinning.

            • Ibrewwedit

              If god is perfect. So must his creations be. So must his inspired word be. But they are not. Why did god create me to need evidence and then not offer it? How was the council of nicea able to rule which inspired words were truly inspired when they were putting the book together? These won’t be solved with math or calculus . A bit of actual evidence could save us all. But it just isn’t there. I spent 12 years of my life as a born again Christian. You will no doubt say I wasn’t a ‘real’ Christian. I was as much as anyone can be. But then I asked a few questions. Which led to more and eventually to my realization that it wasn’t true. I don’t hate Christians. But I know how dangerous all religions are. I oppose faith and embrace reason at all opportunities.
              It makes sense to think in terms of probability not certainty. There probably is no god. The threats were probably made by an enraged Christian.

              Cheers

              • John

                 Excellent,very well said.

        • Margaret Whitestone

           I’m, like, impressed by your copypasta abilities. 

          • Leibnizian Christian

            I’d be more impressed if you linked where I copied that from.

            Well the quotes are easy, but how about the other stuff?

            Or do you just like making bare assertions without backing them up with any rationality?

            How about we replace your overtone with some substance?

            • lellipses

              I think people here would be more impressed if you came up with your own thoughts instead of copying and pasting Copan’s (whom you forgot to credit). 

            • Coyotenose

               The funny thing is that despite being a troll with enough net savvy that
              he’s aware of the fact, he’s dumb enough to try to spend a lot of time
              arguing in sort-of earnest, AND ignorant of the trope that people who
              argue with quotes don’t understand the quotes.

          • Leibnizian Christian

            Oh, now  I see how people can tell with the copy and pasting.

            Well I do have MY OWN crib notes that I am taking these from.  Though I am not copy and pasting off some blog ROFL

        • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

          If you can’t tell the difference between atheism and nihilism, and you really think that atheism must lead to nihilism, I don’t have the patience to educate you, and you don’t seem to be able to clearly observe the world around you. If you really think that the existence of things like values, ethics, morals, social obligations, altruism, democratic principles, and mutual protection of each other’s civil rights despite our differing opinions are all somehow proof of the existence of a supernatural being as the only explanation for their existence, I don’t have the patience to argue with you.

          The Cosmological Argument, the Teleological Argument, the Argument from Morals, the Argument from Beauty, the Argument from the Rainbow and the Baby’s Smile, the Argument from the Warm Fuzzy Feeling, and a hundred other silly, fallacious arguments that I’ve heard over and over, each a lame, embarrassed distraction from the complete absence of evidence of the existence of He Who Is As Inconsequential As He Is Mighty… 

          (sigh) I guess I’m getting old, or maybe that tuna sandwich this afternoon was a little off. Go ahead and  crow victory. Your disjointed, incomplete, suspiciously copied-and-pasted-looking statements have defeated me by their sheer stable inertia. Maybe someone else is willing to play with you.

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

          I’m going to order you some more straw men because I think you might be running out.

        • Nox

          The fact that you can’t think of any reason why life might have value without a god telling you what to think, doesn’t impact the actual value of life or anything else.

    • 3lemenope


      Also one last thing, why are all these so called ‘skeptics’ so quick to blame Christians for these death threats.  I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a set-up and lo and behold it was actual atheists calling in.  THINK A BIT HERE

      Since a Reichstag Fire Gambit is one of the riskiest and most difficult to pull off dirty political maneuvers in existence, assigning more than a nominal probability to it from no evidence is a sign of bad abductive methodology. Yes, we can acknowledge the bare possibility of it being true, but to consider it as a probable explanation is to abandon parsimony for self-indulgent flights of fancy. If we were to “think a bit here”, we’d certainly properly come to the conclusion that in the absence of further evidence, the simple fact of an attack upon the publishers of this billboard points to its actual ideological adversaries rather than any agents provocateurs. 

      It is of course reasonable to make one’s conclusions hedged enough to accommodate possible future pieces of contrary evidence, and it would certainly bear thinking about in the very unlikely event any would actually come to light. I’m not holding my breath.

      • Leibnizian Christian

        Considering that a good number atheists are supposedly ‘ex-Christians’ I see absolutely no reason why it wouldn’t be the case that there are atheists who blame a good amount of their lives on religion to HAVE A MOTIVE against religion.  

        The Village atheists are usually ex-fundies, so they keep the same mentality, but are now on a different team.  

        How about I give you a counter-point? Where is the evidence that these people who called in the death threats were Christians?    You make an assumption with no support but a bare assertion.

        Well do you have evidence to support this?  Or are you just assuming, please back up your emotions emotions with some facts.  I mean you are entitled to your own opinion, but you aren’t entitled to what you think is a fact.

        So please, I want names of these Christians who called in the death threats.  You make the claim, now it’s time to back it up.

        The stakes have been raised and I don’t see why atheists get a free pass here.  So back it up

        • michael both

          Err … most non-stupid people make death threats anonymously. That said, yes, you may well be correct to assume that the type of Christian making such threats may well have somehow identified themselves by doing so.

    • RobMcCune

      The billboards ridiculed Christians, and Mormons. Oh yeah, and Mormons are a subset of Christians. So it’s either Christians or Dennis Markuze.

      Hate may go both ways, but the death treats are only headed in one direction.

      • Leibnizian Christian

        Yes one way, perhaps we should a take a trip down Communist memory lane.

        Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao Zeddong, North Korea…Yes it’s possible, you also have nothing to live for as atheism has no goal in life. 

         

        Philosophically consistent atheists are
        nihilists. The point I would make is not that they are depressing comments that
        these atheists make, but that they are consistent pieces of thinking based on
        atheistic premises – so congratulations to these thinkers first off for being
        honest at least in the verbal sense. 
        However the fact that none of them can manage to live this philosophy
        they espouse. Not because it was “depressing” but because it is just
        completely self-evident that life is full of meaning and purpose and right and
        wrong and that is the philosophical and existential problem for philosophically
        adept atheism

        Albert Camus contended one must rebel against the
        logical conclusion on an existential and practical basis so he was the most
        honest that it was impossible. It would mean that one could only accept
        personal concerns for matters but no longer be able to argue for any rightness
        or wrongness about any significant matters due to the fact that one could not
        account for values or meaning beyond one’s only subjective account.

        What ever happened to the honest atheists who realized life was purposeless, meaningless, valueless and pointless.

        “That man is the product of causes
        which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his
        growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of
        accidental collocations of atoms; …that all the labours of the ages, all the
        devotion, all the aspirations, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are
        destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the
        temple of Man’s acheivement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a
        universe in ruins-    All these things,
        if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy
        which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these
        truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s
        habitation henceforth be safely built.”

        - Bertand Russell

        “Man is a useless passion.  It is meaningless that we live and
        meaningless that we die

        - Colin Wilson

        “There is but only one truly serious
        philosophical problem, and that is suicide. 
        Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the
        fundamental question of philosophy.”

        “Hence the intelligence…tells me in
        its way that this world is absurd.  Its
        contrary, blind reason, may well claim that all is clear…But despite so many
        pretentious centuries and over the heads of so many eloquent and persuasive
        men, I know that is false”- Albert Camus

        “That man is the product of causes
        which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his
        growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of
        accidental collocations of atoms; …that all the labours of the ages, all the
        devotion, all the aspirations, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are
        destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the
        temple of Man’s acheivement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a
        universe in ruins-    All these things,
        if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy
        which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these
        truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s
        habitation henceforth be safely built.”

        - Bertand Russell

        “Man is a useless passion.  It is meaningless that we live and
        meaningless that we die

        - Colin Wilson

        “There is but only one truly serious
        philosophical problem, and that is suicide. 
        Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the
        fundamental question of philosophy.”

        “Hence the intelligence…tells me in
        its way that this world is absurd.  Its
        contrary, blind reason, may well claim that all is clear…But despite so many
        pretentious centuries and over the heads of so many eloquent and persuasive
        men, I know that is false”

        - Albert Camus

        • RobMcCune

          Wow, that was informative. Thanks! It’s also meaningless and irrelevant. Am I the 100,000th customer or something?

        • michael both

          “…
          as atheism has no goal in life”.
          I didn’t read past this point, and will not engage you in future discussions. Something about teaching a pig to sing and all that…

          • Leibnizian Christian

            Do you think your life truly has meaning given a meaningless natural origin?

            Or you do you just think if you pretend your life has meaning, it will magically have meaning outside your subjective mindset?

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

               …and therefore Jesus! You win!

            • Miss_Beara

              Life is meaningless if you don’t believe in the bible and you don’t believe in god. 

              And we are all murderous communists.

              Okey dokey. :-P 

              • Findog53

                 ….and we are all murderous communists.Jeffery Dahmer, the Aurora shooter and the Sikh shooter. Again you were all very well represented there.

            • cathouseumbrella

              Do you think your life truly has meaning given a god who has a meaningless origin?

              • Coyotenose

                 Honestly, I don’t think he does. I think he’s having a really sorry excuse for an existential crisis and is trying to protect himself by looking for victims to make the pain abate for a little while.

            • John

               “magically have meaning outside your subjective mind set” Thank you, you have finally defined yourself!!!

        • Baby_Raptor

          Atheism has no goal in life?

          So are you really claiming that, not only do you know every single thing there is to know about Atheism, you know everything about every single Atheist ever? 

          Just stop.

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

          Could someone wake me up when he’s done with his Gish gallop? Also, he might need some Kleenex.

        • Coyotenose

           Strawmanning and making up things about our philosophies? AND quote-mining? You’re not only a troll, but just a lying sack of shit.

          And it isn’t surprising that a sack of shit would lack the brains to know that Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, and Kim promote ideologies that are RELIGIOUS in nature and execution. Dimwit.

        • Ibrewwedit

          Atheism has no goal in life? You realize that atheism is simply a position on one question right? Is there or isn’t there a god or gods (or spiritual realm etc ).
          The answer is simply, given a complete lack of evidence I don’t believe there is.
          You probably accept that there is no Allah or Vishnu or Zeus or Mithra. Even though some of these predate the bible and have had their stories retold in the bible. And yet you believe the stories you were indoctrinated with that lack the same evidence to extrapolate anything further from my lack of belief makes even less sense. I can’t make wild assumptions about your moral character because you don’t believe in werewolves ( making an assumption here ) but religions that preach hatred and bigotry on the other hand have no place in modern evolved society.

          Cheers

    • Baby_Raptor

      Listen to yourself. You’re getting worked up, making up conspiracy theories and feeling persecuted over a Fucking billboard! A message on a piece of wood!

       Meanwhile, people are receiving actual threats, real danger, just for daring to not toe the Christian line. 

      And all you can think of is to use the opportunity to take pot shots. Jesus Fucking Christ…

    • Coyotenose

       Might want to adjust your magic underwear. Your paranoia slip is showing.

    • pureone

      You actually make me laugh. Thanks!

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Now, when is this not going to happen? AA just encouraged death threats to any and all advertising companies in every future ad campaign.

  • A3Kr0n

    I don’t see anything about the police being contacted, or the FBI investigating. What’s up with that? What’s next now that theists know they can get billboards taken down so easily?

    • Simoneaux2010

      Maybe now they’ll try to get some laws passed protecting their fairy tales from “disrespect”. Oh, wait. They’re already trying that. Maybe they’ll try a Crusade. Oh, wait. Done that already. I guess there isn’t much they can try that they haven’t already tried.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Franklin-Bacon/1403711134 Franklin Bacon

         Point, counter point.  This IS the new thing…threaten the owners of the billboard and/or advertising company. 

      • Tprater151

        I say bring back burning at the stake. Nothng will change your point of view faster than being tied to a cross and set on fire. Hey at least the churchs in the dark ages didnt whine.

    • Pseudonym

      Why would AA call the police? Yesterday, they were random arseholes. Today, they’re heroes of free speech. Whoever threatened the billboard company did AA a huge favour.

  • A3Kr0n

     I tried to register at AA and it said my name and address would be shared with others on the site. Are they serious? If so I have some very unfriendly words for them.

  • Mystupidusername

    These billboards aren’t in very good taste and are designed to be Inflamatory. This isn’t as much about free speech as it is about knowing what not to say to get your point across. You can say whatever you want to but if you’re a butthole, people aren’t going to respond pleasantly to your message. Lesson learned: don’t insult your audience.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      Go screw a monkey in the ear.

    • CMarlowe

      So…free speech is only for polite speech then? My bad, I didn’t realize the only protected speech was inoffensive speech. 

    • RobMcCune

      This isn’t as much about free speech as it is about knowing what not to say to get your point across. 

      Thanks, lesson learned.

      Death Threats: Effective
      Snarky Billboards: Not so much

      I glad to have learned that fear of murder is a better political tool than ridicule.

    • http://www.facebook.com/don.gwinn Don Gwinn

      There’s a lot of room between “respond unpleasantly” and “respond with death threats to a third party.”
      If you’re hoping the AA have “learned their lesson” and will now shut up and go away . . . . I doubt it.  They said they’ll be back and I hope they are.

    • The_Bible_Is_Insulting

      How exactly do you insult a person who believes in an imaginary being. No insult can possibly reach the scope of the Old Testament and the Bible insult to science and rational thought.

      • Pseudonym

        If anything, acting like bigger arseholes than your typical theist is a compliment.

        Until some moron threatens the billboard company, of course. It’s nice to know that someone out there is even dumber than AA’s PR department.

    • michael both

      Now you have said that – I disagree with what you have said, and wish to kill you unless you delete your post.

      According to your own reasoning, you are OK with me expressing that. Right?

    • Coyotenose

      Do you also slap around abused children for sniveling too loudly?

    • Simoneaux2010

      Since christianity is based on self-deception, christians are NEVER going to respond pleasantly to the truth. BTW, if somebody considers the truth an “insult”, they have bigger problems than being butthurt because somebody “insulted” their favorite fairy tale.

    • Findog53

      Well; said, Exspression and mockery are two different things.

    • Pseudonym

      Of course AA committed a serious infraction against good taste, rational public debate, and the cause of civil rights for the non-religious. But they’re only morally in the wrong. Whoever threatened the billboard company is also legally in the wrong, and that’s a crucial difference.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Patrick/100000027906887 Adam Patrick

    If we did the same thing when we saw a Christian billboard, Christians would be going nuts about how we’re persecuting them and “this is the effects of atheism.” 

    • amycas

       They claim persecution when we merely criticize them, imagine the uproar if somebody actually issued a death threat.

  • Philovaihinger

    What would have happened had the threats come from Muslims?

    • Coyotenose

       Easy. The FBI and other Federal departments would have been all over it, and they’d be arrested in a day or so, tops.

    • Findog53

      So of course it was Christians who did this. You are pathetic.

  • Jonas

    While I applaud the Billboard company for accepting the AA signs, initially — Pat Robertson’s comments that Atheists should flat out be denied free speech rights duly noted, and logged. ..

    It is regrettable that they we sent Death Threats, and other threats.. However ..

    The signs do not “question” or “Criticize” the candidates religion, but flat out insult them – or the stray man versions of them … Obama is not forcing his religion down our throats. — And the message that Romney’s Morality, economic principals, views on Planned Parenthood etc stem from his religion are 1. assumed, and 2. not necessarily true.

    Romney is not running on a platform of ‘wear magic underwear’ and ‘God is a spaceman’
    As to Romney/Ryan — Let’s not forget that Ryan was a follower of Ayn Rand – at least on her economic views — and she was an Atheist. — So Atheists are against welfare??

    • Coyotenose

       1. Victim blaming is disgusting. Screw off.

      2. The billboards a. do not reference Ryan, and b. were crafted before Ryan was announced. And Ryan has renounced Rand SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE SHE WAS AN ATHEIST. Jesus, learn to read.

      • amycas

        So he didn’t renounce Rand because her philosophy was stupid and possibly harmful, he renounced her because of her stance on the existence of god. I like him even less because I know this.

    • http://twitter.com/GreenEyedLilo Jayelle

      Should’ve read the comments before I made my own. I hate it when Christians *or* atheists insult straw men and don’t bother to listen. And non-Christian theists like me (I’m Pagan) get ignored altogether.

      • Barrie

         Ever considered  a billboard campaign?

        • http://twitter.com/GreenEyedLilo Jayelle

          Our billboards would probably draw death threats and get taken down, too. But a billboard campaign, in and of itself, isn’t a bad idea for any group with a minority belief.

  • http://www.travismamone.net/ Travis Mamone

    To quote Voltaire, “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      My inner pedant-asshole forces me to point out that Voltaire didn’t actually say that.  Even in French.  It was “the kind of thing he would have said”, but not an actual quote.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evelyn_Beatrice_Hall 

      • http://www.travismamone.net/ Travis Mamone

         Ah, gotcha! Still a good quote, though. ‘Cause if fundamentalist Christians can spend butt loads of money putting up billboards (instead of, say, feeding the hungry?), why can’t atheists do the same?

  • Margaret Whitestone

    Meanwhile the Christians keep whinging about how *they’re* being “silenced”.  Can you say ‘projection’?  I knew you could.  

  • http://twitter.com/GreenEyedLilo Jayelle

    I understand that their freedom of speech is being stifled. I understand that the threats are terrible. I understand that many Christian billboards and signs are insulting to people who believe differently. I understand that many Christians are offended by a positive “If you don’t believe in any gods, you’re not alone, and here’s where you can get support” message.

    That said, did these billboards absolutely have to be so insulting to Christians?! They only confirm the stereotypes of atheists and atheism. Billy Graham’s ministry may as well have paid for them. Hope American Atheists can retool their message.

    • Coyotenose

       I think that AA’s advertising is horribly crafted on average, but I also feel that the simple fact that the message, ANY message, is guaranteed to elicit such wingnuttery is evidence that it is necessary for someone to be this provocative. It helps move atheism towards mainstream conversation, and effectively exposes extremist religionists.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      From the Billy Graham perspective, we’re both Satanists, and I’m not sure we can do much to change that.

  • Hatinnd

    Great work!!  Those billboards got MAJOR attention.   We couldn’t have paid for that much coverage!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Franklin-Bacon/1403711134 Franklin Bacon

    No more atheist advertising?  I see little room to negotiate free speech.

  • Simoneaux2010

    This story just illustrates how christians REALLY feel. I call them Freedom-Buts. They SAY they support freedom, BUT they still try to control the behavior of everybody else. If you support freedom-but, you don’t support freedom.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Wood/1535539937 Bob Wood

    Theists are plainly disposed to violence if anyone suggests that reason might be superior to myth and superstition. Of course from the very beginning…in the (mythical) garden of Eden…the command was to avoid knowledge, don’t think, don’t question. No…reason is not a cornerstone of theism. Quite the opposite. When one is incapable of reasoning…their frequent recourse is to violence. I suppose there may be a violent atheist someplace…but I suspect most atheist would resort to reason rather than violence. When was the last time an atheist threatened violence to remove any theist’s billboard ? Maybe some theists would see one of those billboards…and actually think. Can’t have reason can they ?  (sigh)

  • http://emilyhasbooks.com/ Emily Dietle

    This is most disappointing & troubling. Last Monday, Bridget Gaudette reiterated in a blog-post that “atheist billboards work” and it’s quite clear that religious extremists fear exactly that. http://emilyhasbooks.com/the-closeted-atheist-the-billboard/

  • http://www.facebook.com/sethd.ross Seth Ross

    I don’t even see what is so offensive about these billboards.

    • Bill T.

      Much like the PRC, any questioning of religious dogma is automatically perceived as a threat. Sorta makes me question just how robust the message is if it can’t tolerate any hint of inquiry.

    • Findog53

      Whether you like to hear it or not Atheism is also a religion. that’s why it’s offensive.

  • Danfish77

    I’m as antitheist as you can get without stabbing people on the street, but I also know how to have tact. These billboards are overly provocative without any real substance. It’s like slapping someone in the face and then asking them to be your friend. Also, taken as a pair, seem to imply that Mormonism is not a sect of Christianity, which just plays on the public’s ignorance, which is NOT how a society dedicated to freethought should act!

  • Guest

    Read the article. Everyone has assumed DEATH Threats. The article doesn’t SAY “DEATH” threats. 
    Death threats would mean a criminal investigation. I didn’t see any mention of that. Surely they’d mention that if it was happening.

    Could it be these were threats to Adams Outdoors Pocket book – We will take our business elsewhere threats? And while they really like this one customer they can’t pay the people who work for them if they lose half their business? They are not the right or left wing crazies that do shit like this – they are just the guy with the billboards, which is their business, which pays them.

    Remember that this isn’t their message – it’s just one of  thousands that they plaster on boards everyday. There’s a math equation there – how many other customers do I loose before I lose money keeping these guys? Maybe just one customer if they have enough boards. Since it’s not ADAMS message and they likely don’t give a shit what’s on the boards as long as they get paid – They’re  going to make the profitable decision. 

    You all know that the media wants you to get all pissed off and call each other stupid right?

  • MyScienceCanBeatUpYourGod

    Threats? Against Americans for expressing their beliefs? These Muslim extremists must be stopped! Terrorism on our own soil? Unacceptable!!! Why are Muslims so violent? Why do they hate everyone different from them? Why can’t they be like people with a civilized religion like Christians? Why can’t they… wait what?

    • JoFro

      Seriously? American atheists can whine about the 9/11 cross but they can’t handle threats from a bunch of Charlotte folk? And who here mentioned death threats? If death threats were made there would be an investigation. Its likely that this idiotic and moronic campaign by atheists may have hit them in their pocket books – its likely businesses and a bunch of folk from the DNC themselves were not too happy either….

      oh and I was wondering when the comparison with Muslims would start – yes, because atheists in this country are worrying that a bunch of Christians and Mormons will come and chop their heads off for mocking them….

  • http://godless.biz Andrew Skegg

    So AA publicise the actual beliefs of some religions (albeit in a non-flattering way) and receive threats?  If people are that embarrassed by their beliefs, perhaps they should rethink them?

  • JoFro

    The whining on this post is too damn high!!

  • JoFro

    The whining on this post is too damn high!!

  • Brian Dunham

    I’m an atheist and these billboards suck. They are buying into the same dogmatic BS other religious groups engage in. These billboards were hateful with a we are right and you are wrong attitude. How about just feeling more alive when you know this is all you have.

    • Findog53

                                                       Atheism

      The belief there was once absolutely nothing. And nothing happened to the nothing until the nothing magically exploded (for no reason), creating everything and everywhere. Then a bunch of the exploded everything magically rearranged itself (for no reason whatsoever) into self-re-plicating bits which turned into dinosaurs.

                        And they mock your beliefs.

  • Art

    The (domestic) terrorists have won.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.hampson.94 Michael Hampson

    I don’t get this. If they are getting death threats, the FBI should get involved and put those people in jail.

  • http://twitter.com/tigerblood tigerblood

    As some people have asked, were they death threats or just threats to destroy the billboards?

  • http://www.facebook.com/dan.cheshire.39 Dan Cheshire

    Individual atheist bumper stickers reach a far greater audience anyway.  I have 8 atheist bumper stickers on the back of my car and I rotate them out with new ones regularly.  My anger against the religious wrong wing in this country is great so I choose to spread the truth on the back of my own bumper like they do.

  • Nathan

    Promote what you love instead of bashing what you hate.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001420458920 Josh Korth

    This is why I don’t understand Atheists, they basically say “Fuck you and your beliefs, you are retarded and non-sensible”, and then when people react, they say “Look at how immature you are, so evil and hateful.” Bunch of retards they are. I mean, if a Christian billboard said “Don’t be a egotistical, unintelligent child like Atheists, join Christianity” there would be threats too. Atheists, even more hypocrites than the people they claim are hypocrites. 

  • Krupu

    If  our bold atheist  friends are itching to express their freedom against all religions, why not try the Muslim faith? We could see these free thinkers scooting with their tails between their mighty legs.
    Christ taught us to forgive. 
    A forgiven simpleton

  • 10catlover

    You know something that I noticed.  Christians in general love to talk about God.  They love to spread the love of Christianity and help others in need.

    Atheists.  When I search atheists ALL that I see is hatred and insults towards people of religion.  It goes to show just how insecure they are about their own beliefs that they would have to bring someone down simply in order to feel secure.  I never see any love or friendship.  

    There is a reason that people choose Christianity   It is because they do not want to turn into jerks like some of these people.  I am not saying all atheists, but it sure seems like a lot.


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