Atheist Billboards Go Up in Tallahassee, Florida

The Tallahassee Coalition of Reason in Florida just put up two billboards to reach out to atheists who may not know there are others like them in the area:

The billboards will be up through the beginning of spring at a cost of $6,100:

“The point of our ongoing nationwide awareness campaign is to reach out to the millions of atheists and agnostics living in the United States,” explained Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason. “Such non-theists sometimes don’t realize there’s a community for them because they’re inundated with religious messages at every turn. We hope our effort will serve as a beacon and let them know they aren’t alone.”

Reaching out to the like-minded isn’t the only goal of the coalition: “We hope the people of Tallahassee will realize we are a regular part of the community,” said Richard Hull, coordinator of Tally CoR. “People like us live all over the city and state. We’re your friends and family members, neighbors and coworkers. Some of us might even be sitting in the pew next to you at church!”

This marks the fourth United Coalition of Reason billboard campaign in the state, following Jacksonville, Tampa, and Orlando.

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.

  • John C. Welch

    As a tally resident, this is pretty cool. It’s a small southern city with a couple major universities, and a church on almost every corner. So it’s nice to see.

  • Sindigo

    We are getting used to seeing these sorts of campaigns now and, AA’s latest billboards aside I am all for it. What I would like to know is whether they work. Can anyone out there provide any data as to how many people have joined or even just contacted a group as a result of seeing these billboards?

  • Santiago

    That is a great question. Besides joining and calling, I would imagine these signs may plant some seeds in the minds of undecided people who, maybe some time later, decide to further explore their doubts. It also may provide the community at large an opportunity to get used to the fact that unbelievers are not unusual. In that sense alone they may “work”. In any instance, I too would love to see some data on reaching potential members if available.

  • Sindigo

    Let’s hope that they have that effect too. Maybe in a few years we’ll hear de-conversion tales that start: “I was walking back from Bible study one day and I saw this billboard…” but until then we’ll have to content ourselves with more easily quantifiable metrics.

    Are the groups who put these billboards up asking the question once so beloved of mail-order company telephonists: “Where did you first hear of us?”

    Maybe another few years of a Democratic White House is metric enough. But I digress. ;)

  • Michael

    While it would be great if more people came out of the atheistic closet because of these billboards, I don’t think that is their only purpose.  Atheists have been one of the most ill-thought-of groups in the US.  My hope is that continued display of these billboards eradicates some of the reflexive vitriole spewed forth by the right and that ordinary people realize that we are good people too.

  • DougI

    No doubt there will be new coverage where the media has to get the opinion of some preacher (kinda like the media getting the opinion of the KKK for Martin Luther King Jr. Day) saying that we should be spending our money on charity.  No doubt every church pays it’s taxes and spends all their money on soup kitchens and not nice cars and homes for the clergy or 150 foot tall crosses.

  • Gus Snarp

    I like these billboards. They’re clear, easy to read, simple, and completely inoffensive. I await the news that they’ve been taken down due to Christian death threats.

  • Sindigo

    You’re absolutely right. I hope so too. 

  • fredwords

    Yep, they work. I’ve been putting up the United Coalition of Reason billboards for three and a half years now and they have been garnering notable publicity, bringing in significant numbers of new members to the local groups in the coalitions that sponsor them, and generating heightened morale among the groups behind them. The combination of all of this leads to increased local freethought activity and a thawing of the icy public attitude toward atheists.

  • Sindigo

    That sounds great. Have you really found public attitudes thawing?

  • fredwords

    Yes I have. After the initial shock wears off from our campaigns, other atheist publicity in the same community doesn’t garner as much hostility. And the more our coalitions publicize themselves, the more that local people get used to atheists. And the more “good works” the freethought groups do, the more the public comes to tolerate and even accept them. And then the less adversarial atheists start joining up. And on it goes.  

  • Sindigo

    That’s really good news. It’s nice to hear a success story around here sometimes. :)