Atheists Bus Ads Go Up in Anchorage, Alaska

The Freedom From Religion Foundation just put up ten signs bearing four different messages on buses in Anchorage, Alaska:

The signs will be up for the next month and were primarily paid for by a generous local donor:

Dan Barker, Foundation co-president, a former minister-turned atheist, said Christians tend to think “they own the month of December. We don’t agree. No month is free from pagan reverie!”

“Given that independent streak Alaskans are known for, there are many nonbelievers in Anchorage and Alaska at this time of year, who also have a message of good news and cheer — that reason is the answer,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.

So which ad will generate the most controversy? My money’s on the “Yes, Virginia” one.

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.

  • Tyler Juranovich

    The  “Yes, Virginia” one will most definitely be the most controversial.

  • MargueriteF

    “Dan Barker, Foundation co-president, a former minister-turned atheist, said Christians tend to think ‘they own the month of December. We don’t agree. No month is free from pagan reverie!’”
    Odd way to put it. He seems to be using “pagan” as a synonym for “atheist,” when in fact paganism is a religion. I know Christians tend to equate paganism with atheism, but we probably shouldn’t add to their confusion by conflating the two. It’s not at all the same thing, and none of these signs have anything to do with paganism.

  • Guest

    Yes Virgina, there is no god….so says Satan.

  • Bob Becker

    Didn’t like the “Yes, Virrginia” board first time I saw it, and don’t like it now. It targets young childten. Don’t like it when the fundies do that, and don’t like it any more when we do .

  • NotTHATguest

    Look, it’s the Church Lady!

  • Paul D.

    Because of the bad grammar. :)

  • Piet Puk

     Flagged for trollin’

  • JB

    Besides the one that says “Imagine No Religion”.  Paganism literally means “folk religion”.

  • JB

    If there is a Satan, a better trick would be to get you to waste your time believing in a god.

  • Brent

    I must be missing something because I dont understand why a message meant for the state of Virginia is being run in the state of Alaska.

  • vexorian

     The yes, Virginia one fails absurdly.

    It should have been: “Yes, Virginia, there is a God”.

  • vexorian

     Don’t get what makes you believe it targets children?

    Well, at least it does not target children specifically. Al of the ffrf target everyone, including children.

  • Sindigo

    I think Dan Barker was probably referring to the fact that X’tians co-opted Pagan traditions of festivity in December. I don’t think he meant to conflate the terms. 

    Christians tend to equate Christmas with Paganism as much as they do Paganism with Atheism. The full quote from Dan Barker is: 

    “Christians tend to think they own the month of December. We don’t agree. No month is free from pagan reverie! In celebrating the Winter Solstice, we celebrate reality.” 

    As far as I can tell he said it in relation to this story as well:

    So, using this quote here it’s being taking out of context too.

  • MargueriteF

    I’m not sure I understand what you mean. Then again, I’m not sure I understand the quote I’m objecting to, either. The full quote, gleaned from Google, seems to be: “No month is free from pagan reverie! In celebrating the Winter Solstice, we celebrate reality.” I had assumed he meant “pagan revelry,” given the next line, but if he means “pagan reflection”… regardless, it just feels like co-opting neo-Paganism to me. There’s nothing wrong with celebrating the Solstice, which is merely the time when the sun appears at its lowest altitude above the horizon– but atheists don’t generally follow Pagan beliefs (unless they’re secular Pagans). Secular reverie (or revelry?) is not the same thing as Pagan reverie.

  • julie

    “there are many nonbelievers in Anchorage and Alaska at this time of year”
    because you just can’t believe in God when it gets down to -40.

  • Brent

    Never mind. I googled it. Being 40+, I’ve. Ever heard of the editorial. I bet it would lost on many others as well.

  • Sindigo

    Fair enough, if you ask me.

  • MargueriteF

    The “Yes, Virginia” letter was originally written to a child, and there are quite a few picture books of it available. I have this one:

    I doubt anyone reads it outside the context of children’s books anymore, so I suppose you could argue it’s aimed at children. The cartoony Santa adds to that impression, too.

  • eric

    1. He’s just using some nice alliteration.  I doubt there’s much more to it than that. 
    2. 90% of viewers are likely going to understand exactly what he means – that ‘pagan’ is being used here as a catchall term for a variety of non-christian practices – and not object to it.  The other 10% are pedants who also know exactly what he’s trying to say and are merely objecting to how he said it.

  • C Peterson

    Actually, it’s a play on a historical reference that I expect is lost on the vast majority of kids. And probably on quite a few marginally educated adults, as well. I think it is the most sophisticated of the bunch, and doesn’t target children at all.

    That said, I see nothing wrong with messages intended to be seen and understood by children. Kids aren’t magically immune from the messages of the culture they live in. There’s nothing wrong with “targeting” children; the problem is with parents who are unable to guide their children in a world of conflicting messages.

  • Cecelia Baines

    As an Alaskan, I say this is a cool thing indeed (pun intended). Alaska rednecks and religious freaks are different than the religious freaks down south. The Alaskan religious freak is more libertarian; they have a “bible belt” around Glenallen/Chickaloon but they don’t try and force-feed their BS. Alaskan’s are different that way. They understand personal freedom and not infringing on others.

    Well, except for the awful hillbilly, in-bred Lowest COmmon Denominators known as the Palins… And thankfully, they are all but irrelevant now.

    I am PROUD PROUD PROUD to be Alaskan! (even though we are embarrassed by Palin)

  • Cecelia Baines

    Why is it wrong to target children? 

  • Sven2547

    I much prefer “Imagine no religion” and “Sleep in on Sundays” over the other two.  It plays on people’s imaginations, and doesn’t have the hostile in-your-face punch of making negative claims.

  • Baal

     Atheists are rather unlikely to pay for a sign that says there is a god.

  • Baal

    Because sniping at signs is a past time…
    I like #4 the most.  It takes a bit to sink in but the ‘oh shit, I just woke up and realized life is short’ effect can reorient a person’s thinking.  The sleeping in one plays into one of the xian tropes a bit more than I’m comfortable with.   I do also like that it’s 4 messages.  It gives the impression of bigger campaign (will anyone see more than one of these?) and it’s clear that the reasons for affirming, “I’m an atheist” are all over the map.  The signage should also then hit on multiple messages.

  • James Smith

     But don’t you understand?  This world was created just for humans, so there should be no place on it where we cannot live comfortably.  Clearly, you do not have enough faith!  I’ll bet you cannot even breath under the sea, you heathen!

  • James Smith

     Are you saying that others shouldn’t lie to children?  I agree.  Are you also saying no one should tell them the truth? 

  • Coyotenose

     Heh, that “perfectly designed for humans” argument always kills me. We can survive on a planet that’s, what, a small fraction of a billionth of a percent of matter in the the universe? Let alone all the “wasted” space out there. And on that planet, without technology (which includes fire and animal furs), we can only survive on the minority that isn’t covered in water, too arid, too hot, too cold, at a bad elevation, or otherwise inimical-to-lethal to humans.

    And out of what’s left, we can really only naturally manage survival from the surface to a few feet down. Unless we stumble upon a cave full of radioactive isotopes (because nothing says “loving god” like invisible agonizing-death rays in random locations) or naturally occurring toxic gases. Or bears.

    Or possibly bears full of radiation and toxic gases.

    If anything, the “Perfect Design” argument comes closer to suggesting that God is a bacterium, or possibly a death ray.

  • Coyotenose

     Keep in mind that the Palins had to come from somewhere.

    Sarah Palin may have associated with a child-killing hoodoo exorcist that came to her church, but it was the church that paid him to come and speak.

  • Coyotenose

    Satan’s entire raison d’etre is nonsensical. He’s a worse character than that wizard Remus Lupin married whose whole shtick was that she could change her hair color on demand. And at least she got to hang out with Lupin and Sirius Black. Satan’s big win was making a father abuse his kids for being too stupid to obey trick rules. His best followup was apparently *ahem* inserting himself into some pigs and getting the abusive guy’s son to chase him and call him a bad boy for said pig-insertion.

    I think I need to give J.K. Rowling more credit for characterization. She beat out God as a writer, after all. But Stephanie Meyer still sucks. “Right after I tell you that I’m a very introverted teenager and don’t communicate a lot, let’s have me narrate the story in the first person with flowery language and words that non-writers don’t use!”

  • Cecelia Baines

    ??? Huh ???

    WTF are you talking about?

  • Tony Kehoe

    “No month is free from pagan reverie!”
    I think that’s meant to be “revelry”…

  • vexorian

    When considering the reference, the current billboard is saying exactly that.

    The original “Yes, Virginia” letter was about telling a lie to virginia to comfort them.

    Thus making a billboard that says “Yes, Virginia, there is no god”, sounds to me as if it is saying that atheists live in a fantasy world by thinking that there is no god.

  • Anna

    Or bears.

    Bears are godless killing machines!

  • Anna

    I think it’s famous enough that most people would get it. The story has been the subject of at least three Christmas specials (1974, 1991, and 2009), as well as numerous books.

  • Anna

    Not that people believe in such things for logical reasons, but it makes no sense for an omnipotent deity to let an evil entity roam around wreaking havoc. The whole idea of Satan makes the biblical deity look weak and powerless, or downright evil.

  • roberthughmclean

    This is worth keeping!

  • Coyotenose

     Thomas Muthee, known for harassing a fortune teller almost to death by his description of events, and for being part of Christianity-enabled “exorcism” scams in Africa that result in small children being exiled, mutilated, or murdered on the grounds that they’re possessed. It’s believed that several thousand children have been “disappeared” this way.

    He came to Palin’s church and blessed her on stage.

  • Chelle6799

    God Bless all of you! He will forgive you!
    It is truly sad what American media has done to all of you. Falling right into the hand of the AntiChrist.
    We must reap what we sew!
    We are living in Pergatory!

  • Chelle6799

    We are here to spread the Lord’s word. Love thy neighbor and be a whole.
    Life is not about money, good times and human pleasures!
    Money is the Root of all EVIL! Just look at our Govt. Greed, lies and deception!
    I pray for all of you, that you will come to know the truth before it is too late! Life here is True Hell and God has something beyond your imagination if you just beleive. Please stop this insane way of thinking. Satin is in your heads, filling you full of lies and deception. Your letting him win! Not a price to pay in the END!!!
    God Bless You All!

  • Godsworld

    This local generous group donating for these adds. Who are they? Why can they not say who they are? That right there should tell you something.