Atheist Billboard in Chico, California Vandalized

Earlier this week, the Butte County Coalition of Reason put up this billboard in twelve different locations around Chico, California:

At the end of the post, I said (only slightly tongue-in-cheek):

… the bigger question now is how the community will respond to the signs: with respect or with vandalism.

My psychic powers must be on full blast, though, since one of the billboards has already been vandalized:

The words “Don’t” and “” (Coalition of Reason) are now gone.

To their credit, the billboard vendor Stott Outdoor said they will replace the vandalized billboard at no expense to the atheist group.

So far, there are no leads on the vandals.

Incidentally, this is the first United Coalition of Reason billboard that has been vandalized since May of 2011 when this happened to a sign in Fresno, California after only three days:

More recently, a Freedom From Religion Foundation billboard was vandalized a month ago when someone drew horns on an atheist:

There was also this destruction of a controversial atheist billboard in Pennsylvania earlier this year:

And this one in North Carolina in 2010:

Vandalism against atheist signs are nothing new. Neither are vandals getting away with their crimes. Neither are churches remaining in silence afterwards, even to offer an apology on behalf of whoever did it.

I suspect the same this time around. But, damn, it’d be nice to report something different.

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.

  • Annie

    Psychic powers are strong indeed!  Either that, or you utilized prior knowledge to infer that vandalism was a strong possibility. ;-)  What I want to know is how they were able to cut out the top part  “Don’t” with such clean cuts?  Surely this billboard is not that low to the ground?  My guess is it was aliens.  Christians aliens.

  • Richard Tingley

    Has no one though of placing a simple security camera on these signs? We all know that a decent percentage of them will be vandalized. I would really like to see these religions hypocrites get a little jail time.

    • Hemant Mehta

      I fear a discreet camera (that needs to be reloaded periodically) is a lot more work than it’s worth, not to mention there are 12 billboards…

      • Joe Zamecki

        One good step ahead of time would be to only get billboards that are physically out of reach of a vandal. Some billboards are really elevated high far from a building or anything else to climb on, and surrounded by fencing with barbed wire. Of course that’s a lot to ask. 

        • JoshEvolved

          A “foolproof” plan breeds better fools. And since the religious are a breed of fools they will always find a way to be assholes.

          • curtcameron

            It’s so difficult to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious.

          • C Peterson

            It doesn’t need to be fool-proof, only theist-proof: a much lower standard.

      • Mr Q

        Reloaded with what? net-enabled digital cam, prepaid cellphone with unlimited data, and a power source. Linux based motion-detecting camera software. 

      • C Peterson

        Atheists tend to fall in the highest percentiles of both intelligence and education. A covert camera these days isn’t very expensive or challenging; I’d be surprised if there wasn’t at least one member of this organization capable of easily providing a little automated surveillance.

      • Travis Dykes

        Actually it wouldn’t be that hard,  just set up an IR sensitive game cam.  Thats what a lot of construction sites do to catch anybody who steals tools or materials from a job site.  You can get them relatively cheaply with just motion sensor activation, or for not much more you can get ones that also have a “plot watch” feature where they take a picture every 30 seconds.  All the images get saved on a digital memory stick, and an 8 mb one can store quite few pictures so it wouldn’t have to be check very often.

    • Mario Strada

      Here is another option: place a bucket of diluted paint on top of the billbord and run a rope down near the most likely to be defaced lettering and put a sign on it saying “Don’t pull”. 
      The go look for the guys covered in paint.

    • HL

       Heh.  I’m picturing a new series of billboards.  “This is what a xtian looks like”… with a picture of the vandals in the act.  :D

  • b00ger

    I know someone will lecture me about why I should be offended, but I find the devil horns one funny. Unlike the others it has a subtle creativity to it. Somebody obviously put a little forethought into that one.

    • wmdkitty

      Yeah, I chuckled at that one, myself. It’s so… Bugs Bunny, you know?

    • Boggin828

      agreed. My first thought was, “well, to be fair, they DID pick a guy with a pointed beard!”

      • pureone

        Wait, isn’t that the stereotypical olde timey Jewish guy as Satan motif?

        • Coyotenose

           Yes it is. They’re overwhelmingly unaware that their very concept of Satan is an intentional ethnic slur.

    • C Peterson

      It is funny. We should be able to laugh at something like that, without condoning the vandalism.

      I wonder, were the shoes reversed, how many Mormons or Evangelicals would laugh if one of their billboards were altered in a similarly amusing fashion, though.

      • Cecelia Baines

        Sure, we should laugh. Just like Jews should laugh when they are depicted as filthy, big-nosed sub-humans. Or blacks should laugh when they are depicted as inner-city crack dealers who drive around in ghettomobiles, playing raps and stealing all the welfare….

        And horns on an atheist? That is far from creative. That is LCD and low-hanging fruit on the tree of creativity.

        No, this is wrong and not funny nor creative in the least.

        Seth McFarlane can get away with his parodies and poking of fun at stereotypes because he knows how to toe-the-line between outright mean spiritedness and ironic parody. These above are just attacks on us based on horrid stereotypes and ignorance.

        • C Peterson

          Lighten up. It was funny and inoffensive. In fact, I’ll bet the result of that particular vandalization was a net positive for those who placed the sign. The work seems more like that of a couple of teenagers than any activist Christians (as opposed to the Chico sign, which looks like typical Christian vandalism).

          • Cecelia Baines

            Look Ace, first off, I am out there working a job and contributing. You seem to be living in your parents basement and addicted to online posting, so do not ever tell me to “lighten up” because you simply haven’t earned the privilege. 

            Second, I know funny, and that isn’t funny. I also know true erudition from arm-chair Internet-philosophers, and you are the latter, so just do me a favor and don’t respond to me unless you want me to cut you down again.

            • C Peterson

              Seriously. Lighten up. Your anger is irrational. It must suck to be you.

              • Sharon Hypatiia

                 While I thought the image was funny,  I can’t help thinking that it must have been embarrassing and humiliating for the man who outed himself as an atheist on a public billboard.
                It wasn’t just a mockery of the movement but also of the man.

                • C Peterson

                  It would be neat if he were asked about that. I don’t think he would necessarily be embarrassed, though. I certainly wouldn’t be if that happened to me. I’d love the irony of somebody turning me into another mythological being I don’t believe in! And further, I’d get a kick out of the idea that anybody could think that the Devil could possibly be an atheist. Talk about a disconnect!

    • chicago dyke

      i’m so busted. heh. yes, i laughed. 

    • cathouseumbrella

      Heh. Yeah, I thought that one was funny too.

    • Reginald Selkirk

       I thought the “devil horns” one was the most vicious, because they defaced a picture of an actual person, not just a slogan.

      • Sharon Hypatiia

         Dang, Reginald. You said it first and better than I.

    • Gus Snarp

      I thought it was funny, and potentially lacking in anger. Anyone could have thought that was funny, and it looks more like a kid’s prank than an act of Christian outrage, like most of the others.

    • Coyotenose

       I wouldn’t go so far as to call it creative, but the horns combined with his expression are pretty damn funny.

  • Plasticpony256

    Every time I read about this, it reminds me of the egged Planed Parenthood sign I saw.

    • b00ger

      I find breaking eggs on a Planned Parenthood sign to be slightly ironic, considering what the vandalizers’ main beef with PP is.

  • Todd

    I’ve never understood why christians are so threatened by differing points of view. If they are as confident in their beliefs as they want us to think they are, a simple billboard should not be a threat. If their beliefs are actually right, they should have the strength of conviction to just let them be. 

    • JoshEvolved

      They’re not steadfast in their faith as they’d like people to think. They are cowards, hiding behind the words of a genocidal maniac. Christians, and 99.9% of the religious, are pathetic cowards. Either they remain silent while zealots mar their faith, or they participate in the pathetic bigotry they normally live with.

      To be a Christian requires no strength, to be a Christian (or any religion) requires cowardice only.

    • Aamatz37

      But they are not confident in their beliefs.  They can not give a rational explanation as to why they believe in Christianity.  My friend is typical and he justifies everything with one word, “faith.”

    • Quintin Jordon

       It is obvious that faith has enemies – logic and reasoning. Once logic and reasoning are applied toward their argument, they have nothing left to fall back upon except – an unsubstantiated claim.

      Martin Luther opened his mouth and inserted his foot. For the rest, faith is the only thing they have – literally, a wish and a prayer..

      Todd, you are correct. If their convictions were stronger, they would leave the signs alone; however, there is a fear that goes along with their faith. And I do not mean the fear of god. They have a fear of peers, friends and the community from which they grew up, and as well as their fear of their family.

    • The Other Weirdo

       Unfortunately, it was Jesus himself who permanently screwed them up, just like Captain Hunt turned all the Nietzcheans into a race of losers before their race even got going. When told them that all things would be possible for them, even moving mountains, with nothing more than prayer, and anything they ask for would be given to them, if they had enough faith, that set up a cycle of self-loathing. It obviously doesn’t work that work, for anybody, no matter how pious, no matter how pure. They’ve been gnawing on their livers over that for 2,000 years now.

  • DougI

    The criminal activity by the religious shows their fear because they know where society is headed.  They fear an Atheist majority because they fear the thought that they’ll be treated like they treat Atheists.  Every act of vandalism is a sign of their weakening power (because they used to be able to beat or murder Atheists) and influence.

    • Sfindley312

      We want you to become the majority. The minority rules now a days!

      • Coyotenose

         1. Sour Grapes. Wah, Crybaby.

        2. Your persecution complex and implicit hatred of people with different skin colors and religions than yours is noted.

        3. Given that you proved to be a bigoted piece of shit in another thread, why should anyone care about your wahs?

  • roberthughmclean

    I’ve seen small digital cameras that record to a card with motion activation advertised quite cheaply. Got to capture these “good christian” assholes. That’s being mean to assholes.

    • Pureone

      Great. Two hundred pix of pigeons pooping flying past the shutterbox.

  • Erik Griffiths

    woot feel the local hate

  • Quintin Jordon

    How interesting. Atheist have been putting up with christian billboards and propaganda for years. And now that atheist are putting up signs, the christians are whining like the little weak and narrow-minded zealots we have always recognized them individuals to be.

  • C Peterson

    It’s probably impossible to completely stop this sort of vandalization. Christians tend to be pretty insecure in their beliefs, and there are a lot of them. But I think there’s a lesson here: in designing billboards and other public displays, it’s a good idea to do so in a way that if they are vandalized, the result isn’t a new message, contrary to the original intent.

    • JonHarker

       What a crock.  Its just as likely that atheists did this for publicity.  In fact, I witnessed some atheists at a local meetup  discussing exactly that strategy as a possibility.

      I like the Bill Boards…it simply demonstrates that atheists are bigots no matter what they pretend to be.

      • Coyotenose

        No, you didn’t. At most you witnessed some atheists discussing how shoddy, stupidly paranoid people always try to blame the victim to cover up for their bigoted friends.

        And I don’t believe for a second that you’re telling the truth when you imply that you just happened to be beside an atheist meeting listening in and heard exactly the thing that supports your bigotry.

        Yes, your bigotry. The actual kind, not your ignorant misunderstanding of what the word means. Jesus you people are desperate.

      • Mario Strada

        What part of Hell do liars go again? 
        It’s “Bolgia Ten”, or the tenth level where Liars “endure different degrees of punishment based on horrible, consumptive diseases such as rashes, dropsy, leprosy and consumption”.

        Have you seen any rashes on your skin lately?

      • Brian Scott

        Funny, didn’t know a board saying “this is what an atheist looks like” and… showing what an atheist looks like may be construed as bigotry.

        I sincerely disbelieve you heard such a discussion of strategy.

        • Punchybird

          I believe they were refering to the drawing of devil horns that were added.

      • phantomreader42

         You are lying, Jon.  Isn’t that imaginary god of yours supposed to have some sort of problem with bearing false witness? 

      • Susie V Kaufman

         I simply do not believe you.  And I definitely do not believe IN you, JonHarker, who makes up stupid stories.  And the way you wrote that first paragraph shows that you were “thinking” AS you were writing, and quickly pulled out a lie to back up your own silliness.

      • Punchybird

        Sorry, But I think that’s a bunch of crock and sounds like an excuse a Christian would use.

      • jeff fisher

        you are a deceived Christian, unwittingly worshipping the Devil God of the Bible. The God of Abraham: Patriarch of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity– all following a founder, like your Devil/God, willing to slay his own child. You should all be locked up–in Hell!

    • Sfindley312

      Speculation is not allowed in a court of law, so before you make that statement make sure it was a Christian who did it.

      • C Peterson

        This isn’t a court of law. In Chico, the odds of the vandal being a Christian are pretty overwhelming.

  • chicago dyke

    thank you for the gift idea, H. 

  • The Other Weirdo

    When a Christian billboard gets vandalized by some as-yet-unproven-atheists, atheists fall all over themselves to start a fund to fix/replace said billboard. Waiting with baited breath for Christians to show the same respect. One. Two. Three… Oh well.

  • C Sizes

    Shows how insecure these delusional folks are .

  • Hdhhdhehehhhdh

    Stop using ellipsis you fucking cock-head.

    - sincerely, an atheist, you fucking dickwad.

  • Robert J. Williamson

    How would they like it if atheists started burning down churches? I am sick and tired of religious people. I have absolutely no respect for them or their beliefs. I think this is a struggle for freedom and reason and they are on the side of oppression and darkness.

  • Scaash

    Honestly as a person of faith I cannot condone any of this vandalism. I have said many times I believe in God and as I learn more honestly my faith has changed over time it grows and changes as I do. My faith is too long to explain in just this post all I know is I believe there is a God even if I can’t prove or disprove it. All i have to say to my fellow theists is please PLEASE leave atheists alone. Your setting a bad examples. Your breaking our own laws, being bigots and hypocrites. I know this post sounds self righteous it’s not meant to be but dang it I am tired of seeing fellow theist act like total assholes.

  • Miltant Antiatheist

    I hope It is only beginning.