Bill Donohue: American Atheists Wants to ‘Draw Blood’ with Its Latest Billboard

The Catholic League’s blowhard-in-chief Bill Donohue seriously said this in response to American Atheists’ latest billboard:

This year [Dave] Silverman wanted to make a big splash, so he decided to draw blood. It shows what he is made of. He and his supporters do not want to be left alone — they want to inflame the passions of those with whom they disagree. Unlike Christians who do not provoke, harass or otherwise mock atheists, Silverman and his ilk want nothing more than to stick it to Christians at Christmastime. It’s who they are.

So a giant sign is the equivalent of a violent act…

And Christians have apparently never provoked, harassed, or mocked atheists.

I guess Jessica Ahlquist is just a figment of Donohue’s imagination. Which wouldn’t be surprising since he spends so much of his time trying to protect another 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.

  • Frank Rapp53

    Ironic in that “washed in the blood of Jesus” is one of their favorite phrases. But the real genius, for lack of a better word, is how he managed to take the billboard’s statement that was not persecuting anyone and turn it into “We Christians are being persecuted.”

  • Emily Dietle

    Sure, we seek “blood,” as in ‘new blood’ or more out-atheists; same goes
    for “inflaming passions,” the passions of closeted atheists &
    agnostics. Comments like Donohue’s can be so exhausting after a while.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Unlike Christians who do not provoke, harass or otherwise mock atheists…

    This is where the grammar pedantry pays off. Comma placement is important. Compare the above sentence to this one:

    Unlike Christians, who do not provoke, harass or otherwise mock atheists,

    The difference is subtle, but important. Bill Donohue is correct and you owe him an apology.

  • Reginald Selkirk

     Is it possible that Donohue is accidentally correct, and he’s still an asshole.

  • C Peterson

    While I’ve generally made clear I don’t like signs like this that carry an association with atheism, I have to say that if it results in Donohue blowing a gasket, it would be money well spent.

  • ortcutt

    I don’t know how long it’s going to take people like Donahue to understand this, but we don’t accept his speech codes.  We support public, open, free inquiry.  That includes challenging widely-held but unjustified beliefs.  Myths concerning the divinity of Jesus are certainly among those.  If he doesn’t like it, tough cookies.  If there is one thing I credit the New Atheist movement for, it’s that they have been willing to directly take on subjects that were considered untouchable.  It’s what makes them so hated among religionists and accommodationists. 

  • mikespeir


  • Octoberfurst

      Ahh good old crazy Bill Donahue!  Always there to defend his peaceful, oh-so-tolerant, loving religion against the vicious, cruel atheists who mock the defenseless baby Jesus. Why oh why can’t atheists just leave Christians alone? >wiping tear from eye<
      So we atheists are trying to "draw blood."  What does that mean exactly?  Does it mean we are trying to get ourselves beaten up?  Will Christians see that sign, become enraged—righteously of course—and go punch the next atheist they see in the nose?  I just want to know what Billy-boy means.
      And I must say that I laughed with incredulity at his statement "Unlike Christians who do not provoke, harass or otherwise mock atheists".  What world does he live in?  Christans provoke, harass and mock atheists all the time!  The man truly is a moron.

  • Holytape

    So does that mean that atheist seek to draw “cheap wine or grape juice” and pretend that it magically turns to to blood once consumed?   Personally, I think Jesus must have had a serious medical condition if he bleed grape juice and probably would have died any ways if the Romans hadn’t gotten to him.  

  • Matt Eggler

    Christmyth – LOVE IT! I am steling this and using it every chance I get!

  • MoriyaMug

    I prefer “Mythmas.”

  • Former Thumper

    I hate agreeing with Donahue, but he’s right about this one.  Not about christians not provoking, that’s nonsense, but about Silverman being out for blood.  Seriously, can we try and be less assholish?

  • good_creon

     Best holiday themed pun ever!

  • DougI

    Donohue is irrelevant.  Rant as much as he likes from the office in his garage he is a nobody.  He only gets air time because people laugh at him.

  • observer

    If Bill heard that word, he may develop internal bleeding.

  • A3Kr0n

     Sorry, but no. I was born assholish, and assholish is how I will die. It’s just the way God made me.

  • Jake

    He kind of has a point with this part:

    He and his supporters do not want to be left alone — they want to inflame the passions of those with whom they disagree.

  • Pseudonym

    Is that actually a favourite Catholic phrase? I thought only protestant fundamentalists used it.

    Having said that, the bottom picture does, indeed, depict a violent act.

  • C Peterson

    We support those things. Donohue doesn’t. He comes from a tradition where his church had special privileges for 1500 years… which most of the time included the free right to torture and execute people who think as we do. He’s just pining for the good old days.

    His church is dying. His beliefs are dying. And soon enough, he’ll be dying. Good riddance.

  • Blacksheep

    Public, open, free inquiry is very different from putting up a billboard designed to be agitating to Christians during a holiday. 

    I don’t hate this billboard because it directly takes on a subject, I hate it for the same reason we all hated the obnoxious kid at scool who was annoying because he loved to get a rise out of people. (Those are the same people who usually respond “What did I do?” when they’re called on it.)

  • Superdove


  • Guest

    you mean “anyway”?

  • m6wg4bxw

    Nice work catching that. Now I wonder if it was deliberate.

    [EDIT] Replied in the wrong place; intended for Reginald Selkirk [/EDIT]

  • Superdove

    So I guess “Peace on earth, good will toward men” is not a holiday ideal for Silverman?

  • ortcutt

    Every time someone takes the step of directly challenging religion, someone will complain “Those atheists are so obnoxious, rude and killjoys”.  Usually this is religionists, but there are atheists as well who would prefer to live in the shadows.  I call people who shush atheists “quietists”.  The idea is that it’s OK to be an atheist as long as you never talk about it, or don’t talk about it “at the wrong time” (which ends up being never or not in public at least).  I think quietism is the bigger problem today than sad relics like Bill Donohue.  I don’t want to get a rise out of anyone, but I do want to expand the class of claims that it is acceptable to publicly talk about.  The New Atheists started the push to make religion something that people could challenge.  If you want to be a quietist, that’s your choice, but you aren’t going to make me be one, and calling actions like this “obnoxious” isn’t going to change that.

  • C Peterson

    I’m not sure I’ve met any “quietists”, unless you count atheists who are afraid to speak out. Other than them, most atheists are willing to speak out, and the religionists who don’t want to hear from atheists don’t think it’s okay to be one, quiet or not.

  • Silo Mowbray

    If you define “assholish” as “refusing to let a privileged group continue feeling that way”, then no, I will not be less assholish.

  • Reginald Selkirk

     “Out for blood.” Sure thing. How many people has Silverman stabbed in his bloodlust?

    What? All he did is have a billboard erected? That doesn’t sound very bloody.

  • Blacksheep

    You must not have read my post, or my point. I love free, open inquiry. I also know it when someone is being annoying. NOT because they disagree, but because they are being annoying. It’s not hard to spot!

    Everyone should push for what they believe. Everyone should challenge the status quo. We SHOULD expand the class of claims that it is acceptable to talk about.

    But back to the schoolyard: Everyone knows when one kid is being an A_hole.

  • WoodyTanaka

    “Public, open, free inquiry is very different from putting up a billboard designed to be agitating to Christians during a holiday. ”

    The latter is why I like it.  When they agree to stop putting up signs in public in front of churches talking about hell and sin and Jesus and that stuff, then we should stop “agitating” them with our signs.

  • Blacksheep

    Christianity is growing by approximately 25 million people per year, through a combination of births and conversions.

    Interestingly, there are three times the conversions to Christianity (2.5 million) as there are to islam (850,000).

    Phil’s church may be dying, but Christianity is going strong and growing.

  • C Peterson

    Christianity was born as the religion of losers. Of the weak. Of the downtrodden. It can’t survive without humanity’s losers. Christianity is growing in parts of the world still populated by such unfortunate people. It is dying in the developed world.

    Without the burden of unethical behavior created by Christianity, the developed world is in a better place to boost the living standards of the rest of the world, which will pretty much finish off Christianity. It might take another hundred years, but I think that unfortunate religion, responsible for so much pain and suffering over 2000 years, has finally run its course.

  • ortcutt

    I like this billboard.  I would put it up myself if I had lots of extra cash sitting around.  Am I an obnoxious a_hole?  And more importantly, what social attitude does calling vocal atheists obnoxious a_hole reinforce?

  • Blacksheep

    “Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”

    - Solzenitsyn

  • Blacksheep

    You are correct! Christianity was indeed born as the underdog’s religion.
    We value humility, and we find strength in weakness so we can rely more on God. But the result is not weakness, it’s peace of mind, inner strength, and compassion for others.

    Christianity has done more to ease pain and suffering in the world than any other system of thought. Even when one accounts for the evil done in the name of Christ, it pales by comparison (with facts and figures) to the evil still being done in the name of humanism and other orthodox faiths.

  • Blacksheep

    If you are smart and sensitive you know the difference between being vocal and being an a_hole. 

    Calling it out is not the problem.

  • WoodyTanaka

    “We value humility”

    Yeah, I can tell by the fact that y’all are always patting yourself on the back about it.  “I take great pride in my humility…”  “Yeah, you ain’t got nothing on me.  I’ll humble the shit out of you.”

    “But the result is… compassion for others.”

    See, e.g., the Crusades, Inquisition, AIDS, raping children and covering it up.  GO JESUS!!

    “Christianity has done more to ease pain and suffering in the world than any other system of thought”

    Bullshit.  Simply being human has surpassed your Jesus worship by a million fold.  And the scientific method has done much more to ease suffering and improve lives than your silly superstitions ever will.

    “Even when one accounts for the evil done in the name of Christ, it pales by comparison (with facts and figures) to the evil still being done in the name of humanism and other orthodox faiths.”

    LMAO.  While modern Christianity may not be as nasty as it’s been historically (raping of boys and condemning people death by AIDS, gross bigotry against homosexuals notwithstanding), to even suggest that secular humanism is more evil than it is insanity.

  • WoodyTanaka

    LMAO.  Yes, Solzenitsyn was a religious kook.  The great disasters which have befallen Russia has nothing to do with Jeebus, but has to do with their spectacular inability over the majority of its history, to have leadership that didn’t consist of corrupt sociopaths. 

  • WoodyTanaka

    LOL.  They’re not being annoying.  You’re annoyed because some is calling you out on your silly beliefs. 

  • smrnda

    I mean, were things better in Russia before? I mean, what about all the Czarist pogroms? They sure remembered god back then, and it wasn’t a pretty side.

    I haven’t been too impressed with Russia now that they remember god. It’s still got an incredibly low standard of living, the church enjoys persecuting people who don’t buy into it (while the leaders flaunt their expensive watches), they’re persecuting GLBT people and ‘foreign religions,’ along with people like gypsies. Also, a great deal of immigration of Jews to Israel is from Russia, not just due to the low standard of living but rampant antisemitism.

    Western Europe has pretty much abandoned god and have a very high standard of living and very low crime.  They’ve realized that reason is the solution to suffering because it seeks to solve the problems that cause suffering, not find meaning in it.

    The thing that has eased suffering and pain is technology and rationality, and realizing that human problems must be solved by deliberate actions, not by hoping some sky god comes down and improves things. Christianity thrives on suffering and prefers that to progress. The churches of the US would hate to see poverty go away, or everybody get health care since they wouldn’t have desperate people they can sell their wares to.

  • Blacksheep

    We can disagree on principle, but facts stand on their own.

  • Blacksheep

    And a broken philosophy.

  • smrnda

     Compassion my ass. Christian ‘charity’ is one of the most degrading experiences you can go through. I used to do lots of volunteer work and everybody hated having to deal with churches. You show up to get food and no, the patronizing Christians can’t just give you food and let you be; no, they have to make sure to ‘share their testimony’ (like you haven’t heard it before) and then give you food. Want a place to stay? Well, only if you agree to go to church four days a week (nice if you don’t happen to be a Christian.)

    It’s also nice to know that Christians want to wage war on my domestic partnership, because it’s just so horrible I can put another woman on my insurance, or make sure that she gets my pension and SS when I die, or get FMLA to care for my partner when she’s sick.

  • Blacksheep

    After the few posts you’ve written, I’m not surprised that you don’t find it annoying.

  • Blacksheep

    I’m sorry you had that experience. I’ve worked in soup kitchens, helped homeless people, etc., and our feeling was that that was testimony enough, if they wanted to hear more they would come to church on their own.

  • Blacksheep

    I’ve never seen a sign in front of a church that criticizes atheists. Talking about Jesus and stuff is our faith… the billboard says “Dump the myth.”

  • Stev84

    I’ve heard things like “blood of the lamb of Jesus” pretty often. It’s part of the standard phrasing

  • Stev84

    Religious fanatics like you wouldn’t know what facts are if they bit you in the ass

  • Jake

    Probably something more along the lines of “Peace on Earth, good will toward men, F*** religion and all of its kin!”.

  • Pseudonym

    FWIW, I never heard it used until I started reading atheist blogs. But, then, I didn’t grow up in a conservative church. Or in the US, for that matter.

  • Silo Mowbray

    It’s “bloody” because it hurts the fee-fees of religious people like Donahue.

  • Silo Mowbray

    This is richly ironic given the big loud Fuck You that Christians in the U.S. have been delivering unto Anybody Not Christian since forEVAR.

    Christians have been enjoying special privileges in the U.S. for a long time, so naturally when a group comes along to call them on their shit, Christians get very huffy. Not gonna give up one shred of privilege, no sir. ALL MINE.

  • C Peterson

    As I see it, Christianity was what kept the west in the Dark Ages for an additional 1000 years. It is what made people willing to accept miserable lives in exchange for an imaginary afterlife. It has created more pain and suffering than any other belief system in the history of humankind.

  • Jake

     Would you like some dip to go along with that chip on your shoulder?

  • C Peterson

    This sign doesn’t criticize anybody. It invites believers to dump the myth. In spirit and in semantics, that is identical to a sign in front of a church telling non-believers to accept Jesus or God. In one case we have atheists suggesting that Christians consider viewing their beliefs as mythical, in the other we have Christians suggesting that atheists accept their beliefs as real. No difference… and neither should be seen as negative messages.

  • Silo Mowbray

    Hey! I know what that actually means! “STFU, atheist, we’re privileged and it’s going to stay that way.”

    Very imaginative, which is par for the course for people who believe in angry sky fairies.

  • WoodyTanaka

     Yes, and they demonstrate that whatever marginal good your mind virus has had over the years, it’s been a force for evil for 2000 years.  Too bad the damned baby wasn’t still borne.

  • WoodyTanaka

     Yes, for most of Russia’s wretched history, it was governed by the Orthodox Christian philosophy.  For the remainder, it was governed by a non-humanist one which was just as bad.  Hopefully one day, they will adopt a reason-based secular humanism.

  • WoodyTanaka

     Why would you?  You’re infected with the same disease as Donohue. 

  • WoodyTanaka

     There’s the pot calling the kettle black.  Political Christians who are trying to impose their twisted evil morality on the rest of us are the biggest bunch of assholes in this Country.

  • WoodyTanaka

     Then you’re either blind, illiterate, a shut in or a liar.  Every variation “Repent or burn in hell” is critical of atheists (and that doesn’t even count the ones that flat out criticize atheists, like the one I saw a few weeks ago that said, essentially, “We pray for the lost sheep… atheists.”  

  • Jake

     I do not believe I have given any suggestions as to weather I am religious or not. For you to make such an assumption only shows your bias.

  • Silo Mowbray

    Yes, you’re right, I generally associate privileged douchebags with the religious on this site. But you could also be simply white or straight or male or any combination of these things, and you’d still come across as privileged.

    Either way, I note that you seem to think it’s perfectly okay for you to criticize other people, but when YOU’RE in the firing line, your critics have “chips on their shoulders.”

    You might want to remove your blinders.

  • wmdkitty

    I’m starting to think that’s what they’re trying to do. Push just a liiiittle further with every billboard, and eventually his head will explode (or his heart will give out).

  • Keulan

    Bill Donohue lies and whines over an atheist billboard. In other news, the Moon still orbits the Earth.

  • NickDB

     I’ll be less assholish when the religious start following the law and stay out of politics and our lives.

    You don’t beat a bully by being quiet and polite to them.

  • JohnnieCanuck

    So would it really have hurt old YHWH to have put instructions for washing hands in with all those other useless rules? Sure would have saved a lot of suffering and death for his chosen people.

    Just what is the apologists’ comeback for the apparent lack of any advanced knowledge being granted to the ‘people of the book’?

  • JasmynMoon

    Yeah…they never mock, harass, or offend anyone.
    When I was younger, there was a billboard about five miles from my house. It featured a young boy (probably about 12 years old) holding a gun that was aimed directly at the camera. The caption said something like, “if he doesn’t believe in god, why will he believe in you?”
    So if you don’t take your kid to church, he will kill you. Yeah. I’m sure that wasn’t intended to be provocative in any way.

  • WoodyTanaka

     Exactly.  When you consider that a thing like “Don’t worship idols” — which does no one harm and is, at worst, a harmless waste of time — is included but “don’t own slaves or enslave anyone” or, like you said, “wash a lot, especially before eating or if you’re going to be near someone who is wounded” doesn’t make the cut, it tells you all you need to know about the supposed “morality” of these teachings.

  • Dower_House

     Not across the pond in the UK.

    Latest censor results show atheists growing most, followed by Muslims (though immigration having effect on that figure).

  • Brian Scott

    Er, Jewish rituals do have ablutions and cleansing with water. A lot of them come from oral traditions and not the Torah, but they’re viewed as mitzvot nonetheless.

  • WoodyTanaka

    No one’s talking about ritual cleansing.  We’re talking about basic, boring hygiene.

  • Kaydenpat

     Donohue has the right to criticize the billboard even in a ridiculous manner, but atheists have the right to put up billboards that you and Donohue find “obnoxious”.   I’m not aware of a right not to be offended or not to find things obnoxious.