Atheist Billboards Go Up Across Virginia

This is the image on four new billboards put up by the Blue Ridge Coalition of Reason (in Virginia):

The four billboards — promoting a coalition of groups based in Roanoke, Lynchburg, Farmville, and Charlottesville — were put up by the United Coalition of Reason at a cost of $3,500 and will remain up in Roanoke through mid-January.

Another similar billboard went up in Fredericksburg, Virginia, promoting the Fredericksburg Coalition of Reason:

That one costs $5,100 (also provided by the United Coalition of Reason) and will be up through December in the city and then in nearby Thornburg through February.

Reaching out to the like minded isn’t the only goal of the effort. “We hope people will discover that we are a regular part of the community,” added Paul Hoyt, coordinator of Blue Ridge CoR. “Non-believers and agnostics like us live all over Virginia. We’re your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers and family members. It’s about time we were as free to be open about our views as religious people are about theirs.

“We need to be visible, said Matt Jordan, media representative for Fredericksburg CoR, “because non-religious people in Virginia don’t often know many others like themselves. The billboard campaign has become a celebration of reason. Reason, civility and community are the guiding principles we live by.”

Virginia is one of those states that could really benefit from strong non-religious communities, so expect both an uproar from the community (damn offensive billboards!) and an increase in attendance at the local atheist groups’ upcoming meetings.

On a side note, the same kind of billboard was just vandalized in Chico, California. Hopefully there won’t be a copycat crime in Virginia, too.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • http://atheistlutheran.blogspot.com/ MargueriteF

    Being from Virginia, I was excited to see the headline… but alas, I’m in southeastern Virginia, nowhere near these billboards. Still, it’s cool to see them go up in my own state!

    • fredwords

      We’ll do the southeastern part of the state as soon as we can get enough groups there organized into a coalition. 

    • Bill Haines

      Marguerite, any groups in your area?  I’m not aware of any, but would like to try to keep in contact if there are; I’m the organizer for the Charlottesville group.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/GodVlogger?feature=mhee GodVlogger (on YouTube)

    I’ve spent some time in Roanoke, Virginia, and boy they need a billboard campaign like this!

  • Dan

    I was looking at the link showing all the vandalized billboards.  It would be good to design some that are more difficult to alter, just removing the word God changes the message.

  • cxmiller10

    Please, please tell me that the one in Lynchburg is visible from Liberty University.

    • fredwords

      The sad news is, we tried to rent billboard space in Lynchburg but no local vendor would rent to us. We suspect that the power of Liberty University in that city was a factor in them not wishing to do business with us. A reasonable guess, I think. But as it goes, nobody is required to rent space to us, since billboard companies are privately owned. So we did the next best thing: Roanoke.

      • Bill Haines

        Yes, Paul Hoyt of the Lynchburg Area Secular Humanist chapter put forth an heroic effort for months, but no go.  It’s still a victory, though, yay us Virginia seculars! :)

      • http://abb3w.livejournal.com/ abb3w

        Billboards evidently not being considered a public accommodation, and thus not a Civil Rights Act of 1964 issue.

  • http://twitter.com/aGodfather Atheist Godfather

    Correction likely needed above. The groups comprising the Blue Ridge CoR are in “Roanoke, Lynchburg, Farmville, and Charlottesville”, but according to the press release, the billboards themselves are in Roanoke or in towns very close to Roanoke (i.e., Salem, Vinton, and south of Garden City).

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      Fixed. Thanks!

  • http://profiles.google.com/notkilroy Not Kilroy

    I live in Lynchburg! I’m going to make a trip to find these billboards!

  • Mike Clemens

    Well, how about that? Just when I move from Roanoke to Ocala, Florida too. :-(
    If I had known about the BRCR, I’d have been a member!

    Now if some would go up here in Slowcala, it’d be great!

  • Baal

    I have to wonder if it’d be possible to get a cam set up on the bill boards.  If they get vandalized often (seems to be the case) it might deter the vandals if some of them were prosecuted.

  • http://www.facebook.com/NativeEarth Betty Clark

    Yay!

  • Hdhhdhehehhhdh

    Who the hell reads billboard? None

    • Bill Haines

      They get attention from the news media when they go up — Paul Hoyt will be on the local news in Roanoke tonight and I’m sure local papers will cover it — so they can be effective in that way even for people who never look up. ;)

    • cecilia FXX

      the religious read billboards – they get their panties in a bunch every time an atheist board goes up  :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Travis-Dykes/19217851 Travis Dykes

    On the billboards being vandalized, what about renting out spaces on digital billboards that change messages every 30 seconds or w/e time limit it is.  That way it would be very hard to change the message, and any damage done to an atheist sign is also done to several other signs.

    Also any idea if there would be interest in getting a billboard campaign going down here in Louisiana?

  • ConureDelSol

    Right, so nothing near Richmond.  RICHMOND NEEDS AN ATHEIST GROUP.

  • Joenchristy

    How on earth did we get so far away from GOD? I am utterly embaressed that we have allowed this to go on. Here us where I stand. We shouldve never allowed prayer to be taken outta school. After all of the terrible things that have just occured…how could you look at a family member of one of those children and say there is No GOD. As for me and my house we will serve the lord. I will continue to pray for those of you who are lost. Thank GOD I have a future to look forwars to. What if im right and ur wrong? Wow. Think about it…

    • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

      How on earth did we get so far away from GOD?

      Who’s we? I’m a lifelong atheist. I have never believed in any gods.

      I am utterly embaressed that we have allowed this to go on.

      Allowed what to go on? Freedom of speech? Freedom of religion? You don’t get to dictate whether or not other people believe in gods.

      Here us where I stand. We shouldve never allowed prayer to be taken outta school.

      After all of the terrible things that have just occured…how could you look at a family member of one of those children and say there is No GOD.

      How do you know that some of those children’s parents aren’t atheists? Not everyone in the United States is Christian. And we’re not bothering the families of the victims. If I were one of the Jewish families, I’d be more upset that there are a hundred stories floating around of their children meeting Jesus. That’s very insensitive, you know.

      What if im right and ur wrong? Wow. Think about it…

      Pascal’s Wager? Really?

      • joenchristy

        I didnt meam to insult anyones inellegencee

        • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

          Perhaps you weren’t aware that Pascal’s Wager is such a cliche, but if you’re interested in learning why it’s flawed, you can read more about it here:

          http://www.update.uu.se/~fbendz/nogod/pascal.htm

    • cecilia FXX

      provide proof for this ‘god’. Why does your ‘god’ insult my intelligence by insisting I believe with no proof? (Actually it’s YOU that insult my intelligence because I see no god).

      • joenchristy

        the bible teaches forgiveness and love. I would never insult anyones intellitence bc I beleive that there is a God.

    • nakedanthropologist

      You might want to google a little thing called “Pascal’s Wager”. As for your love of god, good for you. But this is a country of individuals, with many ethnicities, faith, non-faith, and cultural traditions. Kids can pray in school – I brought my bible with me every day when I was in high school. What they can’t do is have mandated prayer. And shame on you for tring ro politicize this horrible tragedy. Everyone in our country is shocked and in mourning for the victims and their families. Using that to try to force your religious beliefs on children and faculty who do not share them is wrong. SHAME ON YOU.

      • joenchristy

        I wuld never ever do that. So what u r telling the world is that all we have to look forward to is death? I wuld never try n force MY GOD on anyone. Those who have ears let them hear. It is AMERICA. THANK YOU for reading what GOD put on,my heart. I appreciate ur time.

        • Pureone

          So which is it? Not forcing your god on anyone, or school prayer (forcing it on someones)?

          Don’t Christians look forward to death? Isn’t the post-death better? What if you are wrong?

          How can you look at such insanity and madness in the world and say that a god exists?

          • joenchristy

            well i guess because I have actually experienced the Holy Spirit. I do not wish to force prayer on anyone who does not believe. Yes our owm mortality is a scary thing…I would be very selfish if I wanted to die now before I was able to tell atleast one person who did not believe in God about how good he is and what he has done for me and my family. I absolutley agree that there is insanity in this world. Thats another reason why the bible says Pray without ceasing. No…I am certainly not perfect and God dosent expect us to be. But he does expect us to Let the light shine thru us.

            • Baal

              Mathew 6:5-6. Witnessing is a modern invention that works to psychologically cement you to your (ur?) church. Jesus wanted no such thing.

              Also, witnessing looks like dishonesty to readers on this blog. Too many of you appear, witness, and get out. The usually meaning of a comment is that you’re open to reading replies and relevantly responding. You did reply (grats (am I getting the txt speak right?)) but you’re repeating noise we’ve seen hundreds of times. What you are not doing is showing that you understand but disagree with the atheists here. It’s not a conversation, rather it’s about you doing a personal act for self gratification.

              • joenchristy

                Wow. Yes im always up for listening to others views. And like u I dont have to agree. Thats the beauty of america. But I did not comment on this for self gratification. I did it bc I care. And thats tge honest truth.

        • LeftyLewis

          if you vote based on your christian values, then you do “try n force YOUR GOD” on others.

          • joenchristy

            What? Everyone has their own reasons or beliefs as to y thy vote the way they vote.

  • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

    Good for them! These are some of the nicest, most inoffensive billboards. Unfortunately, they’ll probably be vandalized like many of the others.

    • Bill Haines

      Already happened, only took two days. :(

      • http://www.flickr.com/groups/invisiblepinkunicorn Anna

        Yikes, that was fast. Can’t say I’m surprised.

  • Lesley

    I would be”embarrassed” too if i couldn’t spell basic words


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