Choose the 2012 Atheist Billboard of the Year!

What were the best atheist billboards/signs of 2012?

I selected 18 nominees using the following criteria:

  1. It had to go up in 2012.
  2. I wouldn’t use any particular definition of “best” (meaning the billboard could be the best designed, most controversial, most effective, etc).
  3. I selected the final list. (Otherwise, there were just too many billboards from which to choose.)

The finalists are below (after the jump) and the poll to vote is immediately after that!

The group ultimately responsible for putting up the 2012 Atheist Billboard of the Year will receive a $100 donation. Good luck!

1) Boulder Atheists (on behalf of the Colorado Coalition Of Reason): “God Is An Imaginary Friend” (Denver, Colorado — January, 2012):

2) Minnesota Atheists (with American Atheists): “Please Don’t Indoctrinate Me” (Minneapolis, Minnesota — January, 2012):

3) African Americans for Humanism: “You’re One of Many” (Various locations — February, 2012):

4) Backyard Skeptics: “Atheists Make Better Lovers” (Westminster, California — February, 2012):

(Note: The image’s watermark was removed in the final version of the ad.)

5) NEPA Freethought Society (with American Atheists): “Atheists.” (Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania — February, 2012):

(Note: This bus ad, created by Justin Vacula, was rejected twice by the local transit system for being too “controversial” and never actually went up.)

6) American Atheists: “You Know It’s a Myth [in Arabic]” (Patterson, New Jersey — March, 2012):

7) PA Nonbelievers (with American Atheists): “Slaves, Obey Your Masters” (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania — March, 2012):

(Note: This controversial billboard was vandalized one day after being put up.)

8) Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason: “Our Families Are Great Without Religion” (Grand Prairie, Texas — April, 2012):

9) Freedom From Religion Foundation: “Nobody Died for Our Sins” (Streator, Illinois — April, 2012):

(Note: This sign was put up on government property in response to an ad reading “Jesus died for your sins.” FFRF’s sign was stolen, then a revised version was put up in its place.)

10) Skepticon: “Kittens Are Cute” (Springfield, Missouri — April, 2012):

(Note: This billboard was created in an effort to make the least controversial atheist billboard ever.)

11) Backyard Skeptics: “Noah’s Flood” (Midway City, California — May, 2012):

(Note: Readers were quick to point out that the math on the billboard was a mistake and the word “hour” should have said “day.”)

12) Atheist Alliance of America (with the Boulder Atheists): “They’re Bringing Their Children” (Denver, Colorado — July, 2012):

13) Freedom From Religion Foundation: “Out of the Closet” (Spokane, Washington — July, 2012):

14) American Atheists: “God Is a Space Alien” (Charlotte, North Carolina — August, 2012):

(Note: This billboard, along with one mocking Christianity, were put up at the site of the Democratic National Convention. They were taken down by AA following threats against them.)

15) Kansas City Atheist Coalition: “Godless Government Now” (Overland Park, Kansas — September, 2012):

16) American Atheists: “Shame on Mormonism” (Boca Raton, Florida — October, 2012):

(Note: This traveling ad was on the side of a truck that was driven around town the day before the second Presidential Debate.)

17) American Humanist Association: “Kids Without God” (Washington, D.C. and Moscow, Idaho — November, 2012):

18) American Atheists: “Keep the Merry! Dump the Myth!” (New York, New York — December, 2012):

Now, it’s your turn to choose! I won’t be cruel and make you pick just one since there are so many entries — you’re allowed to vote for your favorite five.

Voting ends Monday night, 12/31, and the winning organization (or local group) will receive a $100 donation.



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.

  • http://twitter.com/Mearacat Stacey Cooney

    As a whole Atheist billboards tend to be terrible. Are there no graphic designers or copy editors in the Atheist movement? Or anyone who’s taken an advertizing course? 2, 7, 9, and 15 are particularly bad examples. Comic Sans? Bright yellow? “Godless” instead of “Secular” government? Just say NO. And lets not even discuss the slavery one…

    • Quintin van Zuijlen

      Uhh, Godless Government is an alliteration. You want to lose that?

      • VladChituc

        And secular government is factually correct and something atheists can responsibly aim for.

        Do you want to lose that?

        • tsh1971

          In what way is “Godless Government” not correct? I want a government that neither recognizes nor worships any gods (definition of godless). I think that is something that we can aim for and eventually achieve.

          • VladChituc

            I think it’s disingenuous to conflate godlessness with secular. Secular governments can and are often very involved in religion. They just can’t show preference for one religion over another, or for religion over nonreligion (and vice versa).

            “Godless” implies completely divorced from religion, and that’s not what we should be aiming for. Secular is though.

            If secular is what you mean by godless (and I suppose the two may completely be synonyms), I think it’s at least fair to note that godless is more ambiguous and a lot easier to misinterpret than secular.

            • Scott Trimble

              I think complete godlessness is something we should be aiming for, but in the current environment, it is more than we can reasonably hope for in the near future, and is more likely to turn off many people who are not atheists but still support secular government. So I certainly think that “secular” would be a better PR choice than “godless”…for now.

              • Angela P. Woodrat

                I agree with the “secular” over the godless–we won’t attract others by poking them in the eye with sharp aggressive words or tone. I think we should be especially warm and fuzzy so as to attract *converts* What’s the opposite of a convert? Anyway, we are trying to model the fact that evolution gave us morals, not any invisible man.

        • Quintin van Zuijlen

          Well, given that I don’t have it…

          My point being that it could have been a very conscious choice.

    • PA_Year_of_the_Bible

      So, are you a professional graphic designer or copy editor who is willing to donate your services? Post your email, so that all of the local groups can take advantage of your generosity. (Of course, I wouldn’t trust anyone who can’t spell “advertising.”)

      • VladChituc

        Do you need to be a graphic designer to critique bad graphic design?

        Are you somehow obligated to provide your services for free if you are a graphic designer?

        Your comment makes no sense, and judging from your name and reaction, I sincerely doubt that you’re a neutral party.

      • coyotenose

        So, presuming that you aren’t an elected official or a director, I assume you refrain from ever criticizing politics or movies.

      • Neeroc

        Advertizing is actually correct, as is advertising. Just as humour and humor are both correct. Not everyone uses the American spelling of these words.

    • http://www.facebook.com/caffeinate Grant Sanders

      I am a professional advertising person and I agree with Stacey. Get some professional help, folks. I would be happy to do some of this work, but I make it habit to get paid for the work I do. I would, however, offer a nice discount for any atheism organization, given certain restrictions.

    • Jensequitur

      I completely agree. I do this for a living, and without being boastful, I could come up with a better one in five minutes. Seriously. For those atheists who would like a bit of five-minute pro bono work, e-mail me at jensequitur@yahoo.com.

    • LukeMorris

      I’ll copy edit them!

    • Zachary_Bos

      If you’re someone interested in providing (pro bono or otherwise) professional design or communications services to the secular movement, please drop me a line. I keep a Rolodex (natch) of design professionals, and would be pleased to add you. I’d like to invite you to a private Facebook group, as well.

  • Walker Bristol

    my favorite is the one that says we’re better than everyone else because of #Science and #Reason and #Logic

  • Seriously

    I think we might need a “none of the above” option.

    • Scott Trimble

      I know I’ve seen better ones…but maybe they were over a year ago? But maybe I just have vastly different opinions about them from the guy who chose these.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    i was tempted to vote for the slavery, ‘no blacks or gays’ and aliens invade ones, but i gotta go with “i’m getting too old for imaginary friends” for a couple of reasons. one, it’s well designed. not perfect and obviously shows that these groups are not swimming in money, but it’s a good design b/c it shows a young person of just the right age asking just the right question. i remember being that age and how much i wanted to distance myself from “childish” behavior that i thought of as “too babyish” for me anymore.

    that’s a very powerful time in the development of the mind and if i were 10 again and saw that, it would definitely make me think. i like the cartoon god hand too- very nicely suggestive that god is a cartoon character at best. because just like cartoons, god doesn’t really exist except in drawings and paintings and TV shows and the like.

    i also think it’s a blistering reminder to that huge group out there: parents and caretakers of children. if you’ve ever done that, you know sooner or later you’re going to have this discussion with them. “you’re getting too old for…” has probably been used by every parent who’s ever lived. how stinging it must be to realize that as an adult, you still need to hear that lesson, if you still believe in imaginary friends. wisdom from the mouths of babes, as it were, is very powerful to an adult when it happens.

    but mostly, i voted for it b/c the children are our future, heh. but seriously, we’ll never deconvert a lot of the bluehairs and haters who have already decided that they need imaginary friends as grown ups to feel good about themselves. the ones we can bring into the light are those who not only haven’t fully committed to that which they may not completely understand, but who are part of the generation that is internet savvy. kids who see a sign like this may just google “atheism” if they’ve never heard of it before, and from there… well, a lot can happen.

    if i had a million dollars, i’d spend a lot of it on developing a site for young thinkers. it would be snappy and fun and have apps and games and jokes and coupons and all the stuff kids love to share and trade. so i’ll hope this group takes the 100$ and does something similar.

    • PA_Year_of_the_Bible

      Even though I am “invested” (so to speak) in a couple of the other boards, I have to agree that the “imaginary friends” board is the best, in the sense that it has the potential for the most impact on the future by targeting kids (and bypassing the parents’ censorship). Ideally, I’d like to see several categories, depending on the intended audience. (E.g., conference designs would be in their own category)

  • Andrew Tripp

    38 people vote for the unbelievably racist AA one? Shame.

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

      For what it’s worth, that doesn’t necessarily mean they “approve” of it.

    • Pepe

      I honestly haven’t yet figured out what’s really racist about it. (Anybody) care to explain? I’d really like to know.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        I must admit I first thought he meant the Time Square one and Jesus was too white.

        • DavidNorris

          Jesus also spoke English. ;-)

      • Dezzydez

        I’m a black woman and I do not find it racist. I find the bible and those who used it to advocate slavery as racist. Some on here think it is because the atheist group behind it is white. Not sure what that has to do with the content of the billboard though. The bible is also anti-woman and anti-gay.

    • PA_Year_of_the_Bible

      Racist my @$$. I suppose that any accurate artwork of the Holocaust would be “anti-semitic,” huh?

      • VladChituc

        From this link: http://www.blackmediascoop.com/2012/03/08/slaves-obey-your-master-racist-billboard-sparks-outrage/

        “There are plenty of places that they could have made their point,” said council member Sandra Reid. “They chose to use a very negative image from our past and put it in our neighborhood.” So far, it is not the reaction anticipated, Perce said. “The reaction that I wanted is these people to get upset and help me repeal the ‘Year of the Bible,’” Perce said. “That’s the reaction I need.”

        Ignoring the “these people” bit. Do you honestly not see what’s racist about exploiting painful black history in a black neighborhood in order to further your political motives?

        The PA atheists didn’t care about the hardships of black americans. They’re being upfront about the fact that they only care about exploiting it.

        • Dezzydez

          I don’t think it’s racist at all. Slavery was condoned in the bible. It’s a painful memory that does not need to be ignored. We can’t run away from the truth because of hurt feelings. The black community should be mad at christianity and the church, not atheists. Atheists didn’t write the bible, christians did.

          • VladChituc

            See, this is exactly the problem. The problems faced by black communities doesn’t stem from the fact that they haven’t looked at the bible critically enough. You’re telling black communities how they should feel and how they should react to what’s often the only social support structure they have in their lives. You’re telling them how the “rational” way to react to their oppression is. You’re saying, “hey, black people. here’s this billboard. how can you not see that we’re right and you’re wrong?”

            It’s patronizing, ignorant, and exploitative towards black americans.

            • Dezzydez

              I am part of the black community. I volunteer and attended the NAACP saturday school here in southern california. So please do not lecture me about what the black community needs. The black community does tend to ignore parts of the bible that was used to justify slavery and discrimination. That is upsetting to see as a black atheist and is a problem that should be addressed with a whole host of other problems. And yet you think you can speak for the black community. Hypocrite much?

              • VladChituc

                Who’s claiming to speak for the black community? I’m not. I didn’t actually “lecture you” at all about what the black community needs.

                And I think I’m going to side with Sikivu Hutchinson, and the rest of the black community that’s rightfully outraged by the billboards, rather than some random person on the internet who has a problem with me calling racism racism just because you disagree.

                http://freethoughtblogs.com/blackskeptics/2012/03/12/slaves-like-us-american-atheists-on-the-plantation/

                • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=705066677 Desiree Bell-Fowlks

                  Ahh so she’s allowed to speak for the black community and anyone who disagrees is wrong. She does not speak for me at all. All she does is complain that AA is predominately white and shouldn’t have said anything about race. Bullshit. She does not address the actual content of the billboard and neither do you. It’s a stupid argument that the billboard paid for by a white group features a black person, it’s racist. What’s racist is the fact that christians used the bible to enslave my ancestors. Was the billboard advocating slavery? Nope. Was it advocating treating blacks as less than? Nope. All it’s saying that racism can be found in the bible. But you want to bitch about racism cuz it hurts peoples feelings. Grow up.

              • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

                black person chiming in to agree with Dezzy. there are fewer black atheists than white atheists in america, but believe me, we are trying. every frakking chance i get, i announce it. to my family, my community, my neighbors. no black person in my life fails to know i am an atheist. please don’t tell me that some “we people” are that dependent on religion. not all of us are. really.

            • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

              The problems faced by black communities don’t stem from the fact that they haven’t looked at the bible critically enough.

              i got my MDiv from the south side of chicago located school where the president used to teach. i have met and worked with more top rated, civil rights generation, politically active af-am religious leaders than you have fingers and toes.

              i hate to break it to you, but you are the one being utterly condescending. i know you mean well, but you can assert that statement from exactly what personal experience in the black church and church-going community you have had, how, again?

              really, we can speak for ourselves. and we do! try listening. some of us are not afraid to say: the “black church:” just as corrupt and pedophilia protecting grifters who fleece the poorest at the expense of the community in general as the “white church.”

              • VladChituc

                Who am I speaking for? When did I speak from personal experience?

                I’m not claiming to have experience in the black church. I’m not claiming to be someone politically active and involved in the af-am leadership. I’m not claiming that black churches are complete paragons completely devoid of corruption.

                What I have done, though, is exactly what you asked. I listened. I’ve read to black atheists like Sikivu Hutchinson. I’ve listened to the outrage these billboards sparked. I’ve talked to POC and how they feel marginalized by the hamfisted “just listen to our reason and logic, black christians!” tactics of many atheists.

                • Dezzydez

                  And yet you ignore those who do not. I do not feel marginalized in the atheist community. I realize we are a small fraction. I’ve read articles and listened to atheist podcasts and have not yet heard them trying to speak for me as an black atheist. All I heard is wanting for more black atheists to speak up and when we do people like you dismiss us because we do not agree with your sole authority on black atheism.

                • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

                  See, this is exactly the problem. The problems faced by black communities don’t stem from the fact

                  these are your words. you seem to think you know, despite your more recent claim that

                  I’m not claiming to have experience in the black church.

                  no, actually, that’s what your initial statement did. that’s my point, honey. we’re on the same side. just don’t presume to know you can assess a problem in a community in which you have no actual working experience. you can conjecture, and that’s your right in a free society. but you don’t actually know enough to assert your opinion as fact, that is all i’m saying.

            • http://godlessradio.net/ Reap Paden

              I always find it interesting when someone tells another person/group “You’re not saying x. You’re saying y ” As if they can read minds. How can you possibly know what the intended message was? Oh you could listen to the people responsible for creating it. Try that. Even if you don’t agree with what they were trying to say or how they said it that doesn’t mean you can tell them what they meant. I agree with some of your points but…you undermine yourself by making unfair assumptions

    • Barbara

      The Bible teaches bigotry. That’s a simple fact. Only thing the AA’s doing is showcasing this stupidity to the masses (including people who identify as Christians, yet haven’t read the Bible–or refuse to read it critically). If anything, you should be appalled by what’s in the Bible.

  • C Peterson

    Only about half of these are atheist messages, and even a few of those are arguably about things largely unrelated to atheism.

  • Barbara

    #7 was my choice. It’s a good example of how meaningless the Bible is as a moral guide. Only a nasty, heartless person would want to obey God’s Word. (#13 was a close second, because I like seeing atheist families portrayed in a positive light.)

    • r.holmgren

      To Barbara who said, “Only a nasty, heartless person would want to obey God’s Word.”

      One way we Christians are able to know what are good behaviours is to study the teaching of Jesus.
      . Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are the meek

      . Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
      . Blessed are the merciful
      . Blessed are the peacemakers
      . You’ve heard it said that you shouldn’t murder but I’m telling you to not even be angry.
      . Treat women with respect instead of just sexual objects
      . You have heard it said and eye for an eye, but I tell you, don’t resist an evil person.
      . Turn the other cheek
      . Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
      . Forgive others as you have been forgiven by your Heavenly Father
      . Don’t judge others in a hypocritical manner
      . Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
      . So that we may not offend [the rulers] go and pay our taxes
      . Don’t forgive the person who sins against you only seven times, but every time.
      . Love your neighbour as you already love yourself
      . Whoever wants to be great among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as I did not come to be served but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many.
      . I will welcome everyone with open arms, no matter how evil they have been or what wrongs they have committed if they will only turn from their sins and follow me.
      . O Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets sent to you. How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.
      . Why are you harassing this woman [a prostitute]? I will forgive her sins.
      . On the night before He was killed, Jesus washed the feet of all His disciples, even the one who He knew was about to betray Him and have Him killed and even though He knew that all of them would desert Him before the night was over.
      . Filled with compassion Jesus healed the man with leprosy.
      . Jesus had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd
      . Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honour your father and mother.
      . Father forgive those who are killing me for they don’t know what they are doing.
      . Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even pagans love those who love them back. And if you do good to those who are good to you what credit is that to you? Even pagans do that. Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.
      . Do not judge. Do not condemn.
      . Do to others the kind of things you would like others to do to you.
      . “I am willing to heal you.” “I have compassion for you and I’ll heal you.” “When Jesus saw her, His heart went out to her and He said, “Don’t cry.” “I tell you her many sins have been forgiven. Go in peace.” “Don’t be afraid.” “Whoever welcomes a little child in my name welcomes me.” “Then neither do I condemn you.” “Peace be with you.” “Dear woman [His mother] here is the person who will take care of you when I die.”
      . Everyone who does the will of God, I will consider the same as members of my own family.
      . When they hurled their insults at Him He [Jesus] did not retaliate; when He suffered, He made no threats.
      . If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.
      . I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
      . Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
      . “Put your sword away [Peter]. Shall I not go through the very thing for which I came to the world to do?” Jesus allowed no one to fight for Him.

      These are just a few of the things that Jesus taught regarding peace. But what of His closest followers? We’ve already seen that Peter was ready to violently defend Jesus. If Jesus preached violence and hatred, one could expect that message to be found in the letters / propaganda that was later published by these followers.

      These are an example of Peter’s writings, one of Jesus’ closest followers
      . Don’t conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.
      . Rid yourselves of all malice and slander of every kind.
      . Live such good lives among the pagans that though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God.
      . Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men.
      . It is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.
      . Do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil.
      . Show proper respect for everyone.
      . Husbands, be considerate as you live with your wives and treat them with respect.
      . Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult but with blessing because to this you were called.
      . Whoever would love life must seek peace and pursue it.
      . It is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.
      . Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
      Hmm. Looks like being with Jesus caused quite a transformation in Peter’s life.
      Well, how about John, the one that used to be called the ‘‘Son of Thunder.’’

      . Love one another
      . If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him.
      . Let us not love with words but with actions.
      . Whoever does not love does not know God because God is love.
      . Whoever loves God must also love others.
      . [Jesus'] command is that you walk in love.
      How about James, one of Jesus’ brothers and former sceptic?

      . God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble
      . The wisdom that comes from Jesus is peace-loving, considerate, full of mercy.
      . Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
      . Do not slander one another
      . Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.
      . Love your neighbour as you already love yourself.
      . Do not show favouritism.
      . Mercy triumphs over judgement. If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.
      . Everyone should be slow to become angry for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.
      How about the writer of Hebrews?

      . Do not forget to do good and to share with others
      . Make every effort to live in peace with all people.
      And of course, how could this close without quotes from the most diligent follower of Jesus, a former sceptic, a man who, before Jesus came into his life was a violent torturer and killer of Christians, the great apostle Paul.. Warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.

      . Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.
      . Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
      . You know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God.
      . We were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children
      . Do not lie to each other
      . In Christ everyone is equal, none better than another.
      . Therefore as God’s chosen people, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
      . Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
      . Fathers, do not embitter your children or they will become discouraged.
      . Let your conversation be always full of grace.
      . For then in Christ, be overflowing with thankfulness.
      . Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And if you do this, the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is praiseworthy, think about such things and if you do this, the God of peace will be with you.
      . This is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless.
      . We preach the gospel of peace
      . Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
      . Each one of you must love his wife
      . Fathers do not exasperate your children
      . In your anger do not sin for anger gives the devil a foothold.
      . Be completely humble and gentle; bearing with one another in love.
      . Love your neighbour as yourself. If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
      . The outcome of living by the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
      . Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
      . Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
      . A husband must not divorce his wife.
      . The very fact that you have lawsuits among you means you have been completely defeated already. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated?
      . You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we all stand before God’s judgement seat.
      . Do not repay anyone evil for evil.
      . If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
      . Do not take revenge, my friends.
      . If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink
      . Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
      Now if following the teachings of God’s Word makes me nasty and heartless, then I guess that’s just the way I roll.

  • coyotenose

    I remember the great “How about kittens?” dialogue that led to that one billboard, and would vote for it on that basis, but it still drives me crazy that THOSE AREN’T KITTENS. Seriously, how hard is it to find someone with extra kitten photos on the $&!@ing Internet?

    • Pawel Samson

      They’re not kittens? Are they bobcat cubs or something? I genuinely want to know…

      • coyotenose

        The three felines in that “Kittens Are Cute” billboard image are grown housecats. They don’t look old, but definitely not kittenish.

        • Pawel Samson

          Ah ok, I see what you mean. They’re definitely juveniles, but not kittens.

        • Angela P. Woodrat

          Baby animals ftw

    • kev_s

      What? There you mean there are photos of kittens on the internet? I’ll have to go and look.

  • http://winlb.wordpress.com/ ToonForever

    I preferred the “One of Many” billboard because the message is probably more aligned with the conflicting thoughts about spirituality and religion that many people have. The transition from faith-based thinking to reason-based thinking isn’t usually a smash cut from one to the other. There are often years of doubt and personal struggle related to the war of ideas, the conflict it creates with family and friends, and so on. The billboard, to me, is clear about their position, yet respects the difficulty in sorting one’s self out and trusting to reason rather than indoctrination.

  • DavidNorris

    I’m with the majority of the six commenters here (as of about 11:22am on Boxing Day): The selections here are overall pretty disappointing, and aesthetically unappealing. Stacey is right in pointing out that atheist billboards tend to be of poor quality, both copy-wise and graphically. Not that I can do any better, but it’s rather discouraging to see such lackluster atheist outreach.

    My vote was cast for the African Americans for Humanism (#3) billboard because, even as a Caucasian atheist, that message would have spoken to my teenage self struggling to come to terms with both my sexuality and my doubts about religion. The message that there are actually many atheists out there instead of just a few angry rabble-rousers (as I was brought up to believe) would’ve been reassuring. I’d like to think that such seeds of thought could’ve brought me out of both closets sooner.

    However, I’m weary of the primary message of atheism being seemingly so focused on religion. Yes, as this blog reminds us religious extremists are on the move, desperate to hold on to whatever power they have left in an increasingly secular world. But when the tone is almost derisive, dismissive and even mocking of religious people, that’s not doing much to make the world a more peaceful place. And it seems to be only increasingly the animus between theists and non-theists.

    Personally, I’d rather offer better, more inclusive and welcoming community, and focus on doing real and permanent good in the world together as atheists than reminding theists that their Sky God is little more than an imaginary friend or a delusion, and that their religious beliefs are crazy, dumb, racist and akin to schizophrenia. I fear we’re driving away those who, as Daniel Dennett puts it, are atheists but are afraid to admit it.

    • Angela P. Woodrat

      I so agree with you! The first step may be just to have people of other religions accept us as decent fellow human beings and not “godless heathens.” Wouldn’t that necessarily come before many become curious about atheism? So even if (like me) you don’t give a rat’s ass about the human species and think that most of them are as stupid as a bag of hammers and that they breed indiscriminately, we may still act nicely to them. Life seems better that way.

      • DavidNorris

        Even though I have a pretty low opinion of the human species, I still find myself caring about it and its future — much to my chagrin most of the time! The answer to “interfaith” dialogue is not going to come about through finding common ground in our spiritual beliefs (Chris Stedman and his “faitheism” make me nauseous). Aside from Buddhism, atheism shares no commonalities with other religions. Religion requires a certain amount of (blind) faith, which means accepting propositions without evidence; and atheism is about placing the regard for truth (and evidence) above all else.

  • http://www.facebook.com/boogie.hoytt Boogie Hoytt

    Definitely had to share this on my page. There’s a bunch I like, I voted for Godless Government. Check out the page, all support and input is welcome and greatly appreciated! =)

    http://www.facebook.com/AnAtheistForPresident

  • http://de-avanzada.blogspot.com/ Daosorios

    5)

  • Santiago

    I really like the flood one. I did not vote for it because the “nonsense” and “biblical” parts. Otherwise I would have. The AAH, the Denver, the Atheists, the Government and the kittens (in that order) were my picks. Lots of good choices though.

  • Kelly

    #2 definitely gets my first vote! I love how it mocks the “pro-life” billboards with its design and delivers a positive atheist message with its words. Kudos!

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

      That was my favorite! The design could have been a little better, but the message can’t be beat.

    • Ed

      Completely agree. I think there was another billboard just like #2 that had a separate positive message that went up in St. Paul at the same time.

  • Jensequitur

    I should involve myself more with all of these groups, because the messaging is just confusing. Each group really needs a single message to focus on,

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

      what single message do you think that should be, and why do you think it would be the “best?”

      questions like that often prove more thorny than they initially can seem.

      • Angela P. Woodrat

        I agree that it’s a difficult thing to come up with a message that feels “just right,” but I found the messages on these mostly confusing too. I think I prefer more of a pro-science and pro-reason message rather than a “look no gods” one. Because even getting religious people to start using reason and trusting science is a baby step towards becoming a rational human being. I wonder if maybe bringing religion into the message works or doesn’t work better for believers–stuff like that is where market research would be key.

  • PA_Year_of_the_Bible

    I’m curious why Hemant nominated the Arabic one but not the Hebrew one?

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

      Of the two, I thought that one was just more indicative of the point of AA’s campaign, reaching out to communities where it’s tough to come out as an atheist. I could’ve used either one, though.

  • kev_s

    Are people voting for the cats just to piss off PZ?

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

    Lots of good ones here, but I voted for 2, 3, 8, 12, and 13. I think they all have nice, positive messages.

  • http://www.facebook.com/MilitaryAtheist Justin Griffith

    I voted #5 “Atheists.” It was proof of concept that the word itself inspires hate. We’ve got a lot of work to do to break down these barriers. The atheist census data collected so far shows that we overwhelmingly prefer this term.

    It was tough for me though because I thought that American Atheists really stepped up their game this year, and I wanted to pick one of those groups because I’m with AA.

    The real winners are the entire atheist community though. Every single one of these signs represented a combined effort of local atheists. Each one likely swelled in ranks and walk tall with a bit of confidence. It’s a big deal to a lot of people, though that might not be obvious to a casual reader. Billboards and bus campaigns are not novel anymore. They are much better than that. They’re indicators of grass roots organizations cementing in 18 different cities.

    • Angela P. Woodrat

      I often wonder why we don’t call ourselves “rationalists.” Of course once a name sticks, it’s hard to change. But it would strike at the one giant glaring difference between those who trust in science and reason and those who think a Big Daddy is going to save them. They *are* irrational!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1415168594 John Johnson

    What jump? There is no jump. Can we abandon this archaic term?
    And, none of the above as far as billboards.

  • http://twitter.com/joey89924 joey

    wouldn’t trust anyone who can’t spell “advertising.”
    SSM2164

  • jose

    I like the Skepticon one :)

  • bernardaB

    How exactly do you vote? I clicked on number 3, but is it recorded anywhere?

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

      Click on your favorites then submit your vote at the bottom!

  • bernardaB

    Where is our Mark Twain or Robert Ingersol? As Twain said, “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” I can’t come up with better, so unless someone else can for today, why not use that?

  • LukeMorris

    Would have been #2 if not for the Comic Sans.

    • Ed

      My favorite is #2 partly because of the appropriate and ironic use of Comic Sans.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tony.denova Tony DeNova

    I am a non-believer and I find all of them offensive. It makes it seem that you are actually part of a religion. We don’t like when people try and push their religion down our throats, so I don’t do it. Have more class than that!!

    • Ed

      I don’t see these as being on par with pushing religion down throats. Instead these are more about advertising the organizations and reaching out to other freethinkers.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tony.denova Tony DeNova

    You deleted my post? Afraid i was right i guess.

    • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

      This one?

      I am a non-believer and I find all of them offensive. It makes it seem that you are actually part of a religion. We don’t like when people try and push their religion down our throats, so I don’t do it. Have more class than that!!

      Try refreshing and loading more comments. Not much gets deleted on here.

  • Atheist Diva

    They’re all horrible. That atheist family one is the most offensive of all.

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

      Why don’t you like that one? It was one of my favorites. It’s a good stereotype breaker since people don’t tend to think of atheists as families with children.

  • http://www.facebook.com/scott.mcglasson Scott McGlasson

    I Googled “best billboards” and looked at several examples. They all had three things in common – visual impact, a simple, clear concept, and few words.

    The target audience is not a contemplative intellectual eager to ponder philosophical, historical essays presented with amateurish graphics. The target audience is a short attention span commuter who may be subconsciously on the fence about religion stuff but doesn’t think about it much, and goes to church because everyone else around them does.

    So, what clear, compelling, very short, simple billboard nudges the subconscious of that guy into thinking, hey, maybe I’m done with all that religion nonsense.

    It’s easier to get someone to be against something than to get them to support good ideals and values. So, get them to be fed up with religion.

    I have also worked for years as a graphic designer, but any kid with Photoshop can put something slick together now. The real challenge is to achieve an instantly compelling result that makes the human brain accept the message in less than a second.

    People are not readers and thinkers, in general. They are instinctive and emotionally reactive. Look at the best billboards that work, and do something like that.

    I have a couple days off, maybe I’ll do something and post it, if I can meet the criteria I have described here. Maybe someone else can too.

    • Angela P. Woodrat

      Totally! Since atheists are generally supportive of science, they should take every advantage of research on marketing and use professionals to achieve their aims. I bet a lot of the message is transmitted subliminally because of the quick glance while driving. These examples give sort of confusing messages and tones–a little too assertive/aggressive in some instances, and just not very appealing overall. I’m a copy editor and love editing single statements, lol.

  • Tom Kellogg

    Just for the record, “They’re Bringing Their Children” was also created and paid for by the Boulder Atheists, who were promoting the AAA convention in Denver.

  • Angela P. Woodrat

    How about something like “Atheists have faith too…in science and reason.”

  • Mary Sheehan

    I am offended very offended by your suggestion that the crucified Christ is a myth while we keep a jolly Santa

  • Big Baked Apple

    There was no shortage of Free Thinkers who supported American slavery using “scientific” evidence to proof blacks to be inferior and predisposed to the condition of servitude. Christianity was used as a vehicle to normalize the institution, just like science in that era.

    How many white former Christian Atheists left their faith because the bible sanctioned slavery? Not many. So why would that be considered an rational approach to Atheism for African Americans?

    Black slaves referenced the Hebrew Liberation, promises of revenge on enemies, used bible verses to code information in “mixed” company, and even something as simple as a comfort when things got unbearable by any standard.

    Some of us left Christianity after noticing inconsistencies in the timelines, or similarities between Christian mythology and older pagan beliefs it condemns, or seeing it as another political and economic institution no more special or true than the others. Plenty more reasons than that among African Americans if you ask.

    But I’m not going to make the impact of Christianity on African American survival and cultural synthesis in this country into something for Atheists to mock for their convenience.

  • blessedone

    God still loves you!

  • Jenny

    Woo, kittens are cute! That’s my hometown! :-)


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