The 2012 Atheist Billboard of the Year Is…

The votes have been tallied up and here are your picks for the top five atheist billboards from 2012! Keep in mind that votes were given to the best, most controversial, and most talked about billboards — not just the ones that garnered the most media attention or were the most hotly debated.

#5) With 387 votes: Skepticon: “Kittens Are Cute” (Springfield, Missouri — April, 2012):

This billboard was created in an attempt to prove that even an inoffensive, non-controversial billboard could cause controversy simply because it promoted an atheist message/event. That plan may have backfired, though, since complaints about it appeared to be non-existent :)

#4) With 397 votes: American Atheists: “Keep the Merry! Dump the Myth!” (New York, New York — December, 2012):

This Times Square billboard was sponsored by an anonymous donor and was controversial from the moment it went up. AA President Dave Silverman debated its “offensiveness” with Sean Hannity, dealt with a FOX Business Channel host who used the interview to laugh about the murder of AA’s founder Madalyn Murray O’Hair, and caused Bill Donohue to say Silverman was trying to “draw blood” with the message.

(Tie) #2) With 493 votes: Minnesota Atheists (with American Atheists): “Please Don’t Indoctrinate Me” (Minneapolis, Minnesota — January, 2012):

My guess, based on the comments, is that people voted for this billboard (and its counterpart) because they were horrified by the design. However, the campaign earned some impressive media coverage (none of which focused on what the billboards looked like).

(Tie) #2) With 493 votes: Backyard Skeptics: “Atheists Make Better Lovers” (Westminster, California — February, 2012):

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

This was my favorite billboard of the year. I thought it was creative, funny, and controversial, yet not so aggressive that it was poking a stick at religious people.

#1) With 676 votes: American Humanist Association: “Kids Without God” (Washington, D.C. and Moscow, Idaho — November, 2012):

This campaign tackled both childhood indoctrination and the idea that God is imaginary. Both ideas are controversial enough on their own. When combined, it was hard for religious people to ignore. (Not to mention: any time you anger the Creation Museum’s Ken Ham, you’ve probably done something right.)

Thanks to all of you for voting! It’s hard to top the variety of signs we saw this year, but I have no doubt this year’s bunch will be even more creative, giving us new opportunities to spread our message to the masses.

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.

  • newavocation

    Any chance your polling app was gamed? The kitten one was pretty dumb.

  • allein

    Oh boy, I just went and read Ham’s blog posts (well, skimmed, my head might explode otherwise). I like how he gives the url for the Kids without God site but doesn’t make it a link…don’t want to make it too easy to check it out!

  • PA Curtiss

    hey, man love the kittens. they’re cute, attention grabbing, and lets the world know that atheists are not monsters.

  • PA_Year_of_the_Bible

    Okay, so the question of the day is: Who designed the winning board, and how much did it cost to design?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    I’m sorry to see the Saturnalia poster didn’t make the list. I guess it was a late contender.

  • Blacksheep

    Wait, you mean Dave Silverman’s irritating billboards didn’t win??

    How about that!

  • chicago dyke

    heh, still butthurt over the thread about design, Hemant? /naughty

    yeah! i voted for the winner. that hardly ever happens, i must be at the right blog or something.

    yes, it’s wonderfully provocative and gets to the heart of the matter in a way even the most religiously constipated cannot ignore. and the design is pretty good. also.

  • Hemant Mehta

    Heh, not bothered by that thread at all. I think my comments went unchallenged, that better design would not lead to increased publicity for these groups.

  • Robin

    I also subscribed to the “I wish our signs were better designed” mentality.

    But I think Hemant made his point quite effectively. Any of those signs that went up got media attention and initiated community discussion, but about the issue at hand and not the look-and-feel of the signs.

    If you read the reactions of the religious to those signs, or listen to news snippets, they often talk about being offended or how offensive the signs are. It’s amusing that they are offended by anything except the actual thing that’s offensive about them, namely their design! ;)

    It sounds like the only people bothered by the designs are atheists themselves. Aren’t we just all little perfectionists!

    The signs were able to achieve their goals without fancy design. The moral is don’t spend your money on fancy design, use it to put up more signs!

  • Shaherah Summerhill

    wow yea, because copying and pasting is just SO…MUCH…….WORK…AHHHH

  • ReadsInTrees


  • ConureDelSol

    I think #5 should’ve been #1

  • Edward

    I couldn’t help noticing that he completely failed to address the point that children (or anyone, of any age) could could be “good without god”. Can’t imagine why.

  • Cor Rautenbach

    Billboards… It’s such a Christian thing to do.

  • Biff

    The Santa and Crucifix should really be Santa and a nativity scene. Seriously, get your myths right!

  • albanian

    fuck atheist…Jesus Christ <3

  • Troy

    As an Atheist, I want to not cringe at the design or idea of the message that I support. It’s hard to get behind bad design, lame ideas and bad copy. That aside, billboards are there for a purpose; whether it’s driving attendance, provoking thought, or just being a thorn in someone’s shoe. If it fails at it’s purpose, it’s a bad billboard and a waste of money whether it has kittens on it or not.