Christian Pastor: I Respect Your Atheist Billboard, So Respect My Nativity Scene on Government Property

The San Diego Coalition of Reason just put up their last billboard and, based on your comments, you all love it:

A local news channel has already reported on the message:

At one point, the reporter interviews Pastor Chris Clark of the East Clairemont Southern Baptist Church and he seems like a completely respectable person:

Pastor Chris Clark

“I don’t know that they’re picking a fight necessarily. I think they’re trying to get their message out,” said Clark.

Clark said he supports the group’s freedom of speech. He just wants to make sure there’s no pushback if his church wants a billboard recruiting believers.

That’s awesome!

No, there would be no pushback at all if Clark wanted a church billboard. It’s good to see a Pastor who really gets it!

Unfortunately, Clark kept talking…

Clark said he supports the group’s freedom of speech. He just wants to make sure there’s no pushback if his church wants a billboard recruiting believers.

“All I’m asking for is equal access. Don’t get upset when there’s a nativity scene on the public square,” said Clark.

Say what now?

Atheists pay for a billboard… So the pastor thinks it’s only fair that he get to impose his religion on everyone else with the government’s help.


Absolutely not.

That’s not equal access. That’s over-access

He can pay for a billboard just like everyone else.

The moment he puts that Nativity Scene on government property, you can bet an atheist group will set up a Flying Spaghetti Monster version of The Last Supper right next to it.

(via Atheist Billboards)

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.

  • ortcutt

    Hemant, a Clear Channel billboard isn’t “public property”. They’re a private company and they’re free to decide what they want about accepting or rejecting anything. It’s completely different situation from government (i.e. public) property, where Constitutional constraints come into play.

    • Hemant Mehta

      Sorry, I know that. I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. I’ve edited the piece to reflect that.

  • C Peterson

    I’d say they just put up their “latest” billboard, not their “last” one. Unless you have information about their future you’re not sharing.

  • John Huey

    There was also a segment in the local news at 10 on the Fox station that was pretty good. IMHO, Debbie Allen was pitch perfect in conveying the positive message that atheists are not bad people. The locals (including a pastor) were less than positive about the billboard. One called atheism a ‘negative philosophy’, another said she would pray for the group, and the pastor said that he didn’t think the message on the billboard would go down very well with the locals. All in all, good news coverage.

    • jaycubed

      I regularly confront annoying street preachers and I am often told, “I will pray for you.” I then tell them, “Please don’t do that, because if you do I will have to masturbate for you. After all, prayer and masturbation are the same thing, they’re both self-stimulation for your own pleasure.” It ruins their fantasy, and I’m pretty sure it puts a stop to them “praying” for me.

  • John Huey

    Here is a link to the coverage on Fox 5.

    • Rich Wilson

      Fox is always good for a laugh. At least they didn’t try to toss in a “fair and balanced”.

  • TonganJedi

    A billboard is private property, which is why the Pastor is using a false equivalence here. But I don’t expect them to actually educate themselves on these kinds of issues. That would just interfere with their proselytization.

  • Spanish Inquisitor

    Now, if they’d actually PAY for the right to erect a Nativity scene, which would imply that anyone can pay to put anything in the public square, that may be OK.

  • SouthernHumanist

    Churches on every corner, “In God We Trust” on everything – including license plates, presidential bibles, “so help me God” swearing in ceremonies, prayer vigils, elected public officials citing Genesis as science, Christian schools getting state tax revenue, etc. One pro-atheist billboard and suddenly there’s a hint atheism is overstepping its bounds?

    • baal

      “Churches on every corner”

      My son and I play a game in the car every now and then. We pick a type of store / building and try to remember how many of them there are on a particular ride (to the grocery for example). You should try it with churches. I always under count them. There are an insane number of them.

      • Adam Patrick

        There’s a stretch of road near me that’s barely over a mile long and there are 10 churches just on that road.

    • RobMcCune

      It’s all give and take, they’ll let you have a display just like they have if you let them take a fraction of government neutrality on religious matters. Quid pro quo.

  • coyotenose

    Fucking equivalencies, how do they work?

  • Patrick Tinkham

    I think we (including myself) might have made a tacit assumption: public square = public property. Without more to go on, the pastor may have been referring to the public square in a generic fashion, in which case a billboard would qualify. FWIW.

    • baal

      I would agree Patrick but the nativity scenes are always put up on governmental property for some reason. If the nativity tradition was just limited to private property that is publicly visible, I’d grant your use of the charitable principle.

    • RobMcCune

      They’re deliberately vague on which their referring to, in the hopes their followers understand the difference.

    • rlrose328

      We could give him that assumption, but we are not in the practice of asking them to remove nativity scenes that are not on government property. They may THINK we have, but we haven’t, that I know of. That’s all part of the persecution complex.

  • John Huey

    There is also coverage in the Local News section of San Diego UT newspaper (below the fold but front page).

  • Mario Strada

    1) Local news sucks and it applies to most local “personalities”

    2) I long for the day when putting up an atheist billboard won’t make the news. (Yes, I know the object is to make the news. Right now)

    3) The pastor couldn’t be more wrong, complaining about a double standard while expressing his desire of a double standard being applied to his nativity scene.
    What he is saying is ” we’ll let you put up your billboard, that you paid for with your own hard cash, on commercial property, as long as you let us put up, for free, our nativity scene on public property. Otherwise I’ll complain that there is a double standard of which we are the victims.

    I usually don’t stoop down to using foul language on the internet if I can help it, but the first thing that came to my mind was a resounding F U.

    • coyotenose

      It isn’t always “stooping down”. Quite often it is the best they deserve.

  • _7654_

    The Pastor is missing the essential distinction between the billboard being on private land / property owned or rented by the billboard company and the proposed nativity scene being on, well, public / government owned land. If the Pastor would cough up the money and rent out the billboard for a week, and post his church message there then he would be right. But he is not.

  • Daniel

    I normally really dislike these atheist billboards. I do love this one, totally awesome.

  • Eileen Cano

    I would personally pay good money to see an FSM last supper. I would gladly pay to fly to whatever town had put it up, just to see that.

    • Debbie Allen

      This would be a fantastic billboard. LOVE the Flying Spaghetti Monster!

  • J-Rex

    Again, why can’t churches put up nativity scenes on their own lawns???

    • Debbie Allen

      J-Rex, I’m with you. Put anything you want on your own property!! It’s allowed. It’s encouraged. Stop subjecting us to your religious displays and observances.

  • Richard Wade

    Why is it that right wing fundies are always so intensely aware of what belongs to the government and what belongs to them, except when it comes to using government property, resources, and clout to promote their religion? Suddenly they just can’t seem to comprehend the difference between private and government.

  • nakedanthropologist

    I have to say, the FSM last supper idea is pretty cool, Hermant. Perhaps Knoxville would benefit from one this upcoming Christmas. :-)

  • roberthughmclean

    It seems TV news programs go out of their way to interview the dumbest person they can find. Maybe they’re after a giggle. To be a pastor/cleric/clergy sort of person is not a good start, bit like admitting by the pastor that he is a fool as only foolish people swallow the fraud religion perpetrates. The news should look harder. Maybe the fact is that any representaive the religious organizations offer is going to be a compromised individual and paster/clerics like this one are the best they can do.