American Atheists’ Sarah Palin Billboard May Be Replaced By Ones Featuring Rick Perry and George W. Bush

This is a guest post by Dave Muscato. Dave is the Public Relations Director of American Atheists.


Hello Friendly Atheist readers,

My name is Dave Muscato, and I am the new Public Relations Director for American Atheists — today is my first day, actually!

With this guest post, I want to address Hemant’s article from yesterday about our billboard campaign going up in Texas today.

We originally designed two billboards featuring George W. Bush and Rick Perry, but we were unable to find a billboard company in Texas willing to run either of them. Texas being home to both Perry and George W., every billboard company we approached considered them too inflammatory. Here are the two designs that were refused:

And here are our sources for the two refused billboards.

As a replacement for those two designs, we put together one featuring Sarah Palin, with a quotation attributed, reading “We should create law based on the God of the Bible.”

This quotation comes from an interview Palin did with Bill O’Reilly in which her exact statement, as transcribed by the Huffington Post, reads:

“Go back to what our founders and our founding documents meant — they’re quite clear — that we would create law based on the God of the bible and the ten commandments.”

In their coverage of the interview, the Huffington Post read her intentions the same way we did; their headline was: “Sarah Palin: American Law Should Be ‘Based On The God Of The Bible And The Ten Commandments.’”

We are issuing an official apology to Sarah Palin for misplacing the quotation marks and falsely attributing the word “should” to her. The billboard should have said: We should “create law based on the God of the Bible” (with quotation marks after the word “should”).

We in no way intended to misrepresent Palin.

Although I am confident that we did NOT misrepresent Palin’s intentions or opinion on this subject, we did in fact place the quotation marks incorrectly on the design and, for this, we apologize. As rational, skeptical freethinkers with a commitment to truth and accuracy, it is very important to us that we maintain the highest standards in everything that we do.

As it turns out, we may not be using the Sarah Palin design at all.

A billboard company, although they initially refused to run our original preference of the Rick Perry and George W. Bush designs, changed their tune when CNN contacted them about running a story about their refusal. They have agreed to run our original designs after all, so that is what we intend to do: The Rick Perry billboard will go up in his hometown of Austin, and the Bush billboard in his respective hometown of Dallas… unless the billboard company changes its mind again.

All this said, let us not forget the purpose of these billboards: To promote our 50th Anniversary celebration and annual convention in Austin the weekend of March 28th! The Friendly Atheist himself will be among the speakers, as well as A.C. Grayling, Katherine Stewart, former Congressman Pete Stark, Twisted Sister lead guitarist Jay Jay French, popular debaters Matt Dillahunty and JT Eberhard, former pastors-turned-atheists Teresa MacBain and Jerry DeWitt, American Atheists President David Silverman, and many others. Since this is our 50th Anniversary, we’ll also have a LOT of other fun stuff: A costume party, an auction and art show, comedy, musical performances, childcare options including Camp Quest, and more than 25 vendors and exhibitors.

See you there!

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.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    I hope they don’t change their minds because the Bush/Perry ones have much more impact in my opinion.

  • A3Kr0n

    Quotation mark malfunction?

  • observer

    “[W]e were unable to find a billboard company in Texas willing to run
    either of them.”

    Offended, or ashamed?

  • Reginald Selkirk

    In their coverage of the interview, the Huffington Post read her intentions the same way we did; their headline was…

    Dave Muscato: someone in your position should be aware that headlines are not written by the author of an article, let alone persons quoted in the article. Indeed, it seems you are aware of the distinction between a direct quote and a headline. I could cite a lengthy list of ridiculous headlines which do not reflect, or even contradict the content of an article. Someone in your position has certainly seen such headlines so I will save us both the trouble. So stop backpedaling; you were wrong. Stop trying to explain how you weren’t really wrong. You come out of that looking weasely.

  • jeff akston

    Why Bush? Rick Perry? Hell, Palin? Maybe that would have made sense at least 4 years ago, but she is gone from the national stage.

    You know what else is stupid, acting like it’s exclusively Republicans who allow religion to poison their political views. Democrats are ONLY NOW coming around on gay marriage. It’s because Democrats won’t support things like removing God from currency, changing (back) the pledge, making stem cell research more prominent.

    If you want to really push the envelope, stop acting like it’s EXCLUSIVELY Republicans who say and do stupid shit about religion.

    How about this Obama quote: “It was on those streets, in those neighborhoods, that I first heard God’s spirit beckon me. It was there that I felt called to a higher
    purpose — His purpose.”

  • micawber

    Rick Perry’s hometown is Paint Creek not Austin.

  • amycas

    I don’t think Dave is back pedaling at all. He was merely stating what happened and what their source was. And he repeatedly has said it was wrong in multiple places (not just this post) and they’re fixing it. What’s the problem here?

  • TravelingTxn

    Bush isn’t from Dallas… hell he’s not even really from Texas since he was born in Connecticut. He was moved to Midland (330ish miles from Dallas) as a kid and then Houston (250ish miles from Dallas)

  • Thundal Archsys

    Bush because he started two wars, Perry because he’s presently the govenor and a pile of ass that constantly fucks with the education system in Texas (and, by extension, because of the way that school books are manufactured, the education system for much of the country), and Palin because… probably because she’s so ridiculously stupid.

    Remember that Dems still need some religious vote to get elected.. until the population changes, the system cannot.

  • Witchgawd

    American Atheists…pffft! They throw away money like few organizations can. Billboards to promote your stance on issues? It looks stupid when religions do it, but they have to one up them and look even stupider. It will be vandalized in a few days and that money will be wasted. American Atheists is a joke. Just look at their spokesperson. Silverman is horrible in debates and interviews and comes off as a complete ass more often than not. He’s a punchline, much like many of the hosts on FAUX news that continually cut him off in interviews. How anyone can support this organization is beyond me. Support Americans United or the FFRF. They actually get stuff done and keep religion from infringing on our government and our rights.

  • Camorris

    Mistakenly using “should” in the quote is showing Palin in a better light than using the far scarier correct word “would”. This controversy brings to light not only the problem of misquoting, but highlights the evangelicals’ true intentions when elected to real power.

  • Arthur Byrne

    Yes, it’s very likely to be vandalized… which becomes another news story, which gets pictures of the billboard in front of even more eyeballs.

    FFRF focuses on the legal front; Americans United focuses more on the political front, which shapes the underlying framework of law. Billboards such as these are designed to influence popular opinion (EG, by making atheism seem more statistically normal by increasing its visibility, and by highlighting the outlandish statements of prominently religious politicians) — the major underlying foundation of politics.

  • Jeff Akston

    So, Democrats have free reign because they aren’t Republicans? Let Democrats pander to religious folks, hold the rationality movement back with their implicit and often explicit support of backwards, stupid insertion of religious dogma and superstitions into policy, let them say stupid shit and let it completely slide….because of partisan bullshit?

    Completely casts a cloud on the legitimacy on a the entire group if their first priority is making sure Democrats are protected.

    If party affiliation is first priority, then change the name of the group to American Democratic Atheists.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Muscato’s post is mostly win. They admit the Palin billboard was a mistake (WIN!) They come out with two replacements that are possibly even better (WIN! WIN!) Wastes time explaining how their mistake wasn’t really a mistake. It undercuts the win. It looks weasely. It makes it appear more like a “not-pology.” (Colorful metaphor: “dribbling down one’s leg”)

  • JT Eberhard

    Boy, Muscato was a killer hire for AA.

  • Dave Muscato

    Actually the Palin billboard was the replacement. The two rejected billboards were our first designs and our preference. It looks like they may be going up instead of the Palin replacement after all. If that’s the case, then we won’t be using the Palin one in the first place, so the misplaced quotation mark is a moot point. Hope this helps!

  • Dave Muscato

    The purpose of the billboards is to promote our 50th Anniversary celebration and annual convention in Austin on the weekend of March 29th. Thanks for your input.

  • Bill Zeblinsky

    Split hairs often? The governor spends much of his time at the state capital.

  • Bill Zeblinsky

    He lives in Dallas! Hometown can mean the town where you live (make your home), too.

  • Bill Zeblinsky

    Why pretend that the majority of atheists and would-be atheists aren’t more often than not liberals/progressives? It’s clear that more evangelicals gravitate toward the Republican Party. Yes, the Dems have black Baptists and Latino Catholics, but I would argue that the Palins and Santorums of this country’s political machine pose more of a threat to separation of church/state matters. So why not pander to the liberalism of many atheists? Ya think they’re going to alienate a bunch of GOP atheists?

  • r.holmgren

    More impact? You mean they REALLY advertise the 50th anniversary?

  • r.holmgren

    And that can’t be done without mocking other people? That seems to be fast becoming the atheist movements only tool in the box. Demean, diminish, disdain – i.e. advertise that we’re atheists.

  • baal

    From the blog you linked to (i don’t recommend giving the troll the hits btw), it’s clear your motive here is to troll – your pretty open about that motive on your blog. Regardless, the point of the billboards is to be funny and then link that sense of humor and wit with atheism. I also agree with Kevin that the Bush/Perry ones achieve that better than the palin one does.

  • Dave Muscato

    It’s our understanding that Perry lives in Austin now. The Governor’s Mansion is there.

    - Dave Muscato
    Public Relations Director, American Atheists

  • Bereanman

    My solution is replace these billboards with Obama, Chavez, Stalin, Putin, and the rest of the socialist, marxist, communists that have destroyed our world.