American Atheists Puts Up Two More Billboards in Texas, Featuring Rick Perry and Mike Huckabee

As American Atheists mentioned two weeks ago, two of the billboards in their current Texas campaign were rejected because they featured local politicians saying dumb things and were deemed “too inflammatory.”

But now, one of those billboards (featuring Governor Rick Perry) and another featuring Republican Mike Huckabee are up:

And, because it was controversial the last time, here are the sources for the quotations on the two billboards.

The way they’re phrasing Huckabee’s sign is interesting because here’s what he actually said:

I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that’s what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than trying to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.

Just to play Grammar Nazi, Huckabee’s billboard has him saying the word “to” though he never actually said that word. Additionally, AA’s paraphrase of his intention could possibly be a source of argument, since they’re implying Huckabee said the Constitution should be amended so it’s in his vision of God’s standards… while Huckabee would likely argue it’s not about what he wants, but about what the Bible says God wants.

It may be a distinction without a difference, but a distinction nonetheless.

In a press release, AA explained why they chose to highlight these politicians:

American Atheists President Dave Silverman said, “Rick Perry’s statement is out of touch with reality. Prayer does not solve problems, rather it masks them. Asking Americans to pray to solve the violence problem is an admission of administrative impotence. Playing the God card is not a valid substitute for real action.”

American Atheists Public Relations Director Dave Muscato added, “Huckabee’s statement is terrifying. The First Amendment exists to protect us from being forced to live in a theocracy. This is not just an issue for atheists: Whose interpretation of God’s standards would we even use? This is why the Founding Fathers insisted on separation of church & state in the first place.

The entire campaign costs $25,000 (possibly more with these new ads) and the billboards will be up through the month of March. The purpose is to promote AA’s upcoming 50th Anniversary celebration and national convention in Austin.

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.

  • Rain

    Why don’t they just get the quotes right. Plus the brackets don’t look cool at all. Most people probably don’t even know what the brackets mean, unless they read blogs that do a lot of “fisking”.

    • curtcameron

      Or unless they’ve ever read a newspaper. Brackets are pretty standard everywhere.

      • Rain

        Okay well brackets always make me nervous. They’re worse than scare quotes. You never know what the bracketeer is up to. Are they editorializing? Clarifying? Who the hell knows. Maybe if they were inserted by completely disinterested Vulcans that have no emotions, then I could live with them.

  • Jason Sullivan

    I think they’ve had better campaigns than this.

    • llama

      Not really. Their add campaigns tend to suck.

      • Jason Sullivan

        Do you think this one worse than the others?

        • llama

          No. In fact, I would say that were it not for the painfully inaccurate quotes that just provide cannon fodder for those opposed to atheism, this would be one of the better campaigns put out by American Atheists. I’m thinking of add campaigns that they’ve done in the past, such as the “Atheism: Simply Reasonable” billboards that they put up during the presidential election. Those adds came off as unintelligent, petty, and made me cringe seeing them (nothing says ‘leave the faith’ like ‘You’re stupid, your book is stupid, your stupid outfit is stupid, and you’re a bad person: Join American Athiests!’) It was like someone allowed r/atheism to speak for all atheists; even if you agree with them, you probably don’t want them representing you.

          • r.holmgren

            These kind of signs make it appear as though the only thing that can bring atheists together is hatred of other people. That isn’t true so why allow leaders like Silverman to make it appear that way? Or is it like every other sector of society; those who most want to be our leaders should automatically be rejected as candidates?


  • gmart

    The Perry one is pretty good. The Huckabee one — while not being 100% accurate — is too wordy and cumbersome. Need short statements so people driving by can quickly read and comprehend.

    • Rich Wilson

      Good point. Maybe they should ask these guys for quotes? It’s not like they’re hiding from their views.

      Mr. Huckabee, can we quote you as saying: “Amend the Constitution to God’s standards

      Mr. Perry, would you mind being quoted as saying “The school day should start with a prayer to God”.

      None of them have shirked any of the sentiments. We’re quibbling over exactly what words they used, and trying to condense those spoken words into something for a billboard.

  • Jeff Akston

    If they every decided to stop being partisan Democrats first and foremost and start accurately pointing out the real problem that BOTH parties cow tow to religion and leaders of BOTH PARTIES say stupid, nonsensical, irrational statements to promote religion, then maybe I’d donate.

    Huckabee? The guy hasn’t held office in over 6 years, and hasn’t even attempted political office since over 5 . Surely more of a point could be made over something that (gasp!) a current Democrate like Obama, Pelosi, or Clinton has said.

    But nope, they are first and foremost a DNC propaganda arm focused on atheism instead of being a truly independent voice on the subject.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Or, you know….They could focus on the people actually attacking religious freedom, instead of humoring your “both sides do it” fallacy.

      Are there stupid Democrats? Yes. Are there anywhere near as many, that are anywhere near as dangerous? Not at all. So let’s focus on the problem.

    • WallofSleep

      Meh, I dunno. Over the last couple of decades the Dems seem to have done a pretty good job of shedding the loons from their party, while the Reps seem bound and determined to embrace their loons and elevate them within their party.

      • baal

        Dems at least tried (at the party nominating convention for Obama pt. II) to leave god off the party platform until the leadership pulled a shenanigan to put it back in over the loud and clear protest of the rank and file.

        Obama does do the ‘natl. prayer breakfast’ every year and otherwise thanks god all the time while invoking the ‘christian nation’ line. So yes, the dems have bowing and scraping and I really don’t like it. Is it on the same scale as the GOP? Not even close.

      • jeff akston

        Obama has some pretty foolish quotes about hearing God’s word and plan for him and other such nonense. Pelosi too. You liikely just don’t know as much about them because sites supposedly focused on atheism and calling out politicians for such foolish items, just whitewash anything that could make a democrat look bad.

        It’s partisanship over message, and it’s transparent.

    • RobMcCune

      So you’re perfectly ok with one part being overrun with theocrats just so long as both parties are criticized equally?

      Maybe you need to rethink your priorities.

      • jeff akston

        No, I’d rather no one be overrun with theocrats. When we give the Democrats a complete free pass on their also bullshit religious pandering, it hurts just as much. It’s much more effective to point out Obama’s foolish religious pandering or Pelosi’s – people who are actually elected and in positions of power, then Huckabee, FFS

        • RobMcCune

          I never said anyone should get a free pass. And no it’s not just as bad. Texas has been trying rewrite their textbooks into dominionist propaganda that will influence the textbooks used by other states, and Huckabee has used his influence to try and convince christians that not voting republican will count against them at the last judgement. Both examples are much more than pandering lip service, they’re attempts to manipulate governement policy.

          If you can cite examples of the Democrats actually trying rewrite policy in order to use the government to promote religion feel free to post them. Don’t criticize AA because the really bad apples are all in the same basket.

          • chicago dyke

            while i’m not sure i’d agree with the jeff ak’s politics (i don’t know them so i can’t know if i would) i grok his point on this thread and support it.

            people who support Perry and think Huckabee has something important to say despite him not being an officeholder anymore are not going to be swayed by these ads. people who think Perry and Huckabee are dangerous theocrats already mostly agree with at least the sentiment that atheism is a valid position to hold in our society and that it should be protected.

            unfortunately, too many people who are supportive of atheist freedoms and rights are unaware of how many democratic politicians are not, or if they are, do little or nothing to demonstrate that.

            it’s a classic brainteaser that can be debated and should be. which is worse: the outspoken enemy who makes utterly clear his belief that you are evil, wrong, undeserving of the same freedoms believers enjoy, and a threat to children and society? or, the one who doesn’t actively support laws which strip atheists of their rights, but works behind the scenes with people who are? for the money, even, and not out of “true faith.”

            many democrats are like that. they don’t put it front and center of their campaign ads or websites, but look at their schedules, the people they confab with, the places they go when it’s time to drum up money and votes. far too often religious firebreathers are involved. agnostics and atheist democrats may think their party is the better one on the matter of religion, but frequently it’s not, it’s just more quiet about how entangled it is with religious organizations.

            gay people learned this the hard way in 2007-8. the gATM is a bedrock of democratic fundraising, and it pulled its weight to support obama. who turned around and campaigned with some of the worst anti-gay religious types openly and proudly, to prove what a “bipartisan” he can be. and it took him a long frakking time to “evolve” on the matter of equal rights for gays. all because he didn’t want to piss off his believer friends. now that it’s fashionable and safe he’s all about supporting gay rights openly, but for a long time the religious came first in his scheduler.

            some of us don’t forget.