Atheists Adopt-a-Highway… Just Outside the Creation Museum

The Tri-State Freethinkers (covering parts of Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana) recently adopted a highway. That’s awesome in and of itself, but what makes this particular highway special is that it’s the entrance road to the Creation Museum :) Specifically, it’s the road off the Petersburg Rd. exit, the main artery into Ken Ham‘s kingdom.

Their first cleanup was held over the weekend:

You could argue that the last highway you’d want to keep clean is the one leading into FictionLand… but there’s also a benefit to putting your name in front of all the people who are heading there, countering the claim stressed in the Creation Museum that you can’t be good without God.

Jim Helton, the American Atheist Regional Director in Kentucky, also offered these reasons for doing it:

First of all, Adopt-a-Highway is a great program. It is good for the environment & the community. Second, we picked a location which would be easy for volunteers to get to. Third, the signs have let people passing by that they are not alone and we have a presence in the area.

Plus, I would add, at least one organization is contributing something positive to the area.

(Pictures courtesy of John Welte. Thanks to Jim for the link!)

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.

  • Revyloution

    This is the most passive aggressive public statement Ive seen in a long time.

    “Oh! Don’t mind us! Were just cleaning up all the trash. You just go on in your’e little theme park there, we can get all this. Ya, just drop your receipts, empty cups and burger wrappers on the ground, we’ll pick it up. Seriously, you all go have fun, we’ll just be out here in the hot sun working…”

    • Michael

      I wonder how many people will deliberately drop more litter on their way home now?

    • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

      Or, you know, it’s just a worthwhile thing to do, regardless of the statement it makes.

      • Revyloution

        I was just being flippant, but that raises a serious question.

        If your only cleaning up trash as a statement against the buildings that front the road, is it still a good deed? Can public service and public speech coincide, or will one erode the other over time?

        When the organizer wrote ” Second, we picked a location which would be easy for volunteers to get to. ”
        What does that say about his volunteers, that they will be more likely to show up if they get to stick their finger in the eyes of those they disagree with?

        • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

          That’s a fair question, but as far as I’m concerned, people can do good deeds for bad reasons, and that doesn’t make the outcome any less beneficial – it just means that the individual isn’t justified in taking any kind of satisfaction in the action. I wouldn’t read the “Second” statement in that way, though; with the caveat that I’m not familiar with the area, it may in fact be that the road is an easy one to access, since the Creation Museum would presumably want a location near such a road as well.

        • TheAnti-Coconut

          Yea, I’m a local. The creation museum is right off of the southern track of our circle freeway, I-275. It’s easily accessible to Cincinnatians and those who live in Lawrenceburg, IN, too. It’s in the vicinity of the Greater Cincinnati Airport. I suppose you could go for a more equidistant location but you might end up in the Ohio Ocean. Now going by population, more people live in Hamilton County, in the ‘burbs of Cincy, and in the three northern most counties of Kentucky…so a better location would probably be smack dab in the center of Cincy or across the way in Newport or downtown Covington. Plenty of grand old churches thereabouts but nothing quite as stupid as the creation museum.

    • http://www.facebook.com/kellen.conner.5 Kellen Conner

      Of course, you could make that interpretation of *every* adopt-a-highway sign, if you really wanted to.

      • TheAnti-Coconut

        Can it really be altruistic unless it’s “anonymous?”

        • Katwise

          Volunteerism doesn’t have to be altruistic. I volunteer because it makes me feel useful and productive by providing a public service that otherwise would either not be done or would cost taxpayer or donated dollars. Good for the public and good for me.

        • http://www.facebook.com/kellen.conner.5 Kellen Conner

          That’s what I don’t understand: Why *isn’t* it altruistic unless it’s “anonymous?” Wanting fame, credit, or reward isn’t the only reason for putting your name to your good deeds.
          Example: I recently made a new friend who’s into animal rescue and pet fostering. Because she makes no bones about telling me how much good one person can do (generally by telling me personal stories and posting about her experiences on Facebook), I have developed an interest in getting into animal rescue myself. If she hadn’t said anything, if she had kept silent in the name of “not seeking personal gain,” I might never have thought about trying it myself. I submit that Person X seeing the name of a person he knows or a group he respects on an “Adopt-a-Highway” sign might give him the push he needs to look into adopting his own highway. And the same can be said of any charity or volunteer group.
          Just because *some* people do good because they want to call attention to themselves, it doesn’t follow that *everyone* does, and it doesn’t diminish the good they do. So what good does anonymity do anyone?

  • http://twitter.com/the_final_pope Ben Roy

    This almost brought a tear to my eye. The sheer beauty of this no so subtle jab is just wonderful.

  • cipher

    How long will it take the fundies to come out and “minister” to them?

    • Mackinz

      Chances are that it already happened.

      And I’m sure our friends at the Tri-State Freethinkers handled the fundies quite well.

    • Donatello

      How long will it take Ken Ham to crank out a blog post about this, telling his sheeple how militant atheists are stalking him and taking away his religious freedom?

      • cipher

        Not long, I’m sure – but I think it will probably take the form of, “It’s a nice thing for them to do, but they’re trying to show they can be good without God, and NO ONE can!”

      • observer

        And they’re cleaning up trash to boot, don’t they know God’s going to come an destroy the world anyway?

  • Gus Snarp

    Nice.

  • curtcameron

    95% of the visitors to Ham’s museum don’t have a clue what a “freethinker” is.

    • Vukota

      Was just going to post that. I love the idea but it would have much more impact if the group had atheists in the title.

    • meekinheritance

      I know some people who think freethinkers are people who are free to think whatever they want, regardless of evidence. As a T-shirt wearing member of Freethought Dayton, I’ve had to explain it to several people.

      • Castilliano

        Yeah, I’m not sure ‘Freethinker’ is working as a buzzword for nonreligious/non-superstitious folk. It sounds beautiful, and the way we use it, it is. But I’m not sure enough people have the same meaning for it.

        I’ve had people think it means thinking outside of conventional thinking, as in alternative medicine/new age garbage.
        You might just be advertising craziness without knowing it, though I like that it sparks conversation.

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

          i hate to agree with yall, but i do. “atheist.” say it loud, say it proud.

        • http://twitter.com/InMyUnbelief TCC

          I typically prefer “freethinker” to “atheist” (although I’m both) simply because it is a more useful term. What does “atheist” tell you? My position on one matter. What does “freethinker” (or even “skeptic”) tell you? How I view reality and on what I base my beliefs. The fact that people don’t always know what it means is less important; in fact, despite the fact that it’s good to desensitize people to hearing people talking openly about atheism in the public square, it may be good for some groups in some places to promote the freethinker label in order to get the message out there without turning off fence-sitters by using the stigmatized term.

    • Gus Snarp

      This is absolutely the flaw, but I think that has been the name of the group for a long time, and probably had to have the actual group name on the sign. The alternative, getting everyone involved to sign off on a whole new name for the group just for this sign, even if it would be accepted with such a history, would have been pretty difficult.

  • Sue Blue

    I congratulate the Tri-State Freethinkers on their good work, but I wonder how long it will be before that sign gets vandalized or just “fixed up” Kentucky-style with some bullet holes. Might be a week or two, assuming a few marginally literate creationists actually know what “freethinker” means.

    • aaa

      ” just “fixed up” Kentucky-style with some bullet holes.”

      You mean they don’t come that way?

      • http://www.everydayintheparkwithgeorge.com/ Matt Eggler

        The state used to make them that way but, with the poor economy and budget cut-backs, they now rely on volunteers.

    • TheAnti-Coconut

      I haven’t seen a sign like that around here for a good five or ten years. Come on now, where’s the NRA when you need them!

  • The Godless Monster

    Those (very) few who actually do read the sign won’t have a clue as to what a freethinker is. Still, I commend them for at least giving it a shot and for doing what they can to keep their state beautiful…or at least clean. More than I’m doing.

  • Kinky F.

    I love how the one guy in back is holding his garbage grabber like a pitchfork!

    Devil Atheists!!!

    ;)

  • Mario Strada

    I wonder if the definition of “litter” would allow them to dismantle the creation museum building and contents and cart it away to the dump.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001598968069 Steven Hewett

    You guys ROCK!

  • Little Magpie

    This is hilarious – doesn’t quite surpass the guy who bought a house across the street from Westboro and painted it in a pride rainbow – but it’s close. :)

    • DavidMHart

      Is it too much to hope for that someone might buy a plot opposite the Creation Pseu-seum and build their own Museum of Natural History? Tag-line – teach the controversy?

      • Little Magpie

        i would totally donate to that :)

  • sam

    Gosh, I’m all for clean highways, but considering you have to leave your brain at the door to enter the creation “museum”, I imagine that alot of visiting religiotards are going to toss them out of their cars along the way. You guys are going to be knee-deep in decaying brain matter. Be sure to bring plenty of biohazard bags.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bailey.bednar Bailey Bednar

    The trash should be delivered to their front doorstep as it’s all theirs.

  • pagansister

    That is a perfect place for them to adopt a highway! Well done!!

  • TheBlackCat13

    I just hope Ken doesn’t tell his clock to intentionally give them more work to do.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Canieldonrad Daniel Conrad

    I live in Dry Ridge, KY. Please come to Williamstown and do a clean up near their proposed site for the theme park!

  • r.holmgren

    Good on you guys. The world needs our help. Wouldn’t it be nice if it wasn’t news when atheists do good things?


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