Ten atheism-promoting billboards will go up in Denver over the holidays and one in Colorado Springs; the message is simple: “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone” in white letters over background that shows a mostly-cloudy blue sky. These billboards are, reportedly being paid for by a Colorado atheist group but, since the billboards for Colorado are not up yet, the news stories and Internet articles about them are showing a similar billboard that is up in Philadelphia, advertising a Philadelphia-based atheist group called the Greater Philadelphia Coalition of Reason (PhillyCor).
Joel Guttormson, a spokesman for the Denver group, Metro State Atheists, explains, “we’re putting them up in November and December because of the holidays, when church and state issues tend to come up a lot, to let non-believers, free-thinkers and atheists know that they are not alone, especially in a country like ours that is predominantly Christian.”
While the billboards are not up yet, thanks to the news media and the magic of the Internet, everyone seems to know about them and, even though their message does NOT, as the Denver News headline proclaims “question the existence of God,” they are attracting rage-filled howls of protest by religious groups and individuals.
It seems easy for me, an atheist, to rationalize billboards, pamphlets, leaflets, newspaper and Internet ads, etc. that are created by organized religions who are trying to gain new members. Religion is, after all, a business like any other business — without paying customers the rent cant be paid, the utilities will be turned off and people will loose their jobs.
I can also understand the hysterical reaction to the billboard idea by organized religion — this is religion’s competition. An atheist, by definition, does not attend religious services, does not ‘feed’ the collection plate and does not, of course, evangelize for a church. Atheists represent a loss of revenue not only to the church but, at least theoretically, to stores and malls who depend on Holiday shoppers for their largest selling season of the year. The reality, however, is that the majority of atheists still buy Christmas presents for their family members, their friends and, in some cases, for their co-workers because the majority of atheists are NOT trying to take the “Christ out of Christmas” they simply don’t believe in Him on a personal level.
It seems that atheism is now also a business — that’s the only motivation I can find for these billboards and for organizations like Metro State Atheists and PhillyCor. Well, I can’t deny anyone the opportunity to make money off of their religion (or non-religion) but I certainly don’t intend to join in to ‘get my share’ of the profits. The atheists who put up billboards, form organizations and try to tear down peoples beliefs in their religions are the “noisy” atheists — to them atheism is a profit-making business that has little to do with faith or a lack of it. These “noisy” atheists are also the ones who have trouble sustaining their non-belief, so they desperately need the company of other atheists as a support system.
People who are comfortable with their belief in a deity, or in the non-existance of one, don’t need support systems — but I guess we are in a vast minorty.
Denver News (ABC-7): Atheist Billboards To Debut During Holidays; Message Questions Existence Of God
Colorado Springs Gazette: Another atheist group takes the billboard route
Splendid Elles: Atheist Billboards in Colorado
The Atheocracy: Atheism gets on the bus
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