My Take on the Alabama Atheist Billboard
Here is the latest billboard from American Atheists, to advertise their first regional convention in the south, the Southeast Regional Atheist Meet. In the interest of full disclosure, I have been a member of American Atheists for several years and they are an organization I am proud to support.
I have somewhat mixed feeling about this particular billboard. On the one hand, I think it is a good thing for atheists to be able to stand up and proudly state that we do not believe in any of the religions. Especially in the largely religious south, where atheists are particularly nervous about “coming out” for fear of being judged as a bad person or worse.
On the other hand, I can see why religious people may be legitimately offended by it. Not that there is any right in this country not to be offended. Given the reaction of some religious people in Louisville to the LouisvilleCOR billboard, which stated “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone,” there are clearly those who are offended by any statement that atheists exist and that atheism as a good thing. As far as this billboard goes, I fear that it paints with a too broad of a brush. I think the claims of religions are all false on their face, but there a lot of people who reinterpret and reinvent their religions with a more humanistic and humane interpretation. It would be a shame for us to isolate those who identify with some sort of religious tradition but still might be our allies on issues such as the separation of church and state. Maybe I would prefer if the wording on the billboard were different, and that the use of all-caps were nixed. But I also have to be honest in saying I have not yet come up with a good slogan that would fit in one line on a billboard.
On the whole though, I like the billboard and I think it has done well in its purpose of drawing new members into American Atheists and in creating a media buzz that reaches far beyond Huntsville, Alabama.
You can read more about the billboard here (I actually just found this page, and they do address the concerns I brought up about more liberal religions. It is worth a read.): http://www.atheists.org/atheism/Religion_is_a_scam