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Atheism Billboard Goes Up to 'Create Controversy'

Group says it plans two more signs next month, one near Los Alamitos and one in Orange.

The original plan called for something far more inflammatory: a billboard saying "All religions are fairytales."

"We want to create controversy and make people think," said Bruce Gleason of Backyard Skeptics, an Orange County atheist club.

But the sign company deemed that ad too incendiary.

So Gleason's group cooked up several tamer slogans (such as "Don't believe in God? You're not alone") and began plastering them on local bus stops and billboards.

The newest sign went up this week along the southbound 55 Freeway, near the Edinger on-ramp.

It depicts "lifelong atheist" Natalie Khazaal saying, "Atheism is philanthropy without mythology, peace without superstition."

Gleason, a Villa Park video producer who films West Coast swing-dance competitions, said the $6,000 billboard will stay up for one month.

"We've been getting a lot of comments from people saying we should have spent that money on charity," Gleason said. "But look at all the Christian billboards. Shouldn't they also be spending that money on charity?"

Two more atheist billboards will appear next month, he said. One, along the 22 Freeway at Valley View, will say: "Faith has no answers. It only impedes questions."

The other, along a street in Orange, will quote Thomas Jefferson.

The ad campaign is financed by "an anonymous donor" to Backyard Skeptics, which boasts 440 members and sponsors assorted activities, including science-related field trips to the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, monthly lectures and occasional movie nights (the latest screening is "The Ledge," about a love triangle involving an atheist and two Christians).

Club members also trek to the Huntington Beach Pier several times a year to proselytize in person--just like their Christian counterparts--with "secular signs" to recruit new nonbelievers.

What do local Christian organizations think of the anti-God billboard effort? Officials with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and declined to comment.

Chris Muir August 23, 2011 at 07:30 AM
Cheryl, Athiests are not "demanding" that anyone abandon their values, Christian or otherwise. They are merely stating their position and promoting their views on religion, something everyone is allowed to do in a religiously free nation - and you are free to disagree, if you wish. But you don't have a right to silence them or expel them.
Rich Kane August 23, 2011 at 09:11 AM
To read a Laguna Beach Patch profile of atheist Niko Theris — who sometimes gets into trouble for such things as leaving defaced Bibles around town to celebrate International Blasphemy Day — click this link: http://patch.com/A-cvKh
Dan Avery August 23, 2011 at 06:17 PM
Chris Muir, That was beautifully stated and completely logical.
Dan Avery August 23, 2011 at 06:21 PM
@met00 Here's what I learned after 7 years of studying writing and 18 years teaching it. The digressions are usually far more interesting than what you started out to say. It's why they have a way of popping up in a draft. The mind makes a more interesting and rich connection while you're thinking about something else.
gregory tucker August 23, 2011 at 07:02 PM
Shripathi Kamath I chose to read this article for several reasons. I am also tired of fundemental christians forcing their views on me. Though I prefer to be called a deist, most likely I am an Agnostic. What bothers me though, is as much as I detest Christians forcing their views on Me, I am equally opposed to people like Jim Corbett who believe they have the right to make disparging comments on other peoples' belief. It is very hyprocritical! Would you not agree?
Dan Avery August 24, 2011 at 12:20 AM
Rich, thanks for that link. Niko Theris sounds like a really interesting guy.
met00 August 24, 2011 at 12:43 AM
Dan, when I wrote my book for Prentice Hall my editor used to complain that he would have to sit there with a red pen removing 70% of the parenthetical stuff I added. I know from whence you speak (and the worst part was the book was a tech boon on programming for the Web).
Rich Kane August 24, 2011 at 12:46 AM
Welcome, Dan ....
Yandor Thon August 24, 2011 at 04:18 AM
Please visit http://www.postmodernrevelation.com in support of change Thank you James
Dan Avery August 24, 2011 at 04:40 AM
@met00 programming for the web? what like...oh no you don't I see it now...you're just trying to make me go all off-topic again...I fell for that once but that's it...June Avery didn't raise any fools...well, at least not any that lived...
Dan Avery August 24, 2011 at 05:29 AM
Yandor, That's a seriously powerful painting. Thanks for sharing the link!
Carolyn Fitz-Gibbon August 24, 2011 at 06:18 PM
I submit a great quote my former husband wrote: "If one person is delusional, we call them crazy, If millions are delusional, we call it religion. Every religion believes that their book of fables is the absolute truth, and all are wrong." Is that great or what ! ? !
met00 August 24, 2011 at 06:34 PM
Are you sure that he wasn't misquoting Robert Heinlein? "A religion is sometime a source of happiness, and I would not deprive anyone of happiness. But it is a comfort appropriate for the weak, not for the strong. The great trouble with religion — any religion — is that a religionist, having accepted certain propositions by faith, cannot thereafter judge those propositions by evidence. One may bask at the warm fire of faith or choose to live in the bleak uncertainty of reason — but one cannot have both." or "God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent — it says so right here on the label. If you have a mind capable of believing all three of these divine attributes simultaneously, I have a wonderful bargain for you. No checks, please. Cash and in small bills." or "History does not record anywhere at any time a religion that has any rational basis. Religion is a crutch for people not strong enough to stand up to the unknown without help. But, like dandruff, most people do have a religion and spend time and money on it and seem to derive considerable pleasure from fiddling with it." or "It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics." There are many more. Heinlein was very smart.
smartgirl06 August 24, 2011 at 07:17 PM
Wow. I can't believe how awful you all truly ARE. I have never spent any time with people such as Carolyn Fitz-Gibbon or met00 who thought they were so superior to other peoplewhere talking about those they think they are superior to brings such giddy delight. You TRULY do not know what you are talking about but you sure have a nice time getting together to talk about people en mass behind their backs. Good for you. You blend cult beliefs with your own and come up with some mutilated version of reality. You sound like poor losers at a game who feel sorry for themselves and so revel in gossip trying to make yourselves feel better. Wow. You sure spend a lot of time thinking about what religion is and quantifying it in terms of what it means to the millions and millions of people who are a part of one. You also have pre-judged every one who has any faith in any thing when you can't possibly know what those people think. You can't judge ALL people under one umbrella encompassing all belief of any kind. That is illogical, unreasonable, and a ridiculous waste of time. Any one who thinks SUCH dramatic and negative thoughts so as to have them at the ready to belittle & mock people who are doing nothing to you shows great short-sightedness and bitterness. It's as if you are in a corner gossiping, but not in front of those you are talking about.
Lindsey Hanson August 24, 2011 at 07:50 PM
I'm with you Carolyn. Hold strong just remember you will never have the same power of coercion as the church. Best to find solace in those who think like us rather than pursue the close minded. Sad but true. My favorite thing to remind myself when feeling the need to refute the obvious falsehoods of religion is that I choose to be good because I know it to be the right thing. I choose to love thy neighbor and my planet because I understand that humanity is the most vital puzzle peace to our survival. I do not need the fear of “God” to tell me what is right and what is wrong. I choose the higher ground because I am intelligent enough and in my own self worth understand the concept of the golden rule. I will leave you with a quote from my man crush Mr. Carl Sagan “I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking. The world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there's little good evidence. Far better it seems to me, in our vulnerability, is to look death in the eye and to be grateful every day for the brief but magnificent opportunity that life provides.”
met00 August 24, 2011 at 09:02 PM
Well Smartgirl06, may I suggest that you should break out of your insulated circle of myth believers and meet people that don't feel stories written by a bunch of people who thought the earth was flat is the Truth (with a capital "T"). You have no idea what I think (other than Heinlein had some really good quotes about religion). You have no idea what my personal faith may be, or if I even have one. And the great part is you never will. It's MY PERSONAL faith and I don't share it. You, on the other hand, wear your faith as a badge of honor and insist that we all accept it as the ultimate Truth. Well excuse us if we say that your myths don't impress us, that your myths are just that, mythology. And the sad part, it's not even good mythology, there are so many that are so much better. You on the other hand seem to feel that YOU have the right to judge others. You have judged me, and others here. You make statements of fact, that are nothing but fantasy based on your twisted perceptions of reality. I actually respect your right to believe whatever mythology gives you joy, but I only ask that you do it in private (either your home, or in a building with others who share your myths) and NOT bring it into the public square and NOT attempt to legislate it. So, if you want to think that rubbing green mud into your navel gives you a closer relationship and association to the divine, go for it. Just don't attempt to force it n me or sell me the snake oil. I ain't buying.
smartgirl06 August 24, 2011 at 09:23 PM
met00--Buy what you want, don't buy what you don't want. You know nothing about me except what I point out to you about what YOU are saying--nothing I am making up. And I addressed it to two people, not just yourself. You'd really have to be blind to not see my points. And I've said nothing about what I believe. I am speaking generally the way certain people on here are spouting genuine anger/hurt/fear-driven thoughts. The whole, "I'm with you Carolyn. Hold strong just remember you will never have the same power of coercion as the church. Best to find solace in those who think like us rather than pursue the close minded. Sad but true," written by Lindsey Hanson, speaks volumes to how the thinking of the church being some "powerful" thing one need step lightly around and be overly careful and cautious of in a way to protect sounds bizarre. There is something to be said of people who gain pleasure out of finding solace in putting a group of people down they have no idea of. The only people you can have an idea of are those you've had direct experience with, and even then you have your life outside of anything anyone else believes/thinks. It sounds like some people go out of their way to have something to talk about and feel sorry for themselves about. This is a completely new and confusing experience. &Re: millions of "religious" people--you can't speak to know all their thoughts and beliefs just because they have any kind "faith."
Lindsey Hanson August 24, 2011 at 09:50 PM
@"Smartgirl" and i quote said "speaks volumes to how the thinking of the church being some "powerful" thing one need step lightly around and be overly careful and cautious of in a way to protect sounds bizarre." I think you have completely missed my point. I do not suggest one should step lightly around or be overly careful around the church. What I was saying is that it is near impossible to change the minds of those who have been successfully brain washed by the church. A brain washing that has been perpetuated for thousands of years. A conditioning that usually starts young and in laden with fear. Those kinds of mental barriers are hard to penetrate. Nothing in my statement put you down either. I was more interested in Carolyn. Sometimes it's hard to constantly be told that you are less than because you understand the vastness of science. The Christian faith tells me I am going to burn in hell. When you are raised in the church the ingrained fear is hard to shake. I like to encourrage and comfort others that do not embrace religion to help lighten the emotional load. Have you seen the Documentary Jesus Camp?
smartgirl06 August 24, 2011 at 10:17 PM
Lindsey--thanks for your response. First, and only so as to clarify to anyone who responds to me--I am ONLY going by what anyone else is writing--so my points are gleaned from the written words, as they are. I have to admit I felt your response and it did bring tears to my eyes. This whole thread is so surprising because it started with a poke in the eye toward those who have any faith. That is just bad practice. Your mom tells you that when you are little. At first I didn't know if it was you or met00 who had responded because I had to scroll further to be able to read it. I am really sorry if you personally have EVER felt "less" because someone in a church made you feel that way. That is an awful thing to feel and go through. I can understand people who understand science, and people who understand religion, tradition, faith, and just whatever their PERSONAL beliefs/experiences are. We all come from somewhere and are told what we are told and experience what we experience. Yes. I just think and have always been of the mindset to not harm anyone while believing whatever it is that one will believe. To love people, animals, whatever we are given as charge, and to appreciate what we have. I also know there are millions of suffering people who do not have the privilege of having a family who cares. I hate human suffering and wish that the people with a helluva lot of money would DO something about it because they can. But here I am sorry for those suffering.
Lindsey Hanson August 24, 2011 at 10:40 PM
@ Carolyn No one in the church has to inflict the emotional wounds. The Bible tells me that because I do not believe in the teachings of the Christian faith that I am to burn in hell fire. I too share your love for all things (well most things). I wish harm on no one (okay mostly). I do not wish to debate or push my views on anyone (at least not my religios one). More so through shared opinions find some kind of strength through others of similar beliefs. Reaching out to Carolyn and or Met00 to let them know there are others out there. Much like the church. @ Met00 you are quite whitty. A heated debate is fun. You are quick on the draw and I've enjoyed most of your rebuttle but much is wasted breath. If you are as sharp as you sound you already know that.
melissa August 24, 2011 at 10:41 PM
Such a great idea! Hopefully this will encourage young people to question their indoctrination.
met00 August 24, 2011 at 11:32 PM
@smartgirl 1) I didn't say anything. I quoted one of the deans of science fiction. 2) you are passing judgment 3) in case you missed it, the "church" is powerful. Think back to the wonderful times non-believers had during the Crusades and Spanish Inquisition. Fun times for all. And no, their mentality hasn't changed all that much.They still think they are just as right now as they were then. 4) what's with all the "feel sorry for themselves"? @Lindsey I like tilting at windmills and attempting to wake up other peoples thinking process. Thanks for the compliments. :-)
Dan Avery August 25, 2011 at 12:42 AM
@smart girl, the last time I looked this was a public website so NO ONE is TALKING behind ANYONE'S back. Maybe it might be better to not respond out of emotion? And this article didn't start out as a poke in the eye of anyone with faith. People who don't believe in God, can't prove God doesn't exist, because all of the "evidence" is a theory. It's never been conclusively proven. It's starting to highly likely, at least to me after I read "The Grand Design" but it's not proven. So it takes faith to not believe in God. If God is really the low-rider the Old Testament suggests, it takes quite a bit of courage because it could end very badly for those who don't believe. W.C. Fields died on Christmas Eve or Christmas. I forget which. But just a few hours before hand a friend visited. The friend walked in on Fields reading a Bible. The friend said, "Bill, I did not know you were a religious man." Fields looked up and said "I'm merely looking for loopholes."
Dan Avery August 25, 2011 at 12:43 AM
Hey just because we invented God, doesn't mean God doesn't exist. Please quote me and often. Thank you.
Anon August 25, 2011 at 02:27 AM
You guys this discussion is from 3 days ago. LET IT GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Dan Avery August 25, 2011 at 03:10 AM
Gotta wonder why you keep coming back to be annoyed, Jackie.
Chris McLaughlin August 25, 2011 at 08:10 AM
Thank GOD the opt-in to receive email updates on this thread didn't take, or I imagine I would have wasted a lot of time over the past couple of days reading all of these posts as emails. As it is, I remembered to check on it tonight and was shocked that it jumped from around 50 over the weekend to 288 now. I'm not sure if that counts deletions or not... Peter, beyond the patently offensive comments, maybe you should consider pruning all of the clearly off-topic ones, too, once it gets over a certain threshold or something like 50 or 100 comments. Like all the ones about stand-up comedy?? What the heck does that have to do with atheist billboards?? Shri, please try to refrain from trying to answer any of my questions above or respond to this comment in any way. Thanks.
smartgirl06 August 25, 2011 at 10:03 PM
To met00 who said: "1) I didn't say anything. I quoted one of the deans of science fiction." Anything you quote, i.e.write--are your words, i.e., you ARE and DID say something. "2) you are passing judgment" EVERY post on here is a judgment of some sort--faith of any kind is a judgment, not believing is a judgment, and all the reasons why are all judgments. Judgment is something done like breathing, it is not some bad word used only in some worst case scenario. "3) in case you missed it, the "church" is powerful. Think back to the wonderful times non-believers had during the Crusades and Spanish Inquisition. Fun times for all. And no, their mentality hasn't changed all that much.They still think they are just as right now as they were then." You actually think that "the church"--any church today in America, acts in any way as it did during the Crusades and Spanish Inquisition? I don't know what church you are referring to, but that is a pretty outrageous statement. A church believing they are "right" does not add up to equal behaviors to that of a crusade or inquisition. I can't believe you would use that as a comparison. 4. "You, on the other hand, wear your faith as a badge of honor and insist that we all accept it as the ultimate Truth." Do you ever read my posts? I have never mentioned me having any particular faith. And by association never insisted anyone accept never-mentioned faith.
smartgirl06 August 25, 2011 at 10:20 PM
To met00 who said: 1. "Well excuse us if we say that your myths don't impress us, that your myths are just that, mythology." "Excuse us?" Again, I've never mentioned any personal faith or belief on my part so there is no foundation for your argument of my having one. And what do you think you are doing in this piece? You are judging me. Wow. Do you see it? I find it interesting how you grammatically pair yourself using the word "we" when telling me to leave, pairing yourself with "others" so as to provide more support for your argument. Everything from you to me is a personal attack. Further example: "You make statements of fact, that are nothing but fantasy based on your twisted perceptions of reality" Where is your support? "I actually respect your right to believe whatever mythology gives you joy, but I only ask that you do it in private (either your home, or in a building with others who share your myths) and NOT bring it into the public square and NOT attempt to legislate it." Wow, this is YOUR judgment and false allegations, not mine. None of what you say here belongs to me. And as far as your "respect" for what I "believe," you actually have the audacity to tell me where and when and how to do that. Hmmmm.....Why don't you take your own advice?
smartgirl06 August 25, 2011 at 10:39 PM
Dan Avery said: "Maybe it might be better to not respond out of emotion? And this article didn't start out as a poke in the eye of anyone with faith." Every post on here has emotion from the person who wrote it. When you talk about belief/non-belief of any kind there is emotion because the person cares about what they are writing about. And as far as what this billboard post started out being, was absolutely a poke in the eye to anyone with faith by its sheer existence. This article is entitled, "Atheism Billboard Goes Up to "Create Controversy." Controversy is argument where there doesn't need to be, to gain attention. I thought this thread was about that, not a place where everyone comes out to shun those who don't think like they do, in this case "believer." Which sounds exactly like the arguments people say the church is not supposed act like with "non-believers." If a church spoke out in words as those from met00, or yourself and at least one more I can think of, they would be held as being horrible to those they hurt or shunned, but here there is no compassion for those who don't "non-believe." I think it is an interesting contrast and comparison. There has been great argument against me personally in usage of ideas/thoughts/words/beliefs I NEVER STATED AS BEING MY OWN. Other people glommed on to me because I didn't sound like them. How discriminating...just like people here have said the church has been with them.

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