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Atheist billboards removed from Presidential Conventions because of threats of violence

Aug 25, 2012

While we would like to think that All Americans support the First Amendment along with "Separation of Church and State" that is not true.

In the following articles a number of political billboards put up by the American Atheists at the Presidential Conventions had to be taken down because of threats of violence against the employees of the billboard companies.


Atheist billboards at Republican and Democratic Presidential Conventions - by Arizona Republic political & editorial  cartoonist Steve Bension - God fixation won't fix this nation - Freedom From Religion Foundation

Atheist billboards in Charlotte removed after violent threats

Source

Atheist billboards in Charlotte removed after violent threats

Secular beliefs

August 24, 2012

By: Michael Stone

Atheist billboards intended to expose “the foolishness of religion in the political landscape” have been taken down after violent threats were made against employees of Adams Outdoor Advertising, and the staff and volunteers at American Atheists.

Adams Outdoor Advertising is the company that sold the billboard space to the atheist group, American Atheists. The two billboards, located in Charlotte, N.C., questioned the faith of the 2012 presidential candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

The atheist billboards had been up for less than two weeks before they were taken down on Thursday, August 23. The billboards were meant to stay up throughout the Democratic National Convention, scheduled to be in Charlotte, September 3 - 6.

Amanda Knief, American Atheists’ Managing Director, released the following statement:

It is with regret that we tell our members and all of those who treasure free speech and the separation of religion and government that American Atheists and Adams Outdoor Advertising have mutually agreed to remove the billboards immediately.

No subject, no idea should be above scrutiny—and this includes religion in all forms. We are saddened that by choosing to express our rights as atheists through questioning the religious beliefs of the men who want to be our president that our fellow citizens have responded with vitriol, threats, and hate speech against our staff, volunteers, and Adams Outdoor Advertising.

About the controversial billboards now removed, one of the billboard featured Christianity, while the other Mormonism. The billboard questioning Christianity advanced the claims that God is "sadistic," that Jesus is "useless," and that Christians promote hate while calling it love - presumably a jab at anti-gay Christians. The billboard included an image of Christ burnt into toast.

The other billboard featured Mormonism. That billboard questioned the Mormon notion of God as a "space alien," the practice of proxy baptism, and the enormous amounts of money the Mormon church spent attempting to deny marriage equality to gay and lesbian Americans. The billboard also poked fun at the “magic underwear” devout Mormons wear.

In addition, both billboards made the following assertion “Atheism: Simply Reasonable.”

The Friendly Atheist reports that the threats occurred not long after an article about the billboards ran on the front page of the FOX News website.

For more news, information and humor relevant to atheists, freethinkers, and secular humanists, check out the Progressive Secular Humanist Examiner on Facebook.


Atheist billboards going up at Democratic and GOP conventions

Atheist billboards at Republican and Democratic Presidential Conventions

Source

More atheist billboards going up at Democratic and GOP conventions

August 23, 2012

By: Hugh Kramer

New atheist billboards will be going up in the next week or two in Tampa, Florida, site of the Republican National Convention, and Charlotte, North Carolina, where the Democrats are holding theirs. The 10x30-foot billboards are being erected by the Madison, Wisconson-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, a 19,000+ member non-profit that promotes the constitutional principle of separation of state and church and educates the public on matters relating to nontheism.

The billboards will feature artwork by editorial cartoonist Steve Benson that depicts a finger- wagging Uncle Sam warning that “God fixation won’t fix this nation.” They will also carry the FFRF's name and web address. Benson, who publically broke with the Mormon Church during the early 1990s, is the grandson of Ezra Taft Benson, a former president of that church and US Secretary of Agriculture during the Eisenhower administration.

From the FFRF's Aug. 23rd press release:

“This is an equal-opportunity message to both political parties and all public officials. Essentially, we secularists, who comprise nearly a fifth of the U.S. population, are telling government officials that it’s time to get off your knees and get to work!” said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.

“God fixation won’t fix our nation, or any nation. A preoccupation with religion in government and a political fear of offending religious lobbies is holding back our nation scientifically, intellectually and morally,” added Annie Laurie Gaylor, who co-directs FFRF.

The billboard in Tampa, site of the GOP convention, will be on Kennedy Boulevard, 50 feet west of Arrawana Street. Two billboards will be erected in Charlotte, site of the Democratic convention. There will be a 14x48-foot version near downtown Charlotte, at 1720 Freedom Drive, 900 feet west of Morehead Street and a 10x30-foot billboard located on Interstate 77 north of Fifth Street which will be visible to those travelling from the airport to the convention.

The FFRF billboards in Charlotte, NC, will be joining two others put up by American Atheists. These target Mormonism and Christianity (see Atheist billboards target the religions of the presidential candidates). American Atheists were unable to purchase billboard space in Tampa, FL, where the Republican National Convention will be held because all the companies contacted refused to display the one focused on Mormonism.

BREAKING NEWS: As this goes to press, word has just been received that American Atheists will be removing their billboards from Charlotte before the Democratic convention due to the large volume of threats received.


Atheist Billboards come down in Charlotte, NC.

Atheist billboards at Republican and Democratic Presidential Conventions

Source

Atheist Billboards come down in Charlotte, NC.

by Don Lacey on Aug. 25, 2012, under Atheism, AZ Politics, Campaign 2012, Christian Self-Righteous Arrogance, Christianity,

For Immediate Release: August 23, 2012

AMERICAN ATHEISTS REMOVES RELIGIOUS BILLBOARDS FROM CHARLOTTE

Large Volume of Threats by Email, Phone Ends Campaign to Question Faith in Politics

Cranford, NJ – American Atheists announced today that the billboards the organization had placed in Charlotte, NC, ahead of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, criticizing Christianity and Mormonism would be coming down weeks early.

“It is with regret that we tell our members and all of those who treasure free speech and the separation of religion and government that American Atheists and Adams Outdoor Advertising have mutually agreed to remove the billboards immediately,” said Amanda Knief, American Atheists’ Managing Director.

“No subject, no idea should be above scrutiny—and this includes religion in all forms,” Ms. Knief said. “We are saddened that by choosing to express our rights as Atheists through questioning the religious beliefs of the men who want to be our president that our fellow citizens have responded with vitriol, threats, and hate speech against our staff, volunteers, and Adams Outdoor Advertising.”

Teresa MacBain, American Atheists’ Public Relations Director said, “It saddens me to think that our country is not a safe place for all people to publicly question religious belief. How can we grow as a nation when such censorship exists from our own citizens?”

The billboards are scheduled to be removed by the end of day Thursday, August 23, 2012.

Greetings,

It’s been a bad week for free speech and the American Atheists. I represent the American Atheists in the state of Arizona and thought that readers of this blog should know what went on in South Carolina over the past couple of days. Many people are not aware how difficult it is to get our message out as part of a distrusted minority. It is a bad thing to have to take down our billboards due to threats to the people we contracted to erect them. American Atheists decided to pull the signs as a result of the negative impact they were having on the company that we contracted with. Had the negative reactions and threats been directed solely at American Atheists, the sign would not have been removed early. It was a decision meant to protect the billboard company personnel. After the convention, the American Atheists will leave Charlotte, but the sign company will still be there to face the wrath of irrational hatred caused by the religiosity of their neighbors. American Atheists understand that we are on the front lines fighting in a country founded on secular values but we also understand that there are those that are not involved in the fight and our actions to remove the signs before the end of the contract were made to prevent collateral damage.

In Tampa, no one would take the job and put our signs up. That is their right. Private businesses that are not places of public accommodations are allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion.

The billboard war is not new and American Atheists are not the only ones involved. Around the country there have been multiple organizations posting many billboards. There is a national organization called The Coalition of Reason that has put up many signs. Locally, FreeThought Arizona put up its own sign that said, “Are you good without God? Millions are”

Many signs have been rejected. In Pennsylvania, COLTS (the County of Lackawanna Transit System) rejected a sign that simply said, “Atheists” and had some web addresses. Unlike Tampa, COLTS is not a private business and as a government entity, they ARE NOT allowed to reject business based on religion. American Atheists sent them a letter asking them to rescind their decision or face a legal challenge. In Arkansas, the Central Arkansas Transit System tried to have the Coalition of Reason pay a huge bond that others didn’t have to pay to insure against the vandalism that they thought Christians might inflict on their busses. The message was the same as ours here in Tucson, “Are you good without God? Millions are.” Apparently, it was anticipated that the Christian Arkies weren’t all that good with God.

By the way, part of my job as the Arizona State Director for American Atheists is to address individual complaints of religious discrimination. If you need to contact me, my email is AZAtheist@atheists.org


Atheist Group to Post 'God Fixation Won't Fix This Nation' Billboards

Source

Atheist Group to Post 'God Fixation Won't Fix This Nation' Billboards for Party Conventions

By Michael Gryboski , Christian Post Reporter

August 25, 2012|9:06 am

A Wisconsin-based atheist organization will post billboards at the sites of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, posted a billboard on Thursday in Tamp, Fla. and will be placing two billboards in Charlotte, N.C.

In a statement, FFRF Co-President Dan Barker said that the billboards are "an equal-opportunity message to both political parties and all public officials."

"Essentially, we secularists, who comprise nearly a fifth of the U.S. population, are telling government officials that it's time to get off your knees and get to work!" said Barker.

The billboard features a cartoon drawn by editorial cartoonist Steve Benson depicting Uncle Sam wagging his finger and saying "God fixation won't fix this nation."

Gary Schneeberger, vice president of communications for Focus on the Family, told The Christian Post that FFRF was professing a minority opinion.

"The great thing about America is the freedom to share even unpopular opinions in the public square – and with poll after poll finding that about 9 in 10 Americans believe in God, this is clearly not a very widespread opinion," said Schneeberger.

"As a Christian organization ourselves, we not only believe that praying to God about the issues and decisions facing our country is wise and helpful – for elected officials and citizens alike – but that the very freedoms we enjoy as a nation … are rooted in Judeo-Christian principles."

FFRF is not the first atheist group attempting to erect billboards in Charlotte and Tampa in order to convey a message to the DNC and RNC.

Earlier this month, New Jersey-based American Atheists posted a couple billboards attacking the religious views of President Barack Obama and candidate Mitt Romney.

David Silverman, president of American Atheists, Inc., told The Christian Post in an earlier interview that the billboards' purpose was to show "the silliness of religion" influencing politics.

"Many politicians are religious, but when their only justification for a position is religion, it moves the country towards a theocracy," said Silverman.

"In this campaign there are two distinct religions represented, and for the first time in a long time Christians may not hold the office of the president. That's fine, of course, as long as we hold the candidates responsible for holding positions grounded in secular reasoning."

American Atheists was unsuccessful in getting its billboard posted in Tampa due to companies refusing to post it. Further, the billboards posted in Charlotte were removed on Thursday due to a strongly negative public backlash that, according to AA, included threats via email and telephone.

Regarding the claims by the atheist groups that religion has too much influence on the political system and holds back American innovation, Focus on the Family's Schneeberger told CP that faith has a long history of influence on the United States.

"Men and women who espoused and acted on their faith in God have been the guiding force for good in our nation since its inception," said Schneeberger.

"The Bible says in Philippians that in humility we are to consider others better than ourselves, that we should not only look out for our own interests, but the interests of others. How can someone who is earnestly living each day to obey that exhortation 'hold back' our nation?"

The Republican National Convention will take place in Tampa, Fla., from Aug. 27 to Aug. 30; the Democratic National Convention will take place in Charlotte, Sept. 4-6.


Threats of violence cause atheist-funded billboards to come down

Source

Complaints cause atheist-funded billboards in North Carolina to come down

Published August 25, 2012

FoxNews.com

American Atheists and Adams Outdoor Advertising are reportedly removing two Charlotte billboards blasting Christianity and Mormonism following an outpouring of complaints and threats.

The Bradenton Herald report that the billboards, which targeted the faiths of President Barack Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, went up two weeks ago and were intended to be displayed for the duration of the national conventions.

Amanda Knief, managing director of American Atheists, said a report from Fox News on Wednesday about the billboards led to a national outpouring of "vitriol, threats and hate speech against our staff, volunteers and Adams Outdoor Advertising."

If Adams Outdoor Advertising had not been involved, American Atheists would have kept the billboards in place, Knief said.

"It was a mutual decision between us and Adams Advertising for the safety and interests of both organizations that the billboards come down," Knief said.

Knief declined to say the severity of the threats made against the New Jersey-based atheist organization, but said the Cranford police department had been contacted.

The general manager of Adams Outdoor Advertising's Charlotte branch, Kevin Madrzykowski, did not immediately return phone calls Friday.

But the company's website issued a statement saying that the company "stands behind our position that the ability to express one's opinion is a right and a privilege of our democratic society. However, due to the public response to the messaging, the American Atheists have agreed to remove the advertising copy in question in Charlotte."


Outcry causes atheist-funded billboards to come down

Source

Outcry causes atheist-funded billboards to come down

by LINDSAY RUEBENS / The Charlotte Observer

Posted on August 24, 2012 at 6:37 PM

Updated yesterday at 6:38 PM

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- American Atheists and Adams Outdoor Advertising are removing two Charlotte billboards slamming Christianity and Mormonism after the national atheists’ group said it received an outpouring of public anger and threats.

The billboards, targeting the faiths of President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, went up about two weeks ago on Wilkinson Boulevard and the Brookshire Freeway. They were supposed to be present for the duration of the national conventions, though there were billboards in Charlotte, but not in Tampa.

Amanda Knief, the managing director of American Atheists, said a report from Fox News about the billboards this Wednesday incited a national outpouring of “vitriol, threats and hate speech against our staff, volunteers and Adams Outdoor Advertising.”

Knief said if Adams had not been involved, American Atheists would have kept the billboards in place.

“It was a mutual decision between us and Adams Advertising for the safety and interests of both organizations that the billboards come down,” Knief said.

Knief declined to say the extent or severity of the threats the atheist organization, based in Cranford, N.J., received, but said the Cranford police department had been contacted because of them.

The general manager of Adams Outdoor Advertising’s Charlotte branch, Kevin Madrzykowski, did not immediately return phone calls Friday.

But the company’s website issued a statement saying the company “stands behind our position that the ability to express one’s opinion is a right and a privilege of our democratic society. However, due to the public response to the messaging, the American Atheists have agreed to remove the advertising copy in question in Charlotte.”

Knief declined to say if Adams asked the atheist group to remove them as a result of threats.


Atheist billboards mock Romney, Obama religion

Source

Atheist billboards mock Romney, Obama religion

By Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY

Updated 2012-08-14 8:23 AM

Hey, President Obama and contender Mitt Romney, the American Atheists want your attention. They're unveiling a new in-your-face-to-the-faithful billboard campaign, timed to the national presidential nominating conventions.

Today's press conference revealed signs that call God "sadistic" and Jesus "useless" as a savior (his image is show as toast, literally) and conclude that Atheism, by contrast, is "simply reasonable."

Presumably, Catholics such as Vice President Biden and Romney's running mate choice Paul Ryan, are covered in this hit on Christians such as Obama, a mainline Protestant.

But evidently the American Atheists don't consider Mormons to be Christians, since they prepared a separate billboard attack on their faith. It derides their idea of God as a "space alien" and notes that Mormons offer a proxy baptism to dead relatives -- a practice the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints acknowledges has gotten out of hand with some believers inappropriately baptizing Holocaust victims and others not related to their own families.

But GOP delegates won't see the attack on their faith on their way to nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan in Tampa. Spokeswoman Teresa MacBain says no one in Tampa would rent them billboard space. So watch for both texts in Charlotte, N.C., where the Democrats will gather in September.

American Atheists is the group that created and produced the Reason Rally in March on the National Mall -- an event president David Silverman billed as a fun gathering starring raging atheists such as Richard Dawkins.

But Silverman's idea of "fun" may not align with that of the faithful his group loves to jab. As he said then,

We're not the softies. We are proud to be the Marines of free thought, proud to be the edge of the sword.

The same group flew a banner over New York City on the Fourth of July proclaiming, "Atheism is patriotic."

Now, MacBain says, the billboards are aimed at mocking the "silliness" of religion. In an email before today's press conference, she wrote that questioning the religious views of men who want to lead the free world is essential because,

If a person believes stupid things, then we have every right to question his or her judgment, and that directly impacts how the non-religious voter votes.

More demands -- like non-religious people to be appointed to the Cabinet and the Supreme Court -- are at their website.

Interestingly, for all the increasing public presence of unbelievers -- billboards, rallies, conventions, etc. -- the attention has not boosted their percentage of the U.S. population significantly in the last decade.

Most people who say they have no religious identity also call themselves spiritual but not religious, and many give the entire topic a big "so what" shrug.

But the billboards planned for Charlotte, N.C., may not be well received. In 2010, when free thinkers posted an edited version of the line from the Pledge of Allegiance without the phrase "under God," vandals added it with spray paint.

DO YOU THINK ... the billboards will convert anyone away from religion? Is it "simply reasonable" to mock belief?