The Minnesota Atheists’ billboards have been up for almost a week now, and they’re getting some decent coverage. The Pioneer Press covered them first, just a couple of days after they went up.
“Some people thought the design was a little amateurish,” said Eric Jayne, a board member of the Minnesota Atheists organization who came up with the billboard idea. “The idea was to satirize the pro-life billboards.”
Satirize them they did, as everyone who wrote about the billboards also wrote about Prolife Across America, who appear to have come up with a fairly canned response for inquiries on the subject.
“If they think our babies are eye-catching and they want to use them, too, that’s OK,” said Mary Ann Kuharski, director of Prolife Across America, the Minneapolis-based organization that puts up billboards around the country featuring pictures of cute babies and such messages as “I had fingerprints 7 months before I was born.”
“We have atheists who are pro-life,” Kuharski said.
“The baby is an eye catcher, and that’s why we use the baby, and the atheists apparently think so, too. They may be helping us. They may be reminding us of the preciousness of babies.
“If the atheists get any referrals for pregnancies, they can send them our way,” she added.
That’s not going to happen, of course, and I have to wonder just how many atheist they “have” who support their scripture-laden ads. Still, it does say that this aspect of the campaign was a success.
The campaign has also done a good job of getting multiple members of Minnesota Atheists in front of reporters. George Kane, who sometimes interviews for Atheists Talk, was featured on local television.
“There are billboards around the Twin Cities already that have a baby on them that have a rather religious message and we just wanted to get the double take effect,” said George Kane, Board Chair of Minnesota Atheists.
This same interview rather laughably included a local pastor saying atheists shouldn’t encroach on religious space, like a local street corner.
Pastor Robert Benke of Jehovah Lutheran Church in St. Paul questioned the placement of the St. Paul sign. Several religious centers are nearby.
“It’s a convergence of many different backgrounds and religions, people who are learning and working together in this community,” Benke said.
“I would encourage them to celebrate the gift of life and not to denigrate those first moments,” said Pastor [Benke]….
I trust no one here needs me to point out the blatant anti-atheist implications of those statements.
In addition to these pieces, the religion blogger at the Star Tribune talked to August Berkshire for her write-up.
“It’s (billboards) turning out to be a pretty popular way to get the message out,” said Berkshire, adding the billboards put out across the country by the Minneapolis-based group Prolife Across America were the inspiration behind the atheists’ billboards.
“They use a lot of images of children and that got us thinking: religious indoctrination begins with children as soon as they’re old enough to learn,” Berkshire said. “If they weren’t given this indoctrination, they probably wouldn’t believe. It’s for people to realize, where did this religion come from? You weren’t born with it. It was taught to you. And it’s possible to unlearn it.”
The local alternative indy City Pages had some fun with the idea, as they usually do.
Pro-life, anti-religious-dogma babies? What will adults think of next.
Even The Christian Post, after an intro that says the billboards are “attacking religion” (The baby army! It’s coming!), mostly just printed quotes from the atheists involved. All in all, excellent press. Beyond the coverage itself, the Minnesota Atheists are ready for the attention, and the comment sections of the various local articles probably represent the first time many of the commenters have knowingly conversed with an atheist. So far, at least, I’d call this campaign a success. You?