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And Another Atheist Billboard is Destroyed

Are you noticing a trend here? At least half a dozen atheist displays, signs and billboards have been vandalized or destroyed in the last couple weeks alone. The latest is in Roanoke, Virginia, where a local atheist group put up a billboard that just said “Don’t believe in God? Join the club” and had their name and website on it.

Thursday, one of the billboards — on Virginia 419 in Salem — was vandalized. Someone used black spray paint to obscure the word “don’t” and flip the message on its head. The vandalized message was removed by Friday afternoon.

Hoyt said the response has shown him that his group’s purpose in advertising is misunderstood.

“We had looked for ways to find new members,” Hoyt said. “This was strictly an outreach campaign to find like-minded people.”

Mentioning the mere existence of atheists is enough to provoke vandalism and destruction, and not just here and there in isolated situations but all over the country nearly every time such a sign goes up. It’s another example of Christian hegemony in operation.

Comments

  1. Alverant says

    Let me guess. No arrests were made and the police isn’t doing anything to find out who did it.

  2. Sastra says

    Hoyt said the response has shown him that his group’s purpose in advertising is misunderstood.
    “We had looked for ways to find new members,” Hoyt said. “This was strictly an outreach campaign to find like-minded people.”

    This is also another example of Christian hegemony in operation. We weren’t recruiting — we were only trying to reach each other! It’s a concession that yes, there would be a problem if we were trying to change people’s minds. That would be horrible. But we weren’t.

    No, I’m not trying to criticize Hoyt or the innocuous nature of the billboard. I like it, and admire the non-confrontational tactic myself. I’m just pointing out that even our defenses make concessions to the status of the status quo. Imagine if people who put up a religious or political billboard felt obligated to ‘reassure’ the public that nobody is being ‘recruited.’ It would speak eloquently of the work that needs to be done in the public consciousness — and hint that there might even need to be some consciousness-raising among the advertisers.

  3. johnlev says

    “Hoyt said the response has shown him that his group’s purpose in advertising is misunderstood.
    “We had looked for ways to find new members,” Hoyt said. “This was strictly an outreach campaign to find like-minded people.””

    There’s no misunderstanding. It’s a highly religious area and in fact in I-81 where it meet I-66 in the west/south bound lanes, you drive west for about 4 miles. Local church set up 3-200′ crosses at the end of that stretch you have to stare at for the time it takes you to dive it. Not bad in the summer since the trees cover a lot of it up but this time of yr, I look at it like a big F-You.

  4. says

    This is why I get so frustrated when people get all angry about using not-so-nice tactics against religious people. The whole acommodationist thing? Yea, what was controversial / in-your-face about THIS message?

    Our existence is controversial, religious people want us to disappear. They don’t want to be friendly or work together with us, they want us gone and silent.

  5. raven says

    Hard to say when vandalism crosses over into terrorism.

    But xian terrorism has been a problem in the USA for decades. They often bomb or arson family planning clinics and occasionally assassinate MD’s.

    I’m sure 2013 will be more of the same xian terrorism.

  6. raven says

    It’s no secret US xianity is dying, killed off by the fundies.

    It does seem like the remnants are getting more desperate, extreme and violent. People tend to leave in the order of best and brightest so guess who is going to be left?

    Says a lot that the best idea of the xian extremists is to double down on the hate, lies, and violence,

    It’s always been that way. It can be hard to convince someone that their your cult of the Sky Fairy is the One True Cult. But that doesn’t matter if you can just kill them or threaten to kill them. Hitchens: Xianity lost its best argument when they stopped burning people alive on stacks of firewood.”

    Looks like the death throes of US xianity are going to make for some ugly few decades. Oh well, it’s already been an ugly few millennia of them, a few more decades is no big deal.

  7. Artor says

    @ Nathair:
    ‘I look at it like a big F-You.’
    Which speaks volumes about you.

    No, I’m not getting it. Johnlev’s closing sentence doesn’t say much more than his 9 words. What exactly are you reading into it?

  8. matty1 says

    @7 I see much of the accomodationism debate as a misunderstanding. of what the more, lets say vigorous, atheist debaters want. It is both honest and useful to be able to say “that’s bullshit” when confronted with a religious claim but a lot of people seem to think that if you are in favour of doing so you must be a fanatic who turns every conversation to atheism versus religion and can’t even say “good morning” to a religious acquaintance without screaming “you are wrong about religion”.

  9. abb3w says

    It seems someone ought to look into finding some good concealed cameras that could be donated to the Secular Coalition to quietly deploy near these billboards.

  10. glodson says

    @10 The message is saying “hey, we exist so join us” and Johnlev reasons that this alone is a “big F-You” merely because of the location. Just by letting other possible atheists, or curious doubters, of the group in an area with many churches is somehow an insult to the religious in the area, according to that post.

    What it tells me is that letting my presence be known is enough to be a fuck you to the religious, according to Johnlev’s post.

  11. ragarth says

    @12

    The hunting cameras you can buy at places like Gander Mountain would do the trick. I would have done so myself, thought about it, but I don’t have the money to spare right now.

  12. johnlev says

    No, no, no…..Please allow me to clarify. What I was refering to was the 3 large crosses that everyone driving that section of road has to stare at is like a big middle finger to me. An “F-YOU we’re christian here and you’re worthless pond scum if you’re not “saved””. There’s also large 200′ crosses on both sides of the I-81 road as you cross into Virginia from Tenn and Maryland. It’s a highly religious area w/ churches every mile and they’re very in-your-face about it as I mentioned above.

    Google this and zoom in. You’ll see what I’m talking about: 39.018517,-78.358998

  13. says

    I’d be willing to bet that most of the vandals aren’t even regular weekly churchgoers, and are more driven by their political ideological beliefs (i.e. right-wing conservatism) than their religious beliefs.

    They no doubt believe they’re doing their bit to defend the America’s “Judeo-Christian” values from those evil atheist scum who are out to destroy the nation, but I suspect they get more of their “edumacation” from the likes of Beck and Limbaugh then their local pastors.

  14. anubisprime says

    matty1 @ 11

    I see much of the accomodationism debate as a misunderstanding. of what the more, lets say vigorous, atheist debaters want

    No misunderstanding there at all.
    The theists have shown time and again they have no interest in that concept but find the activity as useful in so far as it is effective in stalling and diverting from what they are actually up to!
    They hide behind the term and let the manipulated minions divert the debate.
    You simply cannot point a finger at atheists and say you are not playing fair…when it is so apparent that the opposition do not want to play at all!

    It is both honest and useful to be able to say “that’s bullshit” when confronted with a religious claim

    But again that never actually happens…because that is classed as strident, spiteful and hateful.
    Dawkins has that allegation levelled at him regularly…and I can only assume it is because my definition of ‘Strident’ ‘Spiteful’ & ‘Hateful’ is not exactly the same as the wounded theist’s but I have never encountered a debate lecture. video or literary column where I have ever seen Dawkins being Strident, Spiteful or Hateful to theism but have certainly seen that reversed and directed to him and really personally!
    And funnily enough more often then not from the apologists!
    I have often seen Dawkins dismantle an argument quite thoroughly but never with the bitterness inferred!

  15. baal says

    I’m with #1. The vandalism seems common enough to merit sticking up a webcam or some such along with the billboards and then demanding the cops take notice and pass the case to prosecutors.

  16. davefitz says

    The petty part of me laughs when I see this. Sure, it’s frustrating that our views are suppressed. But at the same time this is a reflection of their fear of the status quo slipping away. It’s not that they simply disagree with atheists, it’s that they know of our increasing power and numbers, and that frightens them. And the greater number of “nones”, they less affirmed they feel in their own views, IMHO.

  17. says

    They are a paranoid lot — probably the same bunch that are stockpiling guns and ammo in the belief that the government is about to ban them all.

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