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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Atheists' Holiday Message Thwarted

Posted By on Wed, Nov 23, 2011 at 2:32 PM

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Friday officially marks the beginning of ‘Tis the Season merriment with super sales, twinkling lights, kids with sugar plum visions and—atheist recruitment billboards. But this year’s campaign to attract the godless is fraught with twists.

The Mid Ohio Atheist group planned to put up three billboards in Mansfield next week, including one with a message it stole from a church. In August, brethren from the McElroy Church of Christ advertised its existence to potential lost souls by erecting a billboard saying: There is no God. Don’t believe everything you hear. The message was followed by the church’s website address. Perhaps church officials should have consulted PR specialists for help with what they were trying to say.

“My son was driving through town and called me and said, ‘you’ve got to come see this!’” says Mid Ohio Atheists president, Ron Stephens. “We supported their message-that’s for sure!”

The billboard was a colossal failure for the church, but not for the atheist group which says that their website was so jammed with people looking for the advertised local atheist group that their server crashed repeatedly.

Based on the wild success the atheists experienced with the Church of Christ message, the atheist group decided one of its holiday billboards would also say: There is no God. Don’t believe everything you hear.

It turns out, though, that the group won’t have to go to the trouble of beefing up their IT to handle the resulting onslaught of heathens upon its server. The billboard company it contracted with, and which had been designing the atheist signs for months, now refuses to put them up.

Stephens says he received an email yesterday from Lind Media Company vice president Maura Siegenthaler stating:

the inflammatory nature of the proposed displays would no doubt be considered offensive to much of the community and would be harmful to Lind’s community reputation and goodwill.

The group hopes to find another billboard company that will put their messages up before Christmas.

Meanwhile, Cleveland will again be passed over by atheists looking for more friends this holiday season. However, all hope is not lost. Word is that a Cleveland chapter of the Freedom from Religion Foundation has just started up, so maybe next holiday season we will see billboards, or a billboard tussle, here.

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