“Imagine No Religion” Billboards in Phoenix

Billboard locations:

  • 19th Ave & Fillmore, west of the State Capital area on 19th Ave.
  • Van Buren & 15th Ave, north east of the State Capital area on Van Buren.
  • Indian School & 23rd St.
  • McDowell & 14th St., northwest of the downtown area on McDowell Rd.
  • McDowell & 3rd St.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, in association with The Phoenix Atheists Meetup Group, has brought its nationwide media campaign to Phoenix, placing several billboards around the city for the month of September.

These billboards, a record for a single city with 5 signs going up at once, use an image of a stained glass window bearing the words “Imagine No Religion” in large gothic-style letters.

Before the FFRF could even get their own press release out, local media picked up the story. A week before the billboards were to go up, there was already local coverage on television stations, in news papers, and on the internet starting with an Arizona Republic article posted on azcentral.com, which already has 1135 comments as of this writing.

Some of the comments have been very supportive, such as these:

finally…a bill board that actually makes sense!!

- runaway

It’s about time

- neutrino666

Others have been…less supportive, and practically a caricature of The Intolerant Religious Nut:

The U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to freedom OF religion not freedom FROM religion. This country was founded on Judeo- Christian values and morals and if you don’t like it then maybe America isn’t the country for you. Perhaps China or Cuba is more appealing to you. I’ll buy your ticket.

- RealAmerican

Unfortunately the majority of the comments seem to be from Christians who are offended by people “shoving their beliefs down people’s throats” in the form of of a 3 word invitation to “imagine no religion”. If that is shoving atheism down someone’s throat, I think the comparable analogy for what religious promoters have done would be too gruesome to write here!

Someone at the billboard company or someone else with influence there also appears to have share some of these anti-atheist sentiments, because after the contract was already signed the company came back and decided to move three of the billboards saying they could not be within 1,000 feet of any church or school, citing “a government rule that tobacco and liquor ads may not be within 1,000 feet of a church or school” which implies that, in their eyes, the thought of no religion is as bad for society as tobacco and liquor.

This makes me wonder, is Phoenix ready for this? I hope it is. Some of the comments on the Arizona Republic article show us how much work we have to do though.

For example, a comment by GetRealAlready, which went on about all the good that religious organizations do and then ended with “The athiests and agnostics certainly don’t give a crap about victims of natural disasters or homeless or drug addicts”, really shows what a dim view of atheists is held by many religious people.

Getting people to talk about the issue and realize how many atheists they already know and like can help to start changing people’s minds, but we have to be brave enough to talk about it. We have to come out and tell people we don’t believe.

The billboards should be up today, so keep an eye out for them, and tell other people about them too! The whole point of these billboards is to grab some attention and get people talking. The billboards alone won’t change many minds, but if you talk to people about it, you just might.