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July 4th, 2011
11:22 AM ET

Atheists explain flying ad campaign

On the Fourth of July across the U.S., American Atheists are taking to skies with a flying banner ad campaign.

They will be flying over busy holiday hot spots like beaches and parks with banners that read: "Atheism is Patriotic" and "God-LESS America."

Some pilots balked and would not fly the banner ads. 

Justin Jaye of Fly Signs Aerial Advertising, told the Belief Blog last week,  "I've been in this business for 20 years and I've never run into so much resistance on people flying," Jaye said. "I've had pilots who are actual atheists who said, 'Justin, I am an atheist and I won't fly it because I can't wear a bulletproof vest.'"

In the video above, Rick Wingrove from the Virginia chapter of American Atheists explains to CNN's T.J. Holmes more about the campaign and why they picked the Fourth of July.

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- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Belief • Content Partner • Faith • TV-CNN Newsroom • United States

soundoff (1,760 Responses)
  1. cubiksrube

    Atheism is a new form of fundamentalism that is especially dangerous because it is oblivious to its own origin in ideology.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      If atheism is a form of fundamentalism, it's populated by the ONLY fundamentalists who would like nothing better than to put themselves out of business.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  2. Peri Browner

    All religion is an addiction of those who lack the inner strength and ethos to fulfill their own lives. I rejected god at the age of 6 (I'm 64 now), but, I follow the Golden Rule because it's the right thing to do, not because of the promise of a reward or the threat of punishment. Does that make me better than those who do it because of fear of retribution? You answer that for yourselves, I'm very content with my life choices.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • cubiksrube

      that's a story you are inventing because you don't want to be accountable for things.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Escathology

      That makes you an agnostic. Atheism is the affirmation that there is NO GOD.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • DAISHI

      You've gone 58 years as an atheist without realizing there's no such thing as 'right' ?

      July 4, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • apostate

      @Escathology
      False, Atheism is disbelief. Agnosticism/Gnosticism address claims of knowledge, Atheism/Theism address belief. You can claim to not know, but if you do not believe you are still an Atheist.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • Janet

      Peri, if you rejected God at age six, what horrible thing happened to you at such a young age? You didn't get chocolate pudding for desert? Your pet goldfish, Blackie, died while you were at school? Eddie Fisher divorced Debbie Reynolds to marry Elizabet Tayor? I'm going through a rough patch in my life right now, but I didn't reject God or blame Him for it. He does what He does to give us stregnth and resolve. PS People die. If that's the reason you rejected God, and at your age, you may want to reconsider your stand.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • Jesus Is Lord

      You have not made a "life choice" but a death choice.

      Jesus is the answer. He is the ONLY way to the Father in Heaven. Repent, believe and be saved!

      July 4, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  3. Nathan

    if God doesn't exist, why do Atheists care so much? If something "isn't real" why waste the time and money to fly the banners?

    July 4, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Mightymite

      Because of the unfathomable effort - time, money and resources - that others in our society dedicate to the nonsense of a god. That's why!

      July 4, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Nodack

      Because when your best friend tells you you are going to hell because you didn't take Jesus as your lord and savior that gets a little annoying. When I as a musician performed for the military overseas and had to fill out what religion I was and wanted to put Agnostic down, but the leader said I'm not going to let you put that down, that irritates me. When the doorbell rings and different religious groups are there trying to force their beliefs down my throat, that irritates me. When I see Christians calling all Muslims terrorists, that annoys me. When I see Muslims calling all Christians infidels that annoys me.

      Why do we care? Because we are surrounded by it every day and it effects us. We aren't evil, we aren't selfish, we are realists not living in a fantasy world.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • DrewNT5

      I thought the same thing. Somewhat contradictory if anything. I believe in God but I'd think the best thing about being atheist would be that you've justified that nothing is greater than yourself and you can be totally cool with that and not worry about what other people believe. There is literally nothing to establish because people will always believe in something...

      July 4, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • DrewNT5

      I guess my argument only applies to the intellectual dimension of it and not to advocating acceptance for diverse beliefs...my bad

      July 4, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Nathan, you notice that we atheists don't spend a lot of time, money, effort, creativity, etc. pushing the idea that unicorns don't exist, or that Santa Claus isn't real, or that fairies are imaginary — even tho we disbelieve in those just as much as we disbelieve in gods. Take some time and think about it. What's the difference between unicorn belief and Jesus belief that the latter would cause us so much exasperation that we'd feel compelled to deal with it, even tho we'd MUCH rather be doing something productive with our lives?

      July 4, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  4. Escathology

    Atheism is a philosophical impossibility. Secularism is cool, agnosticism even better. There is NO system of logic or reason, or scientific method of any kind that can CONCLUSIVELY RULE OUT the possibility that there is a supreme universal, all powerful consciousness, that is the beginning and end of all matter, energy, and thought. Atheism is arrogant (just like religiosity), ignorant, and flat out STUPID!

    July 4, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Linda

      but at the same time, there is nothing that can conclusively prove there is a God as well (which is why people have "faith"), so both have merrits..

      July 4, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Tom

      So, there's no evidence for a lack of God? Well, where's your proof for God in the first place? If you can't back up a claim with evidence, then the rational thing to do is to assume that that claim is false.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Donna

      Agnosticism means that you belief that the existence and nonexistence of a deity cannot be proven of disproven. Atheists can be agnostic, and deists can be agnostic as well. You can believe there is no god and believe that that cannot be proven.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • apostate

      There could also be magical unicorns and elves somewhere in the Universe. Should we also actively believe in these things too?

      July 4, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • Nodack

      That proves that my god of aluminum cans is real. Thank you!

      July 4, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      "Eschatology" is part right and part wrong. It's true that there's no way you can disprove the existence of some LIMITED kinds of gods, like Zeus or Anansi or Quetzlcoatl, because they could just be super-advanced aliens with powers we haven't (yet) been able to duplicate ourselves. But we CAN be sure there are no gods (like Yahweh or Allah) with any kind of ULTIMATE power, because any such power is logically contradictory. The classic example is for omnipotence: "Could God make a rock so heavy he can't lift it?". ANY ultimate power (omniscience, omnipresence, omnibenevolence, etc.) can be pitted against any OTHER ultimate power (or even itself, as in the rock analogy) to create a logical paradox, thus such a critter cannot exist.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
    • TheBear

      I think you might be overanalyzing the issue. I call myself an atheist even though by strict definition I'm probably not. I reject the Judeo/Christian idea of a big man with a long white beard sitting up on a throne in heaven somewhere. But if you want to take the some total of the physical laws of the universe and call that "God" I don't have a problem with that, but to most religious people that seems atheistic. I believe it was Descartes or Pascal that coined the phrase "Mystic", and that's probably what I am and probably what a good percentage of "atheists" are, but to keep the conversation simple I think most people are talking about disbelief in the God of religion.

      July 4, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
    • Donna

      TheBear, the word "deity" has meaning and refers to a being. That you say you would believe in a deity if had a different meaning isn't very meaningful. ; )

      July 4, 2011 at 3:20 pm |
  5. killallthewhiteman

    This is pretty humorous considering atheist are always complaining that peoples beliefs are being pushed all over them.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Nathan

      yep i agree totally. i'm a Christian. if God isn't real, they're trying awful hard to convince themselves.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • Nodack

      I didn't have to try very hard at all.

      Your god says the world was created two thousand years ago by Jesus or God. Science says this planet has been here for 5 billion years.

      Your god says that when the world and Earth was created two thousand years ago that God placed Adam and eve here. Science says that dinosaurs live here millions of years before that. Your religion says that there are no such things as dinosaurs. I've personally seen a lot of dinosaur bones. Carbon dating also says that rocks here are real old. Your religion can't explain these things and therefore they don't exist. I see zero proof in religious claims other than a man made book written by different men that we aren't even sure of.

      Science 1
      Religion 0

      July 4, 2011 at 2:52 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      You guys did get the part about it being an AD campaign, right? Do you feel compelled to buy Coca-Cola because you saw an ad "shoving it down your throat"?

      July 4, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  6. Jerry

    I think that if people didn't fear reprisals bigotry and prejudice that many more people would identify as atheist. We have historically low church attendance in this country but we do not know the reason why; is it because people do not support or agree with the religion or is it because they do not believe in God?

    This is an issue of labels and is no different then any other issue where when one declares their true stance and is persecuted, labels do not allow us to see the person only the label regardless of what that label may be, Atheist, Christian, Jew, Islamist, Liberal, Conservative, Gay, Straight.

    We are all just people trying to live our lives but when labels are allowed to define us then we are all lessened by them.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Jesus Is Lord

      I don't think what you said is accurate – I could be wrong. Historically, church attendance has dropped from one generation to the next. In my generation, 80% were in church. Today, only 20%. Why the drop? I believe 2 Cor 4:4 explains it very well.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Jerry

      To Jesus Is Lord; you still didn't answer the question of why they were there and are not there today, were they there because it was expected or needed to attend church to get ahead in society or were they attending because they believed? It would seem to me that if they were attending because they believed then the attendance would not have dropped off but if they were attending because it was not socially acceptable not to attend and now it is socially acceptable then you would see the drop in attendance that we are seeing today.

      July 4, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  7. elgeevz

    I was a devout Christian until I read the Bible I started with Genesis 1,1, but stopped when I got to Numbers 31.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • matt

      You should have read the whole thing to see how absurd it actually is. It is unbelievable that so many folks actually think everything happened as written. Like the development of language and the first man and woman...who incidentally were banished from Paradise to walk the earth and meet different peoples speaking different tongues...even though they were supposed to be the first man and woman AND languages were created when people tried to build the tower of Babel and God confounded them with different tongues...

      July 4, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
  8. willie

    Why did CNN post this on the "belief" blog? Atheists don't believe. How disrespectful...

    July 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Warren

      Because they believe in their country. Why does it have to be a religious belief to be in this section?

      July 4, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      For the same reason that Burger King has veggie burgers.

      July 4, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  9. Joshua Ludd

    'Justin, I am an atheist and I won't fly it because I can't wear a bulletproof vest.'"

    Which gives you some idea of just how tolerant christians actually are... and just how much better a person religion actually makes you.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
  10. jmc

    Atheist, American, and proud of it!

    July 4, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  11. open2it

    Where's Bob Dobson when you need him?

    July 4, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  12. Nodack

    I am a musician. I have never joined the military, but I have done 6 tours for the DOD/USO playing at US and NATO bases all over the world including some pretty hot spots. The pay was living expenses mostly on US bases sleeping on cots with the rest of the regulars. I did it because I wanted to give back to those Americans who would risk their lives protecting our interests.

    I'm an agnostic which is close to atheist, but I just wanted to say that we are every bit as patriotic as anybody else. We just don't believe in false gods, which to me they all are.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
  13. Brown

    "Our God lives through senses and is always restless, you will discover Him in you truly".
    Its only God being Atheist, everyone else are true slaves. So,lets better imagine what God did or didn't say.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Jesus Is Lord

      Is this new-age "stuff"?

      Jesus is the answer. He is the ONLY way to the Father in Heaven. Repent, believe and be saved!

      July 4, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
  14. RaKa

    Well I disagree with the religion of atheism but I do not wish them any harm.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Nodack

      Atheism isn't a religion. It's a belief that religion is false.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Dee G

      Atheism is not a religion. It's a lack of one.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • BD

      @Raka – Atheism isn't a religion, you twit. It's simply the opposite of a theist.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Donna

      Atheism is, and only is, the lack of belief in a deity or the belief that there is no deity. It makes no reference to the belief about any other aspect of religion.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  15. Jeus Is Lord

    Only fools say in their hearts,“There is no God.”They are corrupt, and their actions are evil;not one of them does good!
    (Psalms 14:1)

    July 4, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Nodack

      That statement proves that your god is false.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • apostate

      Matthew 5:22 And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Jesus Is Lord

      @apostate
      You can leave your complaint with God, He said it. They're His rules, you better learn to play by them.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Dee G

      You do realize that quoting the Bible means nothing to an atheist.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • apostate

      Luckily, your god doesn't exist. Jesus is a mythological folktale hero, nothing more.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
    • Jesus Is Lord

      @Dee G

      It will.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
    • Amber

      I'm not sure why SOME Christians feel the need to threaten those who don't have the same beliefs, but I find you incredibly ignorant. You quoting the bible as a threat is the same as me quoting Harry Potter as a threat (which I admit I've never read). It doesn't make any sense! Find a new tactic! Atheists don't believe in heaven, hell, purgatory, god, 72 virgins, or Santa! And, as a Christian, I really can't imagine why you feel the need to threaten anyone.

      July 4, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
  16. JMK

    Here is one way to get people to hate you. Now every time someone tries to accurately say that this nation is not founded on the Bible, I'm linked to these people.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  17. Shawn Irwin

    It seems an athiest would not think of shooting a pilot out of the sky if he is pulling a religious banner, but the religio-nazis are all for it if someone carries an athiest banner. That tells you a lot.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Nodack

      I guess that says a lot. Atheists and Christian pilots afraid to fly the banner out of fear they will be killed by Christians.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • 4mercy

      I haven't seen anyone here advocating such an act. No threats were listed in the article. So, a pilot wouldn't fly because he has this fear. I don't walking alone at night down dark streets in big cities...that doesn't necessarily mean something is going to happen to me.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • Nodack

      If you make your living flying banners and you refuse business in hard times because of fear for your life if you do, that is a real fear. There is no guarantee that he would be killed, but there is no guarantee that he wouldn't. That fact that they wouldn't proves that their fear is real in them. If they were to fly a a Christian banner they wouldn't fear for their lives, but flying an Athiest banner they do.

      July 4, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  18. A survivor

    All this talk, why not ask a near death survivor? Twenty five years ago this happened to me after a bout of pneumonia, and I know without any doubt that my God, Jesus Christ sent me back to this life even though my body had given up and I did not want to come back! Yes there is proof God is real, just ask another survivor!!!!

    July 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Jeus Is Lord

      Thank you for sharing. Jesus Christ is the answer!

      July 4, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Donna

      All right, ask me. My heart stopped and when they restarted it, and I was absolutely certain that it was the doctors and modern medicine that brought me back.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      And if this had happened to you in India, you'd be praising Vishnu; in China, Buddha would get the credit; in some AmerInd cultures, it would be Gitchee Manitou; back in ancient Rome, it would probably have been Jupiter or one of the household lares or penates; in Africa, it would have been the great forest god; and Arabs, of course, would heap all praise upon Allah.
         Unless Jesus personally showed up at your bedside, showed photo ID, waved his hands with a flash of lightning, and cured you in front of a video camera that you've subsequently uploaded to YouTube, you are simply full of BS caused by a lifetime of infestation by the Christian brain parasite.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • 4mercy

      Google Ian McCormack and read/watch his testimony about his nearly-fatal encounter with box jellyfish and his account of what happened afterward.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Nodack

      Cool, what did Jesus look like? Was he nice? Was he tall? What color was his skin? Did he say he was Jesus or did you just know? What did he say to you?

      If your answer is you didn't see him or talk to him then how is it you met him without seeing or hearing him? I see zero proof. Sorry you almost died. Glad you didn't. Your story didn't sell me on religion one bit, sorry.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • Athla

      I think about this all the time. Why not ask people who have come close to death, what was it like?

      People are going to believe what they believe, and no amount of wisdom or truth will alter that fact. You can't tell a Christian Jesus may not have been exactly like he was in the bible, because that's what they believe regardless of how crazy it sounds.. You can't tell an athiest that there might be an afterlife, because they are convinced it's not true.

      Thank you for trying to convey your experience to the rest of us – we should listen to what other people have to say about real experiences, instead of believing what we want to believe.

      -An Agnostic

      July 4, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
    • Donna

      Athla, atheists can believe in an afterlife, and they can also be agnostic.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • Jesus Is Lord

      You can also google Howard Pittman. His full testimony is also on youtube.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Ask any lawyer. Eyewitness testimony is the worst kind of evidence there is. Then compound that with fear, adrenaline, and drugs and just GUESS how much worse it's going to be.
         Sorry, I no more believe Xian "testimony" about which woo-woo spoook fixed their sputtering engine than I do the bright, shiny faces on my TV extolling the virtues of "whiter than white" teeth (a physical impossibility) or the latest "miracle" weight-loss plan. Shills and huxters, 1 and all.

      July 4, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • Frogist

      @RichardSRussell: There is a regular on this blog who has had a near death experience and he is not a Christian. He is an agnostic. Sadly, I think most devout Christians would reject his experience because it isn't what they wanted to hear.

      July 5, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  19. Laughing at both sides

    Its funny because you are all Zealots! Let people believe what they want to believe. You can use reason to arrive at both conclusions. Its just funny, you all sound like a bunch of babies who want it to be their way Wahhhhh!!!!

    July 4, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Donna

      People form beliefs based on the input they receive. We don't grow up in vacuums.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  20. RaKa

    Even the religion of atheism should be allowed on the "belief" page.

    July 4, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Donna

      It's not a religion.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      If atheism is a religion, then bald is a hair color. Or peace is a type of war. Or health is a disease. Or not collecting stamps is a hobby. Atheism is not a religion, it's a deep personal relationship with reality.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • cubiksrube

      Atheism can claim not to be a religion all day long. It is still a new form of ideological fundamentalistm.
      Another one of those movements of people who think they're "right" and completely oblivious to the fact that all they have done is surround themselves with an assortment of concepts that satisfies their mind.
      Another mind-matrix.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • pdfsmail

      O yes it is... prove your point those examples are like apples and oranges... Atheists Believe there is no Deity... that is a belief of no deity one more time with Belief of no deity.. or disbelief of a god.. which is the belief there is not a God.. hello... you all are so afraid of that word religion, but just because you are does not make you exempt from it. religion.. get a dictionary and look it up.. does not say you have to believe in god just states a belief, usually organized, and shows views of spirituality if any...

      July 4, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • apostate

      @pdfsmail
      Atheism is disbelief, a rejection of religion. By your logic not believing in fairies and leprechauns is also a religion of which you are a member.

      July 4, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.