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Atheist group targets Muslims, Jews with ‘myth’ billboards in Arabic and Hebrew
The American Atheists' president acknowledges that the pair of new billboards will likely cause a stir.
March 1st, 2012
05:00 AM ET

Atheist group targets Muslims, Jews with ‘myth’ billboards in Arabic and Hebrew

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) – The billboard wars between atheists and believers have raged for years now, especially around New York City, and a national atheist group is poised to take the battle a step further with billboards in Muslim and Jewish enclaves bearing messages in Arabic and Hebrew.

American Atheists, a national organization, will unveil the billboards Monday on Broadway in heavily Muslim Paterson, New Jersey and in a heavily Jewish Brooklyn neighborhood, immediately after the Williamsburg Bridge.

“You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice,” the billboards say. The Patterson version is in English and Arabic, and the Brooklyn one in English and Hebrew. To the right of the text on the Arabic sign is the word for God, Allah. To the right of the text on the Hebrew sign is the word for God, Yahweh.

Dave Silverman, the president of American Atheists, said the signs are intended to reach atheists in the Muslim and Jewish enclaves who may feel isolated because they are surrounded by believers.

“Those communities are designed to keep atheists in the ranks,” he says. “If there are atheists in those communities, we are reaching out to them. We are letting them know that we see them, we acknowledge them and they don't have to live that way if they don’t want to.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Silverman says the signs advertise the American Atheists’ upcoming convention and an atheist rally, called the Reason Rally, in Washington next month.

Atheists have long pointed to surveys that suggest atheists and agnostics make up between 3% and 4% of the U.S. population. That number increases when Americans unaffiliated with any religion are included. The Pew Center’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey found that 16% are unaffiliated, though only a fraction of those are avowed atheists and agnostics.

Silverman acknowledges that the pair of new billboards will likely cause a stir.

“People are going to be upset,” he says. “That is not our concern.”

“We are not trying to inflame anything,” he continued. “We are trying to advertise our existence to atheist in those communities. The objective is not to inflame but rather to advertise the atheist movement in the Muslim and Jewish community.”

The billboards will be up for one month and cost American Atheists, based in New Jersey, less than $15,000 each, according to Silverman.

Mohamed Elfilali, executive director of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, laughed when he learned the Arabic billboard would go up in the same town as his office. He says he’s surprised that someone is spending money on such a sign.

“It is not the first and won’t be the last time people have said things about God or religion,” Elfilali says. “I respect people’s opinion about God; obviously they are entitled to it. I don’t think God is a myth, but that doesn’t exclude people to have a different opinion.”

But Elfilali bemoaned the billboards as another example of a hyper-polarized world.

“Sadly, there is a need to polarize society as opposed to build bridges,” he says. “That is the century that we live in. It is very polarized, very politicized.”

The Brooklyn billboard is likely to raise eyebrows among Jews, in part because Orthodox Jews don't write out the name of God, as the billboard does.

“It is an emotional word, there will be an emotional response," said Rabbi Kenneth Brander, dean of Yeshiva University's Center for the Jewish Future. "People will look at it in a bizarre way. People won’t understand why someone needed to write that out.”

To get around the prohibition, Jews usually use only one Hebrew letter in place of the word. In the Torah scroll, though, the word is found and it is pronounced Adonai, which means “my master.”

Rabbi Serge Lippe of the Brooklyn Heights Synagogue was more dismissive than outraged about the billboards.

“The great thing about America is we are marketplace for ideas,” he says. “People put up awful, inappropriate billboards expressing their ideas and that is embraced.”

But Lippe acknowledged that there are a lot of agnostic and atheist Jews. A recent Gallup survey found 53% of Jews identified as nonreligious. Among American Jews, 17% identified as very religious and 30% identified as moderately religious.

“When you have two Jews in the room, you have three opinions,” joked Lippe.

American Atheists have used the word “myth” to describe religion and God on billboards before. Last November, the organization went up with a billboard immediately before the New Jersey entrance to the Lincoln tunnel that showed the three wise men heading to Bethlehem and stated “You KNOW it’s a Myth. This Season, Celebrate Reason.”

At the time, the American Atheists said the billboard was to encourage Atheists to come out of the closet with their beliefs and to dispel the myth that Christianity owns the solstice season.

The Christmas billboard led to a “counter punch” by the Catholic League, a New York-based Catholic advocacy group. The Catholic League put up a competing billboard that said, “You Know It's Real: This Season Celebrate Jesus."

Silverman says his group’s billboard campaigns will continue long into the future.

“There will be more billboards,” Silverman says. “We are not going to be limiting to Muslims and Jews, we are going to be putting up multiple billboards in multiple communities in order to get atheists to come out of the closet.”

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Atheism • Islam • Judaism • New York • United States

soundoff (5,946 Responses)
  1. StJamesIII

    I just can't see why people just can't be comfortable in your own beliefs, mind your business and keep it movin. All that money being spent on signs and billboards FOR NOTHING!!!!!!!! All the signs and billboards are not gonna resolve or change A THING. You're gonna believe what you believe and the next person is gonna believe what they believe. I don't care what you believe. How about you just mind your business and be happy in your own beliefs and stay in your lanes!!!!!!!!

    March 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • jimtanker

      If only it were that simple. But religious nuts keep trying to force their religion on everyone else by getting laws passed and infringing on other's rights.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Chris

      Actually, atheists have been oppressed for a long time. It's nice to know there are other people out there like me. When I was in school I was horrified to admit that I wasn't religious.

      The billboard is a nice sign to other people like me who like to know they aren't alone.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • StJamesIII

      Oh give me a break with that "Oppressed" crap. More often than not people cop that stance because they were trying to cram their ways down somebody elses throat and got checked. The bottom line is the average person could give a damn what you believe. People got bills to pay, food to put on plates and roofs to keep over their heads. If you feelin oppressed it's more likely the choice in the company YOU KEEP.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • pat

      Hey Chris – I used to mumble "under god" during the pledge back in my school days (the 1960's) because I felt it went against my upbringing. Too bad I'm not a more patriotic American but I hate that pledge to this day.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • pat

      The money that paid for the billboards says in god we trust on it and you say mind your business and keep moving?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • StJamesIII

      Yes actually i do. Who gives a damn what the money says. Especially in this day and age where you don't even have to deal with Currency. Weak argument. If "In GOD We Trust" bothers you so much then guess what...you have options.....get a DEBIT CARD!!! But make no mistake about it......just as you feel other believing in GOD is no basis for them to chastise those that don't...the reverse applies as well. The entire country is not gonna become an athiest society just because YOU are one. Everybody get it through your thick heads whether you believe i GOD or not.....just be happy in your beliefs and stay in your lane.

      March 1, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • jimtanker

      I always take a sharpie and put a line through god and write REASON above it.

      March 1, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
  2. vel

    The world might be less "polarized" if religons didn't exist and didn't claim that they had some "truth" while all other religions were going to get you damned.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Mr. N.

      If you don't believe in that, what's it to you?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
  3. Anon

    People's lack of acceptance of others is so depressing... Who believes they have ALL the answers? You are wrong!

    March 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • vel

      Ah, these religions do.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Nah

      anon: "People's lack of acceptance of others is so depressing... You are wrong!"

      Lol. How ironic.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Anon

      @Nah. It is simply a way of saying no one knows everything. Nothing ironic in that.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • Nah

      anon: "@Nah. It is simply a way of saying no one knows everything. Nothing ironic in that."

      Nah. You said, quite explicitly, that no one knows everything. And then you categorically claimed that religion was wrong.

      The irony is delicious.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  4. Olde English D

    Atheists, in propagating their godless message, do the work of Satan. They are a scourge on this country. If we got Jesus back into the classroom, we could eradicate these evil in just a few generations.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • vel

      Good to know that you are against other religions. Only Jesus? Why not Mohammed or Buddah? Are they part of this "evil" you histrionically speak of?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • HawaiiGuest

      How intolerant and ridiculous of you. You want a theocracy, join the Vatican, or maybe go to an Islamic country where Sharia Law is common. Don't try to turn America into your twisted version of a theocratic paradise.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • jimtanker

      Booga booga booga, I'm doing the work of satan!!!!!!

      March 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Commenter

      Why must you "get Jesus back into the classroom"? Jesus goes nowhere that people don't carry him... quite impotent. It's like he doesn't exist.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Olde English D

      @vel,

      Yes, only Jesus. All other religions take mankind away from God – thus, they are works of the Great Deceiver. I want our children to be saved – why would I want them to learn about Hindu gods? Redemption only comes through Jesus. The sooner this nation realized that, the sooner we will bring ourselves back to glory.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      People – stop feeding the (rather obvious) troll.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • HeroicSlug

      Lets get Zeus back in the classroom.

      You're all going to Hades.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Zeus

      The hot women are not going to hades. I typically make exceptions for them.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
    • Todd

      Your god must be the weakest and most feeble god ever if a few measly atheists can have him removed from schools. of course, what do you expect from a deity who considers setting a bush on fire a show of power.

      March 1, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
  5. reed

    Atheism has organized gatherings and spends money and effort to convert people to join in their shared beliefs.

    Atheism is a religion.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • HeroicSlug

      Atheism is better described as a movement.

      Simply because it does something other than be silent, does not make it a religion.

      Mitt Romney is trying to get people to join him. Is he a religion? [shudder]

      March 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Nah

      heroic: "Simply because it does something other than be silent, does not make it a religion."

      It's become a religion because it holds a principle and asserts it dogmatically. And that principle has a religious figure as its object.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • jimtanker

      Atheism is a religion like NOT collecting stamps is a hobby.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • reed

      Oh! Like the Jesus Movement.

      Maybe this "Atheist Movement" will spur off multiple denominations of Atheism and they can bicker about the details of how they don't believe myths.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Atheism is a religion like being dead is a lifestyle.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • reed

      Atheism is a religion like......

      It's okay, analogies are hard.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      Religion requires actual belief. Atheists lack that.

      Atheists are a group of people that join together, typically for political purposes. They are as much a religion as a political campaign is.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • ski2xs

      Poor Doc. . .to admit to yourself that it is in fact a religion, would be a blow to your ego. It is a belief, right? I mean. . You might want to say it's a 'non-belief'. . but that's really not the case. . It's the belief that there is no deities. . . It's a religion dude. You're labeled just like you want to label everyone else 🙂

      March 1, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • NorCalMojo

      I don't know or care if it's a religion or not, but I do know that bitter atheist evangelists have become more annoying than religious evangelists.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
    • reed

      Atheists do have a common belief. It is the very belief that defines them as a group.
      "I am an atheist if ____________." (I believe there is no god.)

      March 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • Nah

      facepalm: "Religion requires actual belief. Atheists lack that."

      You might as well facepalm while looking into a mirror.

      Atheists do not "lack belief". In fact, they hold out - and so believe - some fundamental principle and assert it dogmatically. Namely, that a god "does not exist".

      Hence, atheism can be a religion. It's a religion of asserting that a god doesn't exist, and trying to force that belief onto others.

      Thanks for playing.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
    • HeroicSlug

      @Nah: By that standard, the 9/11 conspiracy wackos could be construed as a religion.

      They tell everyone they know that it was the secret One-World Government Nazi Lesbians or whatever that did it.

      Sports fans, Music fans,anything that inspires fanatics/followers could be considered religious by your measure.

      They know that their band or their team is the best.

      They believe it, and they tell others why it is so.

      They argue when they meet someone who favors another group.

      Atheism is by definition the lack of belief in a god and the supernatural.

      You can't have a religion without some supernatural elements.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      @Nah,

      By that (absurd) logic, eveyone has an infinite number of beliefs. For instance, we pretty much all have a belief in no invisible purple spotted unicorns. And pink spotted unicorns. To call such a thing a belief is quite ridiculous.

      A lack of belief is a belief in the same way that not playing football is a sport. Or not collecting stamps is a hobby. Or transparent is a color.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:54 pm |
    • Zeus

      "It's become a religion because it holds a principle and asserts it dogmatically. And that principle has a religious figure as its object."

      Thus, the department of homeland security – or at least whatever parts deal with religious extremism – would be a religious body.

      Epic Logic Fail.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
    • reed

      You say there are "no invisible purple spotted unicorns", I agree that there are no invisible purple spotted unicorns.

      Congratulations, you have convinced me to believe that they don't exist. With this common belief, I think we should organize ourselves and inform others of our shared beliefs to make sure that their beliefs don't differ from ours. We could come up with a snazzy name and keep statistics on attendance....that way the government will recognize us and offer protection against people who DO believe in invisible purple spotted unicorns.

      March 1, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
  6. NorCalMojo

    Nice to see. Picking on Christians all the time got old a long time ago. I'm agnostic, but the way people attack Christians and pretend Islam and Judaism are still sacred cows irks me.

    When South Park has an episode with Mohammed bleeding from his ace, I'll believe that they really don't like religion and it's not just about attacking one group.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
  7. Paul

    The Lord is alive and well. For those who cannot see, open your eyes...see beyond the trees.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Jonathan

      God is working in theri lives Paul, our prayers for them are what we can offer.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • natalie

      All I see is sky

      March 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • Allen

      The religious have nothing to offer but the drivel they've heard at church. "See beyond the trees"??? Give me a break. Such empty babble.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  8. Syd

    Atheists have been so beaten down (metaphorically and literally) over the centuries it's about time we stood up. It's unfortunate that the only nations in recent history to adopt an atheist view has been Communist totalitarian regimes. I yearn for the day when we're not treated like somethings wrong with us or we just don't get it when we're just being rational. I don't think there are any gods out there; of course I don't technically KNOW since I'm not dead yet. But that's one of the main differences. Religious people think that believing is knowing and it isn't. I believe there's intelligent life on other planets, but I don't KNOW it. And I certainly wouldn't think less of a person who disagreed. When we can stop arguing about which invisible giant in the sky is "real" and start concentrating on actual practical, tangible, rational problems we can see and feel (and do something about), maybe then the world will stand a chance of survival. Otherwise, religion will destroy us all.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  9. HeroicSlug

    The god of Abraham/Ibrahim one of the most reprehensible villains in the history of fiction.

    To have unlimited power – essentially being able to right all wrongs and end all suffering – but to choose to not do so?

    That is immoral on a truly unprecedented scale. I don't see how you could venerate such a being.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Mick

      There are no morals in the godless world. There is no right or wrong. Murdering a person is no worse than swatting a mosquito. There is no meaning and no reason for anything and therefore no morals.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • Nah

      heroic: "To have unlimited power – essentially being able to right all wrongs and end all suffering – but to choose to not do so? ... That is immoral on a truly unprecedented scale. I don't see how you could venerate such a being."

      Nice strawman.

      If you weren't so philosophically illiterate you'd understand that the theist's position is consistent and coherent. Even Antony Flew (the prominent atheist philosopher) recognized that fact. Why? Because free will leads to "greater good" and, what Leibniz called, the "best of all possible worlds".

      Free will, to Flew, stood at the top of a hierarchy of goods and so was necessary. And if logical coherence in the world (e.g., pleasure requires pain) is a good itself, then free will and logical coherence can legitimately create the world you see, while also showing it to be the "best" world possible.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • Nah

      mick: "There are no morals in the godless world. There is no right or wrong. Murdering a person is no worse than swatting a mosquito. There is no meaning and no reason for anything and therefore no morals."

      Precisely.

      There are no morals in an atheist's universe. At least, there are no morals outside of his own subjective wants, desires and beliefs.

      What's "right" or "wrong" in his world is linked only to what brings him pleasure. So if doing "right" to others makes him happy, he ought to do it. If doing wrong brings him pleasure, and he can get away with it, he ought to do it.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • HeroicSlug

      So you're saying the only reason you don't steal and murder is because of a fear of punishment by your sky spirit?

      You're a horrible person.

      Where is the strawman? Do you not believe that:

      A) your god exists
      B) your god is omnipotent
      C) suffering exists

      If you hold these three tenets to be factual, I don't see how you can reconcile them and not reach the conclusion that your god is a terrible being.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
  10. Noigiler

    Many believers on this thread are arguing that belief in science is equivalent to belief in God. Just so we're clear, science is all about NOT believing. No scientist will ever ask you to believe in gravity or evolution or global warming or the roundness of the Earth. They will show you data that supports these theories. And a good scientist will be happy for you to provide data that says something different. It's called progress. Religion, on the other hand, is all about asserting that something is true in the COMPLETE ABSENCE of any data to support it. It's really very different.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • ski2xs

      ROFLMMFAO. . . . what exactly does science have to do with this? Last time I checked science has neither proved nor disproved the existence of a deity?

      Dude. . .what kind of scientist are you? And antropoligist . . BWHAHAHAhahahahahaha

      March 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Chris

      Well said.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Science just explains to us how God did something or created something, and many times it is just a human guess that is wrong and said to be fact when it is fiction.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • ski2xs

      Okay. . . to be fair that was a bit unjust. But I have to believe in my heart that you're not a scientist. I'm a P.E. . . .study quantum physics for years as a side note to me EE. . . Now, I still keep up with the latest quantum theories. . .do you even have a grasp of how many questions regarding the hows and whys are still unanswered?

      Anyway, thanks for the chuckle.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Chris

      ski2xs, what in the world did you just say?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • Mr. N.

      You know, setting up a false dichotomy won't win you any "converts" (is that how atheists call them)? It only exposes your poor ability to handle logical thought.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • pat

      @ski2xs – yeah but science tears scripture to shreds.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • ski2xs

      @Chris,

      It requires an understanding of the English language, mixed with fast typing and the well known understanding that inevitable errors may occur during its activity. :0

      Don't worry, you'll catch on one day.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:42 pm |
    • ski2xs

      @pat

      Where? Does it prove abiogenesis?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  11. kso

    why be reborn when you can just grow up?

    March 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • Paul

      I do not wish to grow up.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Only like a child can you enter the kingdom of heaven, being reborn starts you new.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • HeroicSlug

      Too many people are content to be their god's children.

      They lack the moral and intellectual fiber to grow up. They need guidance.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Your only true purpose is to be a child of God and do as he asks. Your claim of growing up is really only being seperated from God thru whatever reasoning prevents you from accepting his love. You have grown up less then Gods believers

      March 1, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
  12. choice

    just let people figure it out themselves. most likely they will go through phases anyway.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  13. Glenn

    I'm not trying to take the side of religion here but in defense of most religious billboards I've seen, they are mostly benign "come to our church" kind of signs. None of them are provocative like "burn in hell if you don't worship here". This atheist sign(I am atheist) is pretty provocative. Their cause probably would have been served better with something like "learn more about atheism" or "keep church and state separate". Don't lump all atheists together with people trying to pick a fight.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • kso

      you obviously don't live in the bible belt. there are "Hell is Real" signs all day long.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • pat

      I've never been told I was going to hell by an atheist.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • OhMyMy

      kso are you trying to match that?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:36 pm |
    • Glenn

      No I was saying I don't see billboards from churchs saying "burn in hell" so why should a non religious organization put up signs like "you believe in a myth". Both would be equally insulting. I believe that softer messages serve a better purpose. And I do live in Houston and I see a lot of church billboards but it has been a long time since I've seen a "burn in hell" sign.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • ski2xs

      @Pat

      ROFL. . . .But I've been told to 'go to hell' by many! . . .Tooooo funny!

      March 1, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  14. pat

    What's the difference between a billboard that says god exists and one that says god doesn't exist? One is a mean spirited attack and the other is alright? Which group only has 4% of the population? That has nothing to do with it, right?

    March 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  15. ThermalJockey

    Hey Nathan!

    I am an atheist who helps the poor, feeds the hungry, and clothes the naked. And I don't make them listen to my beliefs in order for them to get help. Imagine that.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • ski2xs

      Wow. . . welcome to the community of 100's of 1000's of Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, etc. that do it too. Isn't it nice to be included? 🙂

      March 1, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Of my 40 years of charity work, homeless shelter and soup kitchen volunteering I have never worked with someone without faith, You are a very rare individual if what you say is true.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      @johnathan
      Ever hear of Doctors Without Borders?
      There are plenty of secularists who do charitable work.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
    • natalie

      @ ski2xs- those religions do it with an ulterior motive to spew their religious beliefs to those in need. Kinda evil if you ask me. Just like dangerous groups pray on the weak. Especially the X-tians. They are the worst. Pretending they are helping people but also giving them a bible converting them over to the dark side

      March 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • roberto32

      I'm not surprised that you do those things as an atheist, but I just wonder what your motivation is. Without God, what is the "anchor point" for your morality? To me, there is no reason for morality if we are just a random collection of atoms.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • Mick

      In the godless world, there really is no reason to help anyone else. There are no morals. You're going to be dead soon as are the people you are "helping". Just accept the fact that you are nothing but a walking corpse in a cold, meaningless universe.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • roberto32

      That's basically what I'm saying Mick. There is no hope or reason for anything without God.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
  16. zz

    I used to think that atheism is about being yourself. Now, it seems that atheism has become just another organized cult like the rest of them. Shame. Won't be calling myself an atheist anymore.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • *facepalm*

      Then, if you still lack a belief in a deity, what will you call yourself?

      I really fail to see the harm or offense that these boards cause. It's atheists reaching out to other atheists. As an atheist who has lived with a large number of believers in a bible belt region, it can be isolating. Why is telling someone that they're not alone a bad thing?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • QS

      Except we don't have weekly meetings to have a "leader" talk at us, not to us, for a few hours.

      Unlike church, which to most religious people feels like an obligation, we simply advertise that there are places other Atheists can go if they feel they need to find some like company, but it's not held over them if they choose not to....like when somebody in a religious community chooses not to attend church.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • NorCalMojo

      They are getting pretty annoying, aren't they?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:44 pm |
    • Allen

      Being an atheist is not about being yourself. It is the belief that a god does not exist. A-theist, meaning "without god". It's not a cult. It might just seem like that because the number of atheists has been growing, just as humanity is progressing and becoming more intelligent than generations past.

      So you won't be calling yourself an atheist anymore? Huh? You believe in a god now? How can you switch back and forth so casually on such a deep and personal issue? It's not the same as deciding on which color shoes to get.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
    • roberto32

      Allen,

      On what basis are you saying that mankind is progressing and becoming more intelligent? All of our accomplishments are built on the shoulders of those who came before us. We are lucky enough to live in a time during which technology has made our lives comfortable and generally easy (at least in the west) but we are not more intelligent, compassionate, more moral, etc. than our predecessors.

      March 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  17. Jonathan

    Dave Silverman rejects religion but in doing so has become a reverend in the beliefs of Atheism.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • HeroicSlug

      "...the beliefs of Atheism."

      Atheism is not a belief. It is the absence of a belief.

      Do you: A) lack a belief in the Lizard-King, or do you B) believe the Lizard-King does not exist?

      Up until now, you had never even heard of the Lizard-King. Ergo, A).

      March 1, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • Nah

      heroic: "Atheism is not a belief. It is the absence of a belief."

      You're not very intelligent, eh?

      Atheism is, by definition and in practice, not the mere "absence" of a belief. Why? Because they put forward and belief one fundamental principle: that a god does not exist. And when they assert that principle dogmatically, they become fundamentalists. Just like the religious people they hate.

      Try again?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • HeroicSlug

      Since you failed to understand my example, Nah, let me try it another way.

      I don't believe in a god. You see "don't" before "believe", right? Great. Try to keep up.

      I don't "believe there is no god" anymore than I "believe there is no Lizard-King".

      If that was how belief worked, wouldn't we all believe in an infinite number of things?

      I believe there aren't Elves. I believe there aren't Fairies. Much easier to say I don't believe in such things.

      It's all semantics, but it best boils down to the Greek suffix "a-", which means "without".

      I am without god. I am not with "no god". This is a double negative, just as your assertion that Atheism is a belief is the philosophical equivalent of a double negative.

      March 1, 2012 at 3:07 pm |
  18. Ben Berry White

    I I applaud the efforts of the American Atheist, myself being one I find it unfortunately necessary to engage in such actions to give a voice to those of use who simply are not believers. Atheism has, and continuous to hold some sort of negative connotation. We are almost always coined as immoral, sinful, etc....when in fact atheist make up .2% of prison population and we are some of the largest philanthropist in the world.

    IIts a noble gesture to suggest we "live and let live" but the facts are that religious biggotry permeates our political system at the state and federal level. When laws are formed around someone elses delusion, it is indeed time to be vocal. I look forward to the days of secular government and society.

    For the religious who don't believe what I am saying, answer one question: Why does a presidents faith matter SO much during elections?

    Also, would you vote for someone who openly identified with atheism? No you wouldn't......

    March 1, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
    • QS

      Extremely well said, thank you! 🙂

      March 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Jonathan

      Your religion has become much more organized over the past few years. Reverend Dave Silverman has been working very hard.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • momoya

      heck, even the "moderate" republican candidates believe in creationism. I mean... how do you.. what?!?... is there a.... why?...

      March 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Allen

      Exactly. According to voters, being a Christian is a requirement for higher office in the USA. Yet look at all of our politicians and the state of this country... rampant corruption, greed, and immorality. The correlation between being Christian and being "good" is nonexistent.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:39 pm |
    • NorCalMojo

      and you really think this sort of thing and all the bitterness is going to make people like atheists more?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:45 pm |
    • MKS

      According to the statistics, if 4% of the population is atheist, and you just said .2% of the prison population is atheist, that means 20% of aethiests end up in prison, lol. I'm going to make sure I write you guys a check to keep them expensive billboards up......

      March 1, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
    • Ben Berry White

      @MKS, the American population that identify as atheist is actually 1.6%. Try again chief. And where did you develop your math? %0.20 = 0.002 decimal? Are you retarded?

      March 1, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
    • Ben Berry White

      %0.20 = 0.002 decimal was meant as a factual statement, not a question. Ignore the ?

      March 1, 2012 at 3:14 pm |
    • Ben Berry White

      That would make atheist who are in prison not even 1% of the total atheistic population. Be sure and donate here:

      https://npo.networkforgood.org/Donate/Donate.aspx?npoSubscriptionId=1004727&code=Main%20Link%20from%20%22Contribute%22

      March 1, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • MKS

      No, no. 3-4% was established in the article above with caveats thereafter, 1.6%? it doesn't matter, it's statistics and you can make them whatever sample population you want them to be. If you had a population of 100 people and 4% of them is atheist (4), and .2% of that popluation are in jail (.2), then 4/.2=20% of the atheist population are in jail, see?

      And thanks for the derogatory "retard" part, shows the integrity of the organization you represent...

      March 1, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  19. Johnny 5

    My name is Eric and i'm proud to say that i'm an atheist. I do good things because you should and not for reward or fear. I live without myth, separation and destruction of lives that myth's cause. I am my brothers keeper and the keeper of my own life. I am truly free.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Adam

      Welcome Eric, to the side of human conversation and cooperation. We are glad to have you, and I thank you for your decency and your honesty. My name is Adam, and I join you in this project we call civilization.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • QS

      Straightfoward and concise, thank you!

      March 1, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
    • Leaveblank

      Why should we do good things?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:33 pm |
    • Tom Paine

      We should do good things because our experience and history show that life is better for more of us when we do good things. In the balance of good and bad behavior, humans tend toward the good, even if only slightly. If that were not so, we would not have survived this long.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:50 pm |
    • Jen

      Beautifully said Eric...I loved the last part when you said you're free. I have recently shed the myths that have been ingrained in me since birth, and I feel SO free! I've never been happier, more content or had such ease of mind. I actually find it exciting! I'm able to explore all the science I want without feeling guilty for betraying my "God"...betraying god by thinking for myself, but in reality, I have been betraying myself, my one true self. I can now love and embrace this girl once and for all and not feel condemnation. HALLELUJAH!!

      March 1, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
    • roberto32

      Eric (aka Johnny5 ).........what do you mean you do good things because you "should?" Your language betrays you. There can be no "should" in an atheistic world view.

      March 1, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  20. ROSE JAMES

    GOD is alive and well, you will die in your sins if you don't believe that JESUS CHRIST died for your sins. Some things are true whether you believe them or not. PRAY now ask GOD to save you in JESUS' name, GOD loves You.
    HELL is filled with those who believed to late, don't be one of them.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • Patrick

      Praise Allah!

      March 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • Ben Berry White

      I I take it you've been to hell and back? Some ideas (such as religion) are bad ideas and deserving of ridicule.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
    • MistahBurns

      believed too late, you could not be more wrong. Actually according to the Catholic church all you have to do is repent your sins before death and take Jesus as your savior, so there is no too late. You espouse faith but do not understand all of the tenets. Perhaps just another reason atheists just do not understand you, or your reasoning.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Revelation

      Only 2.1 billion people in this world identify as christian. So does that mean that your god is going to send the other 5.9 billion to hell when they die? Does that mean that just because a person is born to a certain society where christianity is not the norm, where they are raised to praise another god or diety, then they will be be doomed to spend an eternity in your hell? Sounds kind of ridiculous when you think of it, doesn't it?

      March 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • Feast of Beast

      Go away, and shut up.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
    • ttocs

      Oh BS. Just because you were brainwashed from a young age to not question anything that has to do with the Bible, don't try to push that on us. We have an open mind, something you couldn't dream of having until you shed your blind faith in the paranormal.

      March 1, 2012 at 2:37 pm |
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About this blog

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.