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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. SickoftheRhetoric

    I recently came out to my parents as an atheist. It's not easy. They disapprove. They see it as a slap in the face for some reason (I'm not against them, though, just the idea that somehow a 2000-year old Middle Eastern carpenter "died for me" (they never have a good answer as to what that really means)) and question why they spent so much money on my Catholic education. There is no question that many seek to avoid such situations and keep their disbelief in a personal God private – there is nothing wrong with it. These signs are part of a growing movement to encourage people to speak their mind and be genuine with themselves and with others. Believe what you want. And if that means NOT believing in God...well, amen.

    March 1, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • momoya

      I hope to hear similar stories more and more often in the coming years! Thanks!

      March 1, 2012 at 4:34 pm |
    • Mick

      Just because you're parents are bad at explaining things doesn't mean it isn't true. Good luck to you.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • brian

      You are right about if someone is bad explaining it, doesnt mean it isnt true.

      But just because you have a completely closed mind about the world, the universe and its existence... doesnt make god true.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
    • Mick

      Of course.

      I do think there is a larger problem within Catholicism (even more so than Protestants) of the strict formality of the doctrine instead of answering straightforward questions.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
  2. STLBroker

    http://www.jesuscompanion.com

    March 1, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  3. tensai13

    Why are there a few people who were fortunate enough to have completely escaped the delusions of religion? What is special about them apart from high IQ?

    March 1, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • Geoff

      LOL that may be true, I dont beleive, have a Phd and a professor ship (UK TERM)

      March 1, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • clearfog

      Satanic intervention. OK, just kidding.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • God Illusion

      Shrugging off dogma, supersticion, myths and a parents beliefs is not easy. It is however wonderfully rewarding to be rid of such primitive, arcane nonsense and be able to live a wonderful life free of threats and promises from some idiotic sky daddy.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • Alex Gessong

      Albert Einstein has a pretty high IQ, and he talked about God. "God does not play dice with the universe," is fairly famous Einstein quote. Einstein was a lot smarter than most of us. He had a deep intuitive understanding of the universe. Maybe God is part of that universe? Humans have always believed in a god or gods. Maybe it's due to a flaw in the genome, maybe God instilled that innate belief into our species. Either way, no reason to chalk religious belief up to stupidity. bear in mind that in the past some remarkable scientific breakthroughs were made by monks and priests who were quite brilliant scholars.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • clearfog

      Einstein used the god/dice statement as sarcasm. He was trying to refute a basic tenant of quantum physics that events were random instead of being explained by unknown parameters, hence the reference to dice, a representation of randomness. Einstein's reference to god was that reality does not allow randomness, only apparent randomness. The statement was not meant to endorse or refute the existence of god. Einstein was being, well . . . clever.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Primewonk

      Alex wrote, "Albert Einstein has a pretty high IQ, and he talked about God."

      Here is something Einstein wrote about god – “It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.”

      March 1, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
  4. Nii Croffie

    Choice is when u want it. If they wanted to be secular atheists they wud be. Atheists are accepted in the churches, synagogues and .osques. there are aatheist guys I will rather spend time with as a Xtian rather than Xtians. Same for atheists. Religious or secular

    March 1, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  5. Lucho

    Believing in something is a state of mind. I think that believing in a supreme powerful being shows that you are a needy and immature person. I understand that we grow up believing but when we get older; we should start thinking and mature. Believing in anything I think is immature. An intelligent mature individual should analyze why a thinker think and don’t believe.

    March 1, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  6. Randomquips

    People also need to stop referring to these guys as Athiests, even if thats what they call themselves. The WBC members call themselves Christians, but we know that's a load of crud. These guys are just anti-religion. Athiests don't believe anything. These guys just want to b**ch about how everyone who believes is wrong, and there shouldn't be religions. But it's cool, because now in America everything is politically correct!

    March 1, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
  7. Alex Gessong

    Religion is irrational by definition. Atheism is based on clear minded objective observation of the real world. Atheism is rational. "Because I read it in a book, but have no physical evidence to support it" is no sane basis for a belief system. I believe in the philosophy of Jesus Christ, because it's an enlightened philosophy for ethical living, not because some preacher told me I have to believe it. I believe in a God because I "feel" that there's a higher intelligence behind the universe. I feel that there is a God. I do not *know* that there is a God. I have no problem with atheists. If your religious faith is threatened because other people say there is no God, then your faith is pretty weak. Don't scorn them. Scorn the weakness of your faith. That weakness should tell you something. Peace, good health, and long life to all people who believe in rational thought and ethical living. That includes atheists and people of faith. If there is a God, God made all of us, including atheists.

    March 1, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • JamieIRL

      like

      March 1, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • IslandAtheist

      What does God "feel" like? LOL

      March 1, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Alex Gessong

      @IslandAtheist: I wouldn't know. In only know how *I* feel. My God concept: immortal, invisible, infinite, intelligent, intangible. The only way to begin to grasp such a "god" is with the mind. So, I can't answer your question about what God feels like. But thanks for asking. By the way, what does a tachyon feel like? Can't feel a tachyon, even though one may pass through your body, but tachyons are very real. Just something to keep in mind. Peace to you.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Jason

      By feel he means senses that it must be true. His intuition says God must be real.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Alex Gessong

      @Jason: Well put. But I'd leave out the "must be real" part. To warrant a "must," I'd have to be able to prove it. I can't. I can live in a godless universe with no problem. I know there's a universe; i believe there's a God. I hope my belief reflects the true state of things, but I don't know that it does. I'm a huge fan of Stephen Hawking and am intrigued by his observation that the universe can spontaneously create itself out of (essentially) nothing. Personally, I thank God that there are people like Dr. Hawking. 😉

      March 1, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  8. JDM

    For all of you who are intelligent enough to note that "no one knows", I applaud you. But for a true believer in freeddom, the appropriate billboard to answer this one would read, "Believe what you wish. But mind your own f-- business and dont try to tell everyone else what to believe.

    March 1, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • scoobypoo

      You are missing the point.
      Religious crap is in our face everywhere, in the courts, even on our money.
      Tax the churches and give me real separation of church and state and then we can talk about it.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
    • Jason

      Religion has done a lot of bad in the world, but it's here to stay. A number of religions are actually on the rise. I apologize if some organized religion has hurt you in the past, I'm not a huge fan of religion myself. I am however, a fan of Christ and his teachings, and I admittedly would tell other people about my thoughts on him. It's not that I want to convert people to make myself feel better or something. It's just that when you've experienced something so incredible and so freeing in your life, sometimes you want to give other people the chance to experience it too.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
  9. DocMWood

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

    That is concerning. For a group of people that purport that reason is the highest virtue and all you need, the zealots of the atheist religion sure do seem to get their jollies off by intentionally inflicting harm on their fellow man.

    March 1, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • momoya

      If your faith is so weak as to allow you to be harmed by words on a billboard, your belief is pretty worthless.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Is bringing the option of atheism to people worse than the potential harm done to a child by an "obey or your will be sent to hell" message?

      March 1, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      I do not believe and I agree with you. People should be doing good because good is the right thing to do. Not caring if you are doing harm is wrong.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • Chris

      Yeah, you are missing the point, but it's the same point that religious people always miss, so carry on soldier.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Since when is upsetting anyone doing harm?

      March 1, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • DocMWood

      @Momoya—My faith, or lack thereof, isn’t harmed at all by the billboards. My opinion of those zealot atheists is harmed considerably by the billboards, and their beliefs seem pretty worthless. I see nothing of value in what they are producing, since all they are showing is scorn and disgust for their fellow humans. I don’t need that, and I don’t think anyone else does either. At least those of belief have made hospitals, charities, and all sorts of good things for society as a whole (whether you agree with them or not)…the best the Atheists could come up with is a billboard? Seriously?

      @HotAirAce—Really? You think that a billboard will “bring the option of atheism” to any man, woman or child in the US that hasn’t heard about atheism before? For a group of people that base their belief system on reason, that has to be the silliest thing I’ve heard in a long time. Especially from a post on the Internet, of all places….

      March 1, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • DocMWood

      @ HotAirAce: Your first post: “Is bringing the option of atheism to people worse than the potential harm done to a child by an "obey or your will be sent to hell" message?” Your second post: “Since when is upsetting anyone doing harm?” Um…I think you just answered your own question there, Bucky….

      March 1, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @DocMWood, you seem to think that advertising anything not 100% brand new is pointless. If true, what are your thoughts on believers using the same methods to advertise their myths? Please don't let me down and say it's ok for believers but not non-believers...

      March 1, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @DocMWood, you appear not to be able to diffentiate between upsetting someone (likely an adult) because their beliefs are challenged and the forced indoctrination of children, using fear to force them into believing nonsense.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
    • DocMWood

      @HotAirAce—If you think this is about a billboard, you’re missing the point completely. It’s not about a billboard. Or about advertising. It is about making a decision to intentionally harm other people.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • DocMWood

      @HotAirAce—We use fear to force indoctrination on our children in all sorts of things, and have them believing all sorts of nonsense. “If you keep making that face, it will stick like that,” “Don’t make me come up there…,” “Make good grades, go to college, and get a good job.” Seriously. Think about it for just a few moments. Most of the time, we do it with the best intentions of trying to make the child a better person. Often we screw up, but most of the time we get it right. Point being, we’re not trying to hurt the child, we’re trying to make the child better. But the atheists with the billboards really are only trying to hurt. Any commentary that their trying to make things better, quite frankly, is simply a lie. And based upon their own beliefs, they should know better.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • Jason

      I think what he's saying is that, they believe in something to the point that they think it's worth some potential bruises. If it really does help but has some cost, he still thinks its worth it. I don't agree with the atheist viewpoint, but I can understand why they would have this campaign.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • DocMWood

      @Jason—That I can understand. You have a belief, you want to get it out there, you want to make your way in the world…perfectly reasonable. And if there were no other alternatives, I’d be right there with them. But there are plenty of alternatives out there that don’t require you to inflict harm on others. As other posters have noted, they could have gotten the same message across if they had said something like "Believe what you wish. I respect that. Grant me the same respect.” Additionally, they made the choice to use the name of their god in their sacred language say the belief is a myth. This was a carefully crafted message to inflict pain and suffering on multiple levels. They’re not trying to gain acceptance, they’re not trying to reach an audience that somehow hasn’t heard their message…they are specifically trying to hurt other people.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:31 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      These billboards are no more harmful than ones put up by believers. The only real issue here is that they question the status quo and raise questions that believers cannot answer. Believer's have had 2000+ years to prove their beliefs and have failed miserably. They really don't like being challenged publicly. Too bad!!

      March 1, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Primewonk

      So, a billboard that says, "You know it's a myth...and you have a choice" is bad?

      But billboards that say things like – "Why do Atheists Hate America", "Anti-God is Anti-American, Anti-American is Treason, Treason Leads to Civil War", "Who in HELL doesn't want you Baptized" – well, those are fine and dandy, right?

      March 1, 2012 at 5:52 pm |
    • DocMWood

      @HotAirAce—“The only real issue here is that they question the status quo and raise questions that believers cannot answer.” Um…what question? Neither side here is raising any question whatsoever. Statements, however, are clearly being made. And one group is intentionally inflicting harm upon the other. That is wrong. Obviously, you’re missing the real issue.

      “These billboards are no more harmful than ones put up by believers.” Actually, they are. If you haven’t figured out why, then you’re not trying or you’re lying to yourself.

      “They really don't like being challenged publicly.” Challenge away. If it was really about the challenge, it could be done without causing others to suffer. I tell people things they don’t want to hear or believe every day, and I can do it without causing pain simply for my enjoyment. More to the point, because I’m right I don’t have to cause pain to convince people I’m right. If you’re having to act like a schoolyard bully to “prove your point,” you’re probably not right to begin with. But it isn’t about “being challenged publicly.” It’s a sadistic, childish move.

      March 1, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • DocMWood

      @Primewonk—Nope, those billboards aren’t good either. Are you seriously so childish that your best argument is the equivalent to “Jimmy gets to stay up all night, why can’t I?” Isn’t atheism supposed to be better than religions because they’ve grown up beyond such things, and they don’t hurt people over their beliefs. More to the point, what the billboard says isn’t the problem. It’s where and how it says it. The fact they’re intentionally trying to hurt other people, with no significant goal beyond that hurt, is the problem.

      March 1, 2012 at 6:24 pm |
  10. wisdom4u2

    "Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for whoever comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who diligently search for him."
    Atheist.....you have a problem...NO FAITH! Poor things.

    March 1, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
    • momoya

      That's what the muslims tell me.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
    • DWillNH

      You really don't understand that we do not need you to pity us. Just like the Muslims who expect 72 virgins in heaven you too will be disapointed after an entire life of "devotion" to a myth.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:37 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      @mommoy.... ~~~ yeah, they probably did, cause:
      ♫ ♫
      Father Abraham had many sons
      Many sons had Father Abraham
      I am one of them and so are you
      So let's all praise the Lord.
      ♫ ♫

      March 1, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      @DWillNH ~~~~ Actually, you are sadly mistaken, 'cause I did all of that before I got saved. Duhhh
      Praise the Lord!!

      March 1, 2012 at 4:42 pm |
    • MagFlare

      I have faith in lots of things - my loved ones and my own abilities, for starters. That our beliefs differ has little to do with my inability to believe and more to do with the fact that your beliefs don't match the world as I understand it.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      @MagFlare ~~~ Your idea of what 'faith' is is not the idea of what most of the world believes it to be....duh

      March 1, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • Alpa Chino

      Uh oh, you off your meds.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • MagFlare

      @wisdom4u2: No, "trust" is a perfectly acceptable synonym for "faith." If you disagree with the thesaurus, maybe you need a reality check.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Over It

      wisdom4u2,

      Yeah, "faith" must be concerned with imaginary beings and places, which can't be proven, for it to be called real "faith".

      March 1, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      @magfl..... ~~~~ Actually, I prefer to go with what Hebrews 11:1 says 'faith' is...: "Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see." So you can take your thesaurus and live by that.... I prefer the Word.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • Jason

      I honestly think it takes more faith to be an atheist. The evidence for God is all around me, to believe that none of it is there for a reason would require a great deal of faith. I'm not saying it requires no faith to be a christian, faith is very important, but this seems like a kinda weird thing to post. They obviously don't have faith in God... that's the premise of their viewpoint.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
    • MagFlare

      @wis: So, then, "trust" is a perfectly acceptable synonym for "faith." You know, it would've been a lot less circuitous to simply say "I agree with that definition."

      March 1, 2012 at 5:53 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      @Jason
      I totally agree with you. With my physical eyes I can see that everything around me was and is being created. I will never understand how anyone in their 'right' minds can dismiss the order of things. It just buffles the chit out of me.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      @MagFlare
      Being the ‘control freak’ that I recognized you to be….I purposely choose not to ‘agree’ with you, because apart from God, your ‘trust’ and my ‘trust’ differs enormously. You don’t get it, and probably won’t….until you seek and find your ‘Creator’.

      March 1, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  11. Geoff

    Theirs far more change of the Lochness Monster being real than there is a GOD

    March 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Randomquips

      Thier's far more change that you are a good typer too.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      For the love of god, do you clowns always have to show us just how dumb you are? Seriously, Geoff, "Theirs far more change of the Lochness Monster being real than there is a GOD" ?????? Please go back to school and get educated. Duh

      March 1, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      LOL @ Random....

      March 1, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Jason

      Explain Please.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  12. Randomquips

    If they weren't trying to offend people, they wouldn't say "It's a myth" They'd say something more neutral like "You don't believe, Neither do we" with the name and website. They worded it that way for a reason.

    March 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      Thank you....ain't that the truth?

      March 1, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • DocMWood

      Concur. And being in the US, they could have left it in English. Instead, they made a conscious decision to inflict suffering on others because they were different.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
  13. curt

    I will never understand why athiest continue to do this over and over. If they dont belive in religion, how come it ofends them so much?

    March 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • Z-Rated

      Because they are inundated with the traditions and practices of believers throughout their daily life.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • DocMWood

      @Z-Rated–And believers are inundated with the state religion of Atheism throughout their daily life as well. Seriously, though, isn't the whole point of our pluralistic society that we are enriched with the diversity of traditions and practices of all the people in our daily lives? Are we not strengthened by by having thousands of religions instead of just one, or none? Being upset by the presence of people different from you to the point of feeling like you have to hurt them isn't a virtue.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:45 pm |
    • Primewonk

      It's not the religion that offends us. It's the fundiots who keep wanting to inject their religion into our laws that offends us. It's the notion – expressed hundreds of times on this thread today – that you can't be good without (your) god that offends us. It's the idea that folks in Rhode Island threaten a 16 year old girl with death because she is an atheist who wants her school to remove a Christian banner from her public school – that offends us. It's that fundiots refuse to understand the Consti.tution and state that we are a Christian nation that offends us.

      Need more?

      March 1, 2012 at 6:09 pm |
    • DocMWood

      @Primewonk—Actually, yes. Show me where you’re justified to hurt others because you are offended. You state, “It's the notion…that you can't be good without (your) god that offends us.” Got it. You want to be perceived as good by your fellow man regardless of your personal beliefs. So let’s be clear: God or no god, hurting other people because you perceive offense means you aren’t good. Calling other people names (“fundiots”) isn’t good either. Threatening a 16 year old girl because she believes differently from you isn’t good. Justifying hurting one group of people because a third group of people threatened said 16 year old isn’t good. Being offended because someone believes differently from you isn’t good. Need more?

      March 1, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
  14. Seriously

    I wish I knew some closeted Atheists. I don't. The only ones I know are busy screaming at me on Facebook and everywhere else. And now on billboards.

    I find billboards promoting religion unnecessary and offensive. And billboards promoting non-religion are the same. Real tolerance means respecting the beliefs of others.

    March 1, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • momoya

      I'm a closet atheist because I've already been fired and lost contracts for being honest about my non-belief.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
    • I'm The Best!

      I'm a closet atheist. You can tell because I still have a girlfriend and a job and an apartment in one of the bible belt states

      March 1, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • joe.astro

      For those who describe atheist-themed billboards like the ones shown in this article as "screaming", "inflammatory", "hateful", or other such nonsense should get their heads examined.

      Being informed that there are other people out there who think like you do about religion = NOT offensive. Being told that you will suffer for all eternity at the behest of a supposedly loving and just being for the crime of not groveling before it due to a lack of evidence = PRETTY DARNED OFFENSIVE.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
  15. Reality

    And not to forget our Christian friends and their myths- Part 1

    The Infamous Resurrection Myth/Con-

    From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

    Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

    To wit;

    From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

    "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
    Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

    Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

    Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

    The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

    Only Luke's Gospel (including Luke's Acts) records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

    "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
    http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

    The Vatican quickly embellished this story with a lot CYAP.

    With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

    o An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,
    o
    p.4
    o "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

    o p.168. by Ted Peters:
    Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

    o So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

    March 1, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Jason

      Your argument refutes claims made in the bible with claims made in Catholic doctrine and personal quotations. Of which, the point I believe you have more or less proven is that Catholic doctrine as well as people people in general can be fallible. The bible, however, I believe is true.

      By the way, the first quote you mention on the nature of heaven has very little to do with your argument. I have no idea why you said anything about Mary by the way, are you suggesting Mary ascended to heaven with Jesus? Not sure where you got that... but anyways, it's not very farfetched to believe Jesus had some sort of spiritual transformation upon ascending into heaven.

      Again, your next point, why Mary? And why would it be strange for her body to decompose? She was a follower of God, but so are many more. She is no better and no worse than any other human being. We're all sinners, and we all die and our bodies decompose.

      Your next point seems to say that because heaven or hell is not a physical place in the sense of our physical world, three+ dimensions, that it can't exist. What the pope is saying is that heaven and hell are not physical places but spiritual places. I wouldn't agree with the existence of purgatory, but on the whole that's what's going on. Since you're arguing there is nothing beyond the physical, you can easily dismiss any religion. Really dig deep and think if that makes sense to you. Could this universe really have just come about, could it have caused itself to appear, or did something else? It only makes sense that an event has a cause. Thus it must all come back to one initial instigator, and that initial instigator must be outside of time and our universe. To suggest there is no spiritual world would bring questions of why there is love, why we search for purpose, why there is existence. Only the existence of something more powerful and mysterious than we can comprehend, something outside of this physical world, something spiritual, can explain any of this.

      Your next argument retells the viewpoint of a Reimarus. He claims that Jesus wasn't God, that this was all political, etc... This argument does not add up very well at all. The number of Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by Jesus clearly show that his purpose of coming to Earth was to deal with our sin. He did that through the cross, so to suggest that he had other motives makes very little sense. Historically, he definitely existed, definitely died. Some proof that the bible wasn't doctored to prove Christ is that Christ first appeared to women. In that culuture, you would appear to men, as women's testimony wouldn't even hold in court. Today of course it would, but if you were scheming you would write that he appeared to men. Also, thoughout his life he never spoke in any way to suggest he was trying to gain political power. This whole quotation has very little backing and just seems a quick thoughtless backlash at Jesus. By the way, many of the disciples died for devotion to Jesus, these men would have given up and stopped their ministry had Jesus really not been ressurrected. None of it adds up in this argument by Reimarus.

      Next, you say, does it matter? Answer is yes, I don't care what those guys said, the answer yes. If Jesus rose from the dead he is God, and sin was paid for. If not, we all have no hope of salvation, so yes, it matters. I don't really understand the last mention of bones. Yes, if you died somewhere there would be remains, if you didn't, there wouldn't be, doesn't really add to any argument you're making.

      Anyways, those are my ramblings about the subject. I'd really suggest you look into the history and look this up for yourself, and don't assume the Catholic Church viewpoint would be Jesus' viewpoint. His viewpoint is what's in what's in the bible, read the read letters, they're his words. And don't believe just any 'ol author and their take. Look into this yourself, if you honestly are curious, and I'm confident that you will come to believe Jesus was the son of the living God and that he did rise from the dead. The proof is in the consistency of the bible, the truth in history, the way people's lives were changed.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
  16. Geoff

    Here in the UK we dont call our selfes Atheists but humanist, humanist belive their is no GOD but beleive we should help and be kind to other human beings

    March 1, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • wisdom4u2

      Why?

      March 1, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
    • clearfog

      Why? Genetically programmed into social animals through natural selection. Or handed down by god who created mankind in his image through the treachery of a talking snake in a magical fruit tree who disclosed knowledge of good and evil. I am having a hard time deciding.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Jeff

      I will second the question of why? Other people suck and they are ruining England.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • Jeff

      The UK should make Druidism the State religion. A nature based religion based on the real physical world holding nature and sharing the earth with wildlife in high regards.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
    • DocMWood

      Geoff–“People are going to be upset,” he says. “That is not our concern.” Not very kind to their fellow man.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:41 pm |
  17. clearfog

    I am an atheist. There is some quantum of evidence that would convince me of the existence of god or gods, although it would have to be a lot, I would always suspect that there was an advanced civilization behind the evidence. Nevertheless, I could be convinced. Religious people refuse to admit that any quantum of evidence would convince them that there is no god. That is why atheism is not a religion.

    March 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • DocMWood

      clearfog–being able to be convinced isn't what makes something a religion. Religion is simply a system of beliefs regarding the supernatural, or lack thereof. Since your system of beliefs is that there is no supernatural, you have religion. Those that believe in the supernatural have religion too, just a different answer for the same question. It's like economics...you don't have to have dollars to have an economic system...you could use Pounds or Yen...or chickens...or choose not to have any material transactions at all with your fellow man...but you still have an economic system.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • clearfog

      Not true. The difference is basing a belief on evidence as opposed to faith. If I were to believe in god, it would be based upon evidence, not faith. Atheism is not based on faith. Religion, by definition, is. That is why atheism is not a religion.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
    • DocMWood

      @clearfog—Not all religions require faith. Some do, just like some economic systems require money. But not all. Religion is simply what you think exists outside the natural world, if anything. You can base that belief on faith, reason, intuition, a guess, a decision…whatever floats your boat. But faith is no more a requirement for all religions than money is for economics.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Jason

      I would argue that atheism requires faith. Your faith is simply not in God. Your faith could be in science or philosophy, but your faith is almost always in something. And this is somewhat a question of definition, some say religion requires a god, others say religion is just a set of beliefs. Either way, atheism is atleast similar to a religion, atheists just like to separate themselves from the word as much as possible, even if they are similar in some ways. They don't want to think that their beliefs put them at a playing field with "religious" people. It's very much a pride thing.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
  18. The Agnostic

    Atheists can no more prove there isn't a God than believers can prove there IS a God.

    March 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • momoya

      I'm not only an atheist, but I don't believe in unicorns either. I sure wish I could prove unicorns don't exist. 😦

      March 1, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • YeahOk

      All I ask is to show me proof that one exists and I'll believe. Till then, I'll be an atheist.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • clearfog

      Scientists can no more prove that there is not a planet inhabited by Sesame Street characters than believers can prove that there is. Therefore, each belief is equally valid.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
    • YeahOk

      So according to clearfog, everything is valid as long as someone holds a belief it's true. Interesting.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:31 pm |
    • Nii Croffie

      Unicorns do exist. Europeans had come into contact with rhinos. Their actual form was lost in legend in the dark ages eventually becoming horselike with wings. MOMOYA Y ur church didn't teach u this? tell us their name so that we can avoid them.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • clearfog

      YeahOK. I thought my sarcasm would come through those black squiggly lines I used to communicate. Apparently not. Interesting.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • clearfog

      BTW – If the universe is flat and M-Theory correct, there would be a planet, an infinite number in fact, inhabited by Sesame Street characters.

      March 1, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
    • Jason

      @YeahOk, if you're really curious, and you have any specific questions hopefully I could answer some. Otherwise I might be able to point you to some interesting resources. There are pretty cool things about all the prophecies Jesus fulfilled, historical info pointing to Christ and the disciples, as well as psychological analyses of the changes seen in people in the bible that could only be logically explained by major shifts in belief. For instance, the conversion of Saul was so dramatic, that it could have only been caused by something extraordinary. He went from a christian killer to one of God's most devote followers ever. He had to experience something dramatic on the road to Damascus to have such a crazy change. Besides that, there are personal reasons and experiences that have helped me believe in God. From perfect timing to personal changes, there are times I cannot deny God's existence. I'll be praying that God reveals himself to you.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:32 pm |
  19. tpfd

    Let me ask you all something? What are Silverman's motives? You think he does what he does out of compassion and love? I don't. He's making a living.

    March 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • momoya

      What?!? Just who does he think he is making a living?!? He should be ashamed to speak his mind and go after a dream in a capitalist society that values speaking your mind and going after your dream! The horror! The horror!

      March 1, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
    • clearfog

      Do Protestant ministers receive a salary?

      March 1, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
    • Jason

      Yes, Protestant preachers eat food too.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • Jason

      Ha, I now realize that was sarcastic. nvm. I do honestly think these campaign organizers believe in their cause, I just don't agree with them.

      March 1, 2012 at 5:36 pm |
  20. marty

    Great Idea ... this is 2012. How people can still believe these myths is amusing to me.

    March 1, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
    • Crad

      So forcing your myth that theres no god is okay? Its called being antagonistic

      March 1, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • Atheist #1

      Crad we have facts on our side. Your the one with the 2000 year old book Written by 40 different desert dwellers

      March 1, 2012 at 4:30 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Crad, since when is renting a billboard forcing you to do anything? Do you feel forced to buy Apply products when you see an Apple billboard? Do you feel forced to buy HP when you see an HP billboard? How do you manage to walk/drive down a street while being forced, in may directions, by advertising, not to mention watch TV without becoming deranged?

      March 1, 2012 at 4:39 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.