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A Waste of Good Billboards

In Samuel Johnson’s famous poem on London, he described some of its dangers:

Here falling houses thunder on your head
And here a female atheist talks you dead.

In southern California, houses may fall on your head, but the female atheists are doing less talking than looming; apparently a particularly attractive one is going to be looming over the landscape from billboards.

A group of Orange County atheists are ramping up their campaign to decorate the Southern California landscape with massive anti-religious billboards featuring an attractive female atheist. From the Christian Post:

Why Khazaal? She is better looking than most of the local atheists, Backyard Skeptics director Bruce Gleason told the newspaper. “She’s smart, she’s attractive, and she doesn’t believe in God. She’s my kind of lady.”

Two more billboards will go up in September, one on Chapman Ave., east of the 55 freeway, and another along the 22 freeway near Valley View Street, Gleason was quoted as saying. “They will be controversial,” he warned.

I have no problem with anyone proselytizing for and against religion; arguing about whether God exists and whether and how to worship are among humanity’s oldest and most fascinating pastimes and these are questions with which every human being must engage.

But I wonder what the point of it all really is.

The south of my childhood was decorated with “Jesus Saves” billboards; I’ve never heard of anyone who converted to Christianity because they saw a sign on the highway.  I would be equally surprised to hear of someone driving to church who saw an anti-God billboard and decided to just drive to the casino instead.

My advice to anyone thinking of spending money on highway billboards advertising faith or its opposite: don’t.  It cheapens and demeans your beliefs, whatever they are, to sell them as consumer products.  The serious atheist and the serious believer agree that the core convictions of human beings about the meaning of life and our place in the world deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. That does not mean reducing serious ideas to advertising slogans.

But it’s a free country, and if you really want to spend a lot of money to tell the world that you have a cheap and superficial approach to life’s deepest questions, atheist or believer, don’t let me stop you.

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  • Pete Dellas

    If they want to use glamour to promote atheism, let them. Doesn’t that simply demonstrate the weakness of their case?

  • Hadlowe

    I view the billboard phenomenon as similar behavior to the cars festooned with political or religious bumper stickers. It serves one half as an outward profession of faith, or, in this case, lack thereof. The other half is argumentative and is meant to provoke those on the other side of the political/religious divide.

    Speaking of evangelical billboards, I used to drive past a billboard every day that said “‘We need to talk’ –God.” Every day I thought, “Why is God trying to break up with me?”

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