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Atheist Billboards in Arabic and Hebrew Target Muslims and Jews

Atheist Billboards in Arabic and Hebrew Target Muslims and Jews

You may have heard about (or even seen) the billboards erected by various atheist coalitions, determined to bring believers into the fold (that is, when they aren’t evangelizing in the streets). But one of these groups, American Atheists, have decided to take the fight a step further: they’re placing billboards in a heavily Muslim neighborhood in New Jersey and a heavily Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, with messages in Arabic and Hebrew. “You know itís a myth Ö and you have a choice,” the billboards proclaim. In larger text on the respective billboards are the Arabic and Hebrew words for God: “Allah” and “Yahweh.”

The president of American Atheists admitted that the campaign was likely to be controversial, but said that his group intended to reach out to non-believers in tightly-knit Jewish and Muslim enclaves and make them feel less isolated. “Those communities are designed to keep atheists in the ranks,” he told CNN’s Dan Merica. “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 donít want to.”

Meanwhile, Jewish and Muslim leaders are surprised by the billboards, but don’t seem particularly perturbed. This is despite the fact that a billboard with the Hebrew word for God’s name written on it could be very offensive to observant Jews, especially if the text can be easily dirtied, or will eventually be thrown away.

Past campaigns by American Atheists have been countered by Christian organizations, but it’s unclear how Jews and Muslims will react when the billboards are unveiled next week. Last November, the organization used a similar concept to attack Christmas, posting billboards above the Lincoln Tunnel that read: “You KNOW itís a Myth. This Season, Celebrate Reason.” The Catholic League, a New York-based Catholic advocacy organization, responded with a competing billboard, which read: “You Know It’s Real: This Season Celebrate Jesus.”

The billboard campaigns don’t exactly encourage doubters to come forward. After all, if anyone from these relatively insular Jewish or Muslim communities does have doubts about their religion, it seems unlikely that they will be swayed by such belligerent ads. Even though the communities have yet to comment, the billboards have yet to be unveiled, so who knows how everyone will react. If these ads continue to be ineffective, though, maybe American Atheists will try a more tolerant approach in spreading their message.

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183 comments

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8:43PM PST on Feb 12, 2014

There is only one single truth: that there is no one single truth.

12:56PM PDT on Sep 9, 2012

The only 'Press' than never happens is when the billboards are against Christians.. Then nobody cares.. But== what's this! attacking Muslims? Better get this news out there and let everyone get enraged. and Jews.. What the Jews went through -- all their struggles in the Bible-- they are strong and know 'who they are'. Like we Christians.." Sticks and stones can break our bones but names-?-- we are used to 'name calling'.

1:23AM PDT on Sep 9, 2012

Can't think why they'd bother really.Evangelical atheism seems very strange.

1:10AM PDT on Sep 9, 2012

It's outreach to those feeling isolated and/or denegrated because they don't share the belief systems of religious people, not 'missionary work', lol.

And it's making the point that not everyone does share that belief system - in the face of some rather powerful and obtrusive religious fundamentalists trying to impose their mythology on everyone, by intruding it into politics, policy and into the educational system, even to denying children access to basic and essential facts that are necessary for them to reach their full potential and an understanding of the world in which they live.

People are entitled to believe in the Tooth Fairy, if they so wish - but they aren't entitled to wander around with pliers yanking other people's teeth out 'for the good of their souls', and that's pretty much what some fundamentalist groups seem to be aiming for, lol.


If ...'Jewish and Muslim leaders are surprised by the billboards, but don’t seem particularly perturbed...', what's the problem?

Nobody's attacking their right to worship or believe, just saying 'we're here and we're athiests, if you're of like mind' - advertising, if you like, for a free club of free thinkers.

4:07PM PDT on Jul 22, 2012

How are these ads belligerent? Better read the text again!
Actually, the signs DO encourage people to come forward. Go to Freethought or Patheos blogs and see the large number of people from non-Christian backgrounds who were heartened by these ads telling them they were not alone in a world dominated by superstitions.
When have atheists ever "evangelized in the streets? " The link goes to the story of a man who was wearing a costume in a halloween parade, who was attacked by a Muslim who took offense.
"maybe American Atheists will try a more tolerant approach"
Their approach is not intolerant. We aren't the ones telling people that they are evil for loving the wrong sex, for not being submissive, or frightening children with tales of going to hell. Atheists are using the 1st Amendment rights that we all have. We do not have anti-blasphemy laws in this country. A reporter in India has had to flee his country because he exposed a "miracle" weeping statue as the result of an ordinary leaky pipe. Is that how you want to live?

2:52AM PDT on Jul 5, 2012

The Christians do it, the Muslims do it so why not the atheists. I'm an atheist, and I'm sure a billboard won't change the mind of a believer. As long as they don't insult the religions, why should anybody care?

5:45PM PDT on Mar 18, 2012

RIGHT ON! IN EVERY LANGUAGE!

11:40PM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

@Alexandra, part 2:
These wouldn't have been such major issues if the churches were not acting as political parties/governments and their power was not at stake.

11:39PM PDT on Mar 11, 2012

Alexandra writes: "Sometimes the unknown can be recognised as God, sometimes as Satan, and sometimes as neither."
The problem I see with this (in addition to there being no evidence of either a god or satan) is that 'good' and 'bad' acts are quite relative... the same act would be good for some and bad for others. Within your set of beliefs, where one person sees god, others would see satan. There is no absolute good and bad in our existence. In the ancient concept of yin and yang, opposing forces are actually complimentary opposites... related and not independent of each other.

Alexandra writes: "Since you asked me, I suppose it is polite to ask you in return: do you try and cope with the incredible complexity of understanding infinity and the unknown by labelling it in a blanket fashion as "independent of God"?"
I have no beliefs or evidence regarding any god. Since there is no definition or evidence of god, it would be rather pointless to me to even consider it until there is. I think the indoctrination by the Abrahamic religions has done a great disservice to mankind. Issues of complexity that go beyond objective reality are simplified in Abrahamic religions with a thought-stopping process that has an answer before the question. Galileo was condemned by the church for observing heliocentrism because that contradicted the bible. Evolution was condemned for many years (and still is by some) because it contradicted the biblical myths of creation. These wouldn't

11:52PM PST on Mar 10, 2012

" ... do you try and cope with the incredible complexity of understanding infinity and the unknown by labelling it in a blanket fashion as "independent of God"?"

Absent any empirical evidence to the contrary, that is the only logical conclusion.

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