First on CNN: Atheist group targets presidential candidates' faith with billboards

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – A prominent atheist group is using next month's Democratic National Convention to take aim at the presidential candidates' religion, putting up billboards targeting Mormonism and Christianity in Charlotte, North Carolina.

“Our political system is rife with religion and it depends too much on religion and not enough on substance," said David Silverman, president of American Atheists, sponsor of the ads.

"Religion is silly and religion has components that are inherently divisive. … There is no place for any of that in the political system,” he said.

The billboards go up Monday in Charlotte and will stay up for a month at a cost of roughly $15,000. The Democratic convention runs September 3-6.



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To be honest, I'm not wild about either of the billboards shown in the article.  I foresee a LOT of bitching about their content (though the content is accurate), but not a lot of rational discussion (par for the course).  I wonder if a campaign could be built simply around Silverman's words:

Our political system is rife with religion and it depends too much on religion and not enough on substance.

Just a thought.

I felt the same way, I thought the proposed billboards were childish honestly, they need to be more 'provocative' than 'provocational'.


I quite agree with your idea, that quote seems more rational to me.

Yeah, if we are shooting for outcomes, I think those inflammatory statements will do more harm than good.



I think the timing of the ads has been very ill chosen unless they are also going to suggest a way to reduce the unemployment rate. In my opinion people really don't care what religion which candidate is right now. They care about which candidate is going to do the most for them in terms of providing financial security. In my opinion the ads will amount to Atheism leading with its chin to be knocked out by theists and fence sitters who will claim that rather than addressing the very serious economic problems that should be getting all but exclusive consideration they are serving as no more than irritating distractions that pull focus off of meaningful solutions regarding who gets what in terms of economical accommodation. Simply put, I think the ads will demonstrate a lack of couth on the part of Atheism that will turn a lot of people off to It. Atheism should not be doing counterproductive things much less spending money on them. If It doesn't come off as something good and nice it is my opinion that it will never prevail because people will be too reluctant to be labeled villains. 

Utterly agreed.  The ads are tastelessly confrontational rather than fostering civil discussion on the issue.  I don't know where David Silverman is getting his P.R. advice from, but I wish he would reconsider.

Maybe it's time for a letter / email campaign to American Atheists and David Silverman to state OUR take on this business and suggest a rethink on the billboards as they are.

He is also on Facebook.

It would have to be non-offensive. The objective would be to bring him around rather than alienate him. It's easy to demonstrate worship as ridiculous. Perhaps there should be a recommendation that basic Atheist strategy consist of doing so in a mind opening way before making the point that worship isn't necessary for one to be humanely oriented anyway. I think the most important thing to overcome in dismantling religion is the misconception that that one cannot be good without practicing it.   

My intent is to phrase my input to American Atheists much as I have here - something to the effect of the following:

I have misgivings regarding the billboards which American Atheists is considering sponsoring in coordination with the Democratic National Convention.  Both of them have the potential of being perceived as confrontational and creating a negative rather than a constructive reaction by believers who will see them.  I would prefer something built around David Silverman's quote: "Our political system is rife with religion and it depends too much on religion and not enough on substance," which might at least be the basis for opening a dialog.

I urge you to reconsider the content you wish to promote.

Problem is, the horse may have already left the barn on this one, as the billboards may already be prepped and ready to put up.  A damned shame, because I really DO NOT want to be represented as an atheist in that fashion.

I don't know his e-mail. Do you know it? My intent would be to emphasize that the adds would likely be considered irritating in that context and, as such, could constitute a shot in the foot. I would attempt to make the point that they would be too far off the agenda to be taken seriously and, as such, might serve as a lightening rod for criticism even by some who would, otherwise, entertain them.




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