- (Photo: American Atheists)
American Atheists erected a billboard over the weekend in Huntsville, Ala., that claims all religions are scams.
The ad reads, "You know they're all scams" and pictures some religious symbols including the cross, the Jewish star, and Islam's crescent moon and star.
The billboard further claims that the group American Atheists has been "telling the truth since 1963."
Blair Scott, communications director for American Atheists, acknowledged to The Huntsville Times that the sign will likely "make a lot of people mad."
But he explained, "[O]ur target is not the Christians, but all the atheists and agnostics still in the closet who are still pretending, still playing the game, still putting up a facade."
American Atheists defines "scam" as a ploy to raise money, a fraudulent business scheme or an attempt to intentionally mislead a person usually with the goal of financial or other gain.
It claims that the "truth" is that "all religions make money and power from their flock" and that "all religions make lots of promises about an afterlife that doesn't exist."
"Let's face it: religion tells a good story," the group states. "All you need to do is follow the preacher and good things will happen. You will never really die, and due to your involvement in (insert religion here) you will benefit for eternity. Yes, it pleases the invisible man-in-the-sky that you follow your preacher – just ask your preacher and he will tell you."
American Atheists goes on to contend, "Billions of adherents, many of whom are preachers themselves, all victims of this Great Scam. Some know it's a scam, yet defend religion because they like the lies. They like the fraud. They like the false sense of security. Unfortunately, no matter how much you like a lie, it doesn't make it truth. It DOES make religion a great scam if victims are willing to defend it, even in the face of truth."
The ad campaign is designed to appeal to "closeted atheists" and to advertise the group's upcoming regional conference in Huntsville.
It follows an earlier ad campaign that attacked Christmas, declaring it to be a myth.
Religious groups have responded to the offensive ads with their own. The Catholic League countered the "You know it's a myth" atheist billboard near the Lincoln Tunnel in New York with a billboard declaring, "You know it's real. This season, celebrate Jesus."
Times Square Church also responded with a billboard about who God is. Its ad replaced the atheist group's myth one and currently tells drivers heading into the busy tunnel that God is good, alive, and ready to forgive, among other things.