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Tenn. Billboard Hopes to Dispel Myths About Atheists

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By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter
April 5, 2012|5:16 pm

An atheist organization has posted a billboard off of a major Tennessee roadway with the purpose of dispelling myths about atheists and agnostics in America.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation posted the billboard near downtown Nashville off of Interstate 40. The billboard is black and pink and reads "This is what an atheist looks like," featuring the photo of a young atheist woman from Clarksville.

Rob Schwarzwalder, senior vice president for the Family Research Council, told The Christian Post what message he believed the billboard was intended for.

To see an image of the billboard, visit here.

"An attractive young woman featured on a billboard with an eye-catching color (bright pink) communicates that atheists aren't sour and angry," said Schwarzwalder.

"This billboard is rather sad. Why is the FFRF so desperate to communicate an upbeat message? Who, or what, is threatening them?"

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According to a press release by FFRF, the billboard is part of a campaign that will help dispel the myths that many people have regarding atheists.

"Many people have not knowingly met an atheist, and as a result negative myths and stereotypes proliferate," said FRFF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor in a statement. "There are so many religions all claiming to be the one true belief. An atheist simply believes in one less god than the typical Christian."

Regarding the FRFF's efforts to positively portray atheism, Schwarzwalder believed that the misconceptions and stereotypes went both ways.

"Some likely have misconceptions about atheists and agnostics, as many atheists and agnostics have misconceptions about Christians," said Schwarzwalder. "To the extent that some believers have shown atheists hostility or worse, that's a disgrace – but it is not representative of the evangelical community as a whole, by any means."

The billboard idea came as a submission to FRFF's "Out of the Closet Virtual Billboard Campaign," wherein participants submitted online a billboard design with their photo, a short statement, and their name. The winner was a married student from Clarksville, Tenn., named Grace, who came from a Catholic background before leaving the faith.

According to an interview with local media, Grace said that after coming out as an atheist she received hate mail and even death threats.

Glenn Stanton, director for global family formation studies at Focus on the Family, told CP that compared to other atheist billboards this one was more positive.

"At least this one does not attack believers for being believers, like many of the others do. It is just them explaining themselves, which is perhaps a good thing," said Stanton.

Stanton also felt that as FRFF works to combat misconceptions of atheists and agnostics they should work to combat misconceptions about religious believers in their own ranks.

"To say that Christians are not enlightened is quite unenlightened in itself," said Stanton.

"[Atheists] are regular people, which is not so remarkable. While many of them can be remarkably angry and condescending, I think very few folks believe they have horns."

 

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