Atheist Billboards Get Bigger, Plenteous in Orange County

A group of atheists in Orange County, Calif., put up another billboard, far bigger than the 30 bus-shelter ads that went up in July, and plans to erect two more next month which will be “controversial.”

A 48x14 feet billboard off the 55 freeway and Edinger Ave in Santa Ana that greets motorists with an atheist message is part of the “third media campaign,” which started on Aug. 18, says the website of Backyard Skeptics, an Orange County-based group of atheists.

The billboard that shows an image of an atheist from Maryland, Natalie Khazaal, cost around $6,000 and will remain in place for four weeks to promote atheism, according to The Orange County Register.

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“Atheism is philanthropy without mythology, peace without superstition,” says Khazaal’s quote that appears next to her picture on the billboard.

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.

From July 18 to Aug. 18, the second phase of the media campaign, Backyard Skeptics erected ad panels on 30 bus shelters, costing $8,000, to encourage commuters to doubt the Bible and God.

“We don’t have a voice,” said Gleason, whose group is paying for the ads with help from anonymous donors. “This is our voice.”

The group, supported by 14 like-minded organizations under the banner of Orange County Coalition of Reason, intends to let other nonbelievers know “there is a community of non-theists who share the idea that we can be good without God.”

How effective is this campaign? The group, which “supports the atheist, agnostic, skeptic and humanist community with local meetings, potluck parties, food drives for the homeless and other events,” put up its first billboard in Westminster off Beach Blvd on May 4. But “oddly enough,” the website notes, “a biker’s Christian group spent every day of the last two weeks under the billboard conducting a Bible Study!”

The daily quoted David Benavides, a Santa Ana Councilman and a Christian, as saying that the billboard’s message would make people think and “reflect on faith.” “You realize why you believe what you believe, and it actually strengthens the foundation of your faith.”

However, the group remains active and hopeful. It runs another campaign as “personal outreach.” “We visit the Huntington Beach Pier in Southern California two or three times a year and hold secular signs which would attract those who do not believe,” the website says. “We aren’t there to confront believers, but we do talk to those who approach us.”

The group holds monthly meetings “with interesting topics each month as well as movie nights, science-oriented field trips and outreach programs to encourage other non-believers to join our group.” The members meet on the fourth Wednesday or Thursday of each month.

“We enjoy spreading the word that skeptics and non-believers are good and moral people, and we cherish humanistic values over any supernatural superstitions. We encourage others to look at their world view with critical thinking skills so they too can feel they can be good without God,” adds the website.

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