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War on Jesus' name? Atheist group urges community to report 'illegal' Christian signs

Atheists United head denies targeting Christianity, but says it's the 'only religion incapable of following the law'

Screengrab: Spectrum 1
Screengrab: Spectrum 1

Updated 11:51 AM ET, May 5, 2023

“Obviously, they have a motive. There’s a kingdom of darkness and a kingdom of light, and they’re working for the kingdom of darkness,” says Brent Farley, founder of Jesus Saves Signs, a ministry that works to spread the Gospel using signs placed on telephone poles and elsewhere around Southern California.

Farley isn’t shy about how he views efforts by a local atheist group to take down his signs.

“There’s a real battle at hand, there’s a real fight … for the Word of God, and it’s obvious, if you look at it through biblical times, what's happening,” Farley told The Christian Post Thursday.

For Farley, that battle is currently being waged against Los Angeles-based Atheists United, a secularist organization aimed at promoting the “separation of government and religion,” according to its website.

Led by executive director and activist Evan Clark, Atheists United is also behind a volunteer group called “Atheist Street Pirates,” whose stated mission is to “remove illegal religious signage” in communities around Southern California and other U.S. cities.

A screenshot of a video showing signs taken down by the 'Atheist Street Pirates.'
A screenshot of a video showing signs taken down by the "Atheist Street Pirates." | Screenshot/YouTube

Written in the apparent voice of a pirate — with text such as “Ahoy, me hearties! Religious scallywags are littering our highways, streets, and neighborhoods with unwelcome and illegal street propaganda” — the website urges residents to report “unwelcome and/or illegal signage on public land.”

While posting any hand bills or signs in the public right of way is illegal under LA municipal code 28.04, such signage is consistently visible throughout the city, particularly at some of its busiest intersections.

While it does not specify which content to look out for, the “Street Pirates” page only shows examples of signs that include the name “Jesus," leading some like Farley to suspect the group is specifically targeting Christian evangelism.

A screenshot of the Atheists United website shows only signs with Jesus being taken down.
A screenshot of the Atheists United website shows only signs with Jesus being taken down. | Screenshot/AtheistsUnited.org

“If there was Muhammad’s name or my name or anybody else's name on those signs, they could sit there,” said Farley. “But the only way to God, the way of salvation, there is a war, there is an attack against His name, and it’s quite vicious.”

Mission Hills Christian Church, an LGBT-inclusive, progressive congregation in the San Fernando Valley northwest of LA, has reportedly joined the effort to help the atheist group take down signs with Jesus’ name.

When asked whether his signs are knowingly placed illegally, Farley said while he understands some residents will be “offended” by the name of Jesus, the effort is largely fueled by a group of independent evangelists working together for a common message.

“The signs are really about making the Gospel simple, to have their sins removed so they can have a relationship with our Creator,” he explained.

Farley — a former atheist who said he was “appalled that the Lord’s name and salvation is not posted everywhere” when he came to faith 13 years ago — pointed to what he says is a wave of yard sign thefts among his customers.

“All the time I hear about people buying yard signs, Jesus Saves signs, and they put ‘em out on their yard and they immediately get stolen,” he said.  

“It’s gotten to be where people can’t even have Jesus’ name in their yard without it getting stolen, they have to put it high up on poles just to get it out of reach of the heathens.”

And as for the atheists’ efforts to take down his signs, Farley isn’t exactly convinced the atheists' effort is a humanitarian one.

“If they were working for the kingdom of light, and it was a litter problem that they see, they would be picking up litter, there would be bags of trash in their vehicle, not just things that give people hope and faith in God,” he said.

According to Clark, Atheists United hosts two highway cleanups a month and has done so for almost two decades. 

As for why the Atheists Street Pirates page features exclusively Christian signage, Clark said they “have never, and will never, target one religion” and suggested Christians are the only religious group who are “incapable of following the law.”

“We have never, and will never, target one religion,” Clark told CP via email. “We are a separation of government and religion program and would take down a Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Satanist, or atheist sign just as quick as any Christian sign. 

“The fact that all signs we've found so far are Christian has been a surprise to us and begs the question of why they're the only religion incapable of following the law.”

As for Farley, he has no plans to stop posting the name of Jesus. 

“When I go out to post signs, I’ve already accepted death. So, there’s nothing that’s gonna fear me. I’m not gonna get scared, I’m gonna go with whatever the consequences are, whether it’s the police, or [LGBT activists], whoever it is, I’m out there to rep for a God,” he said. 

“He saved my life, I’m gonna live forever. … I wanna leave an army of people to cover America with the Gospel message.”

Ian M. Giatti is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ian.giatti@christianpost.com

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