May 16, 2016

Continuing the Billboard Conversation

It's funny how, sometimes, a topic just creeps up, and keeps creeping up, over and over again. Apparently, billboards are one of those topics.

Last week, I posted about Skepchick's "Can We Ban Atheists From Billboards?" and shared how an atheist billboard helped me. Then I dug into some examples of atheist billboards to show that there's really a wide variety of boards.

Today, I came across a story out of South Dakota, where an atheist group has put up quite a few billboards in recent weeks:

They are hard to miss, and they're creating quite the stir across the Sioux Empire. More than 20 billboards say things like "praying doesn't work," and "God didn't create man." The man behind the atheist boards has one simple goal, to get people to think about religion a little differently.

I know these two examples are pretty confrontational, but I also noticed as I watched the accompanying news video this one:

Image credit: KDLT News

This was the best screenshot I could get, but the full question reads, "Are you good without God?"

Can someone please explain to me what's controversial about this? I get that statements about prayer or creation come across as confrontational, but what is it about this question that gets people so up in arms? I'm trying to consider this from different angles, but not one is yielding a satisfying answer for me. It doesn't make a claim to knowledge. It's a simple yes or no question:

  • If you're a theist, and you believe you are good, answer no.
  • If you're a non-theist of some stripe, and you believe you are good, answer yes.
There's not really much more to read into it than that.

I also got a bit of a chuckle out of this banner at the bottom of the story:

If a billboard tests your faith, maybe you should consider a new religion. I'm just sayin'.

And for real: how much hyperbole would I be guilty of if I was heading this post with, "Christian billboards test my atheism"? I think a lot. Yesterday, I drove by several Christian billboards. Specifically, I recall one that says, "Without Jesus, you'll go to hell." Pointblank. No frills. Just straight to the point.

But it didn't test my atheism. I think the only reason I really noticed it was that I had written Thursday's post, so it was already on my mind. Are billboards really testing people's faith? I'm just...I'm so confused.

I hope that these billboards succeed in their mission of creating a conversation. I think it's a worthwhile mission, in and of itself. 

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