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Jan 18 09 10:47 AM
Tooth Fairy Agnostic
Jan 19 09 12:50 AM
Sometimes, standing for what you believe means standing alone
Jan 27 09 3:27 PM
Feb 7 09 8:26 PM
By Danny Brierley
Last updated at 7:51 PM on 05th February 2009
Christian groups are launching their own advertisements to run across the side of London buses following an atheist campaign.
The British Humanist Association launched adverts earlier in the year proclaiming: 'There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your
It sparked almost 150 complaints to the Advertising Standard Authority from people claiming the campaign was offensive.
Oh yes there is: The Trinitarian Bible Society and the Russian Orthodox Church have paid for their own pro-God adverts in response to
the British Humanist Association's 'offensive' campaign
Oh no there isn't (probably): The atheist adverts were launched earlier in the year, sparking 150 complaints. It was later ruled
they were unlikely to cause offence
Now the Christian party, the Trinitarian Bible Society and the Russian Orthodox Church have paid for their own pro-God adverts that will run on 175 buses
across central and east London and the West End for two weeks from Monday.
The advert for the Christian Party includes the slogan: 'There definitely is a God. So join the Christian Party and enjoy your life.'
The Russian Orthodox Church, meanwhile, has booked 25 bus adverts, backed with a sponsorship deal with Russian Hour TV.
The Trinitarian Bible Society's advert uses a line from Psalm 53 that reads: 'The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.' It will appear
on 100 buses.
The ASA ruled that the Humanist Association's campaign did not break any advertising rules, concluding that the adverts were an 'expression of the
advertiser's opinion and that the claims in it were not capable of objective substantiation'.
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These clearly aren't signs from God.
This week, drivers in Dallas and Fort Worth will notice billboards sponsored by local atheists and
"Don't believe in God? You are not alone," the billboards read. The signs, featuring a blue sky and clouds, tower
over Interstate 35E and Northwest Highway in Dallas and I-35W just north of downtown Fort Worth. They will be up for four weeks.
Terry McDonald, an atheist and coordinator of the local coalition behind the billboards, said he hopes to reach atheists who feel
uncomfortable in the Bible Belt.
"In this area, there's so much religious stuff that people feel they're alone," he said. "Christians or
religious people are not our target with our billboards. But if we can let some of them know that there are a lot of us, and we're pretty much the same as
they are - caring about our families, our country, our community - that'd be kind of an extra benefit we get."
The billboards include a Web address for the Dallas-Fort Worth Coalition of Reason (www.dfwcor.org), an umbrella organization
that includes the Metroplex Atheists, the Freethinkers of University of Texas-Arlington, the Humanist Association of Ft. Worth and the North Texas Church of
Freethought, among other groups.
Similar billboards have sprouted up in Idaho, Colorado and South Carolina.
Religious billboards, such as the recent "I Am Second" campaign by Plano-based e3 Partners Ministry, are pretty common
in North Texas. The atheism angle is a new wrinkle.
Dallas resident Ellie Conway, 67, said she would rather not see such billboards.
"I think it's tacky, actually, but you see Christian billboards, so I guess they have a right to do it," she said.
"It might have a negative impact on people who are confused about Christianity or no God."
McDonald said the coalition is not trying to change anyone's beliefs with the billboards.
"Our purpose is not to convert anybody," he said. "The intention is to let people who already don't believe
know they've got company."
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Aug 4 09 11:31 PM
By J. BRENT WALKER
Special to the Tribune
Published: August 2, 2009
or the next six months, people on the roads of Pinellas and Hillsborough counties will rumble past billboard ads making false claims and misleading
assertions about our country's history and commitment to religious freedom. One ad even fabricates a comment from the first president of the United
Recently, local media reported on the billboard advertisements that use quotes from history to "portray a national need for Christian
Those behind the billboards refer to the separation of church and state as a "lie" and say our country's Judeo-Christian foundation is
"the reason that this country has prospered for 200-plus years."
The only lies being told are featured on the billboards themselves.
Few would dispute the crucial role of religion in many of our founders' lives. However, they were a mixed lot - some orthodox Christians, some Deists,
nearly all scions of the Enlightenment - and more committed to ensuring religious liberty for all than enshrining their own religion in our founding documents.
The separation of church and state is one of the reasons that, despite our religious passion and pluralism, we have been able to avoid the religious conflicts
that have punctuated history and continue to plague much of the world today. In fact, as our founders wisely understood, the separation of the two is good for
When those with an agenda cherry-pick - and completely make up - quotes from our founders, they do a disservice to all. There is a remarkable irony when a
group claiming its support for historical accuracy fabricates a statement and attributes it to the nation's first president. For example, one of the
billboards quotes President George Washington as saying, "It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible." As reported, the
billboard organizers admit there is no proof Washington ever said this. Undoubtedly, Washington believed that religion has a place in public life, but one must
look at his other statements to understand his view of government's role in religious matters. In 1789, then-President Washington wrote a letter saying he
would establish "barriers" against "spiritual tyranny" and "every species of religious persecution." He also wrote that everyone
should be protected in "worshipping the Deity according to the dictates of his own conscience." Taken together, Washington's words show his
recognition of religion's benefits and his belief that a person's preferences were a matter of individual choice in which the government should not
Moreover, James Madison - the father of our Constitution and arguably one of our most religious founders - observed that "the number, the industry, and
the morality of the Priesthood, and the devotion of the people have been manifestly increased by the total separation of church and state."
The phrase "wall of separation" is not in the Constitution, but the sentiment surely is. It is simply a shorthand metaphor expressing a deeper
truth: Religious liberty is best protected when the institutions of church and state are separated and neither tries to perform or interfere with the essential
mission of the other.
That separation does not mean an infringement of the right of people of faith to speak forcefully in the public square. From bumper stickers to billboards,
religious speech is commonplace. Certainly, our freedoms allow anyone to purchase a billboard and put almost any statement on it. But putting intentional
mischaracterizations, half-truths, and outright fabrications on display is patently irresponsible, undermining the very faith the billboard backers claim.
J. Brent Walker, an attorney and ordained Baptist minister, is the executive director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty in
Washington. Formerly, he was a partner at the law firm of Carlton Fields in Tampa.
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