The fairly recent trend of groups buying ad space to promote rationalism is fantastic. The bus campaign in the UK is wonderful, and even though Tracy disagrees, I think the slogan is perfect: â€œThere is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.â€ It’s a casual and positive statement, and the campaign itself drew attention to the nation’s many atheists and freethinkers.
Donna wrote about the Colorado Coalition for Reason’s billboards, which featured serene clouds and the slogan, “Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.” That, too, is positive and non-confrontational, making it all the more telling that local Christian groups still made a concerted effort to have them removed.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation â€“ which fights hard to protect the separation of church and state in the U.S. â€“ has also jumped in. Yesterday, press releases announced billboard ads going up around the country, including one in Whitehall, Ohio. The mayor of that town said some ignorant things about freethinkers in response to a request for the town to honor Darwin’s birthday on February 12. From the press release:
“We were so shocked and offended at the statement by Whitehall Mayor John Wolfe to CBNS-TV Channel 10 saying, “We are a Christian nation,” and dismissing a constitutional violation because: ‘They’re atheists, they’re antagonists and they’re a minority,’ ” said Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor.
The FfRF opted for this billboard:
Previous FfRF billboards had the phrase “Imagine no religion,” but this new slogan was created to focus on Darwin in the 150-year anniversary of the publishing of On the Origins of Species. The new slogan has also appeared on billboards in Dover, PA, Dayton, OH, and Madison, WI.
Speaking as a copywriter, that billboard appears to be the result of cleverness gone wild. The slogan “Praise Darwin” is in fact clever â€“ the idea behind celebrating Darwin Day is to praise a very intelligent man and his groundbreaking idea, so the phrase can mean that while satirizing the theistic outburst of “Praise Jesus,” in which usage “praise” has a different connotation of blind worship.
Unfortunately, I suspect that’s not what’s going to be conveyed. Instead of people seeing satire and taking the “praise” to mean “celebrate the accomplishments of,” they’re going to see Darwinists worshiping their Atheist religion’s God. They constantly accuse evolutionary scientists of elevating Darwin to a god-like status, blindly believing in his theories without question and finding data to support the conclusion. Nothing could be further from the truth, but good luck convincing them of that when they bring up this billboard.
I think the FfRF does a wonderful job of protecting our rights and encouraging discourse, even inspiring freethinkers to take action and contact their politicians when it really matters. In this case, though, I think they screwed up.
What do you think?