The group American Atheists has an annual tradition of putting up billboards in Albuquerque and Dallas Fort-Worth, telling people that their church is the oldest disseminator of “fake news.”
According to American Atheists spokesman Nick Fish, the billboards aren’t meant to be offensive; they’re meant to spark conversation.
“It’s a way of starting a conversation not just with this organization but within a community,” Fish told NBC News on Wednesday. “The choice is often between being provocative or not being heard at all. If we can start that initial conversation, then we’re doing our jobs to get the ball rolling and get our foot in the door.”
Atheist group puts up billboards in Albuquerque and Dallas Fort-Worth saying 'church is fake news'. pic.twitter.com/iUvxelxri7
— Sky Palma (@DeadStateTweets) December 9, 2017
Fish says that since the billboards were put up on November 30, many atheists have come forward saying they make them them feel like they’re not alone in their communities.
“It’s about targeting areas where religious identity is assumed. Albuquerque is not necessarily a conservative place,” Fish said, “but there is a lot of religious expectation there and we want to challenge that.”
Our "Fake News" billboards are "offensive, gross and misleading" apparently. That email address doesn't seem on the level, either. pic.twitter.com/jNuENSXfpL
— American Atheists (@AmericanAtheist) December 4, 2017
The group plans for the billboards to remain up throughout the Christmas season. They also plan to put them up in Oklahoma City in the run-up to their annual convention there over Easter weekend.
From NBC News:
Lamar Advertising Company told American Atheists that they could not put up their “Fake News” sign in Oklahoma City or Tulsa because they said it did not meet their standards. Instead, the nonprofit put up a billboard that proclaimed, “Just Like Santa Claus, the Atheists Are Comin’ to Town!” — which “was deemed acceptable, but given the nature of this market, it is still considered to be sensitive.”
“We want people to think critically about all aspects of their life,” Fish said according to KRQE News. “We want people to think critically about the news that we get from Facebook and social media. They need to think critically about it. They shouldn’t just shut off that part of their brain when they go into a church.”
Featured image via screen grab (KRQE News)