Cranford, NJ—Continuing its tradition of “firebrand-style” billboards at Christmastime, American Atheists launched a new campaign in Bible Belt cities, beginning Monday. The billboards feature a young girl writing a letter to Santa; her letter reads, “Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church! I’m too old for fairy tales.”
The billboards are located in Memphis; Nashville; St. Louis; and Fort Smith, Arkansas. A fifth billboard in Milwaukee is co-sponsored by the Southeast Wisconsin Freethinkers (SWIFT). While previous billboards have been located in urban settings such as Times Square, these billboards are located in more residential areas to be near schools and churches.
The billboards are aimed at in-the-closet atheists who are pressured to observe religious traditions during the holidays, and who might also want to attend the annual American Atheists National Convention in Memphis in April.
“Even children know churches spew absurdity, which is why they don’t want to attend services. Enjoy the time with your family and friends instead,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “Today’s adults have no obligation to pretend to believe the lies their parents believed. It’s OK to admit that your parents were wrong about God, and it’s definitely OK to tell your children the truth.”
Despite multiple attempts, American Atheists was unable to secure a billboard advertising space in Jackson, Mississippi, as area lessors rejected the design due to content. “The fact that billboard companies would turn away business because they are so concerned about the reaction by the community to a simple message that not everyone goes to church and not everyone believes in gods shows just how much education and activism on behalf of atheists is needed in the South,” said Public Relations Director Danielle Muscato.
American Atheists is bringing the billboards and its national convention to the South, where discrimination and mistrust of atheists is especially pronounced.
The billboards will be on display from December 1 to December 24. There is additional information about the American Atheists 2015 National Convention during Easter weekend, April 2-5 at www.atheists.org/convention. The convention will take place at the Peabody Hotel, just off of Beale Street.
The convention will feature keynote speaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a costume party, an art show, a “Cards Against Humanity” charity tournament, workshops, and talks by more than 20 of the atheist community’s greatest speakers, including Bangladeshi atheist blogger Asif Mohiuddin, Lucien Greaves of The Satanic Temple, HowStuffWorks.com founder Marshall Brain, historian and poet Dr. Jennifer Michael Hecht, and Fade au Grau, a celebrity fashion designer (as seen on Lifetime’s Project Runway), and more.