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Atheist Convention Billboard Rejected as ‘Offensive’ for Mentioning ‘Easter’

Nashville, TN—On Monday, American Atheists announced a two-city billboard campaign in Tennessee promoting its 2015 National Convention during April 2-5 in Memphis at the historic Peabody Hotel. The two billboards are radically different because the Nashville billboard leasing company rejected two designs as “offensive” and “aggressive” for including the words “Easter” and “church.” The Memphis billboard, featuring the original design, was approved without issue. Both billboards will run for one week. “The double standard is as ridiculous as it is discriminatory,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “Our billboards feature a happy little girl wearing bunny ears. Our convention is, in fact, this April 2-5, which falls on Easter weekend. Is stating this fact what Americans, champions of free speech, find ‘aggressive’? This is exactly why we are coming to the Bible Belt—we go where we are needed; it could not be more clear that we are needed here.” Each submitted billboard design featured the same young girl featured in the organization’s Christmas billboards, which sparked a three-round “billboard war” with Tennessee-area believers in December. The first submitted design read “An atheist convention on Easter weekend? Looks like we’re skipping church again!”—a throwback to the organization’s Christmas billboards in five cities where the girl writing to Santa said “All I want for Christmas is to skip church.” The Memphis billboard company approved the design. The Nashville billboard company refused it, and also refused a modified resubmission, stating that the words “Easter” and “church” could not be shown on the billboard and that only a design promoting atheist beliefs “without being offensive or aggressive towards another group” would be approved. The approved design reads “Hop over to Memphis for the biggest gathering of atheists in the country!”. The American Atheists 2015 National Convention, April 2-5 at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, will feature keynote human-rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, featured speakers HowStuffWorks.com founder and Discovery Channel host Marshall Brain and memeticist Dr. Susan Blackmore, comedians Trace Bealieu and Frank Conniff of the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and more. For the exact location of the billboards, downloadable images for redistribution, and the most up-to-date version of this press release, visit atheists.org/news. American Atheists grants permission to news outlets to reproduce and reidistribute these images under the conditions that 1) the images are not cropped, edited, layered over, manipulated, or adjusted in any way, except to resize as necessary without cropping, and 2) that American Atheists is credited for providing the images in a disclaimer. Click here to view the first design submission, denied for mentioning “church” and “Easter” in Nashville, but currently on display in Memphis. AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that defends civil rights for atheists, freethinkers, and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of religion and government; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy. American Atheists was founded in 1963 by Madalyn Murray O’Hair. For more information, contact us at (908) 276-7300 or [email protected] American Atheists, Inc. P.O. Box 158 Cranford, NJ 07016 Tel: (908) 276-7300

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Ban Lifted: American Atheists to Speak, Table at 2015 CPAC

Washington, DC—On Thursday, American Atheists announced that board member Jamila Bey will be speaking on the main stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), after the atheist civil-rights nonprofit was banned from tabling at the 2014 conference. American Atheists will also co-host an exhibitor table at this year’s event. “Our message is simple: Atheists matter,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “We’re returning to CPAC to make it clear that conservative does not equal Christian. The core principles many conservatives value—fiscal responsibility, individual freedoms, small government, low taxes, a free market—have nothing to do with the issues crusaded for by the religious right. Conservative lawmakers push away millions of atheist voters who want a responsible, small government and a free market, but can’t and won’t support religiously motivated laws that make our government bigger and more personally invasive.” Bey, who is a journalist from the D.C. area, will speak on Thursday, February 26. Her speech will be the first by a known atheist speaking about atheist issues in CPAC history. Similarly, American Atheists’ booth presence will be the first organized presence of an atheist group promoting atheist awareness at the conference. In 2014, American Atheists applied and was accepted for booth space at the largest annual conservative convention in the country. The organization paid the $3,000 booth fee, made travel and lodging arrangements, had materials printed, and even had a successful pre-conference meeting with Bey and CPAC organizers to discuss how conservative politicians could better find common ground with atheist voters. American Atheists then distributed a press release announcing that it would exhibit at the conference. Immediately afterward, following pushback from religious conservatives, CPAC organizers pulled the atheist nonprofit’s exhibitor table and refunded the booth fee, citing Silverman’s assertive “tone” in interviews—even as the conference featured infamously outspoken conservative figures from the 2014 main stage. Although American Atheists was not permitted to table, Silverman registered as an attendee to distribute  materials and was well-received by press as well as attendees. American Atheists will return to CPAC just 5 weeks ahead of its 2015 National Convention, April 2-5 at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. Speakers include human-rights activist and politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, HowStuffWorks.com founder and Discovery Channel host Marshall Brain, comedians Trace Bealieu and Frank Conniff of the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and many more.

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Atheist Billboards in Two Cities Promote First-ever Atheist Convention in Puerto Rico

San Juan, PR—On Monday, American Atheists announced Puerto Rico’s first-ever atheist convention, scheduled for August 21-23, with billboards in San Juan and Ponce. Tickets are now available online at atheists.org/puertorico. “A significant part of our mission at American Atheists is building up and empowering communities of atheists everywhere, nationwide,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “Separation of religion and government is a major problem in Puerto Rico—just this month, an unconstitutional police blockade in Santa Isabel stopped 800 cars just to hand out religious pamphlets and offer prayers from on-duty officers. We intend to foster recognition of the Latino atheist community and the need, both legal and moral, for religious neutrality in government.”   The billboards feature members of Humanistas Seculares de Puerto Rico, one of American Atheists’ 160 affiliate groups and the first of its kind in the US territory. The billboard reads (translated to English): “We’re Puerto Ricans and we’re Christians—We’re ex-Christians—We’re atheists!” with “Christians” and “ex-Christians” crossed out in red, followed by the convention website at atheists.org/puertorico and the date of the convention.   Mexican-born actress and American Atheists Board Member Indra Zuno (The Violent Kind, The Virgin of Juárez, Corazón salvaje) will emcee the event, which will feature celebrated atheist debater and TV host Matt Dillahunty as keynote. Hispanic American Freethinkers President David Tamayo, author and professor Hector Avalos, and Mr. Silverman are also scheduled to speak. Many dditional speakers will be announced as the three-day convention approaches.   “We’re seeing extraordinary growth in this community and I’m thrilled to be a part of this historic event,” said Zuno. “The fact that hundreds of excited people have already RSVP’ed to this convention—before registration has even opened—shows just how much demand there is for atheist voices to be heard in Puerto Rico.”   The announcement comes less than two months ahead of the American Atheists 2015 National Convention, to take place April 2-5 at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee. Speakers include human-rights activist and politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, HowStuffWorks.com founder and Discovery Channel host Marshall Brain, comedians Trace Bealieu and Frank Conniff of the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000, and many more.   For the most-recent version of this press release, including downloadable & reprintable graphics of the billboards, photos of the billboards as they appear in person, and the exact street addresses of the billboards, visit atheists.org/news after the embargo is lifted. The billboard graphic is available here. Permission is granted to news outlets to republish this graphic after that time under the following conditions: 1) The graphic may not be edited, cropped, obscured, covered, layered over, or modified in any way, except to resize. The black bar at the bottom with the website must remain included in all reprints. 2) American Atheists must be credited for providing the image: “Image courtesy of American Atheists.” If there are any questions, please contact us at [email protected] or (908) 276-7300. The billboards are located at: Location 1: AEELA – PR 18 KM 3.4 F/N San Juan Location 2: LAS LETRAS DE PONCE, PR 52 KM 98.0 F/NE and will be on display from February 23 through March 9. AMERICAN […]

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‘War on Christmas’ Original Programs to Debut on AtheistTV

Cranford, NJ—American Atheists announced on Wednesday that AtheistTV, its new television channel, will feature original programs proclaiming the truth about Christmas on December 24 and December 25, featuring scholars and celebrities from the atheist community. New holiday-inspired specials debunking the origins of the holiday from The Thinking Atheist’s Seth Andrews, Reason Rally speaker and YouTuber Cristina Rad, author and historian David Fitzgerald, The Atheist Experience TV show cast, and Road to Reason host Rob Penczak will air with holiday favorites including a speech by Council for Secular Humanism Executive Director Tom Flynn, the episode of The Atheist Viewpoint entitled “Is Christmas a Religious Holiday?”, the “Xmas 2009” episode of The Atheist Experience featuring Matt Dillahunty, and several episodes of The Atheist Voice with The Friendly Atheist blogger Hemant Mehta. “Christmas is hard for many atheists, so we will provide programming free from superstition and fairy tales that allows families to watch together and not worry about being preached at,” said American Atheists President Dave Silverman. “This is part of our commitment to use AtheistTV to reach atheists who have no other way to hear about the atheist community. We want you to know religion is not the only choice. You are not alone. This programming is our gift to you.” The channel, launched worldwide from on July 29, is available free via Roku set-top boxes or sticks or as a free online stream at www.atheists.tv. The holiday programming will begin at 12 pm ET on December 24 and continue for 36 hours. A schedule is available on the website at www.atheists.tv/schedule. The announcement comes just months in advance of the American Atheists 2015 National Convention, which will take place April 2-5 in Memphis, Tennessee, at the famous Peabody Hotel around the corner from 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 30 of the atheist community’s greatest speakers, including Bangladeshi atheist blogger Asif Mohiuddin, Lucien Greaves of The Satanic Temple, HowStuffWorks.com founder Marshall Brain, renowned debater Matt Dillahunty, author and memeticist Dr. Susan Blackmore, the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000, historian and poet Dr. Jennifer Michael Hecht, and Fade zu Grau, a celebrity fashion designer (as seen on Lifetime’s Project Runway), and more. AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that defends civil rights for atheists, freethinkers, and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of religion and government; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy. American Atheists was founded in 1963 by Madalyn Murray O’Hair. American Atheists, Inc. www.atheists.org For More Information Contact: David Silverman, President 908-276-7300 x5, [email protected] Danielle Muscato, Public Relations Director 908-276-7300 x7, [email protected] P.O. Box 158 Cranford, NJ 07016 Tel: (908) 276-7300 Fax: (908) 276-7402   ###

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‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ Cast to Perform at Atheist Convention

 Cranford, NJ—American Atheists announced Saturday that comedians Frank Conniff and Trace Beaulieu will reprise their roles from the Emmy-nominated series Mystery Science Theater 3000 at the American Atheists 2015 National Convention in Memphis in April in front of a live audience. For now, the movie that has been chosen for the performance is not being announced.   The announcement was made by the group’s president, David Silverman, during his appearance on the Dogma Debate podcast on Saturday. The cult classic show, Mystery Science Theater 3000, ran for 11 seasons in the 1990s on Comedy Central and the Sci-Fi Channel, and also won a Peabody Award. In the show, comedians voiced sentient robots who “riffed” on and mockingly narrated real B-movies from a theater in a fictional space station. Beaulieu played the voice of “Crow T. Robot” on the show and also “Dr. Clayton Forrester”; Conniff played “TV’s Frank.” Beaulieu and Conniff will speak at the convention in addition to hosting their comedy show.   “A significant part of our mission at American Atheists is building a community for atheists and demonstrating to everyone that atheism is widespread,” said Silverman. “Trace and Frank have never performed at an atheist convention before, and we want everyone to know that atheism isn’t just growing, it’s exploding. Atheism is mainstream, and it’s with this in mind that we are bringing in Hollywood stars like Fade zu Grau as well as Frank, Trace, and many others to our National Convention. This is the sort of fun you can have with other atheists, no superstitious nonsense needed, and we invite everyone to join us in Memphis next April. Tickets make great gifts too, and for a limited time, we’re offering $50 off convention tickets if you sign up now.”   Mr. Silverman’s announcement comes hot on the heels of an announcement made on Friday of 30 additions to the 2015 National Convention speaker roster, including celebrity fashion designer from Lifetime’s Project Runway Fade zu Grau; former actress and stage sword-fighting expert-turned zombie-author Dana Fredsti; Dr. Buzzy Jackson of the Boston Globe and author of The Inspirational Atheist, a new book of atheist quotations coming this month; celebrated TED speaker and author of The Meme Machine Dr. Susan Blackmore; Arizona congressional candidate James Woods; historian and author David Fitzgerald; science fiction author T.M. Williams; 84-year-old activist Brigit Clarke-Smith; founder and president of Black Nonbelievers Mandisa Thomas; and prominent atheist debater Matt Dillahunty.   Additional speakers, workshop hosts, and panelists include Neil Carter, Heina Dadabhoy, Muhammed Syed, Sarah Hader, James Croft, Todd Stiefel, Teresa MacBain, Lindsay Beyerstein, Sarah Morehead, JT Eberhard, Russell Glasser, Greta Christina, Dr. Tony Pinn, Eddie Tabash, David Silverman, American Atheists Legal Director Eric Husby, and M.C. Jamila Bey.   Stand-up comedians Keith Lowell Jensen, Leighann Lord, and Steve Hill will also perform.   Already announced are keynote speaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali and featured speakers Lucien Greaves of The Satanic Temple, Bangladeshi blogger Asif Mohiuddin, and HowStuffWorks founder and TV host Marshall Brain.   There is additional information about the American Atheists 2015 National Convention, including early bird discount pricing and student pricing, at www.atheists.org/convention. […]

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Atheists Demand Christians Share Christmas in TN Billboard War

Cranford, NJ—American Atheists posted new billboards in Memphis and Nashville on Friday that read “Dear Christians, I share my toys. Why won’t you share the season? Happy Holidays for all!” The new message is in response to an anti-atheist billboard placed by a group of Christians on Thursday evening in Memphis that parodies the atheists’ first billboard that launched Monday and that accuses atheists of sacrilege and claims Christians are being bullied. The Christian campaign’s spokesperson Marshall Hart also accused American Atheists of “using children” to spread its message, despite using the photo of a three-year-old girl on its own billboard. “The hypocrisy is unbelievable,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “Millions of American children are forced to go to church under the threat of being denied meals, losing household privileges, having their college tuition cut off, or being kicked out of their homes. Many atheist adults are forced to go to church under threat of divorce or lose custody of their children. We must ask the question, who are the real bullies? Those who are unafraid to stand up for our views on billboards, or those who destroy families from the inside out?” The new American Atheists billboard designs replace the ones launched Monday in the same locations: in Memphis it is located on I-240 and Getwell and in Nashville on I-24 and Waldron Road. The original American Atheists billboard design, the model for the anti-atheist billboard parody, was 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. The original Monday-launched atheist billboards are still on display in St Louis, Milwaukee, and Ft. Smith, Arkansas. American Atheists is bringing the billboards and its national convention to the Mid-South, where discrimination and distrust of atheists is especially pronounced. The billboards will be on display until 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, renowned debater Matt Dillahunty, author and memeticist Dr. Susan Blackmore, historian and poet Dr. Jennifer Michael Hecht, and Fade zu Grau, a celebrity fashion designer (as seen on Lifetime’s Project Runway), and more. Images of the original American Atheists billboards and the newly launched designs are available at atheists.org/news Please note: At the time of this release, 4:10 PM Central, the Nashville board is live and the Memphis artwork has been submitted to the billboard company but is still pending upload from the billboard company to the leased space. Since it is a digital billboard, the switch will be instantaneous once it has been uploaded. For More Information Contact: David Silverman, President 908-276-7300 x5, [email protected] AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a […]

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Celebrity Fashion Designer, Zombie Author, and More Will Speak at Memphis Atheist Convention

Cranford, NJ—On Wednesday, American Atheists announced renowned fashion designer and atheist Fade Zu Grau, as seen on Lifetime’s Project Runway, as a speaker for its 2015 National Convention in Memphis next April. Other speakers newly announced include former actress and stage sword-fighting expert-turned zombie-author Dana Fredsti; Dr. Buzzy Jackson of the Boston Globe and author of The Inspirational Atheist, a new book of atheist quotations coming this month; celebrated TED speaker and author of The Meme Machine Dr. Susan Blackmore; Arizona congressional candidate James Woods; historian David Fitzgerald; science fiction author T.M. Williams; 84-year-old activist Brigit Clarke-Smith; Mandisa Thomas, Founder and President of Black Nonbelievers; and prominent atheist debater Matt Dillahunty. The 2015 lineup of comedians will include Keith Lowell Jensen, Steve Hill, and Leighann Lord. Already announced is anti-Islam author and former member of the Dutch Parliament Ayaan Hirsi Ali as keynote. Also announced are featured speakers Bangladeshi atheist blogger Asif Mohiuddin, HowStuffWorks.com founder and TV host Marshall Brain, and co-founder of The Satanic Temple Lucien Greaves. “American Atheists is known for bringing the best of the best atheist speakers to those who most need to hear what atheists have to say,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “Many of our speakers have never spoken for an American Atheists audience before, and we have an outstanding collection of Hollywood stars, academics, comedians, and activists coming to the heart of America, where their words, activism tools, and encouragement are most needed. We invite all seekers of truth across America to join us in Memphis next April for what will be one of our best conventions ever.” American Atheists is additionally now offering National Convention registration as gifts, and for a limited time, the organization is offering early bird pricing of $50 off the normal ticket price of $329. Heavily discounted tickets for students are also available; early bird pricing for nonmembers is $279; for members, early bird pricing is $249, and admission for the entire convention for students is only $50. Student registration additionally includes a free one-year membership, normally $35. All people are welcome to attend, meet other atheists, and learn about atheism, regardless of religious beliefs. More information about the 2015 National Convention, including registration, information about childcare, workshops, and scheduling is available at www.atheists.org/convention2015. Attendees intending to carpool or share hotel space are invited to join the American Atheists 2015 National Convention Roomshare/Rideshare Planning Group on Facebook to coordinate their efforts at www.facebook.com/groups/AmericanAtheists2015. The American Atheists 2015 National Convention will take place April 2-5 in Memphis, Tennessee at the Peabody Hotel. In addition to speakers, the convention will feature a costume party, an art show, a “Cards Against Humanity” charity tournament, workshops, talks by more than 20 of the atheist community’s greatest speakers, and more. AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that defends civil rights for atheists, freethinkers, and other nonbelievers; works for the total separation of religion and government; and addresses issues of First Amendment public policy. American Atheists was founded in 1963 by Madalyn Murray O’Hair. American Atheists, Inc. P.O. Box 158 Cranford, NJ 07016 Tel: (908) 276-7300 Fax: (908) 276-7402 David Silverman, […]

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Atheists Promote ‘Skip Church’ Christmas Billboards in South

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.  

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