Controversial message on billboard causing a stirPosted: Updated:
PHOENIX - A new billboard near Sky Harbor Airport is causing quite a stir all over the city of Phoenix, and more just like it could be going up across the country.
The sponsors say they want to get people talking and let those who are like-minded know, as the billboard says, that they "are not alone." Mission accomplished, at least partially, because people are indeed talking.
So, what is it that's got everybody all fired up? The billboard, which is located on 44th Street at Washington Street, features bright blue sky with billowy clouds and a seemingly simple question -- "Don't believe in God?" The controversial part is the next line. "You are not alone."
The billboard cast its shadow on Seamus King's business, and he is not at all happy about it.
"To me it's ridiculous," he said. "It should be regulated ... if I'm being regulated as a business that I have to apply for a permit to get a sign on my wall."
Deb Murray isn't a fan of the huge sign, either.
"Everyone has their beliefs, but I don't think it should be boarded like that," she said.
But not everyone has a problem with the billboard's perhaps unexpected message. Some see it merely as an expression of free speech.
"I just feel that right now, what we're going through is all about unity," Sherman Moore told 3TV. "That message, in a way, is about unity, saying, 'You're not alone."
That is exactly the point Fred Edwards of the United Coalition of Reason, a national organization that sponsors the board, hoped to convey. "Nontheists sometimes don't realize there's a community out there for them because they're inundated with religious messages at every corner," Edwords said in a written statement. "But we hope this message will serve as a beacon and will let them know they're not alone."
The United Coalition of Reason has local arms in Philadelphia, Dallas-Fort Worth and Colorado, as well the Arizona Coalition of Reason here in the Grand Canyon State, and there are billboards like the 44th Street sign in several other cities, including New Orleans, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Kansas City, to name a few.
The timing of the national campaign and unveiling of the Phoenix billboard is no accident. It was meant to coincide with the opening of the 68th Annual Conference of the American Humanist Association (AHA), which is taking place this weekend at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel.
What do you think about the "Godless billboard"? Join the discussion below.