Atheist billboards may spark furor

American Atheist billboards. (Atheists.org screen shot)

American Atheist billboards. (Atheists.org screen shot)

QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 11:12 AM ET

An atheist organization in the U.S. is taking steps to encourage "atheists in the Muslim and Jewish communities" to come out.

"Insular communities like these are designed to squelch individualism and religious criticism, making the atheists in these communities feel particularly alone -- they are not," American Atheist claims on its site.

On Monday, AA will erect provocative billboards in New York and New Jersey with the words: You know it's a myth, and you have a choice.

One board, written in Hebrew, will be set up in an area of Brooklyn that has a large orthodox Jewish community. The other sign, in Arabic and English, will be erected near the Islamic Center of Passaic County in Paterson, N.J.

Each will have the Hebrew and Arabic word for Yahweh/Allah on the left side and will be up for a month.

"These billboards are not meant to inflame or enrage, and while the comparison of how the Jewish and Muslim communities react will be interesting, we expect no violence nor vandalism. Although some in those communities might not appreciate our outreach, we have every right and every responsibility to advertise our organization and our movement as we see fit," the 49-year-old organization says on its site.

AA says its billboards "acknowledge the closeted atheists in these communities and invite them to the Reason Rally and convention, where they will meet others like themselves, share stories, have fun, and return with enough knowledge and support to allow them to make their own decisions in their lives. They have choices."

Mohamed El Filali, the Islamic Center of Passaic County's outreach director, told Northjersey.com that he did not regard the sign as an attack on Islam. He told the site that the billboards shouldn't be banned since atheists have a right to free speech like everyone else and the signs do not attack holy figures.

American Atheist says its Reason Rally: a Celebration of Secular Values, which will be held in Washington, D.C. on March 24, will be the largest atheist gathering in world history. The National Convention of American Atheists happens March 25 - 26 at nearby Bethesda, MD.


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