The seven “Don’t believe in God?” billboards erected throughout South Dakota have stirred many people. A South Dakota organization has placed seven Godless billboards in the state. It reaches out to all agnostics and atheists and asks them to “join the club”.
The signs are inscribed, “Do not believe in God? Join the club.” It gives the link to the organization’s website and puts a big question mark on the existence of God and has already raised eyelashes and got many responses. They are located in Brookings, Sioux Falls, Vermillion, Rapid City and Spearfish.
The idea of the billboards is to raise awareness among South Dakotans that they are not alone in the conservative state and there are groups they can join to meet like-minded people, according to Amanda Novotny, Siouxland Freethinkers. President. The seven billboards have been designed to voice the fact that atheists do exist in South Dakota. The billboards cost just over $11,000 and were funded by the United Coalition of Reason along with donations from a local anonymous donor. This ad campaign lies in the purview of a nationwide program initiated by The South Dakota Coalition of Reason in 2009 which has spread to almost 33 states. The billboards have sparked a lot of discussion and debates. They will be on display until mid-September.
A survey by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life released statistics on the state of religion in America and the shifts that are taking place in the religious landscape of U.S. It states that the people who are unaffiliated with any religion have seen the sharpest growth and as a result Catholicism has suffered severe losses. According to the survey, 12% of the unaffiliated are avowed atheists, 16% agnostics and the rest have no religion.
According to the national group’s directors the aim of the billboards is to let the atheists, humanists and agnostics know they’re not alone. The churches are not much affected by the billboards and do not voice their concern over the issue.
“There is tons of actual proof that is real and exists that can be backed up by science that there is a God and He exists,” says Jeremy Brown, a Sioux Falls resident.
According to Richard Swanson, a religion professor at Augustana College, the refusal to accept a religious authority springs from the French revolution wherein religion was challenged because of it being a repressive economic, social and political club.
Novotny said that one of the things that is simply great about America is the freedom of speech and hence they have every right to put up such billboards.
Countering the atheist billboards, a businessman in South Dakota is using scriptures to voice his opinion. He viewed them as an attack on his God and decided to erect a billboard himself.
According to William Kreidor, the objective of the sign is to give the people of South Dakota a different perspective. So far, he has purchased 2 billboards. He says that he has received positive as well negative feedback, but his aim is to reach the non-believers. He hopes that the billboards prompt discussion and draw people of South Dakota to the Christ.