Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Religious billboards are a fairly common sight in San Diego, carrying messages like “Jesus is Lord, Not a Swear Word.” But starting Thursday, San Diegans will be treated to a different message.
The San Diego Coalition of Reason and American Atheists are setting up their own billboard. Drivers on Martin Luther King Jr. freeway (state Route 94) will see the sign near College Avenue that carries the message, “Atheism: A personal relationship with reality.”
Atheists groups are setting up a billboard in the College Area celebrating what they call "a personal relationship with reality."
The two groups spent $4,000 on the billboard to tell people what the term "atheist" really means, said Debbie Allen, the head of The San Diego Coalition of Reason.
“Some people assume that atheism is an entire world view," she said. "It’s not. It is an opinion about one thing and one thing only. About whether or not there are deities, fairies, goblins, ghosts, any kind of supernatural deity.”
The billboard will also advertise an upcoming speech by David Silverman, the president of American Atheists. Silverman said part of his speech’s message will be that religion demands special treatment it does not deserve.
“There’s a big difference between respecting people and respecting their beliefs," he said. "I respect every person, but I do not respect the belief in an invisible man in the sky, because that’s ridiculous.”
Silverman’s speech will be at UC San Diego on Sunday, Feb. 24. He said he's debuting the speech in San Diego because it has a growing community of atheists, and he wants to nourish it.
The population of atheists is growing across the country as well, according to a recent PEW study. It found the number of Americans who say they don’t have any religious affiliation has more than doubled since 1972.
While Allen said she wouldn't be surprised by some negative reaction to the sign, she said her group also put up a billboard in 2009 and received a lot of positive response from it. American Atheists and the national Coalition of Reason groups have been setting up similar billboards across the country over the past five years.