- Published on Monday, 05 March 2012 16:18
The group American Atheists wants Jews and Muslims in New Jersey and New York to see their message: that God is “a myth”.
The billboards, written in both Arabic and Hebrew, will be placed in a Muslim neighborhood in New Jersey and a Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn, with messages in Arabic and Hebrew.
The atheist group wants to reach out to closeted atheists in religious communities. The president of American Atheists, Dave Silverman, told CNN’s Dan Merica: “Those communities are designed to keep atheists in the ranks. If there are atheists in those communities, we are reaching out to them. We are letting them know that we see them, we acknowledge them and they don’t have to live that way if they don’t want to.”The Hebrew sign will go up near the Williamsburg Bridge, where there is a large orthodox Jewish community, CNN reported. The other, written in Arabic and English, will go up just a few blocks from a Paterson mosque in New Jersey, the Islamic Center of Passaic County.
American Atheists says on their website that the signs aren’t intended to offend, but are meant as outreach to atheists in those communities who may “feel particularly alone.”
Mohamed Elfilali, executive director of the Islamic Center of Passaic County, was not particularly bothered by the news of the billboards. “It is not the first and won’t be the last time people have said things about God or religion,” he told CNN. “I respect people’s opinion about God; obviously they are entitled to it. I don’t think God is a myth, but that doesn’t exclude people to have a different opinion.”
The billboards will be up for a month and cost less than $15,000 each, American Atheists president told CNN.
This isn’t the first time American Atheists have put up billboards in the New York area. In November 2010, the group sponsored a Christmas-themed billboard near the Lincoln Tunnel, with the words "You KNOW it's a myth. This season, celebrate REASON!" Back then, Christian associations responded with a counter-campaign stating: “You know it’s Real. This season, celebrate JESUS”.
Reactions to this upcoming campaign are yet to be seen.