Ray Comfort’s billboard project counters atheist campaign
A best-selling author and TV host has decided not to sit still while an atheist advocacy group carries out a nationwide billboard campaign promoting a religion-free world and offering “praises” to Darwin ahead of the father of modern evolutionary theory’s 200th birthday celebration.
Ray Comfort, author of a new title by WND Books scheduled for release Thursday, “You Can Lead an Atheist to Evidence but You Can’t Make Him Think,” now has a billboard of his own above the Interstate 105 spur near Los Angeles International Airport, and he’s mobilizing believers to put one up in their own town.
Comfort is countering a project of the Madison, Wisc.-based Freedom from Religion Foundation, which has posted billboards in at least 15 states with messages such as “Imagine no Religion” and “Praise Darwin – Evolve Beyond Belief.”
The Foundation admitted in a statement that “coming up with a slogan to honor Darwin, while taking a pot-shot at organized religion, was a fun-filled occasion.”
The group will be part of the more than 425 organized celebrations of Darwin’s 200th birthday Thursday.
Comfort has devised two billboard designs that feature Darwin, which he makes freely available through his website, Pull the Plug on Atheism.
The text of one design declares: “Atheist: “Someone who believes that nothing made everything. A scientific impossibility!” The other states: “Evolution has done to science what hypocrisy has done to religion.”
Comfort says his Los Angeles billboard, which cost about $6,000, can be seen by an estimated 1 million drivers a week. He initially approached another company to place a billboard message in West Hollywood but was rejected because of the content. The company apparently didn’t want any controversy.
Freedom from Religion Foundation billboard
Another billboard is planned for Chicago that will remain in place for a year.
His new book takes readers into the heart of his ongoing dialogue with skeptics, with questions and answers from his blog, Atheist Central. At his website Pull the Plug on Atheism, readers can find articles that “expose atheism for the foolishness that it is,” Comfort says.
Earlier this month, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, or FFRF, placed billboards “praising Darwin” in Dayton, Tenn., and Dover, Penn., to mark the Feb. 12 bicentennial of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the release of his seminal work on evolution, “Origin of Species.”
Freedom from Religion Foundation billboard
The billboard, reading “Praise Darwin: Evolve Beyond Belief,” evokes a Christian image, with a stained glass window and King James-style script.
FFRF describes itself as a “state-church watchdog and the nation’s largest association of atheists and agnostics, with more than 13,000 members.”
The group says it is in federal court in Los Angeles alleging censorship by city officials in nearby Rancho Cucamonga for expressing disapproval of its “Imagine No Religion” billboard to a local billboard company.
In November, the suit alleges, the company violated a contract by removing the billboard after less than a week in response to the complaints of city officials.
Other FFRF billboard messages include “Beware of Dogma” and “Keep Religion OUT of Politics.”
The group chose Dayton, Tenn., for its Darwin billboard because the town was the site of the iconic 1925 Scopes “Monkey Trial.” In Dover, Pa., the local school board drew national attention and a federal lawsuit when it sought to allow the teaching of “intelligent design” in science classes.
Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a statement soliciting donations that her group would be “delighted to take our pro-Darwin message around the country, especially where the Darwin vs. Dogma debate still rages.”
Likewise, Comfort is welcoming financial contributions and encouraging anyone interested in using his artwork to post a billboard of their own to contact his group.
The anti-religion group said that among the suggested billboard slogans it received were a slate from Darwin scholar and poet Philip Appleman, who offered “Honk If You’re Evolving,” “Creationism? Just Say No,” “Dude – ‘God’ is just a Theory” and “Evolution – When You’ve Outgrown the Missionary Position.”
The foundation’s president, Dan Barker, who says he’s a former Christian evangelist, contributed slogans that included “Don’t Start Evolution Without Me,” and “Nonbelief – The Natural Selection.”