Controversial atheist billboards up in Charlotte

by: Sarah Rosario Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Billboards attacking Mormonism and Christianity were put up in the Queen City Monday and are already sparking backlash.

The billboards were put up near the airport and Uptown. Both are places heavily populated with drivers. The one mocking Christianity is along Wilkinson Boulevard, while the Mormonism billboard is on The Brookshire.

American Atheist president David Silverman said he's well aware of the effect the billboards will have on the many people of faith in Charlotte but said he's just exercising his First Amendment rights. He said he put them up on purpose before the Democratic National Convention.

Many people we talked to were outraged about the new signage. Some said they wanted them taken down. When we asked Silverman if he was using his First Amendment rights to attack the beliefs of others he said no.

"We're using our First Amendment rights to ridicule the silliness of religion. If they see this as an attack that's fine, what we're doing here is raising the awareness of the silly parts of these religions. So that people can ask themselves 'do we want this type of person in the White House,'" said Silverman.

For some people it's an attack on everything they hold dear. The billboard against Christianity calls God "sadistic" and "useless," while the other against Mormonism calls him a "space alien."

Charlotte resident Timothy Doe said he feels like it puts a black eye on Charlotte.
The ad against Christianity was approved by a local company about a month ago, while the one against Mormonism was approved just two weeks ago. American Atheist paid $15,000 for both. Silverman said the billboards were paid for by members of his American atheist group.

Silverman said their message is to separate religion from politics, and to make people to think twice about who they'll vote for in this upcoming November election.

"The right thing to do is to make politics about politics and not about religion," said Silverman.

 Critics against the billboards said they think that doesn't make any sense.

"That's backwards, because if it was just about politics then he wouldn't have put that up, then let the issues be heard. Put up something about health care or something," said Doe.

The billboards will stay up for a month, through the DNC. While the billboards are asking people to join American Atheists, Silverman says he knows they may not find many converts here in Charlotte.