Atheist Slave Billboard Upsets Pennsylvania Residents

March 7, 2012  |  

An atheist billboard firing back at Pennsylvania lawmakers has angered black residents in the city due to its depiction of an African slave with a metal collar around his neck.

The billboard features a passage from the Bible saying, “Slaves, obey your masters,” as a jab toward state lawmakers who recently passed a bill announcing 2012 as the Year of the Bible. The lawmakers suggest residents renew their faith in and knowledge of God to help the nation through it’s struggles, and according to the American Atheist website:

“The message this billboard conveys is the House of Representatives should not be celebrating a barbaric and Bronze Age book. We do not in any way condone slavery, but the Bible does. We have outgrown such hideous actions toward humanity.”

The sign sits in the city’s most racially diverse section in the Allison Hill neighborhood, and has caused African American leaders pause, calling the group the anti-christs and praying for their salvation. State Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland, D-Chester, who is also a Baptist pastor and one of the co-signers of Year of the Bible legislation, said this campaign will only backfire and support the Bible-believers cause further. “This is going to encourage people to read the Bible. My master is Jesus Christ. I’m a slave to Christianity. I’m a slave to Christ.”

Last night, the billboard was vandalized and replaced this morning by an unrelated ad, which prompted the president of Pa. Nonbelievers to issue a statement of apology. Brian Fields said:

“I want to say that I’m truly sorry that many people have misunderstood this billboard. It was never our intention to use ‘race’ as our message itself — The point of our billboard was: The bible is NOT holy or moral as promoted by the Pa. House of Representatives in the ‘Year of the Bible.’ The bible was used as an excuse for many very bad things, including American slavery.We would have hoped this message was clearer to observers. In any case, the point is currently moot.”

Do you find the billboard offensive? What about the declaration of 2012 as the Year of the Bible, does that violate the separation of church and state?

Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.

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