Atheist Slave Billboard Upsets Pennsylvania Residents

39 comments
March 7, 2012 ‐ By

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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  • socialite

    What is wrong with getting people to think for themselves? Critical thinking will help solve some of if not all of our problems. Magic solves nothing! Church and state should be separate. What about the “Year of the Koran? Why only the christian bible?

  • http://www.facebook.com/onaje.asheber Onaje Asheber

    This billboard was right on it. Europeans use the Gun and Christianity to enslave, brainwash, steal, and murder Afrikan People! And is doing the same thing at this very moment. It is sad that some Black Folks do not want face the raw facts. But then many so-called Black Christians are the same as the White Oppressors.The can not beat em, join em, group.

  • Coko

    I dont know why everyone is talking about Africans forced into Christianity. Thats not what this billboard is about. It using an example to show that the bible is full of ideas that are ludacris (ex: slavery).

    • guest

      Off topic, but…some of us might find it ludicrous that people actually think the word is spelled “ludacris”. 

      Sorry, couldn’t resist…

      :-)

  • Mizzlady140

    I wish they would have put that billboard in South Central LA…sometimes we forget where we were as a people in this country. I am on Niether Side the the truth is the truth. But lets be real the bible has been rewritten…to justify slavery..it was used to destroy a race of people who were forced into that religion..and were not allowed to read and educate themselves…its a very disturbing image but it was real..

    • Khdixon65

      People are often much smarter than others want 2 blieve. Church and state should b seperate. We have all been made aware of what happens when they are combined.

  • Mizzlady140

    I wish they would have put that billboard in South Central LA…sometimes we forget where we were as a people in this country. I am on Niether Side the the truth is the truth. But lets be real the bible has been rewritten…to justify slavery..it was used to destroy a race of people who were forced into that religion..and were not allowed to read and educate themselves…its a very disturbing image but it was real..

  • 2true4u2c

    It is shameful to see such a thing, it proves one thing. Atheists have no respect for humanity! Atheists don’t believe in God but it’s clear they have full support of the Devil with there actions! You know what’s interesting, the Bible say the end of days would be like this. So I ask how could a false book be so right?

  • 2true4u2c

    It is shameful to see such a thing, it proves one thing. Atheists have no respect for humanity! Atheists don’t believe in God but it’s clear they have full support of the Devil with there actions! You know what’s interesting, the Bible say the end of days would be like this. So I ask how could a false book be so right?

    • Malik Blunt

      What are you talking about? those words are in the bible… Look it up.. The house of representatives are for politics, not about the bible and religion. Doing the year of the bible is putting church and state together. Which would be offensive towards those who don’t believe in a God. If you want to go on about Jesus, go to church, not the capitol building.

  • appassionata

    If these particular atheists really want to show how intelligent and clever they are, why didn’t they use the entire verse and those that come after it? Oh, because that would actually refute the point they attempted to make.

    (The following is from the King James Version of the Bible, the version that was likely the most commonly read in America in the 1800’s.)

    Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singlenss of heart, fearing God:
    and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
    knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
    But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and THERE IS NO RESPECT OF PERSONS.
    Masters, give unto your servants THAT WHICH IS JUST AND EQUAL; knowing that YE ALSO HAVE A MASTER IN HEAVEN. (emphases mine)
    –Colossians 3:23 – 4:1 (KJV)

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/TheSapphireEmpress96?feature=mhee A.J.

    I wish that people would separate religion from the people that misuse it.  Yes, Christianity was used to justify slavery, but those people were misrepresenting the words of the Bible.  True Christians do not behave this way.  Atheists can be raving racists as well.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/TheSapphireEmpress96?feature=mhee A.J.

    I wish that people would separate religion from the people that misuse it.  Yes, Christianity was used to justify slavery, but those people were misrepresenting the words of the Bible.  True Christians do not behave this way.  Atheists can be raving racists as well.

  • http://twitter.com/DTFunkyChocolat Dannie

    This is being misused, the slavery that existed in biblical times was not nearly as harsh and or as permanent as the enslavement of the blacks in America. The slaves were taught and would eventually be released and accepted as a member of society. Now, I myself am Christian and I still struggle with why the ownership of another person was alright by God, even if it wasn’t permanent, but still Atheist can get a little annoying when they don’t research into what they’re talking about. 

  • http://twitter.com/DTFunkyChocolat Dannie

    This is being misused, the slavery that existed in biblical times was not nearly as harsh and or as permanent as the enslavement of the blacks in America. The slaves were taught and would eventually be released and accepted as a member of society. Now, I myself am Christian and I still struggle with why the ownership of another person was alright by God, even if it wasn’t permanent, but still Atheist can get a little annoying when they don’t research into what they’re talking about. 

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/TheSapphireEmpress96?feature=mhee A.J.

    I wish that people would separate the religion from the twisted people who misuse and misrepresent it.  Yes, Christianity was misused by racists to justify gross mistreatment of Blacks.  But at some point, ALL religions have been misused by people to justify their prejudices.  True Christians DO NOT act like this.  No one ever mentions the verse in Deuteronomy 23:15, which says that you are NOT supposed to return a slave to his master if he asks for help, or that Philemon actually freed Onesimus, whose story is at the core of this Colossians debate.  And atheists can be raving racists, too.

  • http://www.youtube.com/user/TheSapphireEmpress96?feature=mhee A.J.

    I wish that people would separate the religion from the twisted people who misuse and misrepresent it.  Yes, Christianity was misused by racists to justify gross mistreatment of Blacks.  But at some point, ALL religions have been misused by people to justify their prejudices.  True Christians DO NOT act like this.  No one ever mentions the verse in Deuteronomy 23:15, which says that you are NOT supposed to return a slave to his master if he asks for help, or that Philemon actually freed Onesimus, whose story is at the core of this Colossians debate.  And atheists can be raving racists, too.

  • http://www.successfulblackwoman.com/ Nomalanga

    First of all, the very first slaves were NOT Black people so to use the image of a black person as a “slave” is not only offensive, but it also shows that they were deliberately trying to ruffle feathers but they ruffled the wrong ones! If the law makers offend you, offend them back; don’t then go and offend another group of people just to make a point! #justsaying

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000063624560 Danyelle Hopson

    If this billboard was not meant to offend the African American population then why was an African slave used? Africans were not the only slaves, but we are always bombarded by the hideous reminderer that we were enslaved at one point. The public school systems focuses solely on slavery and the civil rights movement to prevent us as a people from ever seeing ourselves as more than former slaves still fighting for freedom, and I wish people would stop refering to African American Christians as brainwashed individuals that have somehow denounce our heritage. I choose to believe and have never had my faith fail ME, but that is my choice. No one forced that choice on me. I have never been and will never be brainwashed. This was a cheap shot by a bunch of lost people trying to get attention. “Slaves obey your masters”, but “Whom the Son sets free is truly FREE INDEED.” Seek the truth people. It will set you free!

  • Jessevandell

    It’s not religion its people.period. People get so caught up in trying to prove a point or further their own agenda they don’t tell the full story, atheist are no better than Christians thinking they somehow no right from wrong and the way to a better world when they don’t.Yes, the bible and christianity was used to justify slavery. however, it was also used to help abolish slavery. What does that mean? It means people use what ever means available to get what they want and benefit themselves. Russia was not a religious nation during the days of the USSR, yet they manged to justify the murder of millions. Religion doesn’t cause destruction, people who are determined to cause harm will cause harm using whatever they can, whether religion is around or not.

    • L-Boogie

      Totally agree!  Great point.  

    • JustAshley

      I’m mad I can’t like your comment like 120 more times.

  • Kendell

    Nothing is offensive about that ad, in my humble opinion. I am not an atheist. I do not belong to any one particular religion. I do believe in God. I do believe in Truth. Colossians 3:22 DOES say that in the bible, so what is there to apologize for? The African slave trade prospered behind that bible passage. I think it was a very smart successful ad. It has people talking about it, right?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/5MY5LPMDEYOA66OE3IH4JIMPIE Priss Priss

    AGREE with the other commenters. This is the TRUTH and it shall be TELEVISED!!!

  • KiaCherrae

    The atheist are just pointing out some of the s**t that’s in the Christian bible. There is also a lot of jewels you can find in the Bible.

  • Live_in_LDN

    Nothing wrong with this billboard at all.

  • Wbracey

    I find the billboard offensive because no were in the Bible does it state that slavery is ok and acceptable. Find where it says that its ok to make another human being your slave or the like. Col. 3:22 is referring to somebody who is already enslaved if you read it in context. If u read the full verse and the ones that follow it says:

    22 Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. 23 And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.

  • http://twitter.com/TforTrendsetta Tatianah Green

    Slave owners did not even consider Africans and African American slaves as human, but the Bible says to love your neighbors… they clearly took the word of God and perverted it for their own use and to justify their actions, much like this atheist group. Question of the day: why would you allow an atheist to teach you the word from the Bible in which they do not even agree with?

    “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who
    does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” -2 Timothy 2:15

    Brought to you by a Christian who does not believe in Religion but Relationship <3 
    P.S. And we are not slaves to Christ folks, our debt was paid but we are called friends of God.

    • Michael4bear

      I agree with you up until your last paragraph. Check out Galatians 1:10 and Matthew 6:12 the lords prayer.

    • Redtiger

      Your right the Bible says to love your neighbors but slaves weren’t property owners or even human beings so not neighbors, according to the Bible of course. You asked why would one let Atheists teach one of the Bible. Probably because almost every Atheist has read the Bible and most preachers haven’t. I can also counter that with: “Why would you read any fictional book when even the authors claim it as false?” I.E. Harry Potter. Question of the Day: Why do Christians believe they can teach the word of the Bible when there are other 20,000 different Christian interpretations?

  • http://twitter.com/T_Rocka1975 Leeyah D

    I see nothing wrong with the truth

  • L-Boogie

    Religion is dangerous but belief is not.  Remember that!

  • freethinker

    Whites used Christianity to control slaves so what’s the big deal?Religion is dangerous

    • Tonnabronzee

      I don’t think that religion itself is dangerous. What’s dangerous is how people have MISUSED it in order to control and conquer people; therefore, the people who MISUSE it to manipulate and oppress others are the dangerous ones, in my opinion. Any institution can be used to improve society – but its those who abuse it in order to degrade others that need to be held accountable.

      • Wbracey

        I agree. People have misused religion and Christianity so much that there is a skewed image of what it is. Not many people know or get to witness true Christianity because of that

      • complex3d

        Misused?  That’s what the bible  says.  The Christians like to pick and choose what’s can be used and try to do a change up depending on the needs they need to control.  The bottom line is: it’s in the Bible, it was condoned by the Vatican, slave ships were blessed by the pope, and African slaves were “baptized” as they were hauled out of their land in chains, and sold to fellow Christians, and then Christianity was used to subjugate those slaves. you can’t change history because now its not PC.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/TheSapphireEmpress96?feature=mhee A.J.

      It’s the ideology of the people who were controlling that’s the real problem.  They misrepresented the words of the Bible.  True Christians do not think this way.

    • http://www.youtube.com/user/TheSapphireEmpress96?feature=mhee A.J.

      It’s the ideology of the people who were controlling that’s the real problem.  They misrepresented the words of the Bible.  True Christians do not think this way.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_JAI4SRENU2A5WKRTELXXYJPDSI Kayla

    I see nothing wrong with the billboard. The fact that Christianity was beat into our ancestors so they can remain docile speaks volumes. That scripture was used to keep them in line. You thought our ancestors were Christians in Africa? If the christians are allowed to try and get into politics and force their beliefs down our throats, I see nothing wrong with a billboard.