Dec 022014 29 Responses

A Christian Response to an Atheist Billboard

What is an appropriate response from a Christian when an atheist group purchases a billboard? There isn’t one, because no response is necessary.

Targeting several Bible-belt communities across the United States, an atheist group is erecting billboards proclaiming the foolishness of believing in God and going to church. The local billboard is of a little girl writing to Santa and her letter says, “All I want for Christmas is to skip church. I’m too old to believe in fairy tales.” (See: Three Lies Christians Tell Themselves)

Obviously I disagree with the message, but the billboard itself is cute. It’s a well crafted message targeting a specific group of people.

Someone asked me my thought and my response was “Who cares?”

But apparently many people care.

Some towns are fighting to prevent the billboards from being used. Others are purchasing nearby billboards to put up their own messages. Some see it as evidence of a continual decline in our moral fiber. Others want to boycott the companies taking the money from the atheists.

What I can’t understand is why this is an issue?

1. Don’t most billboards communicate a message contrary to the gospel? Life is not found in a new car, the right jeans, or better hair. While there is nothing wrong with those things, many billboards attempt to communicate that those items could radically transform our lives. They can’t. The billboards lie. What is so different about an atheist billboard proclaiming life apart from God compared to a materialistic billboard proclaiming life apart from God?

2. Shouldn’t we expect and even welcome others to state their beliefs? Thankfully we have the ability to freely communicate what we believe. Churches regularly take advantage of these rights to communicate the truth. Why are we surprised that someone who disagrees with the church would proclaim a different message? Christians should welcome the discussion with atheists. Some look at the world and see the evidence of a Creator while others look at the same evidence and believe there is not a Creator. It is useful to talk to one another about what one believes. (See: What I Mean When I Say ‘You Are a Sinner’)

3. Have we understood the danger of preventing free speech? If anyone should fight for the right of an atheist to state their opinion, it should be Christians. As soon as someone of another belief system is prevented from stating their beliefs, Christians will begin to experience the same the restrictions.

4. What are Christians afraid of? By reacting in a negative way to the billboard, Christians are communicating that we are afraid of honest debate and dissenting opinions. Why? Are our beliefs so flimsy that we fear our faith will wilt if someone argues against Christianity? A negative response to a billboard makes God look weak and Christianity mindless. Neither are true.

5. Do we not realize by reacting we are drawing attention to their advertising? Ironically, the negative response to the billboard has given the atheist group far more free advertising than they ever would have received for paid advertising. This is the response an atheist wants because it communicates their message. In the same way, I would never mind if an atheist group or false-church group protested in front of a church because it would give me a free platform to proclaim my message.

As a pastor, it is frustrating that local news stations run stories about a billboard. Of all the interesting stories in our local communities and of all the major issues taking place on a national and global level, why waste time on one meaningless billboard? Yet they do, and many Christians react. (See: Don’t Tell Me Every Religion Is the Same)

Yet there is no need to do so. Someone buying a billboard proclaiming their beliefs is neither a story nor an issue. It’s a group of Americans exercising their free speech. Let them do so and leave them alone.

29 Responses to A Christian Response to an Atheist Billboard
  1. Danny Turner Reply

    As an atheist your writing sums up exactly how I feel. I see so many militant “atheist”, I say it that way because they are not actually atheist but are anti-theist. I used to be a Pentecostal minister and I have had people tell me that god keeps them from doing evil. I truly do believe that some people without the cloak of religion would do great evil if they could, just like some use the cloak of religion to perpetuate the same evils upon the world.

    My belief is that evil would persist with or without a god. I choose to not believe in a higher power and take responsibility for all my own actions upon myself. I say let others enjoys the wonders of the universe how they see fit, me I would rather sit at my telescope and look at the stars, while the remnants of those same stars argue upon this rock about what is real or not.

    I have no issue sitting down to a healthy debate about religion, I have read the christian bible 5 or 6 times in different translations, even as much as I could understand of the dead sea scrolls. I studies other religions intently looking for the answer before I realized that for me god did not exist. I also realized in my search that I did not need god to be a good man. That a person can change the world without a need for religion. I also realized that religion does play an important role in society giving some a way to understand our universe.

  2. BeyondthC Reply

    You are certainly making it an issue. And don’t we atheists have to see your Jesus billboards and your anti-women’s health propaganda? Get on over it.

    • Dan Reply

      I think he did get over it, which is the main point of the article. Also there is a difference between advertisements that say car X is awesome, and ones that say you are an idiot if you drive car X’s competitor

  3. Derek Goodson Reply

    You are entirely too logical to be a pastor in this part of the country. No offense. 🙂

  4. Mitzi Dunavin Reply

    I personally agree with some of the things u have posted but feel u have contradicted yourself about not responding to atheist but will put all over face book negative post about one of the greatest prophets still left in America John Hagee !! I am only responding to this because u offer so much advice to people on how we should respond to this or that but I texted my pastor Marty Sloan and said what kind of moron (who claims the name pastor/preacher)would run down John Hagee or any man of God on fb!! That was a very unintelligent thing to do John Hagee could care less what you or anyone else thinks of him but I do I LOVE that man of God and YOU TOTALLY OFF ENDED Myself and many others so when passing out that free advice on how to react to atheist by being silent try some of the yourself please!!

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Mitzi, It’s a fair response about me saying to ignore it but then writing about it. It’s kind of like yelling at my kids to stop yelling. Ha. As for Hagee, we will have to agree to disagree. I believe his book is damaging, fear-mongering and is not related to Biblical prophecy. I do not regret warning people about the book as I see no use to people reading it. If that was offensive, I can accept that. As for being a moron, I don’t think it is applicable to this specific post or to the Hagee post, but it is probably very applicable at other times in my life so it’s probably a fair critique. Thankfully God loves morons of which I am the chief.

  5. Donna Cole Reply

    I am an evangelical (non-denom) married to an atheist… and guess what… we love each other VERY much! I love your post as it states so much about our culture-all between the lines. My beloved unbeliever and I do have debates about Christians, the Bible and the existence of God and have delightfully come to a mutual place of understanding. His biggest issue with Christians is that they try, through political means, to make everyone believe the way they do as to social and cultural morays… despite and even forcefully against the law of the land-trying to legislate morality, which all intelligent folks know will never work. In my view the so-called “Religious Right” , sans violence, aren’t too far from being similar to ISIS/ISIL in their ferocity. And so my husband has his personal beliefs.

    Do I pray every day that he’ll meet God… for sure! Does he get a giggle out of atheist billboards-of course! Does it make me love him any less? Not in the least!

    I wish more Christians would more fully absorb the core teaching of JESUS–love God and love your neighbor as yourself. Our neighbors include those atheists some want to protest and rail against. Maybe if we showed a little more love and didn’t get our panties in a wad over a billboard-we just might get their ear to share the Gospel.

  6. Pearl southerland Reply

    You rock

  7. Gayla P. Reply

    Excellent article!! Thank you!! This applies to so many things… Not just a billboard. If we could all just agree to disagree and respect each other’s positions, the love of Christ would be much more evident.

  8. Faith Christian Queen Reply

    I loved this. I wish more people thought like you. Ever since I seen this billboard that has been what Ive been thinking. The people that react to this badly do make God look weak and make our beliefs look weak. Why shouldnt we allow others to express their beliefs, just as we are allowed to express our own. Thank you for writing this. I enjoyed it very much. 🙂

  9. Cathy Reply

    I believe your thought process is passive which got us here from the beginning. We are to stand firm for our belief in the word. Firmness can be done in Love like God did with the His people.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Cathy, I agree that passivity is hurting the Christian message but it’s not passivity toward a pointless billboard, it’s passivity toward the poor, the hurting, the outcast. It’s passivity toward our own sin and arrogance. Passivity toward the actual teachings of Jesus that is a our problem in my opinion.

  10. Basha Reply

    Beautiful. Well said. I actually took it a step further and thought that a billboard like this should raise the bar in our parenting of our children to ensure that their faith is solid. So solid that they know that there is a God and that He has done so much in their lives in order to show Himself, that like an apple to Eve in the garden, there is no questioning God when the serpent comes around and says, “Did God REALLY say?” I am actually thankful for what the Atheists are doing because it gives me strength to continue to stand strong. What they mean for evil is actually turning out to be a good thing. Don’t be threatened if you’re a strong Christian.

  11. 'Wayne D. Lockwood Reply

    The Lord has blessed you with wisdom beyond your years…

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Thanks Wayne. It just means I have made my mistakes faster so I’ve had the ability to learn earlier. Ha.

  12. Michael Reply

    Very well written Kevin. I remember seeing this billboard and thinking the same thing to myself. Why do we as Christians have to have a response? Jesus made it pretty clear that Christians would be persecuted against, mocked, laughed at, etc. So why do we get so offended when those things happen? I pray that I welcome these things so I can have an opportunity to let the Lord be glorified through my life. After all, it’s not really my life anyway, is it? As for offending people, Jesus did plenty of that himself, so I would say you’re in good company 😉

  13. Lucas Reply

    Kevin, why do you think Christians are passive toward the poor? I see A LOT of Christian charity of all sorts (from personal to organizational) to help alleviate material suffering, both locally and abroad. Your remarks echo a growing sentiment some Christians feel they can be more accepted by the rest of the world if they proclaim the generalization lie that Christians do not care or do anything about the poor and wallow their self-loathing. Otherwise, I liked your post. See you on the other side, brother.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      Lucas, I think Christians do more for the poor than any other group. My remarks were made in the context of passivity. As a pastor, I do see many who feel like cursing a billboard is doing something but they have not taken an active role in knowing those who are different than them. Thanks.

  14. Cathy Reply

    Kevin,
    As a whole body of Christ there are still soldiers for the spiritual battle, as there is caretaker for the poor. HE came to destroy the works of the enemy. We are told to put on the whole armor of God to fight this battle against the evil one.
    I for one am glad that some churches are wanting to re post a billboard to glorify Jesus.
    Thinking that this group of Atheist will just go away if we ignore the billboard is a mistake. This group has been going around our country trying to destroy and have succeed in some towns & in our military all accounts of what this country was built on…Our Faith in God. This group has attacked monuments with a cross…Will they try to attack the 3 large cross that stand up in this area next. Even though I don’t go to that church I love seeing those 3 big crosses to remind me that Our Savior died for Us all and one cross a sinner asked for forgiveness and one sinner died not knowing who was right next to him.
    My heart breaks for all who have not come to know Jesus their Savior. I was lifted from this darkness that lurks around to devour whomever he can take with him. So to say no response is necessary for this billboard goes against every fiber of my being as a solider for Christ Our Lord. This kind of tolerance only allows Satan a stronger foot hold that we are seeing across our country & world today. I am not afraid as a Christian… I am afraid for the ones that do not know Jesus!

  15. James Henderson Reply

    Jesus did hang with those folks with whom “normal people” of the day never would. There were many folk who were outcast for many reasons. He accepted them as people to be loved, disregarding what they represented with one exception: the Pharisees, the “holier than thou” folk. Remember God of Heaven is not in “time” as we know it. To God it is (already) written. We are not sure who we will or will not see on the other side and are just meant to share the love of the truth with anyone that will listen. Let us not be judgmental but love our atheist neighbors one by one. Let us love those even with whom we do not agree in the slightest. Let us be the loving examples that others may see as how they should be. Emulate Jesus the best you can.

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