Atheist Billboard Up on Dallas’s I-35

In Dallas, there is a hotly debated billboard that has gone up on the southbound side of I-35 over Illinois Avenue. The atheist billboard promotes a group called African Americans for Humanism, and it has sparked heavy debate and controversy by its presence. Their site has the slogan “In an irrational world, those who stand for reason must stand together.”

This effort of AAH is a part of a nationwide effort that places the atheist billboards in seven major cities, including New York and Los Angeles. Each billboard features one of the local representatives of the movement coupled with a historical African American freethinker. In Dallas, writer Langston Hughes is coupled with DFW Coalition of Reason’s freethinker, Alix Jules.

The billboards were launched by the AAH with the intention to coincide with Black History Month. The billboard is meant to draw attention to the movement, targeting the minority of the minority: the African American atheist. In doing so, Jules explains, they are targeting a group of people that often falls between the cracks in finding a solid community to feel apart of. Hence, the billboards message, “Doubts about religion? You’re one of many.”

Projects that Jules has been a part of include food drives, community speaking engagements, and charity runs; all organized through the Coalition of Reason. Despite being apart of many positive events and community projects, Jules reports receiving opposition from some of the religious community. ” Some [religious leaders] feel threatened because they believe the idea is diametrically opposed to what they teach. It’s hard to accept or hear someone when you believe they’re either sent to you from Satan, bringeth the end days, or are going to hell. Others have been very open to dialog.”

Because the billboards are out there, most of the coverage revolves around the fact that an atheist billboard is in their community and not why. According to Jules, “its pro-thought, its pro-skepticism, and certainly not meant to be anti-religion though many of the pious see it as such including many in the media. There’s much more to come from campus tours, speaking events, joint outreach with local affiliates, and a National AAH conference. Many of the local affiliates are already seeing surges in inquiry and interest.”

Follow me at Yahoo! Voices or Twitter to see my interview conducted with Alix Jules in the near future.

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