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Friday, November 13, 2009                                                                                       View Comments

Death threats force removal of atheist billboard

"Don't believe in God? You're not alone." was the message on a billboard put up by the Cincinnati Coalition of Reason (Cin CoR) on Reading Road at 12th Street, one block south of Liberty Street in Cincinnati. It went up on Tuesday but by Wednesday afternoon the group was told it would have to come down again. Lamar Advertising, the company that owns the billboard, leases the land on which it stands and the landowner wanted it taken down. He (or she) had been receiving death threats. Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason, said, "We weren't given the landowner's name or precise details, Nor did we pursue them. It was sufficient to learn that this person had received multiple, significant threats and that Lamar would act quickly to alleviate the problem. Nothing like this has ever happened to us before."

The billboard campaign in Cincinnati is only one of ten going on nationwide this year and, while the current situation is unique, threats are not. Additionally, Atheist billboards have been vandalized recently in Colorado and Idaho. Shawn Jeffers, co-coordinator for Cin CoR, said, "Everything that has happened shows just how vital our message is. It proves our point, that bigotry against people who don't believe in a god is still very real in America. Only when we atheists, agnostics and humanists come together and go public about our views will people have a chance to learn that we too are part of the community and deserve respect... Hopefully this turn of events will cause more and more nontheistic people in Cincinnati to realize how necessary it is to get organized."

Cin CoR announced today that the sign will be moved to a new location near the Sixth Street Viaduct where it won't be subject to landowner restrictions. They also announced that new billboards will be erected in Cleveland and Columbus.


A video report from WKRC Channel 12 in Cincinnati can be viewed here: