Godless Billboard Moved after threats.
CINCINNATI -- In the wake of multiple, significant threats, the downtown billboard that says “Don’t Believe In God? You are not alone” came down early Thursday morning.
The billboard had gone up Tuesday afternoon at Reading Road and 12th Street, one block south of Liberty Street and it is being moved to a new site Thursday at the Sixth Street Viaduct.
The group that funded the billboard, the United Coalition of Reason, was contacted by Lamar Advertising of Cincinnati. Lamar reported that the landowner of the site had been threatened over the billboard's message and wanted it taken down.
"We weren't given the landowner's identity or precise details," reported Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason. "Nor did we pursue them. It was sufficient to learn that multiple, significant threats had been received and that Lamar would act quickly to alleviate the problem. Lamar was most apologetic to us regarding the situation. It was a development they hadn't expected. Nor had we. Nothing like this has ever happened to us before."
"Everything that has happened shows just how vital our message is," said Shawn Jeffers, co-coordinator for the Cincinnati Coalition of Reason. "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."
The new location on the 6th Street Expressway, U.S. Highway 50, is owned by Lamar and therefore isn't subject to landowner restrictions. The billboard will face east, visible on the left to traffic traveling west out of the city across the viaduct toward the suburbs of Delhi and Price Hill.
"The sign is saying there are godless people in Cincinnati. We are your friends, neighbors, we might be your policemen, firemen, postmen, whatever and we want to take our place at the table and have our say," said John Welte with the Cincinnati Coalition of Reason.
Lamar Advertising's general manager tells 9News the owner of the property received threats and asked for its removal.
"Apparently they were vicious threats of some kind. I don't know the exact nature of the threats but yes," said Welte.
The billboard was moved to a location now viewed by drivers heading west on the Sixth Street viaduct. Some say they find it offensive.
"My thoughts? I think the sign needs to come down. Its atheist. Its going to cause problems around all the churches, not just catholic, but lutheran, baptist, all of them," said Jack Jones of Downtown.
The billboard campaign began in Philadelphia last April. Its also featured in Cleveland and Columbus. The group says this is the first time one has had to be relocated.
"We are dealing with it the best way we can. We are not going away so talk to us," said Welte.
Theism is why we can't have nice things.