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Austin Cline

Kieffe & Sons Ford Want Atheists to Sit Down and Shut Up

By May 29, 2008

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Hispanics are a minority in America, so should they sit down and shut up rather than demand equality? Jews are a minority in America, so should they sit down and shut up rather than demand equality? Anyone who made such demands would immediately be recognized as a bigot and that's why you probably wouldn't find many people wiling to say such things aloud.

When it comes to atheists, though, naked bigotry just isn't a problem. This seems to be the case for Keiffe & Sons Ford in Mojave, California. They recently decided that it would help them attract customers by running a radio ad which had no purpose or content other than to attack atheists. It's not clear whether Ford itself approves of such tactics or not, but they refuse to take any action.

Anna Lemma posted this transcript of the advertisement from Kieffe & Sons Ford:

["Did you know that there are people in this country who want prayer out of schools, "Under God" out of the Pledge, and "In God We Trust" to be taken off our money?"]

"But did you know that 86% of Americans say they believe in God? Since we all know that 86 out of every 100 of us are Christians, who believe in God, we at Kieffe & Sons Ford wonder why we don't tell the other 14% to sit down and shut up. I guess I just offended 14% of the people who are listening to this message. Well, if that is the case then I say that's tough, this is America folks, it's called free speech. None of us at Kieffe & Sons Ford is afraid to speak out. Kieffe & Sons Ford on Sierra Highway in Mojave and Rosamond, if we don't see you today, by the grace of God, we'll be here tomorrow."

Source: The Underground Believer (via Pharymgula)

Anna also managed to capture an audio recording of the advertisement so you can hear it for yourself.

It's worth observing that in addition to naked bigotry, this ad is based on naked ignorance as well. Kieffe & Sons Ford apparently believe that every theist in America is a Christian — so not only should atheists not expect to be treated equally, but all Jews, Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, etc. don't even exist. I guess we atheists should be thankful that Kieffe & Sons at least acknowledge our existence!

Some bigots refuse to recognize that such attitudes really are bigotry when directed at atheists, but others who do admit that it's bigotry don't seem to care. Atheists are so despised by some religious theists that they just won't accept that there are any limits to the hate and vitriol which can be directed at nonbelievers. Which do you suppose is the case here — does Kieffe & Sons simply not accept that they are bigots, or do you suppose they realize they are bigots but think that bigotry is OK when directed at atheists?

They certainly seem to think that all Christians are just as bigoted as they are because they assume that the only people who would be offended by their bigotry would be the atheists they are telling to sit down and shut up. This is a bit like a white person assuming that only blacks would be offended by racism while whites wouldn't have a problem with it at all. It sounds to me like Kieffe & Sons Ford has a very low opinion of potential customers in the area: they are assumed to be ignorant (for not knowing that there are theists who aren't Christian) and bigoted.

Anna complained to Ford and was told that because Kieffe & Sons is privately owned, they wouldn't do anything. Does this mean that if Kieffe & Sons ran a racist ad, they wouldn’t do anything? If they ran an ad telling Jews to sit down and shut up, Ford wouldn't do anything? That's a really good attitude coming from a company whose founder was an anti-Semitie and role model for Adolf Hitler. You might think that if a company really cared about equal rights and basic decency, they'd go out of their way to ensure that their brand name isn't associated with hate and bigotry of any sort.

Frankly, I don't believe their excuse. I am quite confident that if any of their dealerships started running blatantly racist or anti-Semitic advertising, they would take action. They may not have the authority to stop the advertising, but they certainly have the authority to stop sending any more cars to this dealership. They surely have the power and authority to take action when people sell bigotry alongside cars marked "Ford." Here, though, we find that they don't mind at all — or at least don't mind enough to do something, which is effectively the same thing. It thus appears that as far as Ford is concerned, selling anti-atheist bigotry alongside Ford cars and trucks isn't a problem.

I know what brand of automobile I won't be buying. Ever. I recommend that other atheists not support this company either. There are plenty of other car manufacturers out there.


Update: According to "Cyber Storm," atheists who object to anti-atheist bigotry are really just engaging in "liberal censorship." Note that Cyber Storm doesn't try to justify or defend what the Ford Dealership has done. The argument being used here would be the same as saying that blacks who object to racism are engaging in "censorship" and Jews who object to anti-Semitism are engaging in "censorship."

I wonder if it would be "censorship" for Christians to object to anti-Christian bigotry? Somehow, I doubt it — it's appropriate for members of a privileged class to squash criticism of how they are running the show, but it's "censorship" and "intolerance" for minorities to object to bigotry, prejudices, hatred, and discrimination. We're supposed to just accept whatever inferior roles are allotted to us by our superiors and be thankful for even that much. Right?

May 29, 2008 at 12:24 pm
(1) Jim says:

They’ve since apologized for their ad on their website: http://www.kieffeandsons.com/

May 29, 2008 at 1:09 pm
(2) Mikko says:

ford motor company brands

Land Rover
Volvo Cars

May 29, 2008 at 1:17 pm
(3) Jeremy says:

Only in today’s atmosphere of non- apologetic apologies is this an apology. While they “apologize to all who were offended” and state their “intention to support America and the freedoms that make this country great” they do little more than make excuses and shift the ultimate blame on someone else. According to them, their only mistake was in not reviewing the ad closely before allowing it to go live while some other agency made the ad.

May 29, 2008 at 2:07 pm
(4) ChuckA says:

According to one source…i.e…Wikipedia’s entry on Reincarnation…See here:
Henry Ford believed, strongly, in Reincarnation; which, of course, is considered ‘anathema’ to most, if not all, Christian sects…especially the ‘Fundie’ variety. Like…
“Waddaya mean, there’s no Hell!”

Here’s the exerpt:
“Henry Ford was convinced he had lived before, most recently as a soldier killed at the battle of Gettysburg. A quote from the San Francisco Examiner from August 26, 1928 described Ford’s beliefs:

“I adopted the theory of Reincarnation when I was twenty-six. Religion offered nothing to the point. Even work could not give me complete satisfaction. Work is futile if we cannot utilise the experience we collect in one life in the next. When I discovered Reincarnation it was as if I had found a universal plan I realised that there was a chance to work out my ideas. Time was no longer limited. I was no longer a slave to the hands of the clock. Genius is experience. Some seem to think that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives. Some are older souls than others, and so they know more. The discovery of Reincarnation put my mind at ease. If you preserve a record of this conversation, write it so that it puts men’s minds at ease. I would like to communicate to others the calmness that the long view of life gives to us.”

Obviously the Ford Motor Company would totally ignore any references to old dead Hank’s ‘anti-Xtian’…albeit ‘demonic’…beliefs. Yeah…Perhaps an ad like:
“Never mind, about our dear founder, Henry Ford…any of youse evil, nutcase, Reincarnational believers…just sit down, or go away…but, even MORE importantly…as we’d also say to any atheists, agnostics…and the rest of you non-Xtian “yada-yadas”…

May 29, 2008 at 3:26 pm
(5) Katie says:

Having some knowledge of how the whole advertising thing works, I’m willing to buy the explanation given on the website.

Even so, I think a more heartfelt apology would be far more appropriate.

They also didn’t apologize for their 86% figure being plainly incorrect (or at least 60 years out of date, depending on how you want to look at it).

May 29, 2008 at 4:08 pm
(6) Eli Hounders says:

Ask yourself 2 questions are we better off today than we were 30 years ago? We we be better off in 20 years?

The simple truth is no.
Keep being fair and equal to all. Don’t speak english, open the borders, continue to go against our founding fathers and what this nation was built on and we will be part of a living hell.

Don’t worry just be happy! Glad to be part of the 84%

May 29, 2008 at 4:35 pm
(7) Austin Cline says:

Ask yourself 2 questions are we better off today than we were 30 years ago? We we be better off in 20 years?

A lot of people are.

Keep being fair and equal to all. Don’t speak english, open the borders, continue to go against our founding fathers and what this nation was built on and we will be part of a living hell.

Sounds like you’re saying that being “fair and equal to all” goes against “what this nation was built on.” No wonder you don’t see how some people are better off today — you aren’t one of those who benefits from a broader application of fairness and equality.

Don’t worry just be happy! Glad to be part of the 84%

Only a member of a privileged majority would object to minorities gaining more equality and think that improvements for them makes things wore off for others.

May 29, 2008 at 4:39 pm
(8) faboofour says:

Eli, the fact of the matter is that the fundies came into power thirty years ago with the Reagan era. You’re actually recognizing that things have gone to hell in a handbasket since the so-called “religious right” gained political power.

You’re part of the problem, not the solution.

May 29, 2008 at 8:25 pm
(9) JSmith says:

I won’t be buying a Ford either, and not just because of bigotry. Let’s not forget that there are not only other vehicles, there are better vehicles for the money

May 30, 2008 at 3:47 am
(10) benjdm says:

It wasn’t much of an apology, apparently:


“…Rick Kieffe said, “I do not regret it, it’s simply how we feel. We feel that one child shouldn’t keep the other 29 children in class from saying the pledge of allegiance. We feel it should say, In God We Trust should be on the money, and there’s these things where the majority feels one way but a smaller group tells them to sit down and shut up and that’s where the unfortunate language came into this ad. The sit down and shut up part kind of got by me.”

What’s your opinion on the ad? Tell us what you think by voting on our home page at kget.com.”

May 30, 2008 at 7:21 am
(11) mobathome says:

As of this morning, the “apology” is gone from their web site.

May 30, 2008 at 11:21 am
(12) Jayelle Wiggins-Lunacharsky says:

I thought the fact that Carl Edwards (NASCAR’s most irritating driver) drives one was enough to keep me out of one. Damn.

May 30, 2008 at 2:42 pm
(13) chuck says:

Yeah! That was some half assed apology, bogus! I hope someone out there throws rotten eggs at their windows…or worse. :)
Great article Austin.

May 30, 2008 at 2:53 pm
(14) Joe Weitzell says:

Given the current financial condition of Ford Motor, in conjunction with their sales record, I can hardly wait for a Toyota dealer to use the same analysis technique to tell these honorable Americans to “STFU”

May 30, 2008 at 10:25 pm
(15) MAS2007 says:

Here is what might be considered odd. The AFA (conservative right) calls for the boycott of Ford motors, on the basis they are pro gay rights (translation: not anti gay enough).
Old Henry was an odd bird according to biographies on the telie.

May 31, 2008 at 8:56 am
(16) Joan says:

The guy is not sorry he said it because he feels that way, but he’s sorry he got his hand slapped. I own a business, and there is no way in hell I would let am ad air without seeing it and analyzing it first! BS! It’s easy to say something and than apologize for it later. That seems to be the rage here in this country here lately. Do people really buy that crap?! If that’s the way the guy really feels, why should anyone take his apology seriously? It’s like someone who stole something and then is sorry they got caught.
I have not forgotten the Ford Pinto gas tank explosions. When a company analyzes the cost of potential litigation (and deaths) compared to the money it will save by not fixing a design flaw and decides to go with the bucks, they got nothing I want – ever!

May 31, 2008 at 5:21 pm
(17) wade says:

[[[Below is an Email I sent to Keiffe & Sons Ford in Mojave, California and Isent a copy to Ford Motor Company's Public Relations Department]]]

“”"Rick Kieffe,

Just to let you know that because of your bigoted advertisements condemning Atheists I will never buy another ford motor company product, ever. I am sending a copy of this to The corporate offices of Ford, via their contact web site, and I will forever voice my distaste for Your company and Ford Motor Company, which refused to immediately act on you disgraceful behavior until the day I choose to do differently.

Shame on you and your employees for singling out Atheists to be the brunt of your religious bigotry. I am sure that if your commercial had been directed towards Jews, Hispanics, Blacks or another minority you would be in very hot water, legally. No “putting the blame on someone else apology” will ever be accepted or even acknowledge from you or Ford Motor Company as you both have shown YOUR true God Like sense of religious morality.


Wade (omitted after sending)”"”

[[[It seems to me to me that it is better to act on a problem than to discuss it on this website.

Actions really do speak louder than words.

Maybe after you people quit debating the rights and wrongs of each others ideology you will actually, physically, do something about this type of behavior.]]]

June 1, 2008 at 9:23 am
(18) Joan says:

Great point, Wade. What is the email address of that Ford dealership?

June 2, 2008 at 12:46 am
(19) Joe says:

As an observer from afar (Australia) I find the fact that somebody could actually expect to sell more cars by attacking people who don’t share their beliefs both amusing and disturbing.

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