There are Christians in Fort Lauderdale, however, for whom such simple statements are just horrible — and the presence of such a billboard near Christians is utterly intolerable. It's not merely "controversial" to say that atheists exist and that atheists can be good people, but it is in fact an insult to these Christians to learn that they don't have a lock on morality and that there might be atheists lurking in their midst. How do they manage to sleep through the night now?
The community said there are two main problems: The business right next to the billboard is owned by born-again Christians, and the billboard is right in the middle of an African-American community.
After seeing the controversial billboard, Big Mama brought her students out to protest it. "Nothing else matters, but that sign needs to come down. In the name of Jesus," Big Mama chanted as she led her students in protest.
Neighboring businesses has called to try to get the sign removed. "Muslim, Jew, Hindu, Christian, whoever you are, we all believe in a spiritual higher being. When you have something like this here, people don't want to come and patronize us anymore," said Theodore Hamilton. "We don't agree with this. We don't like this here in our community, and this is a spiritual based community."
Source: WSVN News
I wonder what Big Mamma is so afraid of? Does she fear what will happen when her students finally do learn that atheists exist, that atheists surely live in their neighborhood, and that atheism doesn’t mean a person is immoral or evil? Does she fear that some of her own students might seriously consider atheism when they come to realize that there is nothing wrong with it?
I find it interesting that some Christians sincerely believe that customers won't come to their stores simply because someone else paid for a nearby billboard stating nothing more than atheists exist and aren't immoral. Does this reflect their own personal attitudes — which means that they are so bigoted that they wouldn't shop anywhere near where atheism is mentioned — or does it reflect their knowledge of how bigoted their own customers are?
Either way it's a very negative statement — whether about themselves, their customers, or both — but apparently Christians like Theodore Hamiliton are unable or unwilling to recognize this. Imagine complaining that white customer will stop coming to your business because the NAACP put up a billboard and insisting that one lives or works in a "white based community." Imagine if white people and white students protested that presence of a BET billboard and demanding that it had to come down.
I suspect that most people would recognize the bigotry of such behavior and attitudes, but here we have Christians who consider such bigotry against atheists to not only be unproblematic, but even perhaps a religious and social duty. It's a sign, I think, of just how deeply immorality, injustice, and irrationality have seeped into American Christianity.