Atheists have raised nearly $11,000 to launch a billboard campaign aimed at the Bible and, more specifically, creationist leader Ken Ham’s Kentucky-based “Ark Encounter” amusement park — but two billboard companies have reportedly rejected their secular message.
The Tri-State Freethinkers, which represents 1,000 members in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio, has pledged to use the funds to publicly “counter the Ark Encounter and send the message that celebrating genocide and incest is immoral!" But both Lamar, a national billboard group, and Event Advertising and Promotions LLC, a mobile billboard company, have denied the ad, the Lexington Herald Leader reported.
"We default to accepting most all copy, but if there’s something we deem not appropriate then we don’t run it," Tom Fahey, manager of Lamar's Cincinnati office, told the outlet. "It seemed more inflammatory in nature than anything else."
According to the Lexington Herald Leader, Lamar did permit an ad from Ark Encounter back in 2014, which included the following message: "To all of our intolerant liberal friends: Thank God you can’t sink this ship."
As for Event Advertising and Promotions LLC, the company was reportedly worried about the safety of the driver who would be operating the vehicle on which the controversial billboard would be displayed.
The Tri-State Freethinkers' billboard, which was funded via an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign, features a picture of the ark along with the words, "Genocide & Incest Park: Celebrating 2000 years of myths." Jim G. Helton, president of the atheist group, said in a statement that the ad companies backed out after media outlets began to cover the billboard campaign.
"We knew the Indiegogo campaign would be big news in freethought and atheist communities. We also knew that once the billboard went up the mainstream press would pick it up and it would be a big story," Helton said. "However, we were surprised that the mainstream media covered the story of us simply stating that we were raising money to put up the billboard."
He continued, "When the story hit the local press, Lamar backed out. They were unwilling to work with me to try to find a solution that would have resembled anything close to our original concept for the billboard."
Helton is charging that there is a "clear double-standard being applied" against Kentucky residents who reject God, pointing back to the Ark Encounter billboard that was once allowed by Lamar.
"We secularists, agnostics and atheists are essentially like everyone else. We’re your friends, neighbours, co-workers and family members," he said. "All we want is a place at the table for our ideas, too, and we are concerned that our voice and message is being denied in favor of religious messages."
As TheBlaze reported back in March, while the atheists behind the Indiegogo campaign said that Ham and his organization Answers in Genesis have the “right to celebrate their mythology,” the “freethinkers” believe that heralding Noah’s story is immoral and inappropriate — especially for a family entertainment establishment.
“The Ark Encounter is a water park based on a representation of Noah’s Ark. They are receiving state tax incentives while maintaining their discriminatory hiring practices,” the description reads. “Scheduled to open in Williamstown, Kentucky on July 7, 2016, the park celebrates a biblical parable of genocide and incest.”
It continues, “Help us remind the surrounding community and potential patrons that the biblical story of Noah’s Ark is immoral and should not be encouraged as a family fun day.”
The text goes on to proclaim that the Genesis story surrounding Noah and his ark is not historical in nature, charging that such a prospect is not scientifically possible.
While the Tri-State Freethinkers had an initial goal of raising just $2,000 for the single, panel-sized billboard, additional benchmarks have been set, including an effort to raise $6,000 for one large billboard or six smaller billboards for a month, among other larger-scale goals. If the atheists are able to raise $150,000, they pledge to build their “very own genocide and incest park.”
In addition to the billboard campaign, atheist activists plan to protest on the opening day of the “Ark Encounter” on July 7, 2016, saying that they will use excess funds that are raised to make such an event happen.
“The more money we get, the more billboards we can put up in all different areas,” Jim Helton, president of the Tri-State Freethinkers, said in a YouTube video advertising the effort. “In addition to, we want to do a counter protest on their opening day and throw a huge party and invite all the freethinkers and atheists to come from all over to show support for reason and logic and not superstition and myths.”
As TheBlaze previously reported, “Ark Encounter” centers around a life-sized replica of Noah’s ark. The massive, wooden vessel — which is based on the dimensions presented in the Bible — is so large that it will be a theme park and museum of sorts, housing 132 Bible-themed exhibits that Ham described as “state-of-the-art.”
Listen to Ham discuss it below:
“As Christians, we believe that we have an obligation to what God’s word tells us to do, and that is to do business until he comes, to go out and preach the gospel and to stand up on the truth of God’s word,” Ham recently told TheBlaze. “We also see, in this culture, an increasing anti-Christian element … we see the loss of Christian freedom in some areas and the restriction of the free exercise of religion.”
(H/T: Lexington Herald Leader)
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