Early in 2012, the PA House of Representatives passed a "noncontroversal" resolution (HR 535) to call 2012 The Year of the Bible in Pennsylvania. The document calls the Bible "the word of God", states that it was instrumental in the founding of the United States and recommends applying the teachings of the scriptures to our lives in 2012. I discussed the issue here and here again when some of the Representatives considered trying to overturn it.
Local atheist groups (and other local groups) took issue with the resolution. Members of non-Christian groups felt that this resolution specifically excluded them and implied that there was a state-sponsored religion. Some groups also questioned the notion that we should use the Bible as a guide to living morally. Two local atheist groups decided to erect a billboard to highlight this point of view.
(Please note: No one is implying nor stating that there are not sections/stories of the Bible that can be looked upon as a guide to moral behavior. We are simply pointing out that - as a whole - the Bible does not always recommend actions or behavior that society would consider acceptable.)
Here is the billboard as it looked yesterday:
We expected a reaction and we got one. It was not, however, the one we thought we'd get.
The first problem was that our billboard was placed was in a predominantly black neighborhood. We hadn't even considered this as the leaders of both organizations chose this location because the price was the best they could find for what was available.
The second problem was that many people either misunderstood or disregarded what the message of the billboard was intended to be and decided that it was racist. There were people all over the news lambasting the American Atheists and PAN for being racist!
The final problem was that the billboard is low to the ground.
This morning one of the group members drove by the billboard and stopped to take this picture:
Yeah. It lasted less than 24 hours. Worse, the vandals removed the message and left the offensive verse intact.
I've no idea who vandalized it nor why but I'm greatly disappointed. I have to admit that I thought it would be vandalized at some point but I thought it would last longer than it did. While I did expect an uproar, I didn't expect the discussion to be whether or not it was racism. I honestly thought most people would realize what the message was supposed to be and we could discuss that issue.
I went to PAN's website this morning and made a donation to their billboard fund. I'd like to see us able to get our message out and have the discussion we should be having about the HR 535.