An atheist billboard in Knoxville, Tennessee was taken down after the billboard’s property owner criticized its contents, just five days into its 30-day lease in April.
The billboard, which read “Don’t Believe in God? You’re Not Alone,” was paid for by the Rationalists of East Tennessee, an atheist organization. It cost $1,800.
While the billboard was objected to, many people have voiced their support for it, among them Dr. Wade Bibb, a pastor at Central Bearden Baptist church, just across from the billboard’s location on Kingston Pike.
“We’re very strong supporters of freedom of speech,” Bibb said to WATE. He also had a word for members of his congregation.
“If you wanted that to be a pro God message there then I think you should have rented it out and put a pro God message on there,” Bibb said.
Larry Rhoades, president of the R.E.T, said the billboard was chosen for that particular spot because of vehicle traffic, not because of its proximity to the church.
“Well it’s a recruitment tool, we’re trying to get more members,” Rhoades said to WATE.
“Try putting a billboard in Knoxville or East Tennessee anywhere without getting close to a church,” he said to The Daily Beacon.
Lamar Advertising plans on moving the billboard to a new location, according to the Friendly Atheist.
Rhoades told The Daily Beacon that news of the billboard’s removal did not come as a shock to him.
“We tried to be understanding to Lamar’s position that they’re in,” Rhoades said. “As an organization, we hope that we don’t have to tear it down again.”