The group American Atheists tried to place billboards around Nashville, Tennessee, ahead of their national convention in Memphis in April. However, the group Outfront Media, which handles the billboard campaign, rejected the original ad.
The billboard was going to display a girl in bunny ears next to text that read: "An atheist convention on Easter Weekend? Looks like we’re skipping church again!”
Outfront Media approved the campaign for Memphis, but they said it was too anti-Christian for Nashville’s market. They wanted to remove the words “Easter” and “church.”
Eventually, American Atheists and Outfront Media agreed on the slogan, “Hop on over to Memphis for the biggest gathering of atheists in the country!”
“This is just absurd,” Danielle Muscato, the Public Relations Director of American Atheists, told Raw Story. "It’s just because we’re atheists. It’s discriminatory."
“There are billboards all over the mid-South, all over the South, that are explicitly anti-atheist,” she added. “But when you look at some of the billboards that are up, even in Nashville; I found one in Nashville that is explicitly antigay. It quotes Leviticus 18:22. It calls having sex ‘an abomination.’”
“This is explicitly calling the acts of gay people ‘an abomination,’” Muscato said. “And if that’s not offensive or aggressive toward another group, I don’t know what is.”
Outfront Media responded to Muscato’s allegations in a statement that read: “We do accept religious ads and have in fact accepted ads from American Atheists in the past. Messaging that promotes an organization’s beliefs are generally acceptable; ads that disparage other religion’s beliefs or may be construed as offensive are not acceptable.”
The statement went on to explain the original campaign was offensive, but that Outfront Media will post a different American Atheist ad on billboards in Nashville.