An Australian atheist organization put up a billboard in February that drew criticism from religious groups in the Sydney area.
On Feb. 4, Sydney Atheists unveiled a sign along Sydney’s M4 highway reading, "Have you escaped religion? We have!"
According to its website, Sydney Atheists aims to give a positive example of atheism and help advocate for the separation of church and state.
Sydney Atheist President Steve Marton said the group believes all religions do not depict accurate realities about the universe and humanity’s place on Earth.
Marton added he thinks most members join the group because they have "suffered" at the hands of organized religions, including Christianity, Islam and Judaism.
"If you read the Bible or the Quran, as I have, there's so much contradiction, inconsistency, and hate and anger that's all directed for a purpose," Marton said.
One Christian organization welcomed the group’s question about religion’s potential to oppress individuals.
Simon Smart, the director of the Centre for Public Christianity, said he respects the atheist group’s right to ask provocative questions to the general public.
“I think there are versions of religions that can feel oppressive and intolerant and restrictive, but the Christian faith is about finding the fullest life imaginable,” Smart said.
He added he thinks the core of Christianity teaches its followers that finding a connection to God will bring life meaning, purpose and joy.
Sydney Atheists did not confirm the cost of the sign, but Morton said the sign cost many thousands of Australian dollars.
He added the group did not mean to demean religion with the sign, but engage society in an open dialogue about the implications of organized religion.
"We just want to ask a question. It's an invitation to people. If they are offended by the billboard, I find that sad and unfortunate," Marton said.
Photo Credit: Sydney Atheists via News.com.au