Salt Lake City Convention Billboards

Billboard company calls them "...misleading, deceptive or offensive to the moral standards of the community."

The Salt Lake City Tribune just ran an article about our attempts to secure advertising space for our 2014 National Convention in Salt Lake City and the repeated denials we experienced from local billboard companies.

From the article:

In a statement to The Salt Lake Tribune, YESCO wrote: “We believe that our medium is an effective outlet for free speech. However, we balance that with a strong commitment to adhere to community standards and to ensure that the messages we advertise are not offensive towards any business, group or individual. … In rare instances, we reject advertisements that we find to be misleading, deceptive or offensive to the moral standards of the community.”

The first design we submitted to YESCO is below. The idea was to have multiple billboard with local atheists (who happened to be former Mormons) talking about who they are.

The billboard is a spoof on the "I'm A Mormon" ad campaign run by the LDS church. This design was rejected by the billboard company.

The billboard is a spoof on the “I’m A Mormon” ad campaign run by the LDS church. This design was immediately rejected by the billboard company because we used the word “Mormon.”


After that was rejected, we submitted these designs:

Utah Elders

Don’t they look happy? Or are they “misleading” somehow?



Multiple families had volunteered to be in this billboard.


Utah Students

We had arranged to have students from a local Secular Student group appear in this ad.

Note that we even dropped the use of the word “Mormon.” We didn’t even say “Christian,” just “religious.” So these are the billboards which are “misleading, deceptive or offensive to the moral standards of the community.”


For more information about our 2014 National Convention in Salt Lake City and to purchase tickets, please visit the convention page.

  • Greg_Clark

    Hey, accommodationists.

    You know how y’all like to say—ever so politely and civilly,
    of course–that being offensive to the religious is counterproductive?

    Well, give this a think.

    Your very existence is offensive to the religious.

    So: Just how low should atheists be willing to grovel?

    • Laurie James

      We can begin by writing the words Atheism and Atheist as proper nouns. Yes, you are correct. They find the very existence of us offense. Are we going to kowtow to these ridiculous people? I refuse to beg anyone pardon for who I am. If they don’t agree with my apostasy, then, fuck them. No matter what we call ourselves, brites, secular humanists, agnostics, Nonbelievers, the question is, do you believe in the “god?” If no, you are a bad person. So, grow up, be proud, and own Atheism.

  • Brigadon

    hmm…well… you know, Atheists have the right to speak.

    On the other hand, Billboard owners have a right to say no to your advertisements. They were actually surprisingly courteous in telling you WHY they don’t wish to allow you to rent their property.

    Now, bear in mind, I _AM_ an ex-mormon Athiest. but even so, This whole article sounds an awful lot like butthurt.

    • Kerry Baldwin

      ” I _AM_ an ex-mormon Athiest…” (aka Atheist) That’s what they *all* say.

    • snoopcat

      I’m not so sure they have the right to “just say no” to anything they don’t like. Since they are the only game in town & they take public advertising, a blanket refusal to take atheist adds can be classed as discrimination. It would be different if the billboards were on church property. I think the billboard companies can be sued over this.

      • Owl Man

        There are really no laws that prevent a company from discriminating in this way. There are laws that prevent them from discriminatory hiring practices, but their publications (the billboards) are no different, really, from published books.

        Buy your own billboard and put up whatever you want. Don’t expect others to be fair or open-minded.

        • snoopcat

          Hi Owl man:
          I think billboards are different from published books. That said I know, for example, that employers can be sued for refusing to hire particular groups (women, blacks etc) if a discriminatory pattern can be shown. I’m thinking of a class action suit in that case. Is that appropriate or reasonable here? I don’t know. I just don’t think it’s as clear cut as you say, but I may be wrong.

  • lupesio

    Is not there some amendment in the USA, which protects freedom of expression?

    • Owl Man

      It’s protected from the government, not from billboard companies. They can be as bigoted and closed-minded as they want.

  • Pingback: Atheist Group Has A Bone To Pick With Mormons Over Billboard Woes | Mobile Atheist()

  • fred

    As a Christian I can see how the one about Mormon being crossed off started the offensive nature of the bill board adds in a Mormon community. Add the ‘Elder’ insult to the second attempt, and I can see why a local business man would not want to work with these people.______

    The AA own, internal, code of conduct says, _____

    ” American Atheists recognizes that derision of religion is common at its convention and welcomes such discussion. However, the harassment of individuals for his or her religious beliefs will not be tolerated. ”



    • Cthulhu21

      So calling the elderly “elderly” is an insult? That seems bizzar.

      • nevets

        Elders is an LDS term used to indicate a male has received a certain level of priesthood authority. Most commonly given just before a young man leaves on a mission. Missionaries wear name tags which say: Elder Johnson or whatever the young man’s last name is. So yes, using the elder term in the way the ad did was somewhat of an insult as it tried to allege or indicate a hidden meaning by its use.

        By the way, the word used was elder, not elderly. And the word I think you meant to use was bizarre. Apparently the red lines under the words you type mean nothing to you.

        • Cthulhu21

          I could tell I was spelling bizarre wrong, but my spell check did not recognize what I was trying to type. I gave up on trying to spell it right and went with what you saw then. I’m sorry my illiteracy anoyed you.
          If not for you looking down on me I would thank you for showing me how to spell the word right. It annoys me when I can’t remember how to spell a word and spell check can’t help me with it.

        • charlie Mcadams

          Thus, the opposition is stymied because some one may get their feelings hurt. What a bunch of whiners.

        • Cthulhu21

          After reading this more carefully I still think that’s a bit bizarre. The only meaning that billboard had was that not all of Utah’s elders ( elderly people) are relegious. It seems to me that you and fred had taken “elders” out of context.

  • Thehermit

    The families and students billboards should have been acceptable. However, a more direct invitation to the convention would be more palatable and more effective.

  • Danny Davis

    The existence of religious billboards is all over the place and they offend me as an Atheist and are a constant threat to the education of Americans. What needs to be found out is whether or not this very billboard company rents space to religious entities. If this is the case, they are being bias and should be called out for it because they are hosting material offensive to Atheist and the remaining
    religions they don’t host. The fact that they assume that it may be offensive to
    the community solely on the positive promotion of Atheism is wrong.

    • Fred Park


      Ya, things are unfair all over. Because a few people could get their feelings hurt if they had to hear a prayer at my kids graduation, many of us GOT our feelings hurt because we could no pray at a public meeting.

      How did you guys turn “freedom OF religion” into “freedom FROM religion”?

      • charlie Mcadams

        The Constitution.

      • snoopcat

        We’re not asking them (LDS) to remove their messages, just to display our messages too. I admit I find the LDS messages offensive but I’m a big boy who can tolerate different views. I guess the LDS is afraid of us.
        FYI: That’s freedom OF religion.

        • Fred Park

          I do not know any of the LDS adds that mock your way of life the way the first two adds mock our way of life. That might be because I do not know all that would make you feel mocked. Please give me an example of an LDS Church sponsored bill board that has offended you eay of life.______

          • snoopcat

            Hi Fred:
            Thanks for your reply. I have seen a few Mormon ads &
            they show happy smiling people enjoying their families which is meant
            to be appealing & is appealing. I am offended by the underlying
            message which is a fraud & a straitjacket. The promise of a joyous
            afterlife with their loved ones has no basis in reality not the least
            because no one has ever come back to talk about it. All the resctictions
            against drinking, pre marital sex, homosexuality, “behaving immodestly”
            (women only) serve only 1 purpose-to engender guilt & keep the true
            believers in line. I look at the ad & I think-these people think
            that some guy named Joseph Smith had a date with an angel who told him
            all about some gold plates that had all this marvelous knowledge
            inscribed on them. (And nobody ever found them-go figure). They think
            that Native Americans are descended from the ancient Israelites &
            are called Lamenites. I think about the polygamous communities in
            Colorado City where members are brainwashed & mentally brutalized,
            where young girls are married off to much older men. I think about the
            “lost boys” who are ejected from these communities with no skills or
            education, to become wards of the state. I wonder why the States of Utah
            & Colorado have tolerated them for so many years. I
            think of Warren Jeffs & his cult. I guess I’m offended by the reality, not the pretty picture.You
            do not know what would make me feel mocked because there’s nothing to
            mock in Atheism. Our only dogma is reality. Frankly, Fred Mormonism,
            Catholicism, Islam & all other religions, are so full of mockable
            targets that it’s like the 19th century wild west buffalo hunts. No
            matter where you aim, you’ll find a target.
            Fred: please do not take my comments personally. I am being as honest & straightforward as I can.

          • Fred Park


            You speak of how our depictions of ourselves offend you.

            That’s OK, because I find ya’lls internal definition of yourselves a bit offensive. Your different from me, so I live with it.

            BUT, your bill board add shows a depiction of my faith, not just a statement about your faith. There is a difference.

          • Fred Park

            PS. You complain that people do not come back and talk to us from the hearafter. Here is a little lesson about my faith so you will not repeat your false statement. We believe that many of the Angles who bring us messages from God were once people who lived on this earth.

            You do not have to believe what we believe, but please, when you teach others about us, teach what we believe and teach instead of the untruths others want people to believe about us.

          • snoopcat

            As far as I know, the billboard has not been displayed yet since all the proposed messages were rejected. . At least we were honest enough to show the rejects. In all fairness, the very nature of any message we use will be offensive since our position completely negates yours (and vice versa). However, I don’t think the rejected messages were really that offensive. I think a lot of the reaction to the billboards is shock because nothing like that has ever been displayed in UT.

          • Fred Park

            { I think a lot of the reaction to the billboards is shock because nothing like that has ever been displayed in UT}

            You must not be from Utah. There are lots of antiMormon and nonMormon Christians who spend a lot of time and money trying to convince us we are wrong by advertising in Utah .

            What you wanted would only have been noticed for the rude way of advertising.

          • snoopcat

            Sorry for taking so long. Atheism is different. A slugfest between religions is just a variation on the same theme. Between Atheism & religion it’s between total opposites.

          • Fred Park


            Atheism is not different!!! You are just another group advertising why you are different and why we should believe like you. And using the put down to do it.

            The people who run this group of atheists set out some rules on this web site, then they go against their own rules when they advertise.

            Word for word from your web site.

            { American Atheists does not tolerate harassment of or by conference participants in any form. … However, the harassment of individuals for his or her religious beliefs will not be tolerated. }


            As you con see, ya’ll do not follow your own rules when using advertisement that degrades a religion.

          • snoopcat

            Lets define some terms. Displaying the word ‘Mormon” with a line through it is not harassment. Displaying the word elder is not harassment. Telling a group or person that they are deluded is not harassment. Using ridicule & satire to make a point is not harassment. The billboards are there to present our message to Mormons & if we use the M word, so be it.
            BTW: we are not a religion because we have no sacred beliefs.Only reality.

          • Fred Park


            I didn’t say you were a religion, I said you were only another group advertising to get us to believe like your group. You can believe that random chance created the machine we live on making it possible for the machine we live in to work. I don’t.

            You are correct in saying your insults are not as bad as some others, but they are still insulting to many.

            But I guess you are covered if you do not consider repeated, directed insults as harassment.

          • snoopcat

            Since we don’t have any sacred beliefs, saying we’re trying to get you to “believe like us” is absurd. Our billboards & comments are not intended to harass, intimidate or offend but to educate & enlighten. Our message is simple: THE UNIVERSE IS NOT ENCHANTED. That’s a realization, not a belief.

          • Fred Park

            You either believe in the science that gives you your realization, or you are just making it up as you go.

          • snoopcat

            I trust it, I have confidence in it. The scientific method is the most successful method ever devised for explaining the natural world. Scientific theories can be disproved or modified as Newton’s gravity was modified by Einstein’s relativity or the “Ether” theory was discarded in the 19th century. This flexibility is science’s greatest strength. Not so religion. Mohammed’s hallucinations of messages from God, Joseph Smith & his conversations with the angel Moroni or Moses & the burning bush are not subject to testing. They are accepted in their entirety. They never change & that’s why they are completely imaginary.

            I know what faith is, I was a Catholic for 23 years before I left the church 50 years ago & never looked back. I was strongly influence by my science education & an atheist friend in college. I was having doubts before then though, they just sped it up.

          • snoopcat

            “You either believe in the science that gives you your realization, or you are just making it up as you go.”
            I just re-read you last post & now have a better idea of what you are saying about belief.
            Yes, you can say that I believe in science; It’s not perfect but it’s self correcting.

          • Fred Park

            All them words do is say you believe in your faith in the science of random happenings.

            Remember, that there was a time that some men observed electricity, but because science could not measure it it was deemed supernatural. You can think of many other examples of same such thinking.

            Given the way scientists disagree on scientific guesses you call theory, all you really have is the knowledge that you do not really know much, you just believe in a bunch of guesses.

          • Fred Park

            Please use scientific proof, and not scientific guesses, to prove your statement,” THE UNIVERSE IS NOT ENCHANTED”.

          • snoopcat

            You can’t prove a negative. Suffice to say that there is no evidence for enchantment just as there is no evidence for Popeye living on the dark side of the moon; it is impossible to disprove either.

          • Fred Park

            So you are saying that you believe something you cannot prove because you have faith in the group of scientists education and their guesses. After all, scientific educated guesses are just guesses.

            You said, ” Our message is simple: THE UNIVERSE IS NOT ENCHANTED”.

            Add everything you have said since, your message is something that you only think is true and you do not believe you can prove it.

            I guess you find comfort in that.

          • snoopcat


          • Fred Park

            So, you live by faith in the unseen, just like a person of religion.

            Why is your unseen better than mine?

          • snoopcat

            As far as we know there is no existence outside of the material universe or universes. And since by definition, a non material existence would be unobservable, any speculation about it is imaginary, I.E. God.

            If by “unseen” you mean non material than I don’t believe in it; if you mean material (mass, energy, dark matter, black holes etc) than yes, i do believe in it.

          • Fred Park

            You admit that you cannot see all of the material universe.

            How can you say that God is not part of that material universe, just outside of your present knowledge?

          • snoopcat

            So far,we haven’t seen gods & we honestly don’t expect to see them It looks like they exists only in our minds.If we see one, I’ll let you know.

          • Fred Park

            So, you only have a belief that there is no God.

          • snoopcat

            “So, you only have a belief that there is no God.”

            I said a God is possible but extremely unlikely. There’s nothing about belief in that statement. I have many beliefs, as previously stated.

          • Fred Park

            Is there anything in your acceptance basket that you have never see or felt or experienced that you believe now exists or once existed because you believe in someone else’s testimony that they experienced it?

          • snoopcat

            My wife’s former boyfriends. I trust her.

          • Fred Park

            Do not understand, please expand.

          • snoopcat

            For some reason this post was out of order & I was identified as “guest.” I am placing it in the right place.

            My wife & I have discussed each others’ relationships before we met.
            I trust in her (believe her?). Maybe I don’t understand what you are

          • Fred Park

            faith (feɪθ)


            1. confidence or trust in a person or thing.

            2. belief that is not based on proof.

            3. belief in God or in the doctrines or teachings of religion.

            4. belief in anything, as a code of ethics or standards of merit.

            5. a system of religious belief: the Jewish faith.

            6. the obligation of loyalty or fidelity to a person, promise, engagement, etc.

            7. the observance of this obligation; fidelity to one’s promise, oath, allegiance, etc.


            in faith, in truth; indeed.

            [1200–50; Middle English feith < Anglo-French fed, Old French feid, feit < Latin fidem, acc. of fidēs trust, akin to fīdere to trust


            be•lieve (bɪˈliv)

            v. -lieved, -liev•ing. v.i.

            1. to have confidence in the truth, existence, reliability, or value of something.

            2. to have religious faith.


            3. to have confidence or faith in the truth of: I can't believe that story.

            4. to have confidence in the assertions of (a person).

            5. to hold as an opinion; suppose; think: I believe they are out of town.

            [1150–1200; Middle English bileven, late Old English belȳfan, belēfan]

            be•liev`a•bil′i•ty, be•liev′a•ble•ness, n.

            be•liev′a•ble, adj.

            be•liev′a•bly, adv.


            Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved


            In addition to physical science, I believe in spiritual truths. For now, let us stick to physical science.

            Do you believe that the center of the earth is hot enough to melt rock?

            If so, did you observe it yourself, or do you have faith enough in the people you learned it from?

          • snoopcat

            “Do you believe that the center of the earth is hot enough to melt rock?”
            It depends on both the pressure & temperature. The inner core of the earth is solid.

          • Fred Park

            Have you expersnced it yourself, or are you relying on your faith in someone elses work?

          • snoopcat

            I know the combustion engine in my car propels me down the highway; I know the theory of thermodynamics describes the expansion of the gasses in the cylinders & I have no doubt it also describes the earths internal temperatures. Since no one has ever been down there to see it I guess we are in a sense taking it on faith since that’s what the measurements show. But we could be wrong & we know that we could be wrong.

            You keep trying to weave the word “faith” into the conversion. Suppose I had said that I had faith that the earth’s inner core is liquid, what would that mean? It’s a word with many meanings.
            BTW: the inner core is solid & the outer core is liquid so I would have been partially right.

          • Fred Park

            I did not ask you about your faith in the science, I asked about your faith in the person teaching you the science. There is a big difference.

          • snoopcat

            My knowledge of science & the material world comes from far more than the people who taught me science 55 years ago. In my 73 years of life I have developed cognitive, observational & analytical skills that enable me to judge the validity (not the truth) of information I receive. For instance I reject, out of hand, accounts of visions, miracles, virgin births, deities, alien abductions, paranormal experiences etc. I consider their probabilities to be vanishingly small (but not 0). However, when I read about , for example, the Large Hadron collider & the recent discovery of the so called “God particle” I accept it as valid & true with the understanding that this is “cutting edge” science. On the other hand, String Theory is entirely theoretical, based solely on mathematics. There are no material proofs yet for String Theory & it might not even survive. But it is has strong support for many top scientists & It is fascinating to ponder.
            To answer your question: I have faith that the scientists I learn from are applying the proper scientific principals & analysis to their work & not just “making it up.”

          • Fred Park

            To boil down your answer, you believe what others teach IF that teacher follows your way of doing it.


            Please be open minded when a Christian scientist finds a way to measure God by using your limited accepted ways of measure.

          • snoopcat

            If a Christian scientist finds a way to measure a non material existence I wouldl be very very very skeptical & I doubt he(she) would be able to survive peer review.

          • Fred Park

            History shows that peer reviewers were wrong much of the time and that they were slow accept the new scientific truths.

          • Cthulhu21

            Do you mean in regard to the scientific truths that were considered controversial based on the views of the times they were proposed?

          • snoopcat

            If it works it brings you closer to the workings of the material world. The 19th century ether theory was disproved by the Michelson-Morley experiment so it was discarded. As my college philosophy teacher used to say: science is just “prediction & control.” If it doesn’t explain the observed phenomenon it has to be revised or discarded.

          • Fred Park

            Rejecting out of hand something you do not understand is not the scientific way. By rejecting what others have observed, in a way you do not understand, limits your ability to grow scientifically.

          • snoopcat

            I do not reject anything “out of hand’. In my hierarchy of possibilities I rank the likelihood of a personal, loving, cuddly God very near the bottom, even below “Popeye on the moon.” They’re all possible I guess, but for all practical purposes I don’t concern myself with them.

          • Fred Park

            { In my hierarchy of possibilities I rank …}

            Translated, you reject some scientific evidence because you prejudged it according to your likes and dislikes.

          • snoopcat

            Where do you get “likes & dislikes” from anything I have said in my posts? Go back & read them again.

          • Fred Park

            { When I have determined that something is true, I like it. I feel like I’m playing word games.}

            Well, stop playing with your words and study what you have said. Your truths have to agree with your pre-concluded mind set and so only the things you want to be true is true to you.____Just check out what you have said here.

          • snoopcat

            I think I was unclear with my last post. I should have said that “I feel like I’m playing word games with you. Sorry for the misunderstanding. Maybe the word “truth” is the problem. I don’t like the word in the sense you are using it, I.E. the truths I live by or the truths I believe. I have not seen any evidence for the existence of “absolute truth”

          • Fred Park

            { What do you mean by “pre-concluded” mindset?}

            You have said that you have already made up your mind on some things and your conclusion is the end of the story; as far as you are concerned.

          • snoopcat

            You answer every explanation I make with a trip down another black hole. If your are really interested in what I have to say, reread my posts. All the information is there.

          • snoopcat

            Your right Fred, that’s the way the system works, but it’s the best we’ve got. Your computer is built on a bunch of guesses. It’s a combination of science & technology.

          • snoopcat

            Fred: I really don’t know what you’re talking about. No one has taught me science since I got my Masters degree. Yes, I had faith in those teachers. After that I learned through self study. So what.

          • Guest

            My wife & I have discussed each others’ relationships before we met. I trust in her (believe her?). Maybe I don’t understand what you are asking.

          • snoopcat

            Scientists agree on much more than they disagree and they’re not just guesses, they’re educated guesses. You’re right in a sense that we just believe in a bunch of guesses but there has to be some truth to them because we discard the ones that don’t work & keep the ones that do. The first step to learning about the universe is to realize how little you really know.

          • IvaHadit

            LOL! Oh, you’re serious.

          • Fred Park

            Is the LOL a putdown on my beliefs?

          • Owl Man

            Who and what are the “ya’lls” that you speak of? I’ve never heard of them.

  • charlie Mcadams

    Any thing said by atheist to put forward a point that Christianity is wrong will be conceived by the Christians as an attack. YESCO has to live with the Mormons 12 months a year. Atheist a few days. It s profit and survival they embrace, not honor and integrity.

    • Fred Park

      You must have missed the bill boards by otber Christions telling us we are doing it wrong. If what you say about money were true, the small number of non LDS adds would also be denied. It was not what you wanted to say, it was how you wanted to say it.

      On top of that, your add person was not following the rules of conduct posted by you folks on this very web site. Why are you not saying he was wrong?

  • Fred Park

    { FYI: That’s freedom OF religion.}


    From my point of view, as part of a government body _Freedom OF Religion_ means that we can bring our religious views and mannerisms into a public meeting, being mindful to rotate between the differences. (Atheistist being classified as a belief with customs)_Freedom FROM Religion_ is where we cannot rotate among beliefs and customs and just follow the customs of one very intolerant, selfish group.

  • Xavier_Ninnis

    I guess I’m just easy to please, I find them all superb.

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