"Imagine No Religion" billboard
(2012.10.18: This is an update of a post from a few years back. I've made a slight improvement to my ideal billboard image at the end, though I'd love to see far better versions by actual artists!)
I appreciate the intent behind the Freedom from Religion Foundation's "Imagine No Religion" billboard. It counters the inane "God" billboards littering US highways, reminding people that we atheists are here and we're not going to keep quiet any more.
May I toss in my reservations from the peanut gallery, though? Although faith, nor always religion per se, is the true enemy here, I agree that "Imagine No Belief Not Based on Evidence" would really make for a lousy sign. "Imagine No Religion" is pithy and recognizable. Let's go with it!
But then there's the design. Beautiful medieval calligraphy on eye-catching stained glass... Those are artistic associations with religion that are harmless, and per my minor complaint above, are precisely the sort of benign thing we don't want lumped into the "religion" we criticize. Obviously, no one's going to mistake the sign for a campaign against artful glasswork, but on a subconscious level might it not feed thoughts of "atheists hate what's good and beautiful in religion"? Irrational thoughts those would be, yes, but we are looking to target irrational thinkers...
How about pairing the message with a visual reminder of the ugly side of religion? Maybe something like this (but by an actual competent designer, of course):
Just an idea.