Group Celebrates Black Atheists With Controversial Billboard

alix  langston Group Celebrates Black Atheists With Controversial Billboard

A controversial billboard celebrating black atheists set to go up in Oak Cliff on Feb. 6, 2012. (Credit: DFW Coalition of Reason)

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – It hasn’t even gone up yet, but a billboard set to appear in Oak Cliff Monday is already causing a stir.

It’s one of several popping up around the country during Black History Month.

The ad campaign, sponsored by the atheist groups African Americans for Humanism and the DFW Coalition of Reason, focuses on historic figures and modern day individuals who have questioned religion.

“I was at church twice a week, three times a week sometimes,” said Alix Jules, the diversity director for DFW COR, who’s featured on the local billboard.

Growing up in an African American community, Jules says he was immersed in the church, but by high school he began to have his doubts.

“As I was pulling away from the church, my family was ‘OK, so you kind of call yourself a doubter’ … But as soon as I used the word ‘atheist’, that was it.”

Jules says his family cut him off.
 He now hopes his billboard will help other black skeptics know they’re not alone.

Area pastors, though, are upset the billboard will appear in south Oak Cliff, along Interstate 35 and Illinois Avenue, within a mile of about a dozen black churches.

“It’s a direct confrontation to the church. Absolutely,” said Pastor Kyev Tatum.

Tatum faced off against the DFW COR just over a year ago, calling for a boycott of Fort Worth busses displaying the group’s ad slogan, “Good Without God.”

This time, he’s taking a much different approach.

“We want people to just ignore the billboard signs. We’re asking people and pastors not to get excited about the billboard signs,” said Rev. Tatum. “They’re trying to get people to be members of their organization and the way they think – and I think we are giving them too much attention.”

Earlier this week, Tatum criticized the Coalition of Reason in an article published in the Dallas Observer. He claimed they were more about words than actions.

“We have a garden … that has about two, three thousand pounds of greens that need picking to give to the poor folk,” he was quoted as saying.

Well, Sunday afternoon, the group showed up at the pastor’s church in south Fort Worth to help him out. With an iPhone, they shared footage of members picking turnip greens that will donated to area food banks.

“I gave … Rev. Tatum a call and said, ‘I hear you have some greens that need picking. I’m on my way,” said Zach Moore, spokesman for the Coalition of Reason. “He was kind of shocked and surprised that we were coming out. But he was encouraged by that; he felt really good about us making that gesture.

atheists need god too Group Celebrates Black Atheists With Controversial Billboard

Rev. Kyev Tatum, left, stands with atheist and head of DFW Coalition of Reason Zach Moore. Moore volunteered to help Tatum pick turnip greens to donate to a local food bank. (Credit: Rev. Kyev Tatum)

Tatum emailed CBS 11 a photo of himself side-by-side with Moore. He also joked about the vegetables, writing “the devil might have picked it, but the good lord sent it.” He also titled the photo “Atheists need God too.jpg.”

The pastor also noted that he wants to take advantage of the opportunity to reach out to coalition members and bring them back to God.

“I think they’re crying out,” he said.

Jules, meanwhile, believes the billboard has already succeeded.

“The goal of the campaign is to increase public discourse, especially in the African American community, get them talking about it.”

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  • Freedom of Speech

    If you don’t like the billboard, then don’t look at it. Americans will no longer be subjugated to religious oppression. Religion is nothing but man’s interpretation of what HE believes god wants.

  • There is No God

    Growing up in a Baptist church I was bullied by the church, friends, and family to become born again. When I refused they all looked at me like I was some evil outcast. As I researched many of my born again family and friends they have and some still do live immoral and questionable lives. Yet I’m told over and over that no matter how good and moral I am I will be cast in hell for not believing. So I think I’ll continue to live my life as a good and moral person. If there is an afterlife I don’t want to be in the company of a bunch of hypocrites.

    • autonomous

      One can only hope for Mr. Jules’s sake and safety that (unlike the recent mob scene in Athens, TX.) reason will prevail in this particular instance. I suspect, however, that members of the hypocritical and prejudiced majority will not be able to practice what they so fervently preach. The odds are that instead of tolerating, peacefully ignoring the billboard and looking the other way, they will show up in droves to protest with negative opposition and zealous fanfare. It has come to my realization over the years, how unutterably hopeless and miserable life can be for free-thinking people trapped within a culture defined by a pre-scientific, two-faced mindset of irrational bigotry and superstition.


    I wonder what it is they “celebrate” exactly? You think they’d spend the money helping people in need, rather than a billboard.

    It’s also too bad people “think” they are good moral people. There’s no such thing. The commandments say “Do not lie” (how many times in your life have you broke that?) “honor your mother and father” (broke that one every day in my teens) “Do not steal” (every taken anything, down load music, ect?) Jesus also said if you look it lust you commited adultry, or hate someone you commited murder. (Who hasn’t done that?)

    The bible does not say people “Go to hell” for “unbelief.” Because God is good, He will punish rapist and murders, and that makes sense. But He’s also going to punish liars and theives, and adulters. This is one the thing on the conscience. No one can stand before God and say “I just didn’t know it was wrong to lie and steal.” This is the message that is hated, and one one is passive toward it. That is why the world hates Christians above all other religions. All other religions teach you be good and moral, then your fine because you earn heaven. God’s law says you can’t.

    • cbyr

      The bible doesn’t say people go to hell for unbelief? Have you *read* it?

      The few NT passages about “hell,” “eternal judgment,” “punishment,” etc. do clearly link unbelief as the core of rejecting God, hence being cast off in today’s fundamentalist mythology of hell.

      “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (John 3:18—just two verses past the much more popular John 3:16), have you never seen all the money that churches spend on billboards—and television commercials (usually local networks)—and extravagant buildings?

      Check out the 2×4 in your eye before you worry about a little sawdust in someone else’s.

      FTR, I grew up fundamentalist—devout, diligent, evangelistic. I read the entire Bible all the way during middle school and senior high, plus lots more studying for some preaching I did starting in senior high, continuing into my 20’s, and into a different perspective even into my 30’s.

      The one thing I learned from trying to carry on informed discussions of scripture during those days: far too many Christians in the churches I participated in evidently don’t know their Bibles very well at all.

      Just as you didn’t seem to know John 3:18.

    • Real CHristia

      That’s a great cherry pick of the Bible. Very NON-Christianly. There is only one way to heaven and your way is not it. You are an unbeliever! You are what’s wrong with the church. You WEAKEN us.

      • altha

        Real C Hristia, I can’t believe you SO-CALL Christian don’t know Heaven and Hell is right here on EARTH, Those Two guys Kyev Tatum/Zach Moore are hypocrites and they are corrupt, this is why they are in the Black neighborhood. Don’t forget Jim Jones and what he did to blacks, how many did he killed? those guys going to take every dime fom those black people.

  • John

    So the pastor challenges atheists to pick greens for the poor. Some atheists take him up on it. And in return he calls them “the devil”.

    What a creep.

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  • Joshua Sherman

    John, haven’t you heard? Xianity cornered the market on good deeds.

    NeedGoddotcom, we celebrate life! We celebrate the secular beauty of the world because we *are of the world. We volunteer at foodbanks (NTFB to name one), we raise money for and work summer camp. Need I mention more?
    Oh, and if you don’t want us spending money on billboards for awareness then tell KLTY and the “I am second” campaign to halt their adverts.

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  • Upyours Christians

    Christians are bullies and cannot stand when their zombie god is questioned. Keep christ in christmas? No. Keep christ in halloween where zombies belong. Want to test a christians faith? Have them pray for a donut. Long live the flying spaghetti monster..the one true fake god. :)

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  • LaVerda

    I can only agree with Pastor Tatum when he said that he thinks that Atheists are “reaching out” – only we are not reaching out to find God. We are reaching out to others who are like minded to let them know that they are not alone and have nothing to be ashamed of. I refuse to comment on anything else that Pastor Tatum has said, as I do not wish to match insult with insult.

  • James

    Oh waah waah wah. Free speeech is apparently only OK if the “majority” agrees with it. Waah waah I can’t convert people at gunpoint like they do in the middle east wah wah someone thinks differently than me and that assaults my world view so I must react with hostility wah wah. This could go on forever.

    Religion is everything that is wrong with man kind, regardless of color.

  • Rieux

    It should be noted that the AAH/DFWCR billboards are simply beautifully designed ads in and of themselves. As a quick check around the blogosphere will show you, atheists who live in other parts of the country and/or are members of other freethought groups (such as me) are envious of these billboards.

    Very well done, AAH and DFWCR. You rock.

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