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File:Deface atheist billboard about slaves.jpg

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Latest revision as of 14:06, 7 March 2012

Details: http://www.abc27.com/story/17098143/controversial-atheist-billbaord-partially-torn-down

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) -

A controversial billboard in Harrisburg was partially torn down overnight and has since been replaced with a new advertisement.

The billboard showed an African American man with a slave yoke around his neck below a loosely quoted Bible passage of "Slaves, Obey Your Masters."

American Atheists, Inc. and Pa. Non-Believers sponsored the billboard to protest a resolution in the state House of Representatives that designated 2012 as the "Year of the Bible."

Most of the billboard was ripped away during the night and was then replaced with a new advertisement at around 6:30 Wednesday morning, less than 24 hours after it went up at 13th and Paxton streets.

Andy Rebuck of Lamar Advertising told abc27 News the billboard depicting the slave will not be going back up because of the controversy over it. He said the company felt the billboard was relevant because it addressed a current event and thought it would spark conversation, but not outrage.

State Rep. Thaddeus Kirkland was among those who expressed outrage over the billboard. Kirkland, a supporter of the Bible resolution, called the image "racist" and a "false representation of the Bible."

Many Harrisburg residents were happy to see the image gone.

"I believe it was justice," said Linda Singh of the billboard's destruction. "If the atheists have $1,200 to spend to put up that garbage up for a month, I think it was justified that it came down the way that it did."

"I came up here to handle this," Norman White said of the billboard. "Thank God, it's already done."

In a statement on the PA Nonbelievers' website, president Brian Fields said he is sorry that many people "misunderstood" the billboard." He said it was never the group's intention to use race as its message.

A spokesman for American Atheists said the group has received death threats because of the billboard. He said the group did not immediately decide if it would pursue another billboard in the city.

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