: 01/27/2012 9:55 PM KSTP.com
By: Naomi Pescovitz
For decades, babies have appeared on billboards across Minnesota touting an anti-abortion message. This week, new billboards are popping up, showing images of babies while promoting Atheism.
Put up by the group Minnesota Atheists, one of the billboards is at 725 Washington Ave. N. in the Warehouse District in Minneapolis. The other near the intersection of University Ave. and Lexington Ave. in St. Paul.
"There are billboards around the Twin Cities already that have a baby on them that have a rather religious message and we just wanted to get the double take effect," said George Kane, Board Chair of Minnesota Atheists.
The billboard in Minneapolis reads: "Please don't indoctrinate me with religion. Teach me to think for myself."
The billboard in St. Paul reads: "We are all born without belief in gods. Learn how to be a born-again atheist."
Both show a baby on the right side of the sign.
"Our audience is people who already have reached the atheist conclusion and to make them aware, there are local groups," Kane said.
Pastor Robert Benke of Jehovah Lutheran Church in St. Paul questioned the placement of the St. Paul sign. Several religious centers are nearby.
"It's a convergence of many different backgrounds and religions, people who are learning and working together in this community," Benke said.
Kane said the choice of placement was based on visibility.
"I would encourage them to celebrate the gift of life and not to denigrate those first moments," said Pastor Robert Benke of Jehovah Lutheran Church.
At the Church of St. Peter Claver in St. Paul, Pastor Kevin McDonough said he was not bothered by the signs.
"We believe that people are actually born with a natural desire to connect to a higher power. So the billboards are wrong, but if they stimulate some thinking, certainly no harm in that," McDonough said.
The billboards will be up until February 19th. The total cost was $3 thousand, paid for through donations and the national organization, American Atheists.
The American Atheists say they are hoping to use the billboards to encourage people to attend a "Reason Rally" in Washington D.C. on March 24.