Pastor responds to controversial billboard

LEXINGTON,Ky - A new billboard along New Circle Road continues to cause controversy.

The people who put it up describe it as a "Godless" billboard on their website. Its been getting a lot of reaction but one Lexington pastor says people calling for the sign to be taken down should instead be reaching out to the people it's targeting.

The billboard reads "Don't believe in God? Join the club." It's an invitation that has drivers doing a double take. Viewers left almost a thousand comments about the billboard on WKYT's Facebook page, many of them calling for the sign to come down. But the associate pastor at Anchor Baptist Church in Lexington says that's the wrong approach.

"When I think of how Jesus would confront something like this, I don't think he would try to tear it down, I think he would try to love the people with a differing opinion or view," said Dr. Carl Peters.

The sign was put up by the Bluegrass Coalition of Reason and includes a link to their website at BluegrassCoR.org. The site is a gathering point for non-believers and includes details of an upcoming event, the Kentucky Freethought Convention. One of the speakers at that event says the billboard isn't meant to offend, but to include.

"The billboard is not attacking anyone's belief, it's just saying 'Hey, there are lots of people out there who aren't religious, if you're one of those people maybe this is a club for you,'" said Dr. Wes Gervais, an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Kentucky.

Gervais has done studies on the perception of atheists by believers. He says it's common for people to have a distrust of atheists.

"They think if you don't have religious beliefs, where is your moral compass coming from, what's keeping you honest? Most people are raised to follow the same sorts of prosocial norms as everyone else," Gervais said.

Pastor Peters says that morality has a divine origin. "Survival of the fittest would not dictate that humans would love and care for each other and live self sacrificially, this comes from somewhere."

As that convention approaches thousands of atheists and believers will continue to drive past that looming question.

"Churches all the time advertise 'Come hang out with like minded people,' so it's odd that it's controversial if it's non believers doing the exact same thing," said Gervais.

"People, if they're going to be reasonable, will need to look at things from all angles, if you're going to consider a godless universe then I think it makes sense to look at the other side of the coin," said Peters.

The Kentucky Freethought Convention is October 6th, that's the same weekend the billboard is scheduled to come down.


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