Billboard aimed at recruiting atheists; Local pastor encourages debate

Billboard to be placed on SR-94 near College Ave.

SAN DIEGO -  

A billboard to be erected Thursday is expected to spark debate by encouraging motorists to consider atheism.
 
The billboard, sponsored by the San Diego Coalition of Reason, reads, "Atheism: A personal relationship with reality." The billboard is supposed to go up along eastbound state Route 94 near the College Avenue exit. According to Caltrans, about 126,000 people drive in the area every day.
 
Coalition Coordinator Debbie Allen, an atheist, told 10News the billboard is a message for non-believers.
 
"Let them know that there are groups where they might want to be active," she said.
 
Allen said she calls the group members "humanists" and they don't believe there are any gods.
 
"I would say that humanism is about being good without God," Allen added.
 
10News showed the billboard to Pastor Chris Clark of the East Clairemont Southern Baptist Church. He said he welcomed a healthy debate.
 
"I don't know that they're picking a fight necessarily. I think they're trying to get their message out," said Clark.
 
10News asked Allen if they were looking for a fight.
 
"We don't necessarily want to pick a fight, but we're ready if one is coming," Allen said after a long pause.
 
Clark said he supports the group's freedom of speech. He just wants to make sure there's no pushback if his church wants a billboard recruiting believers.
 
"All I'm asking for is equal access. Don't get upset when there's a nativity scene on the public square," said Clark.
 
Allen disagreed, and she said there must be separation of church and state and the billboard's message isn't for a church.
 
"The pastor that you spoke to is a non-theist, a non-believer when it comes to every other god but his own. We just go one god further," argued Allen.
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