American Atheists and Adams Outdoor Advertising are removing two Charlotte billboards slamming Christianity and Mormonism after the national atheists’ group said it received an outpouring of public anger and threats.
The billboards, targeting the faiths of President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, went up about two weeks ago on Wilkinson Boulevard and the Brookshire Freeway. They were supposed to be present for the duration of the national conventions, though the billboards were in Charlotte only, and not in Tampa, Fla.
Amanda Knief, the managing director of American Atheists, said a report from Fox News about the billboards Wednesday incited a national outpouring of “vitriol, threats and hate speech against our staff, volunteers and Adams Outdoor Advertising.”
Knief said if Adams had not been involved, American Atheists would have kept the billboards in place.
“It was a mutual decision between us and Adams Advertising for the safety and interests of both organizations that the billboards come down,” Knief said.
Knief declined to describe the extent of the threats against the atheist organization, based in Cranford, N.J., but said the Cranford Police Department had been contacted because of them.
The general manager of Adams Outdoor Advertising’s Charlotte branch, Kevin Madrzykowski, did not return phone calls Friday.
But the company issued a statement on its website saying it “stands behind our position that the ability to express one’s opinion is a right and a privilege of our democratic society. However, due to the public response to the messaging, the American Atheists have agreed to remove the advertising copy in question in Charlotte.”