Billboards Test The Faith Of Area Residents

Atheist billboards meant to encourage thinking, now creating a stir

They are hard to miss, and they’re creating quite the stir across the Sioux Empire. More than 20 billboards say things like “praying doesn’t work,” and “God didn’t create man.” The man behind the atheist boards has one simple goal, to get people to think about religion a little differently.

“Why are so many believers full of hatred for others? Why are so many believers intolerant of others’ beliefs?”

Those are just two questions, founder of Sioux Falls Atheists and Sioux Falls Free Thinkers, Dale Hemming, hopes travelers will ponder the next time they come to a stop along Minnesota Avenue.

“There’s six static billboards on Minnesota. You’ll see them going north and you’ll see them going south,” said Hemming.

One reads, “Are you good without God?” another asks “Why are so many believers so full of hate for others?” Hemming knows it’s a bold message, and he intended for it to be that way.

“I really want people to start and think about this stuff,” he said, “just parroting what you’ve been taught as a child is not a very good way to go through life. You have to go beyond what you were told at six-years-old.”

But not everyone agrees.

“With Catholicism it’s really hardcore, so if you believe in anything else it’s kind of like going to hell,” said Sioux Falls resident, Sarah Lueders.

Former Pastor, Randy Stewart says that if the tables were turned this would be a different story.

“Freedom of speech he has the right to say it, but if we tried to take the opposing view, I suspect that he and his organization would do everything they could to try and repress it.”

Hemming knows that people won’t agree, and most won’t likely change their beliefs, but it’s a way of thinking he wants people to consider.

“I want to raise awareness of the kinds of things, I think, people should be aware of.”

The billboards will be up for six weeks across the area, and there are more to come. Hemming is adding more along 12th Street in Sioux Falls in about two weeks.