The “One and Only God of the Internet,” a comedian who has launched a project to place “God Loves Gays” billboards in hot spots around the country, has announced a decision to place a billboard in Salt Lake City, Utah, and has been denied by the two largest outdoor advertising companies in the valley: Reagan Outdoor and Young Electric Sign Company.
Earlier this year, “God” announced plans to place a billboard in Topeka, KS, home of Fred Phelps’ Westboro Baptist Church. A fundraising effort was launched on Indiegogo, an internet-based crowdsourcing platform.
The response was so overwhelming that God moved forward with other plans. Over $30,000 has been raised and donated to The Trevor Project, Planting for Peace, and the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Additional money was raised to buy bus ads in Topeka. The decision was then made to start raising funds for billboards in other locations.
Mark Lawrence of Restore Our Humanity, the group that initiated the Kitchen v. Herbert lawsuit for marriage equality in Utah, contacted God and suggested Salt Lake City as the next possible billboard site. God agreed and set a $20,000 fundraising goal to make it happen. As off press time, less than $8,000 is needed to achieve that goal.
Lawrence undertook the project to find the best possible location for the billboard, but when he contacted Young Electric Sign Company and Reagan Outdoor Advertising he was told that they would not sell him the billboard space for the project. This reporter contacted both companies for comment. Reagan did not return calls. Jeff Young, Chief Marketing Officer of YESCO, provided the following statement:
“YESCO evaluates all requests for advertising placement to make the best decision for our clients, our company and the communities in which we operate. We balance that with a strong commitment to adhere to community standards and to ensure that the messages placed are not offensive towards any business, group or individual.”
A follow-up email asking what was deemed to be potentially offensive, and to whom, remains unanswered as of press time.
This isn’t the first time that Reagan and YESCO have denied billboards. Earlier this year the American Atheists attempted to purchase boards to advertise their national convention, held in Salt Lake City in April. Both Reagan and YESCO denied the signs, with YESCO issuing a very similar canned statement.
American Atheists Public Relations Director Dave Muscato commented: “Atheists exist, and that’s true and will continue to be true whether Mormons like it or not. We’re not bad people and pretending that we don’t exist or denying us services because we use the “A”-word is not only discriminatory but it shows just how much they fear people finding out that the lies they tell us about us aren’t true. Indoctrination requires isolation from information, and it really says a lot about the Christian mindset that they feel they have to demonize us and silence us—it says that they’re afraid of finding out they’re wrong, and that’s a very important message.”
When asked for his comment on the denial, God added: “So the idea that God loves gay people is offensive to them? So they are saying that Mormons believe that God hates gay people? Isn’t that infinitely MORE offensive?”
The crowdfunding project for the billboard can be found at bit.ly/godbillboard.