A billboard featuring a cheerful student saying, “I can be good without God,” was too much for the delicate sensibilities of the Rev. Waymon Malone, pastor of Christ Cathedral Church in Columbus, Ohio. Late last week, Malone insisted that a local billboard company remove the message from a billboard inadvertently placed on church-owned land.
The billboard was subsequently relocated.
I have to say I am disappointed with the reaction of Rev. Malone for at least two reasons. First, as a Christian, I believe my worldview is true. As such, my view can compete in the market place of ideas and withstand scrutiny and examination. From my perspective, Atheists can advertise all they want.
But secondly, and I think more importantly, if the billboard is located on church property, they receive revenue (rent) from Clear Channel, the owner of the billboard. Unless it is a condition of the rental agreement that the church has the right to disapprove content, they should have no right to make demands that the FFRF message be removed.
Clear Channel (CC) has a right to make money from their advertising. FFRF paid a fee to CC in return to have their message displayed on the sign. Of course their message is by nature offensive (I use that term loosely. Christians have a tendency to be too thin-skinned) to Christians, but that is irrelevant.
Business is business. The church likely has no qualms making that deposit each month. I believe once the church decides to rent to an advertiser, they have no say in how that advertiser runs their business, just as the landlord of the church building (if the church does not own outright the land and building) has no say as to what gets preached from the pulpit.
FFRF should have stood their ground. Rev. Malone should be a bit more thick-skinned, and teach his flock to be as well. If Rev. Malone is afraid of losing members to atheism because of a billboard, it is a poor reflection on the strength of his message; and is evidence he has not prepared his flock to counter the objections of the Atheist movement.