"Atheist Pirates:" Clearing Illegal Religious Signage from Public Life

Los Angeles County sees a new brand of pirates clearing out religious signage posted in public places. Atheist Street Pirates, a sub-group of Atheists United, a Los Angeles-based atheist group, has removed religious signs from streets and overpasses.

Atheist Street Pirates’ goal is to keep an eye out and track illegally placed religious signs in public places, including utility poles and overpasses around Los Angeles. The group wants to “empower people to express secular values and promote separation of government and religion.”

The group respects billboards and signage within church properties, calling it an excellent example of the separation of church and state. However, religious signs and posters on public structures and places are something that they take issue with.

Evan Clark, a member of the Atheist Street Pirate and the executive director for Atheists United, said he understands that people “put a lot of passion behind these signs and their messages.” “I don’t like to be confrontational about any of that. I just wanted to do this as a casual thing to keep our streets secular,” Clark added.

The Street Pirates began as a joke at an Atheists United meeting when members complained about religious signage all over the city. The idea started as a “religious rubbish removal,” which eventually became the Atheist Street Pirates.

On their website, the pirates declared that “religious scallywags” are littering “highways, streets, and neighborhoods with unwelcome and illegal street propaganda.”

“The Atheist Street Pirates have set sail to scuttle their efforts,” the group’s page declares.

The group has been active since 2021 and has tracked more than 70 signs across LA County on their Google Map database. The group maintains an online inventory with photos and locations of the signage they encountered. Some of the signs were successfully taken down by the group.

The 33-year old clarified that the group’s goal is not to engage in an “arms race over religious signage.” Clark said that the Pirate’s goal is “to reinforce our commitment to a secular society.”

Michael Comeaux, public information officer of the California Department of Transportation, said signs and banners are not allowed on California state highway bridges, fences, and poles. “Such signs and banners could be a distraction to drivers, which would raise a safety concern,” Comeaux said.

Clark also said that if ever his team encountered atheist signage in a public place, his team would take it down as well. “It would be hypocritical not to,” he said.

If you like our posts, subscribe to the Atheist Republic newsletter to get exclusive content delivered weekly to your inbox. Also, get the book "Why There is No God" for free.

Click Here to Subscribe

Donating = Loving

Heart Icon

Bringing you atheist articles and building active godless communities takes hundreds of hours and resources each month. If you find any joy or stimulation at Atheist Republic, please consider becoming a Supporting Member with a recurring monthly donation of your choosing, between a cup of tea and a good dinner.

Or make a one-time donation in any amount.