July 4, 2011 ( – An atheist organization that sought to celebrate Independence Day by flying banners promoting atheism all across the United States nearly ran into a major snag – most of the pilots working for the advertizing company refused to fly the banners.

USA Today reports that 4 out of 5 pilots working for Fly Signs Aerial Advertising refused to participate in the campaign, which involved banners saying, “God-less America,” and “Atheism is patriotic.”

Only 17 of the company’s 85 pilots agreed to participate.


USA Today quotes one of the pilots, Red Calvert, saying, “I respect our country and I respect our churches and we’ve got enough problems in our country without stirring up some more. If those people want to do something they believe in, fine, just don’t include me.”

The $23,000 campaign is a project of the group American Atheists.

Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, said the pilots’ refusal stems from Americans’ “bigotry.” “This is a clear reminder of why we need to keep fighting because the bigotry against us is so thick that a lot of the pilots are afraid to fly our banners,” he said, according to CNN.

Another atheist organization, the American Humanist Association, is also making use of the July 4 weekend to promote their non-belief.

The organization sent out 15,000 pins in June to promote their slogan, “You can be good without God,” according to USA Today.

“We value the principles that our nation was founded on, which includes freedom of—and from – religion,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director.

“The 4th of July presents ample opportunity for all non-theist Americans to ‘come out of the closet’ and openly identify as such.”