Remember the Atheist Bus campaign I spent a few posts discussing (and twisting to my own childish ends) at the start of the year? One of the major bones of contention was whether "There's Probably No God: Now Go Out And Enjoy Your Life" was too strong a phrase (it should surprise no-one to learn I thought it wasn't, though other phrases were suggested that might well have worked better).
Well, compare that message to the one being used in Des Moines: "Don't Believe In God? You Are Not Alone." Well, I say "being used", they've already been taken down after a storm of complaints. Iowa Governor Culver approves, saying "I was disturbed, personally, by the advertisement and I can understand why other Iowans were also disturbed by the message that it sent." He also claimed to be "offended".
Disturbed by the message? Offended? This is the democratically elected Governor of the State of Iowa, and he's offended to learn that atheists might want to remind each other they're not on their own out there.
Apparently the ads are going to go back up again, which is good news. My point here is two-fold, though. One, there is apparently no atheist message (and this one is about as obvious an attempt to help out other atheists as possible, bypassing the already very weak argument that such ads are aimed at Christians themselves) non-confrontational enough to avoid people complaining that it's disturbing and/or offensive. Two, whilst Des Moines is not London, the questions raised previously about why atheism would need to advertise are answered pretty quickly here. If people live in a society where being reminded that atheists exist constitutes an offensive message, atheists need all the reassurance they can get.