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An atheist billboard campaign in Poland has compared believed in God to killing and stealing, in what observers call an open challenge to the Roman Catholic Church.
"In a country considered to be Catholic, it's very hard to be an atheist. Contrary to popular belief, however, there are many of us although not all of us have let our beliefs be known. The billboard action is not aimed at believers. It is to show people that in a country where the stereotypical Pole is a Catholic there is a large group of atheists," Jacek Tabisz, President of the Polish Association of Rationalists, explained to The Scotsman
Over 80 percent of the Polish country identify as Catholic, and the popular Pope John Paul II, who served as leader of the Roman Catholic Church from 1978 until 2005, was a Pole who often talked about and praised his roots.
The controversial billboards have been put up in several Polish cities, and feature three boxes labeled "Do Not Kill," "Do Not Steal," "Do Not Believe," with tick marks next to each one – the first two taken from the Ten Commandments. Another, more mellow billboard asks the question "Don't believe in God," following it by "You are not alone."
"The billboard action is not aimed at believers," Tabisz added. "It is to show people that in a country where the stereotypical Pole is a Catholic there is a large group of atheists."
The Scotsman reported that the billboards coincide with the Palikot Movement, the third largest party in Poland, which has been calling for an end to religious teachings in public schools, arguing that it conflicts with the Polish constitution that ensures the equality of all faiths.
The Polish government is technically secular, and last month received complaints from the Roman Catholic Church after it approved state funding for in-vitro fertilization programs, which go against Catholic teachings.