Prop 8 Vote Inspires Billboard Campaign in San Francisco
The Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation has taken its national billboard campaign to San Francisco, posting colorful "Imagine No Religion" billboards employing a stained-glass window motif, at three downtown locations: Broadway by Polk, Van Ness by Pacific and 9th by Folsom.
"We're taking our liberating message of freedom from religious dogma in government to show solidarity with people who have now had a taste of the power of religion as a repressive force," said Foundation Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.
The Foundation is a state/church separation watchdog with more than 13,000 nonreligious members nationwide and more than 2,000 in California.
"Without religion, Prop 8 would not have passed. It is a fact that organized religion was responsible for revoking marriage equality in California. Proposition 8 was conceived by the megachurches and church leaders, bankrolled by donors from denominations such as the Mormons and religious-right groups, and vociferously promoted from the pulpits of Roman Catholic, fundamentalist Protestant and Mormon churches," added Gaylor.
Gaylor noted that Rev. Rick Warren alone, claiming a 22,000-membership enrollment at Saddleback Church, had the ear of tens of thousands of voters when he counseled them via his tax-exempt megachurch that marriage equality is an ungodly sin. In some instances, voters were even forced to vote at church polling places where church marquees chimed in for Prop 8, Gaylor added.
"Those of us who are free from religion like to imagine a world where instead of wasting our best efforts on some unprovable afterlife, we humans could concentrate on leaving this world a better place for future generations. We should strive for 'heaven' here on earth," noted Dan Barker Foundation Co-President and author of the new book, Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists.
The Foundation launched a national billboard campaign a year ago, taking its religion-free message state-by-state, so far reaching about 13 states. In November, its billboard in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., was removed after less than a week, allegedly at the suggestion of officials of the City of Rancho Cucamonga. The Foundation filed a federal lawsuit against city officials there in November alleging intent to censor and officious interference.
The Foundation currently has 10 billboards posted in Portland, also saying "Imagine No Religion," one billboard up in Canton, Ohio, and another up in San Antonio. It will sponsor a mobile billboard in red, white and blue, advising "Keep Religion OUT of Politics," on Inauguration Day in Washington, D.C.
The Foundation is part of Michael Newdow's newest federal lawsuit challenging religious ritual and prayer by clergy at the Presidential Inauguration, which, among other defendants, names Rev. Rick Warren, and was filed in federal court last week in the District of Columbia.
The Foundation was in the news in the Pacific Northwest late last year, after Fox TV commentator Bill O'Reilly condemned its Winter Solstice message erected in the Washington State Capitol.