Two Billboards Go Up in Kansas!
Topekans Asked to Imagine No Religion"
This billboard is going up this week in Topeka This billboard just went up in Wichita (photo: Doug Ittner, Kansas) A 14x48-foot billboard bearing Charles Darwin's iconic image and the words "Praise Darwin: Evolve Beyond Belief" went up yesterday on W. 21st and Tyler Rd. in Wichita, Kansas. The billboard marks both the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, and the 150th anniversary this year of the release of Darwin's landmark work on evolution, Origin of Species. Another14x48-foot billboard, emblazoned with a John Lennonesque message, "Imagine No Religion," with a stained-glass window backdrop, is going up for one month at 600 North Topeka Bridge in Topeka, Kansas. Both billboards are part of a national educational campaign sponsored by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics), which works to keep church and state separate. The state/church watchdog has 13,600 members, and more than 130 in Kansas. The Foundation has placed billboards in about 15 states and more than 25 cities since launching its campaign in late 2007. The Topeka and Wichita leases, both with Lamar Outdoor, mark the Foundation's first billboard forway in the state of Kansas. "We are pleased to take our messages, via billboards, to Kansas, which, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was actually a hotbed of freethought and progressive activism," noted Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president. "We particularly wanted to place our Darwin billboard in Kansas, given the continuing struggles to keep creationism out of public schools," said Foundation co-president Dan Barker. "Those of us who are nonreligious are the fastest-growing segment of the American population," said Barker, author of Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist and the newly released Godless. "The newest American Religious Identification Survey shows that the nonreligious are at least 15% of the U.S. adult population. And that includes people in Topeka and Wichita. We want them to know they are not alone," Barker said. The ARIS survey shows that 11% of Kansas adult citizens identify as nonreligious, slightly lower than the national average of 15%. "We want to encourage everyone to think what our world could be like, if we did not have religion dividing us. More people have been killed in the name of religion than for any other reason," said Gaylor. "Like John Lennon, I've found that nature and reality are enough for me. I also like to imagine no religion, no hell below us, above us only sky. The only afterlife that should concern us is a secure and pleasant future for our descendants." The Foundation has four different messages on billboards, also including "Beware of Dogma," and "Keep Religion OUT of Politics." It is also launching bus signs. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., is a national association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics) that has been working since 1978 to keep church and state separate.