A "stained glass" billboard bearing the message, "Imagine No Religion," will go up for two months this summer at West 14th Avenue and Fox Street, six blocks from the State Capitol in downtown Denver.
The Foundation, the nation's largest membership association for freethinkers (atheists and agnostics), which is also a state/church separation watchdog, is taking its irreverent message to what it calls the "unmassed masses" state-by-state. The billboard carries the Freedom From Religion Foundation's name and its website, ffrf.org.
"Our goal is to place a freethinking billboard at every state capitol," says Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president. The Foundation has already hit the capital cities of Madison, Wis., Atlanta, Ga., and will be placing a billboard at Harrisburg, Pa., in September. Billboards have appeared in Ohio and one will go up in Seattle later this month. The Foundation is working on billboard placement in a variety of other states. A second Foundation billboard message, with the same stained-glass motif, warns: "Beware of Dogma.
The Foundation has been active over the years in Denver, working with attorney Robert R. Tiernan.
Tiernan is the attorney in the Foundation's newest Colorado lawsuit, filed in federal court last fall over the promotion of student church-going by the Cherry Creek school district. The Foundation and Tiernan, via lawsuits, halted official city sponsorship of a prayer breakfast hosted by the Denver mayor's office, halted city subsidy of the Red Rocks Easter prayers in 1999 (the Foundation got the city to start charging rent for the use of the amphitheatre), and removed religious wording and images from a memorial honoring the pope's visit at Cherry Creek State Park. The Foundation and Tiernan also litigated a Ten Commandments marker at the Capitol grounds, among other legal actions in the Denver area.
"So far, this is the furthest west one of our billboard messages has been and we're delighted to take our freethinking message to Denver," said Dan Barker, Foundation co-president. The billboard was erected with help from several area members.
"We want the public to reflect on the billboard's message and imagine a world without the rancor and divisiveness of 2,000 different religions," said Tiernan.
Local member Mike Smith comments: “Imagine if the government would be neutral and let individuals reach their own conclusions about religion. Perhaps then, in the words of John Lennon, the world could ‘live as one.’ ”