Secularists Take Message to Both Parties
Two months after posting an "Imagine No Religion" billboard in Denver at West 14th Avenue and Fox Street, the Freedom From Religion Foundation and its local membership have replaced that sign with a timely new message:
"Keep religion OUT of politics."
The Foundation originally had sought to place a billboard to coincide with the Democratic National Convention Aug. 25-28, but couldn't afford the heftier charge. Generous individual donors came forward to foot the bill and suggest a more pointed message.
The brightly-colored "Keep religion out of politics" billboard, carrying the Freedom From Religion Foundation name and website, ffrf.org, depicts a capitol dome, which echoes the golden dome of the Colorado State Capitol visible at the billboard site in downtown Denver.
The Madison, Wis.-based Foundation, the nation's largest membership association for freethinkers (atheists and agnostics), is a nonpartisan charity which works to promote the constitutional principle of the separation between state and church.
The wording of the new sign was suggested by Foundation member and attorney Robert R. Tiernan of Denver, who has litigated several Colorado cases for the Foundation and is currently suing the Cherry Creek school district on behalf of the Foundation and parent plaintiffs.Tiernan, who worked as a front man for John F. Kennedy in 1960, said:
"I would remind both parties that this country was founded largely by people who wished to free themselves from religious intolerance. They did not want to be taxed to support the King's church any more than today's nonbelievers want to be taxed to support someone else's religion.
"Our founders laid the cornerstone of this society on a secular state and specifically provided that there will be no religious test for any public office in this country.
"We ask the delegates and the candidates of both the Democratic and Republican parties to keep this overriding principle in mind and to focus, not on religion, but on the many serious issues facing this great country."
Commented Denver Foundation member Mike Smith, who helped place the billboard:
"Religious agendas have influenced our public policy at an alarming rate in the past few years, from taxpayer-funded faith-based initiatives, to attempts to teach creationism in our children's science classrooms, to ballot initiatives that would force other peoples' religious dogma on all of us."
Added Foundation co-presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor:
"The religious right, which does not represent most Americans, has been permitted by politicial parties to dominate the political debate for far too long.
"We do not elect a Pastor in Chief. Our Constitution is expressly godless, separating government from religion. We need to return to a fact-based, reason-based government. It's time for politicians to quit pandering and preaching, and concentrate on running a secular country and 'secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.' "