A "stained glass" billboard bearing the message "Imagine No Religion" will be up for a month in downtown Harrisburg, Penn. The location is South 2nd St. at Mulberry St., near Harrisburg Hospital, only 7 blocks from the Pennsylvania State Capitol building.
The message is from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the nation's largest membership association for freethinkers (atheists and agnostics), which also works as a state/church watchdog. The billboard carries the Freedom From Religion Foundation's name and its website, ffrf.org. The Foundation is taking its irreverent message to what it calls the "unmassed masses" state-by-state.
"Our goal is to place a freethinking billboard at every state capital," says Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president.
Foundation billboards have already visited the capital cities of Madison, Wis., Atlanta, Denver, Columbus, and Phoenix. The Foundation will be placing a billboard saying "Keep Religion Out of Politics" in Des Moines in October. FFRF billboards have also been placed in Seattle.
Last winter an "Imagine No Religion" sign set off a "war of the billboards" skirmish in rural Chambersburg, Penn. A ministry placed a retaliatory sign accusing atheists of "hating America." The locally-owned billboard company, which rotated the "Imagine No Religion" message between three spots over a 6-month period, itself put up a disclaimer after moving the message to its second rotation.
"Isn't it time for humanity to outgrow religion?" asks Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. A former fundamentalist pastor, Barker is author of the new book, Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists (Ulysses Press, Sept. 2008) and Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist (FFRF, 1992).
"Shedding religion wouldn't solve all our problems, but it would sure make it easier," Barker added.
"In September especially, many of us wistfully imagine what the world would look like without religion," added Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president. "The Twin Towers would still be standing, for example. If people couldn't pretend 'God told me to do this' or insist 'God is on my side,' most wars could have been avoided.
"Humanity should stop wasting its time, money and efforts on the next world--a supernatural, unprovable world. We should concentrate on leaving this world a better place for future generations," said Gaylor.
Says Carl Silverman, Capital Area director of Pennsylvania Nonbelievers: "Pennsylvania Nonbelievers is pleased to support FFRF's nationwide campaign to engage in debate about the value, if any, of religion in our society."
Gaylor and Barker thank Pennsylvania Nonbelievers for donating toward the cost of the billboard, and FFRF member Carl Silverman, who did the legwork in finding the billboard site.