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The Freedom From Religion Foundation will be urging Republicans (next week) and Democrats (in two weeks) to stay out of the religion business, with billboards in Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C. FFRF is placing billboards in both cities hosting the national political conventions with its special election-year caveat to keep religion out of government.
The patriotically colored billboard artwork by editorial cartoonist Steve Benson depicts a finger-wagging Uncle Sam warning that “God fixation won’t fix this nation.” Benson is the grandson of Ezra Taft Benson, who was secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture under President Dwight Eisenhower and later served as president of the Mormon Church. Steve Benson left the Mormon Church in a highly publicized break in the early 1990s.
FFRF’s 10x30-foot “God fixation” billboard is scheduled to go up today, weather permitting, in Tampa on Kennedy Boulevard, 50 feet west of Arrawana Street, in time to greet GOP convention-goers.
The following week, FFRF will place two billboards in Charlotte, including a hard-to-miss 14x48-foot version near downtown Charlotte, at 1720 Freedom Drive, 900 feet west of Morehead Street. Those traveling from the airport to the Democratic National Convention will be treated to a highly visible view of FFRF’s “God fixation won’t fix this nation” message on a 10x30-foot billboard on Interstate 77 north of Fifth Street.
“This is an equal-opportunity message to both political parties and all public officials. Essentially, we secularists, who comprise nearly a fifth of the U.S. population, are telling government officials that it’s time to get off your knees and get to work!” said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.
“God fixation won’t fix our nation, or any nation. A preoccupation with religion in government and a political fear of offending religious lobbies is holding back our nation scientifically, intellectually and morally,” added Annie Laurie Gaylor, who co-directs FFRF.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, archbishop of New York, who has been invited to deliver the closing prayer at the Republican National Convention, has been strongly criticized by FFRF for his role in trying to sabotage the contraceptive insurance coverage mandate. FFRF exposed the role of Dolan and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in its signature newspaper ad, "It's Time to Quit the Catholic Church," which has run in The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today and Los Angeles Times.
"It is this kind of unseemly partnership between religion and politics that disrespects the constitutional principle of secular government. Dogma should never be allowed to trump humanity or civil law," Gaylor added.
FFRF, based in Madison, Wis., acts as a state/church watchdog. FFRF is the nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics) with more than 19,000 members, including nearly 900 in Florida and almost 500 in North Carolina, which is also home to the Triangle Freethought Society, an active chapter of FFRF.