"There Is No Afterlife: Enjoy Life Now" is the message an octogenarian member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation is sponsoring for a month on a billboard in Janesville, Wis.
The message is up on a 10-by-30-foot billboard off U.S. 14 East near North Lexington Drive. Janesville is about 40 miles south of Madison.
Wayne Hensler, a Wisconsin Lifetime FFRF member, calls the message "a legacy for my grandchildren." He first contacted FFRF in 2010 to suggest the new slogan and offering to pay for it. It has gone up several times in the Watertown area. He has expressed the hope that other FFRF members might be "inspired" to place similar messages in their areas on behalf of FFRF.
"Christianity unfortunately instructs that we humans are just 'passing through' this world," said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker, a former evangelical minister who is author of "Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist" and "Godless."
"Think of hymns such as 'This World Is Not My Home.' But as Emily Dickinson put it, 'That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet,' " Barker said.
"One of the greatest disservices of religion is that it misdirects human energies from this world — our only life — to some unprovable, highly improbable imaginary afterlife," added Annie Laurie Gaylor, a co-founder of FFRF. "We should enjoy life now, but also realize that the only afterlife that ought to concern us is leaving our descendants a secure and pleasant future."
The colorful billboard has a "stained glass window" theme, which is FFRF's signature billboard look, first debuting in Wisconsin in late 2007 with the slogans "Imagine No Religion" and "Beware of Dogma." The Madison, Wis.-based state/church watchdog is the nation's largest association of nonbelievers, with nearly 20,000 members.
"We're very grateful to Wayne for his vision and initiative," Gaylor said.
Photo credited to Andrew Kronquist