FFRF Billboard a First for Indiana!
A 14x48-foot billboard with the Lennonesque message, "Imagine No Religion" against a stained-glass window backdrop, went up today at Keystone Avenue North, near 52nd Street, Indianapolis, and will stay up for one month.
The colorful, thought-provoking billboard was placed by the Madison, Wis.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, with the help of a generous Indiana donor. The Foundation, a state/church watchdog, is the nation's largest association of atheists and agnostics, with 14,000 members nationwide and almost 200 in Indiana. This is the Foundation's first foray into billboard advertising in Indiana. (An outdoor company in Bloomington had previously refused the ad.)
The billboard is part of a national educational campaign sponsored by the Foundation, which has reached more than 30 cities and 20 states so far with various billboard messages, including signs saying "Beware of Dogma," "Praise Darwin: Evolve Beyond Belief," and "Keep Religion OUT of Government." The Foundation currently has an "Imagine No Religion" billboard up in suburban St. Louis, and will have a mini-blitz of various billboards going up in Detroit and Las Vegas in October.
The Foundation has just placed a total of 75 king-size messages outside buses in San Francisco, bearing Mark Twain's quotation, "Faith is believing what you know ain't so" and "Imagine no religion." Two hundred interior bus cards were placed inside San Francisco buses, featuring a variety of quotations by famous freethinkers, including actress Katharine Hepburn's quotation: "I am an atheist, and that's it. I believe that there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people."
"There are many atheists and agnostics in America, including in Indiana, and they should know they are not alone. We also invite believers to imagine a world free from religious wars, sectarian strife, and superstition," says Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president.
"Like John Lennon, nature and reality are enough for me," adds Dan Barker, Foundation co-president. "There is 'no hell below us, above us only sky.' Nonreligious Americans believe that the only afterlife that ought to concern us is a secure, pleasant future for our descendants." Barker is author of Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One's America's Leading Atheists (Ulysses Press, 2008).
"We encourage freethinkers to join the Foundation, and help us take our message to the 'unmassed masses,' " says Gaylor. The Foundation takes litigation to protect the constitutional principle of the separation between church and state, publishes a newspaper, Freethought Today, has a weekly radio show over many Air America affiliates, publishes books, and engages in formal debates, with outreach to college students through essay competitions, scholarships and campus events.
"We wish to thank the Foundation member who donated the money for this billboard lease. We have a little left over and are looking for another location in Indiana for a second billboard," Barker said.