Counters Capitol Creche Violation
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, the largest national association of atheists and agnostics, has taken its national billboard campaign to Arkansas for the first time, posting its colorful and cautionary "Beware of Dogma" billboard at the Main Street Bridge, 100 feet south of the Riverfront near the Rivermarket District.
The artwork employs a stained-glass window motif, and includes the Freedom From Religion Foundation's name and website, ffrf.org.
The Foundation is a state/church separation watchdog with more than 13,000 members nationwide, which launched a national billboard campaign a year ago, taking its religion-free messages state-by-state. Foundation billboard messages also include the slogans, "Imagine No Religion," and "Keep Religion OUT of Politics."
"We are going wherever an irreverent billboard is needed--which is practically everywhere!" says Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president.
"We don't go to Mass, but we want to reach the masses," adds Dan Barker, Foundation co-president. "We think it is time for the rest of us to use the mass media to counter the ubiquity of religious messages on roadsides everywhere."
"We thank the Freethinkers of Central Arkansas and Fayetteville Freethinkers for their help in selecting the spot and for donations toward the billboard," added Gaylor.
The Foundation has worked with its local members and area freethought groups to try to remove a huge nativity display posted every year by a religious group on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock. The Foundation and local groups decided the best way to try to balance that religion on government property this year was to put up the billboard. The groups will be pursuing the state/church violation next year.
The Foundation has placed billboards the previous year in about 13 states, and currently has "Imagine No Religion" messages posted on billboards in San Antonio, Canton, Ohio, and soon going up in San Francisco. It also has placed "Reason's Greetings" billboards for the holiday season in Madison, Wis., and Olympia, Wash.
After a billboard company in Cucamonga, Calif., tore down the Foundation's "Imagine No Religion" billboard and dishonored a 2-month contract in late November, the Foundation filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Rancho Cucamonga, for interference leading to what amounted to government censorship. The Foundation's solstice display to counter a manger scene in the State Capitol in Olympia, Was., has garnered national attention this month. It has also placed solstice signs at the Wisconsin and Illinois State Capitols, which say: "At this season of the Winter Solstice, may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."