New Orleans residents will be asked to "Imagine No Religion" and to trust in "Reason" — not a god, when messages by the Freedom From Religion Foundation go up on billboards this week for a month.
A 14x48 foot "Imagine No Religion" bulletin at Canal and Rampart sports a colorful “stained glass window” motif. Two smaller billboards depict the words "In Reason We Trust" on the face of a penny.
Along with these messages, the Foundation is debuting for the first time on a billboard the philosophy of actress Butterfly McQueen, who is quoted saying "As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion." Two smaller billboards convey McQueen's image and words.
Butterfly McQueen was a lifetime member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and a nearly lifelong atheist who rebelled against religion, just as she rebelled against the stereotyped roles fed her by Hollywood (such as "Prissy" in "Gone With the Wind"). The poster-sized billboards are found at S. Causeway Blvd. & Montford, Washington & Broadway, N. Galvez & London and Fourth & Silverlilly. (See map at bottom)
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., has more than 16,000 nonreligious members nationwide, and works to keep church and state separate. This is the first time the Foundation has placed a billboard in Louisiana. Since October 2007 when it launched a billboard campaign, the Foundation has placed billboards in about half the states and more than 40 cities.
" 'In God We Trust' is a johnny-come-lately motto dating to 1956," notes Foundation Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor, "which excludes nonbelievers and inappropriately ties citizenship to piety." The original secular motto, "E Pluribus Unum" ("From Many [come] one") was chosen by a committee of Jefferson, Adams and Franklin.
"Our members think Americans should trust in reason, and not relinquish human control to some unknowable, unprovable supernatural deity."
Last week the Foundation placed 20 smaller billboards with various irreverent messages throughout Tampa Bay, which are creating quite a stir. A billboard reading "Enjoy Life Now: There Is No Afterlife" went up in rural Wisconsin on Friday, suggested and paid for by Wisconsin farmer and FFRF member as "a legacy for my grandkids." In another August campaign, the Foundation posted a red-white-and-blue billboard warning, “God and Government a Dangerous Mix,” in Monmouth Co., N.J.
In September, the Foundation will place 50 small billboards throughout Atlanta, and 20 billboards in Louisville.
"We are trying to reach out to freethinkers in the South. Just as there are indeed atheists in foxholes, there are many nonbelievers in the so-called Bible Belt," said Foundation Co-President Dan Barker, author of Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist.
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