Freethought Today · Vol. 28 No. 4 May 2011

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Calling all nonbelievers out of the closet!

The Freedom From Religion Found-ation is inviting nonbelievers everywhere to “come out of the closet” and to declare and share their nonbelief via FFRF’s unique new online “virtual billboard” application.

Help dispel myths, educate and promote reason by adding your voice, face and message to FFRF’s friendly neighborhood freethinker campaign.

FFRF, the largest atheist-agnostic association in the U.S. with more than 16,500 members, first debuted its personalized public relations “Out of the Closet” campaign on bus signs and billboards last fall.

The inviting ads feature individual nonbelievers, their views and their faces. The “Out of the Closet” campaign so far has visited Madison, Wis., is up currently in the Raleigh-Durham Triangle area of North Carolina, and will launch in several other cities soon.

“Although we can’t put everyone on a real billboard, every nonbeliever can participate in this unique ‘cyberboard’ campaign,” explains FFRF Co-President Dan Barker, a former minister and author of Godless.

The interactive campaign was announced in late April. “We’re proud that the very first person to submit a ‘cyberboard’ was Richard Dawkins, who knows the value of coming out of the closet,” Barker adds.

“Although the nonreligious — including one in six U.S. citizens — are a significant segment of the world population, many Americans have never knowingly met a nonbeliever,” FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor points out. “Our ‘Out of the Closet’ campaign aims to remedy that by showcasing friendly neighborhood atheists and agnostics, who are the best advertisement for freethought.”

It’s working for the gay rights movement, FFRF notes. “Now it’s time for atheists and agnostics to come out of our closet. Many faces make Enlightenment work.”

The elegantly simple interactive application lets any nonbeliever upload their photo, coin a phrase about their nonbelief, identify themselves and choose from a dropdown list a label that most closely describes their philosophical position on religion. Choices include “atheist, agnostic, skeptic, infidel, humanist, secularist” or even the tongue-in-cheek “Pastafarian.” You may select a background screen color — purple, blue, green, yellow, orange or pink.

Once the submitted “cyberboard” gets FFRF’s approval, the personalized billboard, which looks just like FFRF’s billboard ads, will be posted at FFRF’s website. The image may then be used by the participant on Facebook, etc.

Gaylor says she hopes that the campaign will “go viral” because it’s “a fun, creative and satisfying way to express irreverent views.

“But the main goal,” she adds, “is to make a difference in how atheists and agnostics are perceived by our religion-deferential society. We freethinkers are in really good company. The world needs to hear our message that humanity can and must solve its own problems and stop waiting for rescue from ‘above.’ Religious belief at best is a distraction, and at worst is the cause of more strife, bloodshed and war than any other factor. Freethought is a respectable intellectual position. We should not be expected to apologize for using reason in evaluating religious claims. It’s time to welcome atheists and agnostics and our message into the American mainstream.”

Make your statement on a virtual billboard and invite friends to participate at:

ffrf.org/out/

View “Out of the Closet Cyberboards,” including statements by well-known freethinkers and “Staff Picks” at:

ffrf.org/out/?stack/

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

FFRF has received a 4 star rating from Charity Navigator

 

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FFRF is a member of Atheist Alliance International.