Freethought Today · Vol. 28 No. 5 June July 2011

Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.

Columbus church pulls plug on ‘godless’ FFRF billboard

Dylan Galos’ billboard that’s part of FFRF’s “Out of the Closet” campaign in Columbus, Ohio, went over like a lead balloon with the property owner and had to be moved about three days after it went up in late June.

Galos, a student and atheist, announced to the world that “I can be good without God.”

“The land where the billboard sits is owned by a church, and there were complaints about it,” the ad agency told FFRF. “The church threatened to revoke leasing the land to the billboard company if it wasn’t moved.”

The billboard was moved from James Road and Allegheny Avenue to a nearby location on Columbus’ east side.

“The action of this censorious church shows exactly why our campaign, intended to encourage social acceptance of nonbelievers, is so important,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president.

“Do its deacons truly believe that one can’t be good without God?” asked Gaylor. “Nonbelievers know that it is not what you believe, but how you act, that makes you a moral person. We don’t feel the need to be rewarded in heaven or threatened with everlasting punishment in order to do good and be ethical.”

The church, a former nightclub, was later identified as Christ Cathedral Church, 3350 Allegheny Ave. Its website says it’s located in an area formerly known by law enforcement as “Uzi Alley” for its high crime rate.

Co-President Dan Barker added, “Everywhere atheists and agnostics go, we encounter advertisements, marquees and other proselytizing messages. This is one of the few public advertisements anywhere in the nation right now, and there isn’t room for it near to a church?”

FFRF member Joseph Sommer emailed June 27 to say that he’d worked at a humanist booth at Columbus’ three-day Community Festival, where the billboard campaign was getting very positive reviews. “And I couldn’t believe that the Columbus Dispatch’s online article about the billboards got 787 comments. The most I’ve ever seen before was in the 300 to 400 range.”

The very first comment was “God help us (and them)!” The last post (when we checked at 4 p.m. June 27) was more encouraging:

“Should I accept your religion as proof of you being a good person? I don’t believe in a god, and I’m fine with you believing in yours. Most of the people I know who believe in a god pray to it and seek forgiveness for what they’ve done. I accept what I’ve done and do my very darned hardest to make sure I don’t repeat my mistakes. By the way, I’ve spent nearly every day this summer helping out the recreational sports in my suburb in one way or another. Those darned atheists, never helping out their communities!”

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