Chicago atheists ‘come out’ again

FFRF and its Metropolitan Chicago Chapter placed their third set of friendly but thought-provoking billboards that feature the diverse faces and “testimonials” of Chicago-area atheists, agnostics and freethinkers.

Eleven “Out of the Closet” billboards went up in December. Three more featuring groups of freethinkers, including Chicago Black Skeptics, went up after New Year’s.

A final batch of seven went up in early March, mostly in northside neighborhoods. One features a smiling former minister, Rich Pope of Northfield, proclaiming “No magic. No miracles. No imaginary friends.”

Three represent couples. Jenn and Ben Zalisko note: “We found love in an atheist community!” Ray Belmonte and Rick Scuch, who are both physicians and atheists, have a plainspoken message: “Religion is a collection of man-made fairy tales.” Their dog, Rufus, is also pictured.

A.L. and Melinda Dunker of Chicago, both consultants and freethinkers, ask: “Find it hard to believe in God? You’re not alone.”

Cheryl Purnell, a Chicago graphic designer who identifies as a freethinker, says “Freethought and adventure are my allies!”

Youth is represented by student Viven Castillo, who declares: “This happy heathen is good without God.”

“No gods. Just human goodness” is the message of retired Glencoe veterinarian Allen Cosnow.

“Although nearly 20% of the population today is nonreligious in the United States, many Americans have never knowingly met an atheist or agnostic,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. “We’re proud to introduce our Chicago-area members and their viewpoints to their community. Freethinkers have an important message to contribute to society — that reason, not dogma, should prevail, and that freedom depends on keeping religion out of government.”

Since debuting the “Out of the Closet” campaign in Madison, Wis., in 2010, FFRF has taken it to Columbus, Tulsa, Raleigh, Phoenix, Nashville, Portland, Spokane, Sacramento, Cleveland and Akron.

Make your own “virtual billboard” or upload a short freethought video statement here:

Freedom From Religion Foundation