Freethought shines bright in Louisville, Kentucky

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, proving there are indeed atheists in the bible belt just as there are atheists in foxholes, took its message to the South with several early fall billboard campaigns. FFRF’s largest campaign to date was in Atlanta (see page 23). Also in September, FFRF placed 20 billboards in Louisville, Ky.

The Kentucky billboards included these varied FFRF messages: “Imagine No Religion” on a stained-glass background, “In Reason We Trust” on the face of a penny, and “Praise Darwin — Evolve Beyond Belief” with a Darwin portrait.

Actress and atheist Butterfly McQueen was on a fourth design, which quoted her: “As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion.” McQueen, who played the role of “Prissy” in “Gone With the Wind,” rebelled her entire life against religion as she rebelled against stereotyped acting roles. McQueen was a Lifetime FFRF Member.

Among Louisville seculars: Louis Brandeis, who served on the U.S. Supreme Court, spent his boyhood in Louisville and is buried in Louisville.

Another historic Kentucky freethinker was Josephine K. Henry, the first woman in the South to run for state office. Henry did not win, but received nearly 5,000 votes for clerk of the Court of Appeals in 1890. She was the principal lobbyist responsible for passage of the 1894 Woman’s Property Act in Kentucky. Henry wrote of the Christian church: “It demands everything from her and gives her nothing in return.”

Although not a Kentucky native, Stephen Foster, author of “My Old Kentucky Home,” never joined a church and wrote secular music except when filling his stomach by writing Sunday school songs by assignment.

FFRF took Tampa Bay by storm in early August with 20 colorful billboards posted throughout Tampa and St. Petersburg. FFRF posted five billboards in New Orleans for a month in mid-August. Since launching a national billboard campaign in October 2007, the educational nonprofit has placed billboards in half the states and about 45 cities.

Freedom From Religion Foundation