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A secular message from nonbelievers is greeting GOP convention-goers in Tampa — courtesy of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics). FFRF's patriotic red-white-and-blue message, depicting a finger-wagging Uncle Sam cautioning that "God fixation won't fix this nation," was placed Thursday on Kennedy Boulevard, 50 feet west of Arrawana Street.
FFRF's election-year caveat was drawn by editorial cartoonist Steve Benson, coincidentally the grandson of Ezra Taft Benson, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture under President Dwight Eisenhower who became president of the Mormon Church. Steve Benson left the Mormon Church in a highly publicized break in the early 1990s.
In time for the Democratic National Convention, FFRF will place the same message on two billboards in Charlotte, including a hard-to-miss 14x48-foot version near downtown Charlotte, at 1720 Freedom Drive, 900 feet west of Morehead Street. Those traveling from the airport to the Democratic National Convention will be treated to a highly visible view of FFRF’s “God fixation won’t fix this nation” message on a 10x30-foot billboard on Interstate 77 north of Fifth Street.
“Our equal-opportunity message to both political parties and all public officials is: Get off your knees and get to work!” said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.
By taking its educational message to political party-goers, FFRF, a nonpartisan state-church watchdog, is continuing a tradition started in 2008, when it placed a board in Denver near the DNC and had a moving billboard in Minneapolis close to the RNC.
“The preoccupation with religion by our nation and our public officials is holding back the USA scientifically, intellectually and morally,” added Annie Laurie Gaylor, who co-directs FFRF.
Gaylor called it "pandering" for the RNC to invite the head of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops, who's on the warpath against Obama's contraceptive mandate, to deliver the closing prayer to the RNC.
Based in Madison, Wis., FFRF represents more than 19,000 members nationwide including nearly 900 in Florida. FFRF has brought about 60 lawsuits to keep religion out of government.