Ten bus signs bearing four different messages from the Freedom From Religion Foundation went up today for a month on Anchorage city (“People Mover”) buses.
FFRF, based in Madison, Wis., is a state/church watchdog and the largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics) with more than 19,000 members nationwide. FFRF has placed billboards or bus signs in more than half the states since starting a public relations campaign to up the visibility of freethought.
Two buses bear the seasonal sign showing a jolly Santa saying, “Yes, Virginia, there is no God.” The "Yes, Virginia" reference is a play on the famous question posed by 8-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon in 1897 to the New York Sun newspaper. In an unsigned editorial, the Sun's Francis P. Church wrote his oft-repeated "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" line. The message and artwork was designed by Steve Benson, a former Mormon turned atheist who is the Pulitzer prize-winning cartoonist for the Arizona Republic.
Dan Barker, Foundation co-president, a former minister-turned atheist, said Christians tend to think "they own the month of December. We don't agree. No month is free from pagan reverie!"
FFRF’s other bus signs all employ a stained-glass window motif. Three ask the passenger to “Imagine No Religion,” two advise, “Sleep in on Sundays,” and three say: “Enjoy Life Now: There Is No Afterlife.”
Placing signs on Anchorage buses was suggested by an Anchorage member of FFRF who generously underwrote much of the cost.
A recent PEW study reported that 1 in 5 adult Americans now identifies as “nonreligious.”
“Given that independent streak Alaskans are known for, there are many nonbelievers in Anchorage and Alaska at this time of year, who also have a message of good news and cheer — that reason is the answer,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor.