Eleven friendly and thought-provoking billboards featuring members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and its chapter, the FFRF Metropolitan Chicago Chapter, are going up this week in Chicagoland in a public relations campaign to introduce area atheists and agnostics to their community. Additional billboards will be placed early next year.
The billboards feature the faces of local atheists, agnostics and freethinkers along with their personal freethought â€śtestimonials.â€ť
Tom Cara, chapter director, from Niles, is pictured next to his slogan: â€śKindness comes from altruism, not from seeking divine reward.â€ť
A freethinking family, Liz, Chris, Sylvie, Ian and Charlie Calato of Huntley, is featured and identified as atheists. Their message? â€śFinding purpose & meaning together . . . religion free!â€ť
Hemant Mehta of Naperville, a young atheist celebrity who runs the popular â€śFriendly Atheistâ€ť blog, says â€śIâ€™d rather put my faith in me.â€ť
â€śWe are here to challenge you to think for yourself!â€ť says Kimberly Veal, of Chicago, identified as â€śsocial justice activist . . . Freethinker & Humanist.â€ť
Retired teacher Mary Schulatz of Chicago proclaims, â€śI believe in reason and logic!â€ť
â€śFree of faith, fear and superstition,â€ť says Evan Kane of Highland Park, who calls himself a â€śreal estate scientist.â€ť Kane is active with the FFRF Chicago chapter.
Trader and atheist Joel Frazin, Chicago, says: â€śEquality for all shouldnâ€™t be constrained by any religion.â€ť IT Executive, father and atheist Kenner Estes, Chicago, notes: â€śAtheism does not dampen my wonder.â€ť Chicagoâ€™s Drew Bekius, a former pastor who is now a freethinker, explains: â€śIâ€™m following truth beyond belief.â€ť
â€śI put my faith in science,â€ť is the billboard message of Alan Wagner, Sterling, a musician and atheist. Grandmother Kathi Wise of Palatine, pictured on a lavendar billboard, affirms, â€śLife is good for this life-long atheist.â€ť
FFRF, a state/church watchdog based in Madison, Wis., is the nationâ€™s largest association of atheists and agnostics with more than 21,500 members, including more than 800 members in Illinois. FFRF debuted the â€śOut of the Closetâ€ť campaign in Madison in 2010 and has taken the personalized campaign to Columbus, Tulsa, Raleigh, Phoenix, Nashville, Portland, Spokane, Sacramento, Cleveland and Akron.
â€śResearch shows that atheists and other nonbelievers remain at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to social acceptance. One reason for that is that even though at least 20% of the population today is nonreligious in the United States, many Americans have never knowingly met an atheist,â€ť said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. â€śWeâ€™re trying to change that.â€ť
You donâ€™t have to be on a real billboard to participate in FFRFâ€™s â€śout of the closetâ€ť campaign. Make your own â€śvirtual billboardâ€ť or upload a short freethought video statement.