“There Is No Afterlife: Enjoy Life Now” is the message an area member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation is sponsoring for six weeks on a billboard at the entrance of Watertown, Wis., “as a legacy for my grandchildren.”
The message is up at N8690 High Rd., about a mile south of Jefferson Road at the entrance to Watertown, where it is visible to passengers in cars entering the town.
The Lifetime Foundation member, who is elderly and prefers not to be publicly named, recently contacted the Foundation suggesting the new slogan and offering to pay for it. He also expressed the hope that other FFRF members might be “inspired” to place similar messages in their areas on behalf of the Foundation.
The colorful billboard continues the “stained glass window” theme which is FFRF’s signature billboard look, first debuting with the slogans “Imagine No Religion” and “Beware of Dogma.”
“The idea is both to be eye-catching, and to create a little cognitive dissonance,” explains Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation co-president of the nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics) working to keep state and church separate.
“We want the passerby to ponder: What if you saw this message in a church?”
Since kicking off a billboard campaign in October 2007 in Madison, Wis., the Foundation has added several new designs, placing billboards in more than half of the states, and expanding to provocative bus signs.
Also up this week are 20 small billboards in Tampa, Fla. These include several FFRF messages, including "Sleep in on Sundays" plus its new slogan, picturing the head of a penny, saying “In Reason We Trust.” In another August campaign, the Foundation is posting a red-white-and-blue billboard warning, “God and Government a Dangerous Mix” in Monmouth Co., N.J.
“This life is it,” said Dan Barker, Foundation co-president and author of Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists (Ulysses Press, 2008). “If life's eternal, life is cheap. As Emily Dickinson put it, 'That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.' ”
It’s not only “one world at a time” as Henry David Thoreau famously said on his deathbed when asked if he believed in an afterlife. But nor is there evidence of a future, transcendent realm, Barker said.
The Foundation thanks its kind benefactor for coming up with such a positive slogan to represent the freethought point of view.