A 14x48-foot billboard emblazoned with a John Lennonesque message, "Imagine No Religion," and a stained-glass window backdrop, went up in Terre Haute, Ind., this week near the fairgrounds. The billboard, sponsored by the Freedom From Religion Foundation with local support, is off U.S. 41 at the far north end of the fairgrounds and is illuminated at night. It will be up for a month.
FFRF, based in Madison, Wis., has more than 17,000 members nationwide, including more than 250 in Indiana. The nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics), FFRF is also a state/church watchdog.
Since launching a national billboard campaign in October 2007, FFRF has placed billboards in more than half the states and well over 50 cities. FFRF had not taken its message to Indiana since placing an "Imagine No Religion" billboard in Indianapolis in a September 2009 campaign.
"There are many nonbelievers in America, including in Indiana, and we want them to know they are not alone. We'd also like to invite believers to imagine a world free from religious wars, sectarian strife and superstition," said Dan Barker, FFRF co-president.
"Like John Lennon, I've found that nature and reality are enough for me. I, too, like to imagine no religion, no hell below us, above us only sky. The only afterlife that should concern us is a secure and pleasant future for our descendants," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president.
Gaylor thanked a "camera-shy benefactor" in Terre Haute who wants to remain anonymous, but suggested and paid for the billboard ad. Gaylor called it "personally very meaningful" to place the FFRF message in Terre Haute, as it was home to two of FFRF's first national officers, CJ and Margaret Richards, back in the late 1970s. Margaret was FFRF's first volunteer bookkeeper and CJ was also an officer. Both were what Gaylor called "devout atheists."