The Freedom From Religion Foundation, with the help of local secularists, has placed a red-white-and-blue billboard with the message that God and government are a “dangerous mix” at Wenatchee Avenue west of McKittrick in Wenatchee, Wash.
The billboard, “God & Government — A Dangerous Mix: Keep State & Church Separate,” was posted in time to counter the National Day of Prayer today. Congress sets aside the first Thursday in May and requires an annual presidential proclamation exhorting citizens to “turn to God in prayer.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, with 16,500 members around the nation and more than 900 in Washington, is the nation’s largest atheist/agnostic association, and also works as a state/church watchdog. FFRF has three court challenges underway against the National Day of Prayer, most prominently Obama v. FFRF in the appeals courts. Last year a federal judge agreed with FFRF that a government day of prayer is unconstitutional, but an appeals court threw out FFRF’s case on standing. FFRF is asking the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago for an en banc review.
Wenatchee was just singled out by the Sunday New York Times (May 1) as the fourth “safest” area in terms of where to live to avoid a natural disaster.
“But we understand from our local members that Wenatchee is also a spot where there has been little or no public expression of freethought — the intellectual rejection of religion,” said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker.
FFRF placed the secular message with help from many local individuals connected with NCW Freethinkers of Wenatchee, a local Meetup.com group of about 40 members in existence for about a year. The donations added up to about $700. “We wish to acknowledge and thank the generous donors who helped make this possible,” added Annie Laurie Gaylor, who codirects FFRF with Barker.
“This billboard conveys a message that there are folks among us who have an appreciation for our Constitution and Bill of Rights beyond such specific concerns as protecting the Second Amendment, or the claim that the document somehow dictates that marriage can only be between a man and a woman,” said Kate Humrich, a local RN and spokesperson for NCW Freethinkers of Wenatchee. "We further wish to dispel the notion that Christianity has somehow been the basis of thought upon which our Constitution was founded, or that the Constitution somehow endorses Christianity, or indeed, any religion in particular."
“The message that 'God & government are a dangerous mix' is critical in today's caustic, divisive socio-political climate, where religiously oriented groups are increasingly emboldened to attempt to legislate private beliefs and moral standards that are often largely religious doctrine and dogma."
Those who feel they have a "higher authority" behind them are attempting “to impose dogma on society at large, restricting individual choice and freedom of conscience,” Humrich said.
She added, “I've acutely felt the pain when intelligent and good people are dismissed or disdained in their communities and across this country for their lack of belief in traditional religion. I've witnessed snubs and open contempt, even outright discrimination. For my children and grandchildren, I long for a culture where it's taken for granted that the highest and best forms of thinking in ethics and morality are not considered the exclusive domain of the religious.”