A billboard featuring a cheerful student saying, â€śI can be good without God,â€ť was too much for the delicate sensibilities of the Rev. Waymon Malone, pastor of Christ Cathedral Church in Columbus, Ohio. Late last week, Malone insisted that a local billboard company remove the message from a billboard inadvertently placed on church-owned land.
Maloneâ€™s mother-in-law, Carolyn Kelley, told the Columbus Dispatch, â€śIt upset him because of what it said. It said we don't need God, and we're at church, so we do need God.â€ť
â€śThis shows exactly why our campaign, intended to encourage social acceptance of nonbelievers, is so important,â€ť said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president. â€śNonbelievers know that it is not what you believe, but how you act, that makes you a moral person.â€ť
The billboard picturing Dylan Galos, a Columbus student and atheist, was removed from its original location and has been relocated to East Main St., west of Alum Creek Dr., facing west.
Dylanâ€™s billboard is one of seven featuring local nonbelievers posted within the last week for a month-long lease in Columbus, Ohio, as part of the Freedom From Religion Foundationâ€™s â€śOut of the Closetâ€ť campaign. See all seven billboards, and read more about the campaign, here.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a state/church watchdog based in Madison, Wis., is the nationâ€™s largest association of atheists and agnostics with more than 16,500 members, and about 450 members in Ohio. Columbus is FFRFâ€™s fourth stop on a national campaign to introduce local nonbelievers to their neighbors. FFRF debuted the â€śOut of the Closetâ€ť campaign in Madison last fall. FFRF took the campaign to the bible belt in the spring: Raleigh, N.C., in April and to Tulsa, Okla., in May.