The Freedom From Religion Foundation, with the aid of its local chapter, has placed in the Knoxville area a billboard advising people to maintain a robust constitutional wall of separation.
The cheerful red, white and blue billboard, “God & Government — A Dangerous Mix: Keep State & Church Separate,” went up earlier this week at Highway 129 in Maryville heading north. FFRF raised the secular proclamation with help of its East Tennessee Chapter, to which the national state/church watchdog expresses its appreciation for keeping the banner of freethought flying high — literally — in this part of the country.
FFRF East Tennessee Chapter President Aleta Ledendecker stresses the importance of the billboard’s announcement.
“There is a healthy amount of Christian privilege on display in East Tennessee,” she says. “The local chapter of FFRF felt that it was time to let those who might be in the closet know that they are not alone in wanting separation of state and church. Keeping religion out of government is what our Constitution mandates, and it protects us from becoming a theocracy.”
The billboard is a timely warning given the current inclination of both the federal and the Tennessee governments. FFRF has repeatedly called out the Trump administration for its unconstitutional stance, such as the nation’s attorney general and secretary of state flouting the U.S. Constitution on the same day. Even the current Tennessee governorship has proven to be constitutionally transgressive from the start, with FFRF strongly objecting to Gov. Bill Lee’s religion-infused inaugural. And when Lee declared Oct. 10 as an official day of prayer and fasting, FFRF Co-Presidents Dan Barker and Annie Laurie Gaylor published an op-ed in the Knoxville paper chiding him for his exclusionary approach.
The billboard, which will be up for a month, is already receiving media coverage.
“A local organization is hoping to catch your attention while you’re driving,” reports an area TV station. “The East Tennessee chapter of Freedom From Religion Foundation, or FFRF, put up a billboard message referencing the separation of church and state.”
FFRF has also recently installed a billboard near the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville spotlighting a freethinking student at that institution — and the pride he feels at breaking free from religion.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 30,000 members and several chapters across the country, including almost 400 members in Tennessee and the East Tennessee chapter. FFRF’s purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between church and state, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.