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Retired Atheist couple star on billboard, July 4 ads in St. Paul

Saint Paul Billboard

A billboard featuring a Saint Paul couple proudly proclaiming “We’re Atheists and We Vote” has gone up at East 7th Street near the state Capitol building as part of a national multimedia secular voter campaign launched by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in this critical election year.

Saint Paul AdThe couple, Steve Petersen and Shirley R. Moll, are longtime freethought activists who will also be featured in a full-page ad, in which they’re pictured in front of the state Capitol, running on Sunday, July 3 in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

FFRF points out that the couple are two of 75 million nonreligious Americans who want Congress, state legislatures, public officials and courts to listen to “secular values voters” by keeping religion out of government and social policy — and that includes on the urgent question of abortion rights.

In the newspaper ad, Moll is identified as a “mom, grandmother and great-grandmother, Minnesotan and . . . Atheist.” Petersen is identified as “a retired letter carrier, student of life, Minnesotan and . . . Atheist.” They note: “The ‘Nones’ (those of us unaffiliated with religion) are now 29 percent of the U.S. population. We are the largest ‘denomination’ by religious identification!”

The 2020 Census on Religion by PRRI reveals exactly 30 percent identify as religiously unaffiliated in Hennepin County.

Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor explains, “FFRF is putting public candidates and officials on notice that the nonreligious now represent nearly a third of all adult Americans. We are the true ‘values voters’ and it’s critical that our secular viewpoint be heard and represented.”

Saying they “trust in reason, science and America’s secular Constitution,” the couple list a compelling number of secular voter demands: To keep religion out of government and social policy, out of public schools, and out of bedrooms, personal lives and health care decisions — including when or whether to have children, and whom to love or marry. “Use my tax dollars only for evidence-based, not faith-based, purposes,” they emphasize.

FFRF is running the billboards and newspaper ads in time for the July 3-4 weekend in about half of the United States, with the rest appearing around Sept. 17, Constitution Day.

The campaign is particularly timely coming on the heels of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Gaylor observes that 98.8 percent of FFRF’s membership supports Roe, which is consistent with a YouGov analysis showing that atheists, at 91 percent overall, are the most likely to identify as pro-choice.

Gaylor called the Supreme Court’s ruling against abortion rights “an alarming wake up call,” and part of the Supreme Court trend to privilege religion at the expense of individual liberties. “That’s why our secular voices must be heard and why it’s essential to keep religious dogma out of our laws.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation serves as the largest association of freethinkers in North America, with more than 36,000 members including about 800 in Minnesota, and works as a state/church watchdog to safeguard the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. To learn more, visit: ffrf.org.

Saint Paul Group Photo