A billboard featuring a grandmother proudly proclaiming “I’m an atheist and I vote” is going up this week at Allyn Street east of Union Place South, Hartford, Conn., as part of a national multimedia secular voter campaign launched by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in this critical election year. The billboard will be up in time for the Independence Day weekend.
Suzanne Flathers, representing Connecticut in the FFRF campaign, will also be featured in a full-page ad headlined “I’m Secular and I Vote,” running in the Hartford Courant on Sunday, July 3, which patriotically pictures her in front of the state Capitol.
FFRF points out that Flathers is one 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.
Flathers, who is married and has two sons, four granddaughters, two dogs and one cat, is a government contract specialist and has volunteered as a Volunteer Income Tax Assistant (VITA).
“I am sure it would be surprising to many to learn that 29 percent of voters are non-religious,” she says in explaining her decision to participate in the public campaign. “The Constitution's core principle of separation of church and state needs our continual protection.”
Adds Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor, “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.”
Flathers, saying she “trusts in reason, science and America’s secular Constitution,” lists 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,” she emphasizes.
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 urgent 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 more than 400 in Connecticut and works as a state/church watchdog to safeguard the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. To learn more, visit: ffrf.org.