A 14x48 foot billboard featuring well-known ‘Friendly Atheist’ writer Hemant Mehta proclaiming “I’m an atheist and I vote” is up at Peterson and Artesian Avenues in Chicago, as part of a national multimedia secular voter campaign launched by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in this critical election year.
Mehta, representing Illinois in the FFRF campaign, will also be featured in a full-page ad headlined “I’m Secular and I Vote,” running in the Chicago Tribune on Sunday, July 3, picturing him with Chicago's skyline in the background.
FFRF points out that Mehta 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.
Mehta, a well-known blogger who now writes for OnlySky, a nonreligious digital news site, noted after that ruling, “This is Christian nationalism. We live under conservative Christian rule.”
Mehta, who identifies himself in the newspaper ad as a “Writer, blogger, podcaster, coach, lifelong Illinoisan .. . . and Atheist,” notes: “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!”
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.”
Mehta, saying he “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,” he 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 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 nearly 1,200 in Illinois, and works as a state/church watchdog to safeguard the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. To learn more, visit: ffrf.org.