A billboard featuring a Tennessee couple proudly proclaiming “We’re Humanists and We Vote” has gone up at Charlotte Avenue near 11th Avenue, Nashville, as part of a national multimedia secular voter campaign launched by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in this critical election year.
The couple, Aleta and Carl Ledendecker, are activists with the FFRF East Tennessee chapter. They will also be featured in a full-page ad in which they’re pictured wearing matching “I’m Secular and I Vote” T-shirts in front of the state Capitol, which will run on Sunday, July 3, in the Tennesseean.
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.
Not everyone in Tennessee is religious, as the couple, retired educators and volunteers, prove. “Once I retired I could come out of the closet as an atheist,” notes Aleta. “ Now, I use my voice to advocate for those who cannot take that risk due to discrimination against nontheists in the bible belt.”
In the newspaper ads, 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!”
FFRF 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 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,” 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 nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics), with more than 36,000 members, including almost 500 in Tennessee, and works as a state/church watchdog to safeguard the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. To learn more, visit: ffrf.org.