A mother, author, activist, lifelong Carolinian and Atheist is featured on a billboard in North Raleigh on Wake Forest Road proudly proclaiming “I’m an Atheist and I vote.” The billboard will go up within the next week for a month, and is part of a national multimedia secular voter campaign launched by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in this critical election year.
Candace R. Gorham, representing North Carolina in FFRF’s campaign, will also be featured in a full-page ad headlined “I’m Secular and I Vote,” running in the Raleigh News & Observer on Sunday, July 3. She is pictured in front of the North Carolina State Capitol.
Gorham 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.
FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor explains the secular vote campaign: “FFRF is putting public candidates and officials on notice that the nonreligious now represent nearly a third of all adult Americans, that WE are the true ‘values voters’ and that it’s time that our secular viewpoint be heard and represented.”
In the print ad, Gorham 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!” Among Americans under 30, 36 percent identify as religiously unaffiliated.
The atheist writer and activist, who lives in Greensboro, calls herself “passionate about church/state separation issues and the importance of secular values in the public square.” Gorham’s books include The Ebony Exodus Project: Why Some Black Women Are Walking Out on Religion—and Others Should Too and On Death, Dying, and Disbelief. A former preacher, she is now a member of The Clergy Project, which serves ministers, pastors and other religious figures who have lost religion in the pulpit.
Saying she “trusts in reason, science and America’s secular Constitution,” Gorham 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 Independence Day 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 trend to privilege religion, as well as the likely banning of abortion in more than half the states, alarming. “That’s why our secular voices must be heard.”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation serves as the largest association of freethinkers in North America, with more than 36,000 members including more than 840 in North Carolina, plus a chapter, the Triangle Freethought Society, and works as a state/church watchdog to safeguard the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. To learn more, visit: ffrf.org.