A First for Alabama!

Irreverent Billboard Goes Up on I-20 near Talladega, Alabama

A 14×48-foot billboard emblazoned with the John Lennonesque message, “Imagine No Religion,” and a stained-glass window backdrop, went up this week for one month on I-20, near the Riverside exit en route to Talladega.

Drivers going to Talladega from Atlanta or Birmingham will pass the billboard, believed to be the first such freethought (atheist, agnostic) message ever placed in Alabama.

The colorful billboard went up just in time for the annual “Glorious 4th” celebration in rural Talledega sponsored by the Alabama Freethought Association this year on July 3-5. The event is held at a freethought “advance” (not retreat), which includes a lake, and air-conditioned auditorium and facilities. The event has attracted as many as 200 freethinkers from the South and all over the United States.

The billboard is part of a national educational campaign sponsored by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics), which works to keep church and state separate. The state/church watchdog has 13,600 members, and the Alabama Freethought Society is an FFRF chapter.

“There are many atheists and agnostics in America, including Alabama, and we want them to know they are not alone. We’d also like to invite believers to imagine a world free from religious wars, sectarian strife, and superstition,” said Annie Laurie Gaylor, Foundation Co-President.

“We can have a better world without religion, by placing our energies in making this world, our only world, a better place, instead of investing our best efforts in trying to get to achieve a make-believe afterlife.”

“Like John Lennon, I’ve found that nature and reality are enough for me. I, too, like to imagine no religion, no hell below us, above us only sky. The only afterlife that should concern us is a secure and pleasant future for our descendants,” said Dan Barker, author of Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One’s America’s Leading Atheists (Ulysses Press, 2008).

Among the speakers at the freethought event are Joann Bell, director of the ACLU of Oklahoma. Barker, a songwriter/musician who used to be a missionary, teams up with Steve Benson, a former Mormon missionary, for a satiric look at religion in the news called Tunes ‘N Toons. Benson is the Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist for the Arizona Republic, and the great-grandson of Mormon president Ezra Taft Benson. The event also includes an “atheist versus agnostic” softball game, poetry reading, hiking, and many other speakers.

The Foundation has placed billboards in about 16 states and more than 26 cities since launching its campaign in late 2007. It is now launching a national bus sign campaign.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., is a national association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics) that has been working since 1978 to keep church and state separate.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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