Atheist/agnostic group places gentle secular message in Charlotte

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In time for the Democratic National Convention, the Freedom From Religion Foundation has placed a patriotic message with a secular twist on two prominent billboards in Charlotte, N.C. The billboard, drawn by editorial cartoonist Steve Benson, depicts Uncle Sam wagging his finger and warning: “God fixation won’t fix this nation.”

Those traveling from the airport to the convention will be treated to a highly visible view of FFRF’s red-white-and-blue message on a 10×30-foot billboard on Interstate 77 north of Fifth Street. A hard to miss 14×48-foot billboard with the message is found near Charlotte’s downtown, on the 1700 block of Freedom Drive, 900 feet west of Morehead Street.

The billboards, which FFRF refers to as an “election-year caveat,” were scheduled to go up on Thursday.

“Our equal-opportunity message to both political parties and all public officials is: Get off your knees and get to work!” said FFRF Co-President Dan Barker. “God fixation, the preoccupation by our nation and its elected officials with religion, is holding back progress scientifically, intellectually and morally.”

FFRF put the same message up in Tampa on Aug. 23 for the benefit of this year’s Republican convention. FFRF, a nonpartisan state/church watchdog, is continuing a tradition started in 2008, when it placed a billboard message saying “Keep religion out of politics” in Denver and Minneapolis for the national party conventions.

FFRF spokeswoman Annie Laurie Gaylor cited as an example of the dangers of religion in politics and government the “pandering” decision by both parties to give in to a request by the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to deliver convention prayers. Cardinal Timothy Dolan gave the closing prayer yesterday for the Republicans and will also pray at the Democratic convention.

“The Catholic bishops are trying to unduly influence and interfere with U.S. politics, particularly by trying to kill the health care contraceptive mandate —despite the fact that most American women are not Catholic and most Americans use and support contraception,” Gaylor noted. “It’s disturbing that both parties kowtow to Timothy Dolan.” FFRF ran hundreds of TV commercials this summer in regional markets featuring actress and playwright Julia Sweeney, a well-known former Catholic, objecting to the bishops’ anti-contraceptive attacks.

The Madison, Wis.-based group represents more than 19,000 freethinking (atheist and agnostic) members nationwide, including 485 members in North Carolina, and an active N.C. chapter, the Triangle Freethought Society. FFRF has brought about 60 lawsuits to keep religion out of government.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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