Hooray for Freethought in Hollywood!

Imagine No Religion” Message Going Hollywood

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, whose “Imagine No Religion” billboard was censored in Rancho Cucamonga, has taken its irreverent message, saying “Imagine No Religion,” to Hollywood. The message is on the south side of Fountain, west of Highland, in Hollywood.

The John Lennonesque-message is against a colorful stained-glass window background. The Foundation’s billboard in Rancho Cucamonga was up for less than a week when it was removed, spurring a lawsuit in November in federal court in Los Angeles by the Foundation against city officials who allegedly asked the billboard company to remove it.

“We heard from so many residents in Southern California who were indignant over this censorship, and urged us to keep putting up billboards in the area,” said Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We’re pleased to say freethought is going Hollywood.”

The Foundation launched a national billboard campaign in late 2007, and has placed billboard messages in about 15 states so far. The Foundation will also have a mobile billboard in red, white and blue, advising “Keep Religion OUT of Politics,” on Inauguration Day in Washington, D.C.

“Hooray for freethought in Hollywood,” added Foundation co-president and Southern California native Dan Barker, author of the new book, Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists.

“Freethought is growing across ‘the board,’ ” Barker noted, referring to surveys showing that the nonreligious is the fastest growing segment by religious identification in the United States, with at least 14% of adults describing themselves as nonreligious.

The Madison, Wis.-based Foundation is a state/church watchdog and the largest association of atheists and agnostics in the country with 13,600 members, and more than 2,000 in California.

The group made headlines in the Pacific Northwest last month over its Winter Solstice sign in the Olympia State Capitol, placed to protest a nativity scene at the capitol.

The Foundation’s feisty sign captured the ire of Bill O’Reilly, was briefly stolen and then replaced, provoked an evangelical rally outside the statehouse and resulted in Washington Gov. Gregoire declaring a moratorium, for now, on December capitol displays.

The 13,600-member organization is a co-plaintiff in Michael Newdow’s challenge of a religious oath and formal Christian prayer by ministers at the presidential inauguration. A hearing has been scheduled for today in the District of Columbia over the challengers’ request for a temporary restraining order to bar Chief Justice John Roberts from adding “So help me God” to the secular oath prescribed in the Constitution and to stop ministerial prayer at the civil function.

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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