Local nontheists come ‘Out of the Closet’ in Columbus campaign


Seven billboards featuring local nonbelievers and their views are being posted this week for a month in Columbus, Ohio, as part of the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s personalized, myth-dispelling “Out of the Closet” campaign.

The colorful billboards bear the friendly faces of local atheists along their personal freethought “testimonials” explaining why they reject religion or embrace freethought.

Several students are participating in the campaign, which is intended to encourage social acceptance of nonbelievers just as the gay rights movement demonstrated strength by going “out of the closet.”

“I can be good without religion,” asserts Dylan Galos, a Columbus student and atheist whose smiling photo is pictured against a green backdrop.

“Reason over faith, always,” is the affirmative message chosen by Nick, another Columbus student and atheist.


Against a purple backdrop, Columbus student and atheist Ashley Paramore is pictured with her telescope: “I see beauty in the universe — without God.”

Pictured in a bright polka-dot dress on a blue billboard, Columbus student and atheist Olivia Chen explains: “Compassion is my religion.”

“We value reason & compassion,” say Amanda Metskas and August Brunsman, Camp Quest directors and atheists. August is also executive director of the Secular Student Alliance, based in Columbus, which supports campus secular student clubs nationwide. Camp Quest offers younger students religion-free summer camp enrichment experiences.

“Personal gods don’t compute” for FFRF member Jeremy Harris, of Worthington, an engineer and atheist, pictured against a warm orange backdrop.

“I don’t believe in Zeus, either,” quips Ed Sweeney, a Columbus accountant, FFRF member and atheist, who also served as the local coordinator of the Columbus “Out of the Closet” campaign.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a state/church watchdog based in Madison, Wis., is the nation’s largest association of atheists and agnostics with more than 16,500 members, and about 450 members in Ohio. Columbus is FFRF’s fourth stop on a national campaign to introduce local nonbelievers to their neighbors. FFRF debuted the “Out of the Closet” campaign in Madison last fall. FFRF took the campaign to the bible belt in the spring: Raleigh, N.C., in April and to Tulsa, Okla., in May.

“We atheists and agnostics are your neighbor, your classmate, your colleague, the person who opens the door for you at the grocery store,” says Dan Barker, FFRF co-president. “We’re your friendly neighborhood atheists and agnostics.”


“Our members are FFRF’s greatest asset, the best advertisement for freethought,” adds Annie Laurie Gaylor, who co-directs FFRF with Barker. “We are delighted to introduce them and their viewpoints to Columbus. It’s high time to welcome atheists and agnostics and our point of view into the American mainstream,” she added.

Since FFRF can’t put all of its members on a billboard, it has unveiled an interactive Web application, allowing any nonbeliever to coin a phrase, upload a photograph, choose an “out of the closet” appellation and post a virtual billboard at FFRF’s website. Build your own “out of the closet” virtual billboard at: ffrf.org/out/ and spread the word!

The campaign is paid for by donations to FFRF’s billboard fund, which may specifically be earmarked for the Out of the Closet campaign. Your contribution will make it possible for FFRF to take the campaign to new locations. FFRF plans to visit three new cities by fall with its unique campaign.

If you are interested in helping to subsidize a billboard or coordinate a campaign in your area, please contact Annie Laurie Gaylor. FFRF depends on help from a local coordinator to book the digital photos and work with local participants (see listing at end).


Location Description
Daily Effective Circulation
Creative Design
EOI (18+)
1 1572 W. Fifth, north side facing east. Eco-Poster 10’5″ x 22’8″ Yes 12,610 Olivia 57,702 RHR 6/20/11 – 7/17/11
2 785 Wilson Rd., west side facing north. Eco-Poster 10’5″ x 22’8″ Yes 21,980 Jeremy 67,628 RHR 6/20/11 – 7/17/11
3 4524 Kenny, east side facing south. Eco-Poster 10’5″ x 22’8″ Yes 15,460 Ed 42,480 RHR 6/27/11 – 7/24/11
4 417 James, 140 feet north of Allegheny, west side facing north. Eco-Poster 10’5″ x 22’8″ Yes 19,180 Dylan 89,465 RHR 6/20/11 – 7/17/11
5 577 N. 4th, west side facing south. Eco-Poster 10’5″ x 22’8″ Yes 23,210 Nick 54,320 LHR 6/20/11 – 7/17/11
6 E Dublin Granville Rd. at Westerville Rd., south side facing west. Eco-Poster 10’5″ x 22’8″ Yes 22,920 Amanda & August 69,913 RHR 6/20/11 – 7/17/11
7 2455 S. Hamilton Rd., west side facing south. Eco-Poster 10’5″ x 22’8″ Yes 16,620 Ashley 52,392 LHR 6/20/11 – 7/17/11

UPDATE: Dylan’s billboard is no longer located at #4 on the map above. It has been relocated to East Main St., west of Alum Creek Dr., facing west. See http://ffrf.org/news/releases/update-censored-billboard-relocated/ for more information.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Send this to a friend