New billboard features Knoxville student supporting atheists of color in overcoming discrimination

Therrin Wilson

A new billboard is up near the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville supporting atheists of color who often face discrimination as they come out of the closet about their lack of religious beliefs. The billboard is part of a national campaign by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF).

“I was raised as a Baptist Christian, but I put God to the test with my scientific thinking – and he didn’t survive,” says Wilson, a University of Tennessee, Knoxville student.

“I’ve had to overcome friends, family, and relationships all shutting me out, but overcoming that adversity is what made me as proud to be an atheist as I am to be an African-American,” added Wilson. “Organizations such as the Secular Student Alliance and Freedom From Religion Foundation all contribute to the atheist sense of belonging, so it’s like a second home to me.”

FFRF is a national nonprofit organization that fights for the separation of church and state through legal work and advocacy. The nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics), FFRF also supports freethinkers of color in overcoming the discrimination that can be prevalent when they come out of the closet as an atheist, agnostic or skeptic in heavily religious communities.

FFRF pays out more than $17,000 in scholarship award money to high school and college student freethinkers who write essays about overcoming discrimination. This year for the first time, FFRF is featuring some of its essay contest honorees in billboards and digital video ads shown across the country. Wilson was one of its recent honorees and selected for the billboard because of his strong message.

“FFRF is committed to helping young atheists and freethinkers like Therrin in coming out of the closet,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Hopefully, this campaign will encourage other young freethinkers to speak out about their views, whether they are an atheist, agnostic or skeptic of any stripe.”

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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