‘Not everyone in Kentucky is religious,’ says Atheist couple on billboard, July 4 ads in Frankfort

Kentucky Billboard

A billboard featuring a Kentucky couple proudly proclaiming “We’re Atheists and We Vote” has gone up at East 7th Street near the state Capitol building as part of a national multimedia secular voter campaign launched by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in this critical election year.

Kentucky AdThe couple, Ed and Mikel Hensley, are activists with the FFRF Kentucky Chapter. They will also be featured in full-page ads, in which they’re pictured in front of the state Capitol, running on Sunday, July 3, in both the Frankfort State Journal and Lexington Herald-Leader.

FFRF points out that the couple are two of 75 million nonreligious Americans who want Congress, state legislatures, public officials and courts to listen to “secular values voters” by keeping religion out of government and social policy — and that includes on the urgent question of abortion rights.

In the newspaper ads, Ed is identified as a “a husband, father, grandfather, retired software engineer, Kentuckian . . . and Atheist.” Mikel is identified as a “wife, mother, electrical technician, lifelong Kentuckian . . . and an Atheist.” They note: “The ‘Nones’ (those of us unaffiliated with religion) are now 29 percent of the U.S. population. We are the largest ‘denomination’ by religious identification!”

Ed was raised a fundamentalist Southern Baptist in rural Texas. “I became an atheist after reading the bible twice and studying about early Christianity and the history of the New Testament,” he says. He is a retired software engineer for UPS. Mikel was homeschooled and raised an evangelical Christian. She explains, “In my college years, my knowledge of the world expanded beyond the evangelical bubble, and by the end of my undergraduate studies, I was an atheist. I want to represent Kentucky in this campaign because I want it known that not everyone here is religious, and I want to kick back against the Christian nationalists in control of our legislature.”

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor explains, “FFRF is putting public candidates and officials on notice that the nonreligious now represent nearly a third of all adult Americans. We are the true ‘values voters’ and it’s critical that our secular viewpoint be heard and represented.”

Saying they “trust in reason, science and America’s secular Constitution,” the couple list a compelling number of secular voter demands: To keep religion out of government and social policy, out of public schools, and out of bedrooms, personal lives and health care decisions — including when or whether to have children, and whom to love or marry. “Use my tax dollars only for evidence-based, not faith-based, purposes,” they emphasize.

FFRF is running the billboards and newspaper ads in time for the July 3-4 weekend in about half of the United States, with the rest appearing around Sept. 17, Constitution Day.

The campaign is particularly timely coming on the heels of the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Gaylor observes that 98.8 percent of FFRF’s membership supports Roe, which is consistent with a YouGov analysis showing that atheists, at 91 percent overall, are the most likely to identify as pro-choice.

Gaylor called the Supreme Court’s ruling against abortion rights “an alarming wake up call,” and part of the Supreme Court trend to privilege religion at the expense of individual liberties. “That’s why our secular voices must be heard and why it’s essential to keep religious dogma out of our laws.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation serves as the nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics), with more than 36,000 members, including almost 300 in Kentucky, and works as a state/church watchdog to safeguard the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. To learn more, visit: ffrf.org.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

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