Rhode Island atheist on Providence billboard as part of secular campaign


Secular vote campaign Rhode Island billboard

“I’m an atheist and I vote,” proclaims Rhode Island clinical therapist Todd W. Ellison on a 14-by-48-foot billboard that went up in early September on I-295 at Route 2 in Warwick, R.I. 

Ellison is part of a provocative secular voter campaign by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which points out that today 75 million adult Americans — nearly one in three — are nonreligious. In a variety of billboards and full-page newspaper ads, nonreligious Americans such as Ellison are announcing that they devoutly want to keep religion out of government — and are voting that way. 

Ellison, pictured in front of the Rhode Island Capitol in Providence, will also appear in a full-page newspaper ad running in the area on Sunday, Sept. 18. That ad is timed for Constitution Day, Sept. 17, the 235th anniversary of the signing of what FFRF calls the “godless” Constitution.

“We were first among nations to adopt a godless constitution, whose only references to religion are exclusionary,” reminds Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president, “and that precious constitutional principle of separation between state and church is very much endangered today by changes on the US Supreme Court and the rise of Christian nationalism.”

FFRF works as a state/church watchdog, with more than 38,000 nonreligious members, including Ellison.

Ellison explains: “I’m a 50-year-old single gay man, three-time cancer survivor, pet lover, and I’m secular and I vote.” Ellison has a master’s degree and is licensed to practice clinical therapy independently in Rhode Island and several states. He is also the founder/director of a small cancer support nonprofit and volunteers with a number of cancer organizations. He loves to travel, too.

Ellison is participating in round two of FFRF’s national secular values voter awareness campaign taking place in more than half the states this month. The campaign visited other states in FFRF’s earlier “independence from religion” campaign over the Fourth of July. View all ads here.

Full-page newspaper ads will also run in the Washington Post and 44 other newspapers, including those in many capital cities with accompanying billboard messaging.

In the ad, Ellison notes: “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.” Ellison calls for keeping religion out of government, social policy and public schools. Notably, given the overturning of Roe. v. Wade and increasing attacks on LGBTQ rights, the ad also demands that religion be kept “out of bedrooms, personal lives and health care decisions — including when or whether to have children, and whom to love or marry.”

“We’re putting public candidates and officials on notice that secular voters are here, that WE are the true ‘values voters’ and that it’s time that our secular viewpoint be respected and represented,” adds Gaylor.

The growing and increasingly overt calls for Christian nationalism and the alarming recent tendency of the U.S. Supreme Court to privilege religion and eviscerate individual rights require that secular voices be heard, conclude Ellison and FFRF.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has more than 38,000 members throughout North America, serves as a membership group for like-minded atheists, freethinkers and humanists, and works diligently as a state/church watchdog to uphold the constitutional principle of separation between state and church.

Freedom From Religion Foundation

Send this to a friend