Eleven friendly and thought-provoking billboards featuring members of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and its chapter, the Northern Ohio Freethought Society, went up in early May around Cleveland and Akron in a month-long campaign to introduce area atheists and agnostics to their communities.
The billboards feature their faces and personal freethought ‚Äútestimonials.‚ÄĚ
Mark Tiborsky, who is pictured with his wife, Marni Heubner-Tiborsky, chapter director, commented: ‚ÄúWe just want to let other nonbelievers, or those on the fence about their religious belief, know they‚Äôre not alone and that the local nontheist community is both welcoming and growing.‚ÄĚ
Roni and Elliot Berenson, who are octogenarians, describe themselves modestly as ‚ÄúGrandparents . . . Atheists.‚ÄĚ Roni is well-known in the area and nationally as an activist for social justice, world peace and secular humanist causes. She became a freethinker at age 16 after escaping the Holocaust in her native Germany.
Students with the University of Akron Secular Student Alliance are featured on two billboards in Akron.
FFRF, with more than 20,000 members, has about 550 members in Ohio.
FFRF debuted the ‚ÄúOut of the Closet‚ÄĚ campaign in Madison in 2010 and has taken the campaign to Columbus, Tulsa, Raleigh, Phoenix, Nashville, Portland, Spokane and Sacramento.
‚ÄúResearch shows that atheists and other nonbelievers are still at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to social acceptance. One reason is that even though at least 20% of the population today is nonreligious in the United States, many Americans have never knowingly met an atheist,‚ÄĚ said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF co-president.
‚ÄúTaking a cue from the gay pride movement, our campaign invites other nonbelievers to share their views and ‚ÄėCome out of the closet.‚Äô ‚ÄĚ
FFRF Co-President Dan Barker said, ‚ÄúThe thoughtful, positive viewpoints expressed by Cleveland-area FFRF‚Äôers ‚ÄĒ and their willingness to speak up so publicly ‚ÄĒ makes me so proud of FFRF members, the best advertisement there is for freethought.‚ÄĚ
It‚Äôs easy and fun to make your own ‚Äúvirtual billboard,‚ÄĚ useable for Facebook image, at ffrf.org/day/. Watch for launching soon of FFRF‚Äôs latest ‚Äúspeak up for freethought‚ÄĚ video campaign.
Find locations for the billboards, in case you‚Äôre passing through the area, at: ffrf.org/news/news-releases/. Scroll to the to the May 8 release.