Atheist Billboards

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 Feb 

Whitehall, OH

Ohio

Praise Darwin Evolve Beyond Belief

 
 
PRESS RELEASE

City of Whitehall, Ohio, Won’t “Praise Darwin” . . . So FFRF Billboard Will

Billboard counters mayor calling U.S. “a Christian nation,” and dismissing state/church violations because the critics are” atheists, antagonists and a minority.” The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which has been tangling with Whitehall Mayor John Wolfe over the city’s unlawful Christian display every December, is fighting back with a billboard!

The City of Whitehall refused to adopt a proclamation for Darwin Day, Feb. 12, in honor of the historic bicentennial celebration of Charles Darwin’s birth. So the national state/church watchdog has posted a billboard in Whitehall reading “Praise Darwin: Evolve Beyond Belief.” Bearing Darwin’s iconic image, the billboard message will be up at East Main and Fountain Lane in Whitehall, a suburb of Columbus, by Feb. 11.

The Foundation, the nation’s largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics), has 13,600 members nationwide, and 300 members in Ohio. On behalf of its Ohio members, the Foundation has complained about nativity scenes at Malabar State Farm and Shawnee State Park, as well as city-sponsored endorsements of Christianity every December, including a violation in Whitehall. Read FFRF letter of complaint.

“We were so shocked and offended at the statement by Whitehall Mayor John Wolfe to CBNS-TV Channel 10 saying, “We are a Christian nation,” and dismissing a constitutional violation because: ‘They’re atheists, they’re antagonists and they’re a minority,’ ” said Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor. “Can you imagine him dismissing charges of racial discrimination by the city because, ‘They’re blacks, they’re antagonists and they’re a minority’? Or, ‘They’re Jews, they’re antagonists, and they’re a minority’?

The mayor’s intolerant remarks prove the harm of uniting religion and government, which invariably invites persecution of dissenters.” “The Darwin billboard in part recognizes the enduring and scientific accomplishments of a brilliant man,” notes David Russell, an area state/church separation activist who first complained about Whitehall’s nativity display.

“Darwin not only researched extensively how life evolved through succession, but his work helped shape the modern interpretation of evolutionary theory. He almost single-handedly took the world from blind faith of unproven dogma to an enduring theory that has withstood 150 years of scrutiny.

“The placement of the billboard in Whitehall is especially appropriate since some members of Whitehall city government seem intent on mixing religion and government. The large Christian-only display on the steps of city hall each December serves to remind us that we must be ever-vigilant of the unfortunate mixing of religion and government.

Neither is served when religion is given special treatment,” Russell added. The Foundation would like to hear from any resident of Whitehall, or anyone who regularly does business at Whitehall City Hall, who is offended by the annual display of a nativity scene by the entrance of city hall, and wishes to pursue a legal remedy. Such individuals may contact the Foundation at info@ffrf.org.

The Foundation also placed billboards “praising Darwin” this month in Dayton, Tenn., and Dover, Penn., sites of the historic classroom battles over the teaching of evolution, as well as in Madison, Wis., the Foundation’s headquarters. This week it has just placed a “Praise Darwin” billboard in Grand Junction, Colo., where local officials also refused to declare a day to honor Darwin.

“Charles Darwin gets such a bad rap in America, and we want to counter that. It’s an intellectual stain on our nation that more than half of all Americans reject evolution,” said Gaylor.

“The Darwin bicentennial is a chance to move our nation forward, to return to the Enlightenment, and give credit where it is due.” The year 2009 also marks the 150th anniversary of the release of Origin of Species, Darwin’s seminal work on evolution. “The double anniversaries of these historic dates make 2009 a blockbuster year for promoting reason and science,” adds Foundation co-president Dan Barker, author of Godless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America’s Leading Atheists. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., is a national association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics) that has been working since 1978 to keep church and state separate.

[February 9, 2009]

 
VANDALISM
PRESS RELEASE

FFRF’s “Praise Darwin” Billboard Stolen in Whitehall, Ohio, on Darwin Bicentennial
A billboard placed in suburban Columbus, Ohio, by the Freedom From Religion Foundation commemorating the Feb. 12 bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth was stolen only two days after it went up, sometime after nightfall on Thursday, Feb. 12. A local resident of Whitehall noticed the billboard was missing on Friday, and reported its absence to the Foundation over the weekend. The Foundation had placed the "Praise Darwin: Evolve Beyond Belief" billboard on East Main and Fountain Lane, Columbus, on Feb. 11, in response to the refusal of the White Hall City Council to adopt a Darwin Day proclamation proposed by city council representative Jacqueline Thompson. The billboard site is technically in Columbus, so the theft was reported to Columbus police yesterday. The theft is a misdemeanor. Police will be checking videos by local businesses. The Foundation has been tangling with Whitehall Mayor John Wolfe over the city's unlawful Christian display every December. The mayor had dismissed state/church critics as "atheists, antagonists and a minority," and in public comments had proclaimed that the United States is a "Christian nation." "It appears the mayor's attitude has encouraged a license against free speech and free thought," said Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor. "It took a lot of gall--and a very long ladder--in order for a lawbreaker to climb up and rip off our fully-illuminated banner," she noted. "Our pro-Darwin billboard will be back in Whitehall sometime next week," said Dan Barker, Foundation co-president. What's "amazing," Gaylor added, is that the same billboard message has been up unmolested for several weeks in Dayton, Tenn., and Dover, Penn., where emotions still run high over their respective classroom battles over teaching evolution. "Yet when locals in Dayton wanted to respond, they rented a billboard for their creationist views. They didn't suppress our speech or vandalize our property. That's much classier than what happened in Whitehall," said Gaylor. "And," she quipped, "a 'war of the billboards' is good stimulus for the economy!" The Foundation, the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics), has 13,600 members nationwide, and 300 members in Ohio. This year not only marks the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth, but also the 150th anniversary of the release of Origin of Species, Darwin's seminal work on evolution. [February 17, 2009]
Ohio Billboard Stolen, Replaced
A billboard placed in suburban Columbus, Ohio, by the Freedom From Religion Foundation to commemorate the bicentennial of Charles Darwin’s birth was stolen sometime after nightfall on Feb. 12, Darwin’s 200th birthday, only two days after it went up. Clear Channel Outdoor Co. hustled to replace the vinyl sign and kindly replaced it by the last week of February. The Foundation had placed the “Praise Darwin: Evolve Beyond Belief” billboard on East Main and Fountain Lane, Columbus, on Feb. 11, in response to the refusal of the White Hall City Council to adopt a Darwin Day proclamation proposed by city council representative Jacqueline Thompson. The Foundation has been tangling with Whitehall Mayor John Wolfe over the city’s unlawful Christian display every December. The mayor had dismissed state/church critics as “atheists, antagonists and a minority,” and in public comments had proclaimed that the United States is a “Christian nation.” “Can you imagine him dismissing charges of racial discrimination by the city because, ‘They’re blacks, they’re antagonists and they’re a minority’? Or, ‘They’re Jews, they’re antagonists, and they’re a minority’? The mayor’s intolerant remarks prove the harm of uniting religion and government, which invariably invites persecution of dissenters,” said Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor. “The Darwin billboard in part recognizes the enduring and scientific accomplishments of a brilliant man,” noted Foundation member David Russell, an area state/church separation activist who first complained about Whitehall’s nativity display. “Darwin not only researched extensively how life evolved through succession, but his work helped shape the modern interpretation of evolutionary theory. He almost single-handedly took the world from blind faith of unproven dogma to an enduring theory that has withstood 150 years of scrutiny. “The placement of the billboard in Whitehall is especially appropriate since some members of Whitehall city government seem intent on mixing religion and government. The large Christian-only display on the steps of city hall each December serves to remind us that we must be ever-vigilant of the unfortunate mixing of religion and government. Neither is served when religion is given special treatment,” Russell added. “It appears the mayor’s attitude has encouraged a license against free speech and free thought,” said Gaylor. “It took a lot of gall–and a very long ladder–in order for a lawbreaker to climb up and rip off our fully-illuminated banner,” she noted.
FFRF’s “Praise Darwin” Billboard Re-Posted in Columbus, Ohio
It's back! A billboard commemorating the February bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth, which was stolen from its Clear Channel board in suburban Columbus, Ohio, has returned. Thieves would have required 32-foot ladders to access the high board. The billboard disappeared sometime after nightfall on Feb. 12, on the 200th anniversary of Darwin's birthdate. "Talk about symbolism!" said Freedom From Religion Foundation co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor. "We designed this billboard because Charles Darwin not only gets a bad rap in the United States, but because some 50% of adult Americans embrace the myth of creationism. It seems somebody in the Columbus area was so threatened by an acknowledgment of Darwin's contributions to human knowledge that they had to steal our message! It's not that easy to stop evolution!" Gaylor added. "We thank Clear Channel Outdoor in Columbus for their kind and immediate assistance in restoring our billboard message as quickly as possible," added Foundation co-president Dan Barker. This is the first time a Foundation billboard has been vandalized or stolen since the national association launched a billboard campaign in late 2007. The Foundation has erected billboards in more than 15 states and many cities. The Whitehall City Council refused to adopt a proclamation honoring Darwin, so the national Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., placed the "Praise Darwin: Evolve Beyond Belief" billboard on East Main and Fountain Lane, Columbus, on Feb. 11. Also prompting the Foundation billboard is Whitehall's history of erecting a manger scene on a stage by the front door of Whitehall City Hall every December. The mayor has dismissed the Foundation and Ohio complainant David Russell as "atheists, antagonists and a minority." In public comments, Mayor John Wolfe had proclaimed that the United States is a "Christian nation." The Foundation is seeking a Whitehall plaintiff. The Madison, Wis.-based Foundation, the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists and agnostics), has 13,600 members nationwide, and 300 members in Ohio. This year not only marks the bicentennial of Charles Darwin's birth, but also the 150th anniversary of the release of Origin of Species, Darwin's history-changing work on evolution. Original press release, Feb. 9, 2009 Darwin billboard stolen, press release Feb. 17, 2009 The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., is a national association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics) that has been working since 1978 to keep church and state separate. [February 25, 2009]
 
 

 Whitehall, OH 

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