Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.
Godless Billboards Appearing in NE Florida
“Don’t Believe in God? You Are Not Alone.”
These words are part of prominent billboards scheduled to go up today in Jacksonville and St. Augustine. The one for Jacksonville is 10′x32′ and will be located in the Bellair-Meadowbrook Terrace area on the west side of Blanding Blvd. (SR 21) just north of Parkwood Dr., facing north. For the St. Augustine area, the billboard is 12′x40′ and will be located in St. Augustine South on the west side of the Dixie Highway (U.S. Hwy. 1), almost a mile south of SR 312, facing south.
Being placed by the Northeast Florida Coalition of Reason (Northeast Florida CoR), with $2,300 in funding from the United Coalition of Reason (United CoR), each billboard features an image of blue sky and clouds with the words superimposed over. Their announcement marks the public launch of the Northeast Florida coalition, which is made up of three area nontheistic (atheist and agnostic) groups.
The Jacksonville and St. Augustine billboards are also part of a national campaign. Already this year there have been similar billboards in the Tampa Bay area, Tucson, Sacramento and Seattle. There were also bus ads in Des Moines and Detroit. Last year, United CoR-sponsored billboard, bus, and subway ads appeared in 20 cities, including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Tulsa, Phoenix and San Diego.
“The point of our nationwide awareness campaign is to reach out to the millions of freethinkers, humanists, atheists and agnostics living in the United States,” explained Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason. “Nonreligious people sometimes don’t realize there’s a community out there for them because they’re inundated with religious messages at every turn. So we hope this will serve as a beacon and let them know they aren’t alone.”
Reaching out to the like minded isn’t the only goal of the effort. “We also want to let the general public know that those of us who don’t believe in a higher power live in the area, too,” added Stephen Peek, coordinator of Northeast Florida CoR. “Folks may not know that people like us can be found everywhere. We’re family members, friends, neighbors and coworkers. So we think it’s time that we became open about our views, just as others are open about theirs.”
[March 24, 2010]
ST. AUGUSTINE'S GODLESS BILLBOARD MYSTERIOUSLY DAMAGED
A billboard on the West side of US Hwy. 1 bearing the message, "Don't Believe in God? You Are Not Alone," has suffered major damage. Located 5.7 miles North of SR-16 and visible to southbound traffic, the message raised controversy when it first appeared March 29. Now those behind that message believe vandalism may have been involved. "We can't say for sure, but it looks like somebody with a truck could have pulled at the billboard structure from behind in an effort to bring it down," said Stephen Peek, coordinator of the Northeast Florida Coalition of Reason, the sponsor of the billboard. "Then again, perhaps some heavy object flying off a passing train could have struck it in front, although we don't see any such object nearby and the billboard vinyl isn't torn." The owner of the billboard structure, CBS Outdoor, was notified of the damage this morning by the United Coalition of Reason, which is the national organization, headquartered in Washington, D.C., that contracted for the billboard on the local coalition's behalf. "We wanted to first get photo verification of the situation before making our report," said Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason. "And from the photos, the damage appears significant, too great to be weather related, especially given recent good weather and the good condition of the surrounding trees. On the other hand, the remote location of this billboard adds to the probability of vandalism. But only an on-site investigation by the billboard owner has any chance of solving the mystery." A few billboards and bus advertisements paid for by the national organization have been vandalized in the recent past--specifically, three billboards in Sacramento, California, and three bus ads in Detroit, Michigan. "But these are only rare instances during a national campaign that has spanned 26 cities in 14 months," Edwords stated. The St. Augustine billboard was put up around the same time as an identical one in Orange Park near Jacksonville, also sponsored by the Northeast Florida Coalition of Reason. The two together cost $2,300, paid by the United Coalition of Reason. "Our goal has been to reach out to those who already agree with us so they don't feel isolated," Peek said. "So if this damage turns out to be vandalism, it will only increase our conviction as to how necessary our message is." [April 13, 2010]