Don’t believe in God? Join the club.
Godless Billboards in Boise and Nampa; Atheists in July 4th Parade
“Don’t believe in God? Join the club.”
These words, superimposed over an image of a mountain sunrise, now appear on a prominent billboard in Boise. A similar billboard in Nampa bears the words, “Are you good without God? Millions are.”
The 10′ 6″ x 36′ Boise billboard is on the I-184 Connector, eastbound, right-hand side, just south of West Emerald. It can be seen by traffic heading toward downtown and Boise State University. The 11′ x 22′ Nampa billboard is on Caldwell Blvd. northwest bound, left-hand side, just north of West Karcher Ave., Midland exit. It can be seen by traffic heading toward Caldwell. Both billboards are digital, illuminated at night, and will remain up through July 29. These ads were placed by the Treasure Valley Coalition of Reason with $5,300 in funding from the United Coalition of Reason.
The billboard campaign marks the public launch of Treasure Valley CoR, which is an alliance of six atheist, freethought, humanist and skeptic groups working together in the greater Boise area. As part of its launch, representatives of Treasure Valley CoR will also march in the 4th of July parade Wednesday. Their unit will feature a banner designed similarly to the billboards, signs bearing quotes from America’s founders that emphasize secular government, and images of key Founding Fathers. The parade begins at 11 AM at 10th and Jefferson and ends at 11th and Idaho..
This Boise-area campaign is the latest in a nationwide effort to reach out to non-theists. Since March 2009 there have been similar billboards, as well as bus ads and Internet campaigns, in 32 states and the District of Columbia. The states are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia. In Idaho there was a February campaign in Moscow on the Palouse.
“The point of our ongoing nationwide awareness campaign is to reach out to the millions of atheists and agnostics living in the United States,” explained Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason. “Such non-theists sometimes don’t realize there’s a community for them because they’re inundated with religious messages at every turn. We hope our effort 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 coalition: “We hope the public will realize that we are a regular part of the community,” said Susan Harrington, coordinator for Treasure Valley CoR. “People like us live all over Idaho. We’re your family and friends, coworkers and neighbors. We might even be sitting in a pew at your church.”
“Being visible is important to us,” Edwords concluded, “because, in our society, atheists and agnostics often don’t know many people like themselves. Moreover, if traditionally religious people can be open about their views, why can’t we be open about ours?”
[July 3, 2012]