Don’t believe in God? Join the club.
Godless Billboards Blanket Chico
“Don’t believe in God? Join the club.”
These words, superimposed over an image of a mountain sunrise, now appear on a dozen prominent 10 ½’ x 22 ½’ billboards across Chico. Their appearance marks the formal launch of the Butte County Coalition of Reason, a new organization comprised of three area non-theistic (atheist and agnostic) groups.
“We want to let the general public know that we belong to the larger community,” said George Gold, coordinator of the Butte County Coalition of Reason, today.
“We non-theists are your family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers. We’re just like you, except we don’t believe in a supreme being. It’s about time we were equally free to be open about our views,” Gold added.
The dozen billboards, half of which are lit at night, can be found at the locations listed at http://unitedcor.org/butte_county/page/events. Three of these are as follows:
* On Skyway, heading north, on the left, just before Honey Run Road
* On Cohasset, leaving Chico Airport, on the left, before Eaton
* On Esplanade, heading north, on the east side of the street, just north of Commercial, on the east side of Park at 10th Street
Hi-res images, free for media use, are also available at this link. The billboards will remain up through New Year’s.
These billboards are part a coordinated nationwide program that began in 2009. From then to now, 58 similar campaigns have been launched in 33 states and the District of Columbia by the United Coalition of Reason (UnitedCoR). UnitedCoR provided the $3,780 in funding for the Chico billboards.
“The point of our national awareness campaign is to reach out to the millions of humanists, atheists and agnostics living in the United States,” explained Fred Edwords, national director of United CoR. “Non-theists sometimes don’t realize there’s a community for them because they’re inundated with religious messages at every turn. So we hope our effort will serve as a beacon and let them know they aren’t alone.”
“Being visible is important to us,” Edwords concluded, “because, in our society, non-religious people often don’t know many like themselves.
This campaign is the latest in a nationwide effort to reach out to non-theists. There have been similar billboards, bus ads or Internet campaigns in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia. Other California campaigns have been run in Fresno, Modesto, Orange County, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, and Stockton. Future campaigns are planned for Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Luis Obispo.
[December 10, 2012]
Vandals Deface One of Chico's Godless Billboards
Vandals have cut out portions of one of the twelve Butte County Coalition of Reason billboards in Chico. The billboard on Skyway near Honey Run Road originally read, “Don’t believe in God? Join the club.” But the word “Don’t” was removed, along with part of the Web address: ButteCountyCoR.org. The billboard was placed by the Butte County Coalition of Reason (Butte County CoR) with $3,780 in funding from the United Coalition of Reason (UnitedCoR), headquartered in Washington DC. The ad has only been up a week and was first announced Monday morning. "This shows loud and clear just how necessary our message is, because prejudice against people who don't believe in a god remains very real in America," said George Gold today. He is coordinator of Butte County CoR. For images of the billboard, in both its original and defaced conditions, free for media use, see the right sidebar. Stott Outdoor, the owner of the billboard, has filed a report and agreed to replace the billboard at no cost to the Coalition of Reason. "This billboard's original message will be bright and clear in short order,” said Fred Edwords, national director of UnitedCoR. "Freedom of speech is worthy of everyone's defense. For it is only when controversial speech is protected that all speech is safe. And it is only when those with minority opinions can state their views that people will have a chance to broaden their awareness of the valuable diversity within their community." On its website at ButteCountyCoR.org, the Butte County Coalition of Reason declares, "Our goals are to foster a sense of community among like-minded people and raise public awareness that people who don't believe in a god or gods are decent people and contribute to our culture in many ways." The coalition was launched December 10 when the billboard was announced. "Now we are more committed than ever to the cause of making our presence known," Gold added. "Hopefully this vandalism will inspire more nontheistic people in the Butte County area to realize how important it is to get organized. Only by working together will we end bigotry against philosophical and religious minorities." [December 13, 2012]