A new billboard campaign by the Treasure Valley Coalition of Reason in Idaho is turning heads by suggesting that there are millions of atheists out there and urging people to "join the club" – reflecting a growing movement among atheists in the U.S. looking to "come out of the closet" about their non-belief.
Two new signs put up in Caldwell feature two related messages over a backdrop of a sun rising over a valley, and read: "Are you good without God? Millions are" and "Don't believe in God? Join the club."
"Well, it's just to let people know, especially the closet atheists, that you are not alone," Art Rigsby, a local atheist shared with KBOI2-TV. "There are millions of people who do not believe in God."
"The point of our ongoing nationwide awareness campaign is to reach out to the millions of atheists and agnostics living in the United States," shared 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."
The Treasure Valley Coalition of Reason is an alliance of six atheist, freethought, humanist and skeptic organizations that have joined forces in the greater Boise area. The coalition shares on its website that it will celebrate the launch of its billboards by marching in the 4th of July parade on Wednesday.
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"Being visible is important to us, 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?" Edwords asked.
A number of members of the community who have seen the billboards have expressed disagreement with their messages, but say they respect the group's right to freedom of speech.
"No, I'm not cool with it, but they have the right to say what they want," said Elizabeth Weaver.
"The only thing I can do is love them, and pray for them," added Stefan Constantine
Atheistic billboards have been on the rise in the country in the past year, with a recent one put up by a secularist organization last month in Dallas encouraging Catholics to "Quit the Church." The campaign was in response to the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to the contraception mandate that requires religious institutions to offer insurance for birth control.