Nation's Largest Atheist Group Launches Political Billboard Campaign Aimed at Young Voters

Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, being interviewed for a segment on the satirical news program 'The Daily Show' that aired on Comedy Central Tuesday, December 9, 2014.
Dan Barker, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, being interviewed for a segment on the satirical news program "The Daily Show" that aired on Comedy Central Tuesday, December 9, 2014. | (Photo: Screengrab/Dailyshow)

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has launched a new billboard campaign in Madison, Wisconsin, angled at appealing to young atheist voters.

The new campaign includes 12 billboards throughout the Madison area that show photos of young atheists with the message: "I'm an Atheist and I Vote!"

Calli Miller, who serves as a legal assistant for the Madison-based atheist group, said in a statement that the purpose of the billboards is to send the message to 2016 presidential candidates that nonbelieving voters have power.

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"Madison is a very secular city, and we want the candidates to acknowledge our presence and priorities," Miller said. "Candidates should acknowledge secular voters as the fastest growing minority group in America, while committing to keep religion out of government."

The Midwestern city is preparing for its April 5 primary votes. All of top presidential candidates, including former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, and Donald Trump are set to campaign in the state in the next several days.

"Secular voters are highly educated and independent-minded," said Annie Laurie-Gaylor, co-president of the FFRF. "They care deeply about women's rights, environmental protection, marriage equality, and social justice and candidates should be reaching out to them directly."

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has engaged in several billboard campaigns in the past, including erecting 11 billboards in the Chicago area ahead of the 2014 Christmas season that promoted various atheist messages.

Back in 2012, the atheist group launched campaigns in areas of political activity, and posted billboards in Tampa, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina, where the Democratic and Republican national conventions where held that year.

The billboards carried phrases that read "God fixation won't fix this nation."

FFRF Co-President Dan Barker said at the time that the billboards are "an equal-opportunity message to both political parties and all public officials."

"Essentially, we secularists, who comprise nearly a fifth of the U.S. population, are telling government officials that it's time to get off your knees and get to work!" Barker added.

A 2015 Lifeway Research study found that only 19 percent of respondents still identify the U.S. as a Christian nation. The study also found that Americans are more accepting of atheists compared to Muslims.

"Debate about whether America is a Christian nation will continue," Scott McConnell, LifeWay Research vice president, said at the time. "Although most Americans are Christians, they understand a nation founded on principles of religious freedom will be a nation of many faiths."

A Gallup poll taken in June 2015 also found that the number of Americans who said they would vote for an atheist president has jumped to 58 percent, which is up 4 percentage points from 2012 and 40 percentage points from 1958.

This survey, however, shows that atheist approval is still low, as nine out of 10 Americans said they would be more willing to vote for a Catholic, woman, Hispanic, Jewish, or black president.

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