March 24, 2009
“Don’t believe in God? You are not alone.”
Starting this week, these words will be read by motorists traveling on Highway 95 near Moscow, Idaho. They are part of a highway billboard that features an image of blue sky and clouds with the words superimposed over. The billboard is placed by the American Humanist Association, a national advocacy organization, and is part of an ongoing campaign to raise the public profile of nontheism.
The striking message raises a question . . . and maybe some eyebrows.
“The point of the billboard is to let nontheistic people–such as atheists, agnostics, humanists and freethinkers–know they’re not alone,” explained Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. “The message is particularly important in smaller towns like Moscow and Pullman, which tend to have a larger percentage of religious people than the big cities. Nontheists might not realize there’s a community out there for them because they’re inundated with religious messages on every corner. But now they’ll have a message catered specifically to them.”
The announcement of the billboard coincided with a press conference held by the American Humanist Association today at the 1912 Center in Moscow. Speckhardt said he was excited to talk to the local community about the billboard campaign and the American Humanist Association’s mission.
Reaching out to nontheists isn’t the only goal of the billboard campaign: “We want people to know you can be good without God,” said Maggie Ardiente, director of development of the American Humanist Association. “There’s a lot of misinformation out there about nontheists, so we want to educate people about our community and change those false perceptions. Humanists are patriots, we are dedicated to our families and friends and we want to live fulfilling, virtuous lives.”
The billboard will run on Highway 95 between March 24 and June 14 of this year. It can be found just south of Moscow near the Sweet Avenue cross street, facing southbound traffic.
The billboard is one of many that have gone up around the country, including billboards outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Charleston, South Carolina. In addition, during the past holiday season the American Humanist Association ran an ad campaign on metro buses in Washington, DC, which garnered both applause and controversy.
The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) advocates for the rights and viewpoints of humanists. Founded in 1941 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., its work is extended through more than 100 local chapters and affiliates across America.
Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without theism, affirms our responsibility to lead ethical lives of value to self and humanity.