(Roanoke, Virginia, December 28, 2012.) A second of the four Blue Ridge Coalition of Reason billboards in the Roanoke area was found vandalized today. The billboard at 32 Boulevard Street near the underpass and just north of Patterson, in Roanoke, facing south, originally read: “Don’t believe in God? Join the club.” But the “n’t” was blocked out with wrapping paper and duct tape, leaving the text to read “Do.” Last week the billboard at Virginia Route 419 at 1420 Lynchburg Turnpike, in Salem, facing east, had had the entire word “Don’t” blacked out with paint. That billboard has been replaced.
The billboards were placed by the Blue Ridge Coalition of Reason (Blue Ridge CoR) with $3,500.00 in funding from the United Coalition of Reason (UnitedCoR), headquartered in Washington DC. The ads were first announced Wednesday, December 19, as part of the public launch of Blue Ridge CoR.
“Once again we are sadly reminded of how necessary our message is,” said Paul Hoyt, coordinator of Blue Ridge CoR. “While atheists haven’t been known to vandalize religious billboards, there are a number of cases of atheist billboards getting vandalized for obvious religious reasons. And now this is being done, of all times, when both atheists and religious people are celebrating the holiday season.”
For images of the billboard, in both its original and defaced conditions, free for media use, see the right sidebar.
UnitedCoR has informed the billboard owner, Lamar Outdoor, of this latest vandalism and is arranging to have the damage repaired. UnitedCoR continues to leave it to the discretion of the local Lamar office to file a police report.
“Prejudice against non-theistic and other non-religious people continues to be very real in America,” said Fred Edwords, national director of UnitedCoR. “So we are forced to speak out whenever these unfortunate incidents occur.”
On its website at BlueRidgeCoR.org, the Blue Ridge Coalition of Reason declares its purpose as “a joint outreach effort” to help the public connect with “local freethought, humanist, atheist, agnostic, rationalist” and other such groups. It is also to provide interested people “with information and a sense of community.” The coalition was officially launched December 19 when the billboards were announced.
“We remain more committed than ever to the goal of making our presence known,” Hoyt added. “And we know that this second act against us will mobilize more non-theistic people to come out of the closet. For it is only when we stand together that we can end religious bigotry.”
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The Blue Ridge Coalition of Reason ( www.BlueRidgeCoR.org ) is a resource for freethinking people, with the goal of uniting the various non-theistic groups throughout the greater Roanoke and Blue Ridge area.
The United Coalition of Reason ( www.UnitedCoR.org ) exists to raise the visibility and sense of unity among local groups in the community of reason by providing funding and expertise to help them cooperate toward common goals.
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