(Cincinnati, November 12, 2009) In the wake of “multiple, significant threats,” the downtown billboard that says, “Don’t Believe In God? You are not alone,” came down early this morning. It had been up only since Tuesday afternoon at Reading Road and 12th Street, one block south of Liberty Street. Now it is up again at a new site at the Sixth Street Viaduct.
Around 2:00 PM yesterday, the United Coalition of Reason, which paid $3,875.00 for a one-month run of the billboard, was contacted by Lamar Advertising of Cincinnati. Lamar reported that the been threatened over the billboard’s message and wanted it taken down. Lamar only leases the land the billboard stands on.
“We weren’t given the landowner’s identity or precise details,” reported Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason. “Nor did we pursue them. It was sufficient to learn that multiple, significant threats had been received and that Lamar would act quickly to alleviate the problem.”
Edwords added: “Lamar was most apologetic to us regarding the situation. It was a development they hadn’t expected. Nor had we. Nothing like this has ever happened to us before.”
The new location on the 6th Street Expressway, U.S. Highway 50, is owned by Lamar Advertising of Cincinnati and therefore isn’t subject to landowner restrictions. The billboard faces east, visible on the left to traffic traveling west out of the city across the viaduct toward the suburbs of Delhi and Price Hill.
Shawn Jeffers, co-coordinator for Cin CoR, the Cincinnati Coalition of Reason, which is the local organization the billboard advertises, sees this controversy as evidence of the billboard’s importance.
“Everything that has happened shows just how vital our message is,” Jeffers said. “It proves our point, that bigotry against people who don’t believe in a god is still very real in America. Only when we atheists, agnostics and humanists come together and go public about our views will people have a chance to learn that we too are part of the community and deserve respect.”
On its website at CinCoR.org, the Cincinnati Coalition of Reason describes itself as “a collection of nontheistic groups in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky working together to increase awareness of secular-minded principles and organizations.” The coalition was launched on November 10 when the billboard first went up.
“We are now more committed than ever to the goal of making our presence known,” Jeffers added. “Hopefully this turn of events will cause more and more nontheistic people in Cincinnati to realize how necessary it is to get organized. Only by working together can we end prejudice against philosophical and religious minorities.”
The United Coalition of Reason has now funded fourteen campaigns this year. Each has involved a billboard or public transit ads. They have appeared in places as far flung as Boston, Massachusetts; Charleston, South Carolina; Chicago, Illinois; Dallas and Fort Worth, Texas; Des Moines, Iowa; Morgantown, West Virginia; Newark, New Jersey; New Orleans, Louisiana; New York, New York; Phoenix, Arizona, and San Diego, California. On November 10, three were launched in Ohio: in Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus.
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The Cincinnati Coalition of Reason ( www.CinCoR.org ) is a group of like-minded member organizations from the greater Cincinnati area that advocate science and reason as the most reliable sources of knowledge and truth.
The United Coalition of Reason ( 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 the goal of raising their public profiles.
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