(Fresno, May 6, 2011.) One or more vandals used spray paint to deface the Central Valley Coalition of Reason billboard in Fresno. The billboard originally read, “Don’t believe in God? Join the club.” But the word “Don’t” has been white-painted out and the letters “MADC,” a likely vandal identifier, have been painted large on the lower left.
The billboard was placed by the Central Valley Coalition of Reason (Valley CoR) with $5,176.00 in funding from the United Coalition of Reason (UnitedCoR), headquartered in Washington DC. The ad has only been up since late Tuesday and was first announced Wednesday morning.
“This shows loud and clear just how necessary our message is, because prejudice against people who don’t believe in a god remains very real in America.” said David Costa, coordinator of Valley CoR.
The defaced billboard is located on the west side of Blackstone, just north of Saginaw, and faces south. For images of the billboard, in both its original and defaced conditions, free for media use, go to www.ValleyCoR.org .
The Central Valley Coalition of Reason has informed the police. The United Coalition of Reason is asking CBS Outdoor, the owner of the billboard, to look into replacing it as quickly as possible.
“If necessary, we will pay the cost of printing up new vinyl and have this billboard’s original message bright and clear in short order,” said Fred Edwords, national director of United CoR. “Freedom of speech is worthy of everyone’s defense. For it is only when those with minority opinions can safely go public about their views that people will have a chance to broaden their awareness of the valuable diversity within their communities.”
On its website at ValleyCoR.org, the Central Valley Coalition of Reason declares, “This simple yet necessary message is important to communicate to those who feel isolated within their own communities and families because of differences in religious beliefs or the lack thereof.” The coalition was launched May 4 when the billboard was announced.
“Now we are more committed than ever to the cause of making our presence known,” Costa added. “Hopefully this vandalism will inspire more nontheistic people in the Central Valley to realize how important it is to get organized. Only by working together will we end bigotry against philosophical and religious minorities.”
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The Central Valley Coalition of Reason is made up of the Central Valley Alliance of Atheists and Skeptics, Humanists of the San Joaquin Valley and Tulare County Atheists.
The United Coalition of Reason is made up of over 40 local coalitions nationwide and works to raise the visibility and sense of unity among nontheistic groups by promoting cooperation and providing funding and expertise.
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