(Ripon, CA, May 18, 2011) "Don’t believe in God? Join the Club."
These words, superimposed over an image of a sunrise, now appear on a prominent billboard in the Modesto area. It is in Ripon, on the west side of Hwy 99, 500 ft. south of 4th Street, facing south. The 14 by 48 foot billboard will remain up through the Memorial Day weekend to June 14 and be illuminated at night. This campaign, sponsored by the San Joaquin Valley Coalition of Reason (SJ Valley CoR) with $7,296.00 in funding from the United Coalition of Reason (United CoR), also includes a billboard in Stockton.
Moreover, the two billboards are part of a larger effort. Others went up this month in Fresno and Westminster (Orange County), California, and will continue to June 1. And since the spring of 2009 there have been similar ad campaigns in Sacramento and San Diego as well as in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, and West Virginia.
"The point of our ongoing nationwide awareness campaign is to reach out to the millions of atheists and agnostics living in the United States," explained Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason. "Such nontheists sometimes don’t realize there’s a community for them because they’re inundated with religious messages at every turn. We hope our effort will serve as a beacon and let them know they aren’t alone."
Reaching out to the like minded isn’t the only goal of the effort: "We want people to realize that a person can be a decent human being without believing in a god," said Colleen Keenan, coordinator of SJ Valley CoR. "You’ll find us all over the valley. We’re your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers and your family members."
Edwords added: "The four billboards running this month in California will remain up even after the supposed Rapture that a few have predicted for the end of this week, May 21."
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For hi-res images of the billboards, free for media use, visit www.SJValleyCoR.org .
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SJ Valley CoR is a coalition made up of the Stockton Area Atheists and Freethinkers, the Secular Student Alliance at the University of the Pacific and Stanislaus Skeptics.
The United Coalition of Reason consists 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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