(Omaha, Nebraska, July 09, 2012) "Don't believe in God? Join the club."
These words, superimposed over an image of the Earth's horizon in space, now appear on a prominent billboard in Omaha. The 14' x 48' ad is on 72nd Street at Pacific, on the west side facing north. It can be seen by southbound traffic heading toward I-80 and is illuminated at night. The ad will remain up through July, at which time it will be switched to the opposite side of the sign unit. It will then face south where it can be seen by northbound traffic heading toward the University of Nebraska at Omaha and the Benson area. In this position it will remain up through August, heralding the Fourth Annual Midwest Freethought Conference, to be held at the University of Nebraska at Omaha August 3-5. The ad has been placed by the Omaha Coalition of Reason with $5,850 in funding from the United Coalition of Reason.
This billboard campaign marks the public launch of Omaha CoR, which is an alliance of seven atheist, humanist, secularist and skeptic groups working together in the greater Omaha area. As part of its launch, Omaha CoR is cosponsoring the Midwest Freethought Conference. For full details on this event, which will feature such controversial speakers as PZ Myers and Dan Barker, go to http://www.MidwestFreethoughtConference.org/ .
The overall campaign is the latest in a nationwide effort to reach out to non-theists. Since March 2009 there have been similar billboards, bus ads or Internet campaigns, sometimes with conferences, in 32 states and the District of Columbia. The states are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia. This is the first coalition billboard campaign in Nebraska.
"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 non-theists 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 coalition: "We hope Nebraskans will realize that we are a regular part of the community," said William Newman, director of Omaha CoR. "People like us live all over the state. We're your friends and family members, neighbors and coworkers. Some of us might even be sitting in a pew near you at church."
"Being visible is important to us," Edwords concluded, "because, in our society, atheists and agnostics often don't know many people like themselves. Moreover, if traditionally religious people can be open about their views, why can't we be open about ours?"
For high-res images of the billboard, free for media use, see the right sidebar.
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The Omaha Coalition of Reason is made up of seven area atheist, agnostic, humanist, scientific, secular and skeptic groups working together to provide education, support and a sense of community among the like minded.
The United Coalition of Reason is made up of 57 local coalitions nationwide and works to raise the visibility and sense of unity among non-theistic groups.
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