"Don’t believe in God? You are not alone."
These words are part of prominent billboards that will go up Thursday in Jacksonville and St. Augustine. The one for Jacksonville is 10’x32′ and will be located in the Bellair-Meadowbrook Terrace area on the north side of Blanding Blvd. (SR 21) just west of Parkwood Dr., facing north. For the St. Augustine area, the billboard is 12’x40′ and will be located in St. Augustine South on the west side of the Dixie Highway (U.S. Hwy. 1), almost a mile south of SR 312, facing south.
Being placed by the Northeast Florida Coalition of Reason (Northeast Florida CoR), with $2,300 in funding from the United Coalition of Reason (United CoR), each billboard features an image of blue sky and clouds with the words superimposed over. Their announcement marks the public launch of the Northeast Florida coalition, which is made up of three area nontheistic (atheist and agnostic) groups.
The Jacksonville and St. Augustine billboards are also part of a national campaign. Already this year there have been similar billboards in the Tampa Bay area, Tucson, Sacramento and Seattle. There were also bus ads in Des Moines and Detroit. Last year, United CoR-sponsored billboard, bus, and subway ads appeared in 20 cities, including Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, Dallas, Tulsa, Phoenix and San Diego.
"The point of our nationwide awareness campaign is to reach out to the millions of freethinkers, humanists, atheists and agnostics living in the United States," explained Fred Edwords, national director of the United Coalition of Reason. "Nonreligious people sometimes don’t realize there’s a community out there for them because they’re inundated with religious messages at every turn. So we hope this 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 also want to let the general public know that those of us who don’t believe in a higher power live in the area, too," added Stephen Peek, coordinator of Northeast Florida CoR. "Folks may not know that people like us can be found everywhere. We’re family members, friends, neighbors and coworkers. So we think it’s time that we became open about our views, just as others are open about theirs."
For more details on the Northeast Florida campaign and for hi-res images of the billboard, free for media use, go to www.NortheastFloridaCoR.org .
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The Northeast Florida Coalition of Reason is a collaboration of atheist, freethought and humanist groups in Jacksonville and St. Augustine. It serves as a resource for the public, works to raise awareness of area nontheists, and promotes cooperation among the individual groups.
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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