(Columbia, South Carolina, November 22, 2011) "Don’t believe in God? You are not alone."
These words, superimposed over an image of a blue sky and clouds, are now up on two 14 x 48 foot digital billboards. One is located at 600 Blossom Street where Pulaski Street dead ends. To traffic heading toward the University of South Carolina it will be seen on the right-hand side. The other billboard is on I-20 West, just east of Monticello Road, and visible on the right-hand side.
The ads will remain up for four weeks, covering Thanksgiving, the University of South Carolina-Clemson football game and mid December. They were placed by the Columbia Coalition of Reason (Columbia CoR) with $7,000 in funding from the United Coalition of Reason (UnitedCoR). The ad campaign marks the public launch of Columbia CoR, an alliance of four established non-theistic groups in the South Carolina midlands.
This campaign is also the latest in a nationwide effort to reach out to non-theists. Since March 2009 there have been similar billboards, as well as bus ad campaigns, in 26 other states and the District of Columbia. The states are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, 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 non-theists sometimes don’t realize there’s a community for them because they’re inundated with religious messages at every turn," he added. "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 people will discover that we are a regular part of the community," said Dustin Tucker, coordinator of the Columbia Coalition of Reason. "Atheists and agnostics like us live all over South Carolina. We’re your friends, your neighbors, your coworkers and family members. One of us might even be sitting in the pew next to you in church."
"Visibility is important to us," Edwords noted, "because, in this society, atheists and agnostics often don’t know many people like themselves. And if traditionally religious people can be open about their views, why can’t we be open about ours?"
For high-res images of the billboards, free for media use, go to www.ColumbiaCoR.org.
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The Columbia Coalition of Reason is a resource for freethinking people, with the goal of uniting the various non-theistic groups throughout the greater Columbia area.
The United Coalition of Reason is made up of over 50 local coalitions nationwide and works to raise the visibility and sense of unity among non-theistic groups.
For more information contact:
Columbia Coalition of Reason
(Note: primary point of contact; available in person Tuesday and in the AM on Wednesday; afterwards only by phone)