“Godless? So are we!” These words, superimposed over an image of the earth from space, are appearing on four prominent billboards across the state of Iowa and into Illinois. This marks the formal launch of the Central Iowa Coalition of Reason and the Eastern Iowa Coalition of Reason. Between them this represents an alliance of thirteen Iowa secular (atheist and agnostic) groups. The participating organizations are:
Central Iowa CoR (Des Moines area)
* Drake Secular Legal Society
* Drake University Secular Students Alliance
* Humanists of Iowa
* Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers
* Iowa State University Atheist & Agnostic Society
* Secular Coalition for Iowa
Eastern Iowa CoR
* Cedar Valley Atheists
* Corridor A-Team
* Corridor Secularists
* Secular Humanists of the Greater Quad Cities Area
* Secular Students at Iowa (University of Iowa, Iowa City)
* Unitarian Universalist Secular Humanist Society
* University of Northern Iowa Freethinkers & Inquirers
The billboards have been made possible with over $10,000 in funding from the United Coalition of Reason (UnitedCoR), headquartered in Washington DC. The 10 to 14 foot tall billboards will be up for four weeks, a period which includes Thanksgiving and early December. All are illuminated at night. The billboards have been placed as follows:
* In Des Moines on Douglas Avenue, just west of King Parkway, on the south side, facing east
* In Davenport at the corner of Brady and 60th, facing north
* In Moline, Illinois, facing west to greet traffic on the John Deere Expressway (IL 5) at 27th, getting onto I-74 to head into Iowa.
A fourth billboard is scheduled to go up Monday, November 17:
* In Des Moines on U.S. Hwy. 69 South, a quarter mile south of F22, facing north
For hi-res images, free for media use, see the right sidebar.
This campaign is part of a coordinated nationwide program that began in 2009. From then to now, similar campaigns have been launched in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Each local campaign is sponsored by a multi-organizational coalition of nontheistic groups in the area.
“The point of our national awareness effort is to reach out to the millions of humanists, atheists and agnostics living in the United States,” explained Fred Edwords, national director of UnitedCoR. “Nontheists sometimes don’t realize there’s a community for them because they’re inundated with religious messages at every turn. So 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 know that nonreligious folks like us are a regular part of communities all over the state,” added Rory Moe, coordinator for the two coalitions. “Nontheistic Iowans are your friends and neighbors, your coworkers and family members. And we believe we should be as free as anyone to express our views in a public way.”
“Being visible is important to us,” Edwords concluded, “because in our society non-religious people often don’t know many others like themselves.”
This campaign is the latest in a nationwide effort. Previous campaigns have been launched in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
This list includes a controversial bus ad campaign in Des Moines in 2009. For details on that, see: https://unitedcor.org/national/news-archive/2009?page=1 at the bottom of the page.
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The Central Iowa Coalition of Reason (www.CentralIowaCoR.org) and Eastern Iowa Coalition of Reason (www.EasternIowaCoR.org) are resources for freethinking people, uniting the various nontheistic groups throughout Iowa.
The United Coalition of Reason (www.UnitedCoR.org) works to raise the visibility and sense of unity among local groups in the community of reason by providing funding and expertise to help groups cooperate toward common goals.
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For more information contact:
Media Rep. (in Iowa City)
Eastern Iowa Coalition of Reason