“Godless? So are we.” These words, superimposed over an image of a curling surge of surf, now appear on ten prominent king-size bus ads across Rhode Island. Their appearance marks the formal launch of the RI Coalition of Reason, a Rhode Island atheist group comprised of six non-theistic (atheist and agnostic) groups in the state.
“We want to make our presence in the community known,” said Tony Houston, coordinator of the Rhode Island Coalition of Reason.
Houston added: “Non-theistic people are your family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers. We may not believe in a deity or the supernatural, but we are compassionate, ethical members of this community. We would like to encourage local atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, skeptics, secularists and humanists to stand up and be counted. If you are a Rhode Island nonbeliever, know that you are not alone.”
Hi-res images of the bus ads, prominently displayed on the sides of RIPTA buses, can be found in the right sidebar. The images are free for media use. The bus ads will remain up through December 24, 2014.
These ads are part a coordinated nationwide program that began in 2009. From then to now, 59 similar campaigns have been launched in 37 states and the District of Columbia by the United Coalition of Reason (UnitedCoR). UnitedCoR provided the $6,200 in funding for the Rhode Island atheist group’s campaign.
“The point of our national awareness campaign is to reach out to the millions of humanists, atheists and agnostics living in the United States,” explained UnitedCoR’s Executive Director, national coordinator of United CoR. “Non-theists sometimes don’t realize there’s a community for them because they’re inundated with theistic messages at every turn. So we hope our effort will serve as a beacon and let them know they aren’t alone.”
“Being visible is important to us,” Heap concluded, “because, in our society, non-theistic people often don’t know many like themselves.
This campaign is the latest in a nationwide effort to reach out to non-theists. There have been similar billboards, bus ads or Internet campaigns in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia.
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The Rhode Island Coalition of Reason (www.RICoR.org) serves as a resource for the public and offers a means of combining the voices of those who hold that science and reason lead to more reliable knowledge than dogma and faith. It is made up of the Atheist Humanist Society of Connecticut and Rhode Island, Camp Quest New England, Humanists of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Atheist Society, Rhode Island Skeptics, Secular Coalition for Rhode Island and Secular URI.
The United Coalition of Reason (www.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 visibility.
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