“Don’t believe in God? You’re not alone.” comes to the Ozarks just in time for the fourth annual Skepticon in Springfield Missouri, which is Headquarters of the Church of God.
Ozarks Coalition of Reason brings these lovely welcoming signs out for all the skeptics, atheists, humanists, and freethinkers who come to visit the Ozarks for Skepticon IV this weekend, which they say is the largest skeptic event in the Midwest.
People entering Springfield will see two twelve foot tall billboards on I-44. One is three miles west of Strafford, Missouri and the other a mile west of Highway 13 near U.S. 160. The cost, according to Ozarks CoR was $5000.
The ad campaign marks the public launch of the Ozarks Coalition of Reason, which is an alliance of four non-theistic groups in Springfield, Joplin, Branson, and at Missouri State University. It also heralds Skepticon IV, which runs this weekend, November 19 to 20, at the Gillioz Theatre, 325 Park Central East, in Springfield.
According to Springfield News-leader, Fred Edwords, former editor of the Humanist magazine and now the national director of CoR, the billboard campaign is meant to reach other non-believers who feel they are alone in the area.
"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."
Steven Olsen, head of the Springfield Freethinkers group stated a second goal of the campaign, which is to let Ozarkians know that the religious are not the ones who live in the area.
"We hope that folks will realize we are a regular part of the community," said Steven Olsen, coordinator of the Ozarks Coalition of Reason. "Atheists and agnostics like us live throughoutMissouri. We’re your neighbors, your family members, your friends, your coworkers. One of us might even be sitting next to you in church."
CoR quoted Edwords as saying, “Visibility is important to us, because, in this society, atheists and agnostics often don’t know many people like themselves. Also, if traditionally religious people can be open about their views, why can’t we be open about ours?”
In the Ozarks, it sometimes seems an atheist, humanist, or freethinker is alone and there are no like-minded people. However, Freethinker groups, such as the one in Springfield and Joplin, help with that, as well as Skepticon.
This year, PZ Meyers and Dan Barker will attend Skepticon again, along with Greta Christina, The Friendly Atheist Hemant Mehta, Rebecca Watson, David Silverman, David Fitzgerald, Joe Nickell, Darrel Ray, The Atheist Reverend Brother Sam Singleton, and others.
Goddamn! And Brother Sam will come to preach to us again. This time it is an atheist revival. Goddamn! I might just get caught up in the events and ask him or Dan Barker to de-baptise me at this rate.
“The only honest evangelist.” ~ PZ Meyers
I must admit, and I told Brother Sam, who is from the Ozarks too, this when I finally met him in person, the first time I saw him was when he invited me to be his friend on Facebook. I saw his picture (above) and got the creeps, as though I saw the preacher from Poltergeist. Many ministers who dressed like that often do give me the creeps and sadly, because of that, I rejected his invite, thinking he was a real minister. He apologized for that and asked me to invite him to be my friend. I agreed and he accepted. We have been friends ever since, including Roger Jackson, who plays Brother Sam, and his wife, who is little like I am.
Thus, you know I am excited about both the billboards and Skepticon. Hot damn!