On the heels of Stephen Hawking announcing in his new book The Grand Design that God wasn't necessary for the creation of the universe, the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation is plastering Atheist claims on billboards across the country.
In Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, the organization put up one such billboard yesterday praising Thomas Gore, who it claims is the first atheist U.S. Senator. "Atheism is OK in Oklahoma; Saluting Gore -- First Atheist Senator," the billboard reads.
But one billboard is modest compared to the number that Louisville and Atlanta residents can expect to see. Louisville is getting 20 billboards, while the group is blanketing Atlanta "with 50 irreverent billboard messages going up this week for a month," according to its website. Those "irreverent" billboards include statements such as "Imagine No Religion," "Sleep In On Sundays," "In Reason We Trust," and even a quote from the late Thelma "Butterfly" McQueen, who played the maid Prissy in "Gone with the Wind:" "As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion."
"We hope discrimination against atheists and other nonbelievers will soon be ‘gone with the wind,'" said FFRF co-president Dan Barker, a former evangelical minister and author of Godless and Losing Faith in Faith, on the organization's website.
According to co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor, foundation members are paying for the Atlanta sign, but declined to say how much the billboards in metro Atlanta cost.
The organization's campaign and Hawking's statement are just two examples of atheist news headlines over the past week. Yesterday, world-famous atheist author Christopher Hitchens, who is dying of cancer, told fans not to pray for him after he learned that September 20 had been designated "Everyone Pray for Hitchens Day."
"I don't mean to be churlish about any kind intentions," Hitchens wrote in the October issue of Vanity Fair, "but when September 20 comes, please do not trouble deaf heaven with your bootless cries."