The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation is unveiling a bold new ad campaign that borrows an idea popularized by other movements.
"Out of the closet" ads just went up on 13 city of Madison buses and will premier next week on billboards here. The ad campaign, which will later expand to other cities, features local and national figures who "come out" about the fact that they consider themselves atheists or agnostics.
"It was actually our daughter Sabrina's idea," says Annie Laurie Gaylor, the foundation's co-president. "We were talking about how there needs to be more positive images of freethinkers out there, and how every FFRF member seems to have a different idea about what to put on a billboard or bus sign, and how what we really need to do is personalize the movement. She suggested using real people."
The ads in Madison will feature exercise guru Bobby Hinds, local feminist Connie Threinen, restaurateur Barbara Wright and some foundation employees and volunteers. "With most of the people," says Gaylor, "we're just using their first name."
Each of the ads has a statement of nonbelief by the featured person. These include "No one died for my sins," by a foundation employee named Bill; "I don't need a God to be happy," by a UW nursing student and FFRF volunteer named Kendra; "I value freedom and democracy over theocracy" by a FFRF employee named Bonnie; and "Being kind with an open mind is my religion," by Hinds.
Beginning Monday, the messages will appear as part of an array on a digital billboard on the Beltline. And, in a week, the ads will go up on either side of a stationary billboard on East Johnson Street across from Tenney Park. This is being done in advance of the group's national convention in Madison, slated for Oct. 2931, as Gaylor puts it, "to say hello and goodbye to FFRF'ers coming in from the airport or leaving for it."