Billboards supporting atheism in Wichita, Kansas cause stir

6:44 PM, Apr 9, 2012   |    comments
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By Matt Horn

Wichita, KS (KSNW/CNN) - A couple of billboards are gaining attention in Wichita, Kansas.

They were put up days before Easter Sunday and deliver a message on atheism.

Groups behind controversial billboards in Wichita stress the message is not to promote hate.

"The billboard says, 'Are you good without God? Millions are,' and that's a pretty non-controversial message. All it says are atheists can be good people, it's not saying, 'Ha, ha, you're wrong' or anything like that. It's just saying we're here and we're good people," said Coalition of Reason organizer Sean Gillespie.

According to a recent Pew study, 16 percent of Americans identify as unaffiliated.

In Wichita, it's estimated there are more than 4,000 non-Christians.

While the new billboards support non-religious Kansans, there are many other signs in the metro like one that says "Support religion." The pastor of the church says it shows everyone has an opportunity to express their freedom of religion, or a freedom from religion.

"I think in the Bible Belt sometimes people feel alone if they're not particularly Christian or nominally Christian, you know show up occasionally with their family. So I think that's what those billboards are all about," said Rev. Cindy Watson.

The billboards have been making their way across the country since 2009. They're now in 29 states and Washington D.C. Local organizers hope the signs will help bring a sense of community to those who do not believe in God.

"Get the word out that we exist and that we are here so that other non-believers don't feel so isolated. Because there is a lot of social pressure and a lot of discrimination that happens towards atheists, and other non-believers and skeptics and agnostics," said Gillespie.

"I think it's like-minded folks trying to find a place to belong. And if they don't feel comfortable in a church, synagogue or other religious group it's an opportunity for them to gather and find friendship and support in their way of living," said Rev. Watson.

A sense of friendship and belonging in a community supporting people from all different backgrounds.

The signs went up in Wichita to promote a "Skeptics Conference" happening at the end of the month.


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