Billboards Promote Atheist Thinking

A+billboard+promoting+Atheism+found+in+the+Sacramento+area.

Photo By Sebastian Buras

A billboard promoting Atheism found in the Sacramento area.

Have you driven down the street recently and seen out of the corner of your eye a billboard quoting someone who believes in himself? A billboard that perhaps says “I’m free to think for myself” may have caught your sight.

This is not the only variation of a new set of billboards plastered around Sacramento this past month by a an atheist campaign sponsored by the Greater Sacramento chapter of Freedom from Religion Foun- dation. The campaign hopes to en- courage atheists to “come out of the closet” about their belief and not hide it in fear of shame and rejection from society.

“There are lot of people who don’t have a belief in God. We’re encouraging them to be com- fortable during the holiday sea- son. It’s OK to not have a belief.” said Judy Saint, president of the foundation.

Each billboard will have a name, photo and occupation of a Sacramento-area atheist, as well as a short quote about how they feel about being a non-believer.

Gary Alexander is a Sacra- mento atheist who will be fea- tured on one of the 55 billboards getting put up.

Alexander spends his Christ- mas by doing charity work for people less fortunate than him- self. He donates to a homeless shelter by purchasing warm clothes and supplies for the cold days coming up. Not only that, he paid off a layaway ticket for someone he did not know.

“I think some people have a misconception about what atheism means,” Alexander said. “I’m happy to volunteer to be an example to be contradictory to their stereotypes.”

Senior Scott Johnson is an atheist and supports the goals of the billboard campaign. He knows that atheists are often seen as outsiders and believes that someday his belief will be acceptable.

“There is no point in focusing on what’s after life when we’re living here and now.” Johnson said.

But Johnson does not want believers of God, gods or an afterlife to think he and other atheists are attacking religions. He simply wants to be respected like all other people who have differing faiths.

“Some people think that all atheists are anti-god and hate re- ligion,” Johnson said. “But most atheists are not bad people.”

Even though he does not be- lieve in God, Johnson still enjoys Christmas and the holiday spir- it. He does not want to take the joy and love away from people during this festive time.

“I still have Christmas spirit,” Johnson said. “There are many nice things that myself and ev- eryone else do for others during the holidays.”

Johnson sees his belief in no god as a benefit to his confidence and self-esteem, forcing himself to take responsibility for his actions.

“It teaches you to rely on yourself,” Johnson said. “If you screw up, you have to own up to it and not blame it on someone else.”

Christians at the school do not see the billboard campaign as attacking their religion or at- tempting to get them to convert to atheism. Sophomores Audray Denny and Kaia Anderson, both Christians, agree that nothing bad will happen because of the billboards.

“I think everyone has a say in society.” Denny said.

“It’s their choice,” Anderson said. “Everyone can believe what they want to believe.”

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