CHICO, California, December 10, 2012 - "Don't believe in God? Join the club."
These words, superimposed over an image of a mountain sunrise, now appear on a dozen prominent 10 ½' x 22 ½' billboards across Chico. Their appearance marks the formal launch of the Butte County Coalition of Reason, a new organization comprised of three area non-theistic (atheist and agnostic) groups.
"We want to let the general public know that we belong to the larger community," said George Gold, coordinator of the Butte County Coalition of Reason, today.
"We non-theists are your family members, friends, neighbors and co-workers. We're just like you, except we don't believe in a supreme being. It's about time we were equally free to be open about our views," Gold added.
* On Skyway, heading north, on the left, just before Honey Run Road
* On Cohasset, leaving Chico Airport, on the left, before Eaton
* On Esplanade, heading north, on the east side of the street, just north of Commercial, on the east side of Park at 10th Street
These billboards are part a coordinated nationwide program that began in 2009. From then to now, 58 similar campaigns have been launched in 33 states and the District of Columbia by the United Coalition of Reason (UnitedCoR). UnitedCoR provided the $3,780 in funding for the Chico billboards.
"The point of our national awareness campaign is to reach out to the millions of humanists, atheists and agnostics living in the United States," explained Fred Edwords, national director of UnitedCoR. "Non-theists sometimes don't realize there's a community for them because they're inundated with religious messages at every turn. So we hope our effort will serve as a beacon and let them know they aren't alone."
"Being visible is important to us," Edwords concluded, "because, in our society, non-religious people often don't know many like themselves.
This campaign is the latest in a nationwide effort to reach out to non-theists. There have been similar billboards, bus ads or Internet campaigns in Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and West Virginia. Other California campaigns have been run in Fresno, Modesto, Orange County, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose and Stockton. Future campaigns are planned for Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Luis Obispo.
The Butte County Coalition of Reason ( www.ButteCountyCoR.org ) serves as a resource for the public and offers a means of combining the voices of those who hold that science and reason lead to more reliable knowledge than dogma and faith. It is made up of Atheists of Butte County, Chico Skeptics, and the Chico State Secular Student Alliance.
The United Coalition of Reason ( www.UnitedCoR.org ) exists to raise the visibility and sense of unity among local groups in the community of reason by providing funding and expertise to help them cooperate toward common goals.
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