(RNS) — The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a nonprofit watchdog on separation of church and state issues, has launched a campaign aimed at calling attention to the growing political voice of nonreligious Americans.
This effort, which will launch officially on Saturday (Sept. 17) to honor the 235th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution, is a continuation of the organization’s “independence from religion” campaign that began on the Fourth of July.
The campaign will include billboards featuring portraits of residents of the swing states of Michigan, Louisiana, Missouri and others, and the legend “I’m an atheist and I vote” along highways in their respective regions.
The faces on the billboards belong to Jamie Hamel, an ICU nurse in Oklahoma; Jim Haught, a 90-year-old retired newspaper editor; Charis Hoard, a student who recently received a master’s degree in Ohio; and Charles L. Townsend, a former member of the state Legislature in New Hampshire.
Full-page ads will follow beginning Sunday in The Washington Post and 44 other newspapers declaring, “The ‘Nones’ (those of us unaffiliated with religion) are now 29 percent of the U.S. population. We are the largest ‘denomination’ by religious identification.”
A recent poll from the Pew Research Center found that unaffiliated Americans make up 29% of the U.S. population, up from 19% in 2011.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation said the campaign is calling attention to the “growing and increasingly overt calls to Christian nationalism” as well as the actions of the U.S. Supreme Court that “privilege religion and eviscerate individual rights for religious reasons.”
“That’s why our secular voices must be heard,” the organization’s co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor said in a statement, adding that secular voters are “the true ‘values voters.'”
The Freedom From Religion Foundation said it has more than 38,000 members throughout North America and in 2020 released data that showed 98% of its members support the abortion rights granted by the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.
In 2020, American Atheists released “Reality Check: Being Nonreligious in America,” a report that found that nonreligious people care about maintaining secular public schools, oppose religious exemptions that permit discrimination and support access to abortion and contraception.
The report was based on a survey of nearly 34,000 nonreligious people living in the United States.