Missoula atheists hope to draw in fellow non-believers with billboard

2011-07-19T23:30:00Z 2011-07-20T08:01:28Z Missoula atheists hope to draw in fellow non-believers with billboardBy ALYSE BACKUS for the Missoulian missoulian.com
July 19, 2011 11:30 pm  • 

Motorists using Russell Street are encountering a new billboard with a very secular message.

The Missoula Area Secular Society unveiled their "Don't Believe in God? Join the club" billboard Monday, drawing some honks as society members posed in front of the new sign near the Pink Grizzly.

The group's aim is to attract more people to its activities, which include a monthly breakfast, outdoor recreation trips and science-related lectures.

"We want to let others know we are out there," said group member Russell Thayer. "We do a lot of fun activities, and it is nice to be around people with like-minded ideas."

Thayer said the group got the idea as a billboard craze featuring similar messages swept the country. In particular, they were inspired by a similar campaign from by Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation.

The Missoula society recently celebrated its three-year anniversary with a camping trip.

About 25 to 30 people form the core of the Missoula Area Secular Society, a group that came together in part over the Internet, as folks found one another while looking for secular social opportunities. The group has an active Internet presence, with a Facebook page, a website with a newsletter and a Twitter account.

Thayer said the society hopes the billboard will make the group even more accessible to other non-believers.

Thayer said the sign is part of a larger national effort to increase local awareness of atheists and agnostics, and to reach out to fellow non-believers. The sign is definitely not a effort to irritate religious people, though Thayer wouldn't be surprised by some negative reaction.

"There will probably be some angry people, but we aren't trying to provoke anyone," he said. "We are a pretty mellow group."

The billboard will be up until Aug. 15.

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