An anti-religion organization is spreading mobile messages speaking out against religion on 50 Madison Metro buses for the next two months.
The signs, from the Freedom From Religion Foundation, are a compilation of six famous quotes taken from Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Katherine Hepburn, Butterfly McQueen, Clarence Darrow and Richard Dawkins, said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of FFRF.
Gaylor said FFRF, an “educational,” nonprofit organization, is posting the signs to spread ideas concerning religion to the Madison public and giving bus riders something to look at while riding.
Gaylor initially proposed the ideas and the quotes selected are some of her favorites, she said.
“We’re spreading awareness,” Gaylor said. “People never knowingly met an atheist, and they contribute so much to society.”
She added she thinks the campaign will show people the famous faces of well-respected people who are not religious.
Additionally, Gaylor said it was especially important to put a quote from Butterfly McQueen, a black actress popular in the 1940s and 50s, because February is Black History Month.
“As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion,” was the quote chosen from Butterfly McQueen.
Although the campaign supports atheist views, religious organizations in downtown Madison are not taking offense to the anti-religion message.
Megan Schmitz, University of Wisconsin junior and the chair of Badger Catholic, said because many Madison residents are liberal and may not believe in religion, she is not offended by the signs.
She said people are entitled to their own opinions, adding if posted signs read, “God is great,” people would not take offense either.
“They can say whatever they want to say,” Schmitz said. “I’m part of Badger Catholic [and] we do the same thing expressing we believe in God. Why can’t other students express their opinions?”
However on a state level, the FFRF movement struck a negative chord with religious politicians.
Rep. Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, said FFRF is spreading a message of “hate,” adding the foundation is intolerant of Wisconsinites who believe in God.
“They’re an ultra-fringe wacko organization that is desperately trying to get attention, and I would just encourage people to just ignore them,” Suder said. “No one pays attention to anything they do.”
However, Gaylor said the FFRF has been an influential anti-religion group since 1976, and the organization, based in Madison, now has national appeal.
Despite Gaylor’s claims, Suder said the people funding FFRF need to “wake up and realize how out of touch and dangerous this group can be.” He said not believing in God is a choice, but there is no need for them to voice their opinions throughout Madison.
Gaylor said she wants to take her religious signs around the country, adding her goal is to post them on New York subways.