A Tulsa man came up with a national billboard posted in Midtown Tulsa.
The message in patriotic colors reads, “Atheism is OK in Oklahoma. Saluting Gore-First Atheist Senator.”
Not surprisingly the billboard is getting a lot of attention.
On the westbound Broken Arrow Expressway at the 15th Street exit you’ll see the Freedom From Religion Foundation billboard.
A national group sponsored the board but the idea came from a Tulsa man.
Billboards are a way to sell a product and a way to promote beliefs. Christians do it and now Atheists are too.
"I thought playing into Oklahoma's desire to be number one. Well we will capitalize and advertise the fact that we are number one with the Atheist," says Bill Dusenberry.
Dusenberry is a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. He is talking about U.S. Senator Thomas Gore who was an Oklahoma native who Dusenberry believes was the first openly Atheist US Senator. He was first elected in 1907 and says the sign is a tribute to him.
"It's promoting freedom from religion. I've met a lot of people in the Tulsa area that have no idea what an Atheist is," says Dusenberry. "Atheism is a statement of fact that there is no God.”
It’s a statement attracting no lack of comments on the FOX23 Facebook page:
Paul writes, “"I disagree with the message, but in the USA we have "freedom of speech". And Jeanie writes, "Not ok in my neck of the woods what is happening isn't this part of the country known as the BIBLE BELT!!" Tinisha says, “Freedom of Speech is what its all about! We have to see church advertisements, so what's wrong with this one? Just because so many others believe in a higher power, doesn't mean we all HAVE to! –agnostic.”
However, Jarrod doesn’t agree, “They should not be allowed to put up a sign or not even be allowed to be a foundation"
Bill Dusenberry expected comments like these. He welcomes them and that’s what this billboard is all about.
"We just want to let people know that we are here and if they want to come and chat with us we are here,” says Dusenberry.
This billboard is the group’s first billboard in Oklahoma. It’s part of a month-long campaign where the Freedom From Religion Foundation is placing 50 billboards throughout the country.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is based out of Wisconsin with 16,000 members, 125 are from Oklahoma.
The group says its mission is to work to keep church and state separate.