WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Half a dozen, so-called, "Godless Billboards" are popping up across North Carolina stirring up controversy. Drivers will be able to see the billboards for a four week period.
The campaign is being organized by the North Carolina Secular Association, a coalition of "local secular, humanist, free thought and skeptical groups throughout North Carolina." The project is costing them $15,000.
The group says they want to see an end to religious discrimination against non-religious people and groups in the Wilmington area. They also take issue with a religion being a prerequisite for becoming a public official in North Carolina according to the State Constitution.
They want "under God" taken out of the pledge of allegiance. The phrase was incorporated by Congress in 1954.
Mike Werner is a board member of the Humanists and Free Thinkers of Cape Fear who is heading up the local effort for the billboard.
Werner says the sign, which features the slogan, "One Nation, Indivisible," is necessary.
"The pledge of allegiance for decades did not have the phrase "under God" in there," said Werner. "It is in fact discriminatory and it should be stopped. We should enfranchise all people, we are all Americans!"
Werner says children are coerced beyond their own "religious consciousness" when made to say it the current version of the pledge in school. He also says there are issues in our area with prayer in school and the teaching of Creationism. He points out that not every child and family comes from a Christian belief.
"I don't think Wilmington is all that religious," said Werner.
Nearby businesses say they're trying to grin and bear the future billboard, but they are worried it might deliver the wrong message.
Kristi Johnson is the officer manager of Island Appliance. She's says she is in disbelief over the billboard.
"Our country was founded on Godly Christian principals and I think its a shame," she said.
Mike Connelly, the owner of Recollections Antique Village is also unhappy about the billboard, which will be in his backyard.
"I've got some concerns that somebody may try to do something stupid, burn it down or throw something at it," he says.
Drivers may only see the billboard for a second, but Connelly says they shouldn't see it at all.
"Religion is something that should be left alone I think, not on a billboard."
The campaign wants to get drivers attention, and they want Wilmington to see that all Americans are under the same flag, but not the same god.
In Asheville, one of the state's largest billboard company rejected the sign, saying it was too controversial. Werner says their response was a good example of why these boards are so badly needed.
For more information about the campaign visit www.ncsecular.org.
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