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Atheists claim censorship by billboard company

Thanks to Lyzandra Daria for the link.

By Ben Beversluis
The Grand Rapids Press

The group that asked Hudsonville to remove God from the city's mission statement says it is having a hard time placing a billboard espousing its position.

"This is new, that a billboard company is censoring us," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The Madison, Wis.-based group, dedicated to the separation of church and state, bills itself as North America's largest group of atheists and agnostics with 12,000 supporters.

The billboard with the words "Beware of Dogma" and the group's Web address has been used around the country, she said.

Gaylor said CBS Outdoor Advertising in Grand Rapids declined to rent a billboard to Freeedom From Religion, telling her it had been through controversy in the past and community reaction would force the billboard down within a day. She is working with other area firms, she said, but their locations are not her first choice.

An official of CBS Outdoor declined to comment.

The billboard has been placed in such cities as Columbus, Ohio, and Atlanta as well as in Chambersburg, Pa., where it "created a firestorm," Gaylor said. "The billboard company badmouthed us, but took our money and put it up."

The group objected to Hudsonville's mission statement on behalf of a local resident whom it declined to identify. It called the letter "educational." The group would not bring suit without a public complainant, she said.

"Educational efforts" like letters or the billboard often bring communities to change practices, she said.



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