FFRF Billboard Salutes First Atheist Senator

Oklahoma + FFRF + politics = surefire publicity, right?

A new billboard places in Tulsa, Oklahoma yesterday pays tribute to Democrat Thomas Gore, one of the first two Senators from Oklahoma. He served from 1907-1921 and 1931-1937.

The idea for the billboard came from FFRF member Bill Dusenberry — he heard about Gore’s atheism while reading an interview with (Gore’s grandson) Gore Vidal in The Humanist.

… I was brought up by my grandfather who was thirty years a senator. I knew what they’d done to him and I was quite prepared to give as good as he gave.

On your subject, he was a dedicated atheist. Imagine — he was senator for over thirty years in Oklahoma, a hotbed of the Lord Jesus, and they never found out. He never tried to hide it. Once or twice he was talked into being photographed inside that big Methodist church in Washington because a friend of his was the minister. I remember I was taken one Sunday and I said, “Grandpa, what are we doing in this thing?” He said, “Well, my boy, you may ask what we’re doing here. I’m getting votes, I don’t know about you.”

Of course, I doubt most people who drive by the billboard will have any idea who Thomas Gore was…

They’ll assume FFRF is referring to Al Gore, who wasn’t from Oklahoma at all, and wasn’t he religious?, and they’ll just get confused. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the sign? How many people are really going to go to FFRF.org to find out more information?

I’m not sure why FFRF went with the ambiguous route there but maybe it’ll result in a nice history lesson in some local newspapers.

  • rbray18

    i told my dad about the billboard and 1st thing he said was “AL gore?” that’s the only gore he knows of,and he’s lived in Oklahoma for 59 years so i agree with you Hermant.most Oklahomans,myself included know little to nothing bout our politicians,and most don’t care long as they are conservative and hump the bible people here least at my level don’t care.

  • http://ericwilliamshaw.blogspot.com/ Eric

    Yeah, I’m thinking the inclusion of at least ‘Thomas’ and maybe the dates of his time in office would be necessary for effectiveness.

  • CJ :)

    To me anyway, it’s even more amazing that he had such an illustrious career while blind.

  • venus

    Ha, I immediately thought of AL gore… and thought, confusedly, wasn’t he from Tennessee? and wasn’t he a christian?

    Ad isn’t one of their best, for sure.

  • Ibis

    Also, I’m a little sceptical about the “first” designation. How many eighteenth century US senators were atheists? Likely more than a few. It was common to the point of being fashionable among the liberal enlightened elites of the day–and they were the ones who got the whole Senate thing going.

  • Luther

    The whole idea should be to drive people to their web to learn more. If ambiguity helps then all the better.

    Too bad Al Gore believes in Myth, it takes away from his believing in Science.

  • Hangnail

    I think leaving Thomas out was probably intentional. If I saw that sign, I would probably go look it up to see why they were saying that about Al Gore. Instead, I would get a rich history lesson, and I would love it.
    I like it.

  • VXbinaca

    Why is my comment still there, I skipped over the Gore part where he wasn’t Al Gore. I feel dumb now.

  • http://everydayatheist.wordpress.com Everyday Atheist

    I love the work FFRF does and am a member, but I find their public messaging to be a little hit-and-miss. Perhaps it is a deliberate strategy — get enough people sputtering “wha-wha-whaaat?!” to prompt a local TV story, which spreads via the Net.

  • bigjohn756

    And, here I thought it was Elvis Gore…

  • Nordog

    I thought it meant Leslie Gore.

  • Revyloution

    My first thought was Al Gore also. They really should have included his first name.

    Ibis, when they say ‘first’, perhaps they mean the first from Oklahoma?

  • http://www.atheistspot.com The Atheist Spot

    At least atheist WAS ok in Oklahoma. Well, I doubt that. Hope this generates something positive for them. How long until it gets vandalized?

  • EMB

    It seems like “closet” atheists shouldn’t count for this, in which case I doubt there’s been an atheist senator yet (at least not since, say, 1850).

  • Rollingforest

    Yes, this might cause people to go to the website or to write interesting articles in the newspaper, but I think most people will just use this as another reason to hate Al Gore, even though it wasn’t even aimed at him.

    @Ibis- Many early political leaders, such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine, were Deists who believed God created the universe and then did nothing else (no miracles, no messiah). President Adams and President Taft were Unitarians who doubted the divinity of Christ but believed in the rest of the Bible’s teachings. None of the early political leaders were openly Atheist.

    @ Luther- If you think Al Gore believes in myth, then prove it scientifically. People who yelling “you’re wrong” at him are just as dogmatic as the Creationists.

    @EMB – if closet atheists don’t count, then, no, there has never been an atheist Senator. There is one open atheist member of the House of Representatives, but he’s only been open about it for 3 years and thus had incumbency advantage when he ran for reelection a strongly Democratic district in California. No non-incumbent person has ever gotten elected to national office in America as an Atheist.

  • http://kaleenamenke.blogspot.com Kaleena

    That was my first thought as well: How the heck are they going to know who “Gore” is from 70 years ago?

  • http://fontofliberty.blogspot.com/ Rarian Rakista

    We need to start sending the bastions of Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ brand ignorance pamphlets on atheism, billboards are so 1950’s.

  • Randall Morrison

    I will never willingly accept the rule of an officially atheist government.

    Every single one of them has been a mass murdering dicatorship.