Center for Inquiry New Year’s Ad in Times Square Wishes Everyone ‘Peace and Enlightenment’

My organization, the Center for Inquiry, is capping off its Living without Religion campaign with one last ad in Times Square this week, with good wishes for the the New Year. It’s a 15-second electronic billboard ad, which you can see below, with two “slides” saying, “Millions express joy & goodwill without religion,” and ending with, “Wishing you peace & enlightenment in the New Year.” (Our press release is perhaps the warm-and-fuzziest one we’ve ever put out.)

Similar to our Thanksgiving-themed ad, I particularly like that it rises above some of the shouting about the “War on Christmas,” whether it’s a secular or religious holiday, and so on. Instead, it’s directed at reassuring those who question religion that there is a big, welcoming community of nonbelievers who feel the same way they do. It also shows everyone, believer and nonbeliever alike, that the generosity of spirit (in the secular sense of the word, of course) is strong within this community. Everyone is on the receiving end of our wish for peace and enlightenment.

This last Living without Religion ad comes just as the New York Times’ Liz Robbins reports on atheist groups’ and individuals’ approaches to the holiday season, and I actually found the section about CFI’s ad kind of moving:

One recent Monday night, [CFI-NYC member Tiffany] Crespi was one of 10 young men and women from the Center for Inquiry who stood freezing on a Times Square sidewalk for 45 minutes, waiting for 15 seconds of inspiration. When the video billboard sponsored by the Center for Inquiry finally appeared on 42nd Street, pronouncing that millions of Americans are living happily without religion, the chilled audience whooped, clapped and hastily took a picture.

I like that those 15 seconds really meant something to these folks. I think that the whole Living without Religion campaign opened a lot of eyes, and most importantly, held a lot of meaning for many people (particularly, for some reason, in Michigan, where the first ads really seemed to strike a chord). Though it’s not something that gets the folks at Fox News foaming at the mouth, I think the campaign serves the crucial purpose of gently and warmly ushering in fence-sitters and doubters who haven’t yet fully “secularized,” as it were, while at the same time blowing up some stereotypes about all atheists being angry or disgruntled.

I mean, I am, but most of us aren’t.

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  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    Wishing people Joy and goodwill?! How dare you atheist spread your hateful message.

  • momtarkle
  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    I used ‘Atheist’ as a singular noun, not because it was a typo, but because I refuse to accept the possibility that there are more than one atheist in the world.

  • momtarkle

    Should be “there IS more”.

  • http://www.holytape.etsy.com Holytape

    I doesn’t make my verbs and nouns agree, because I like to sit back and watch the world burn.

  • momtarkle

    “burled worm”

  • UWIR

    You think there are only two atheists in the world?

  • momtarkle

    No.

  • UWIR

    Then why would the atheists in excess of one take a singular noun? If there are three atheists, then there are two atheists more than one. So there ARE more than one atheist. The subject of “are” is the atheists in excess of one atheist. Which is a plural subject.

  • momtarkle

    U R Gawd. I worship U.

  • Bob Jase

    I may be angry at times but I’ve never been gruntled.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke

    may i recommend to your organization, Paul, that the money may be better spent in places outside NYC?

    the people of NYC, even the ones visiting from out of town, hardly need any reminders about the diversity of belief. the whole city is one big melting pot and you can’t cross the street without seeing that fact. and i can only shudder as i imagine the prices for billboards there, compared to places where 99% of the population is xtian. like OK, TN, TX…

    you could’ve probably bought 100x the billboard space out here in flyoverland, where the nascent atheist population is much, much more in need of support than in a tolerant, decades-long supportive and inclusive of atheists urban mecca like NYC. it’s your group and i’m not a dues paying member, but that’s my suggestion. ymmv.

  • Simon3456

    CFI paid for billboards in Michigan and Indiana as well earlier in the year. Here’s one press hit: http://www.calvin.edu/chimes/2013/10/17/center-for-inquiry-aims-to-educate-and-support/

    In general billboards are placed where there is a local CFI presence on the ground.

  • Simon3456

    CFI is also the only national secular organization that has paid staff for the past several years in these “flyover regions” working *every day* as leaders in their local secular communities.

  • The Starship Maxima

    I found that ad very well done. Peace and Enlightenment to you all as well.

  • Yonah

    Uh, how are you living without religion if you make a Times Square ad about it?