The “One Nation Indivisible” Billboard Campaign
Our second campaign launched in the summer of 2010…
Once UnitedCoR had taken our ball to run with it with our “Don’t Believe in God? You Are Not Alone” billboard, we decided to consider our first campaign a success and focus on a new campaign.
The result was a state-wide campaign in NC for our new billboard “One Nation Indivisible.” We helped found a coalition of local secular, humanist, freethinking, and skeptical groups groups throughout NC, called the North Carolina Secular Association (NCSA), and launched six billboards in six cities all across the state of North Carolina on June 21st for 4 weeks — from the mountains to the sea — in Asheville, Winston-Salem, Greensboro, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Wilmington.
This campaign was intended as a consciousness-raising effort to point out how every U.S. citizen who doesn’t believe in a monotheistic god is being “officially” marginalized, disrespected, and discriminated against by the insertion of “under God” in the Pledge, by the supplanting of our former de facto national motto–E Pluribus Unum (Out of Many, One)–with “In God We Trust,” by language in certain state constitutions (like the one in NC) which restricts anyone that doesn’t believe in a monotheistic god from holding public office, and in many other ways.
We received several rounds of national and local media attention….
When the billboards first went up, stories appeared on all the local news stations and papers (making the front page in two of them). The Associated Press picked up the story as well as UPI, McClatchy Newspapers, CNN, MSNBC, and CBN. The story went across the country and into Canada and the UK.
After a week, the billboard on the Billy Graham Parkway in Charlotte was vandalized, which lead to another round of local and national attention, but, this time, the coverage went international. Aside from getting picked up by all the same local and national sources as before, the Washington Times did a story and it was the featured story on the Yahoo! home page. The story went around the world, and we were getting emails about it from as far away as Germany, the Philippines, and Australia (where it appeared on the news there).
Then, when the vandalized billboard was replaced before the 4th of July holiday, we received more attention.
All this got people talking, and there was more coverage as a result: from bloggers, from radio shows and interviews, and a brief piece on Nightline. Just when it looked like things were starting to calm down, a preacher in Asheville decided to put up competing billboards across the state reading “One Nation Under God,” and a new round of coverage about the “dueling billboards” got started. For about a week, it was just getting local and state coverage, then news got out that ABC World News Tonight was interested in doing a story, and there was local news coverage of that.
So, the story appeared on ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer and another story appeared in USA Today, giving us a couple of final rounds of national attention. Later, there was some follow up coverage in the Charlotte paper (twice) about the local group which had participated in the campaign as a member of the coalition. All the media coverage we received lasted a couple weeks longer than the billboard rentals.
Aside from all the news coverage, and the thousands of phone calls and emails we received (which took weeks to answer), many of the groups participating received the benefit of new members (the local group in Charlotte welcomed over 300 new members).
Later, the North Carolina Secular Association that was formed around this campaign evolved into the Carolinas Secular Association (CSA) to include both NC and SC (and beyond) and has held annual conferences since 2011.
All-in-all, we considered our second billboard campaign a smashing success!
Below is a map of the approx. locations the billboards appeared.
“One Nation Indivisible” Billboard Locations
View “One Nation Indivisible” Billboard Map in a larger map
Media Coverage & Reaction
The video immediately below tells the story of the billboard campaign and then goes on to include much (not all) of the video news coverage we received (ending with the national coverage by ABC World News Tonight). Directly below that are links to different parts of the story coverage as it unfolded with links that may or may not still be active.
Click on any of the 4 headlines below to go directly to that section of coverage.
“One Nation Indivisible” Billboard Campaign Launches!
The billboard in Charlotte goes up.
AP did two stories on the launch, and McClatchy Newspapers picked it up, as did UPI, so it appeared in news outlets all across the country. It was on CNN, MSNBC, on the local news channels in the cities where the billboards were located, it was on the front page of the Charlotte Observer, the front page of the Greensboro News and Record, in the Raleigh News and Observer, the Winston-Salem Journal, the Asheville Citizen-Times, the Wilmington Star News, and other newspapers across the country, CBN covered it, some of the news videos made it to YouTube, and we were getting emails from all across the country… and even outside the country from Canada and the UK.
Here are just some of the dozens of news links that resulted.
Local news video coverage in Raleigh (includes an interview with our media rep Randall)
Local news video coverage in Asheville (includes an interview with our media rep Jennifer)
Local FOX News video coverage in Charlotte (includes an interview with our media rep Will)
Local media coverage video, Raleigh (with a statement by our media rep Mike from Wilmington)
Local news coverage video, Wilmington (with a statement by our media rep Mike)
Atheist billboard worries business owners (Same video as above on the national ABC News site)
Atheist ad goes up on Billy Graham Parkway (UPI story)
NC atheists put billboard on Billy Graham Parkway (AP story from the Charlotte Observer story below)
NC atheists put billboard on Billy Graham Parkway (Charlotte Observer front page story)
N.C. billboards say: Non-believers are Americans, too (Raleigh News and Observer story, front page Local section)
Atheist-agnostic coalition promotes its patriotism (Winston-Salem Journal story)
Atheist billboards in Asheville, elsewhere get support and slammed (Asheville Citizen-Times story)
Drive-time – One nation Indivisible “Godless” billboard is up (Wilmington Star News Online story)
Group defends ‘Godless’ billboard campaign (Greensboro News and Record front page story)
“Godless Billboard” pops up on the coast of NC (Local news coverage, Wilmington)
“God” Left Off Billboard On Billy Graham Parkway (Local news coverage, Charlotte)
N.C. Atheists Declare ‘One Nation Indivisible’ Without God (Christian Post article)
A Strategically Placed Atheist Billboard (Friendly Atheist)
‘Godless’ Billboards Appear in North Carolina (Posting of one of the Charlotte news videos on the Richard Dawkins Foundation site)
NC Atheist Groups Object God in Pledge (CBN coverage which came from Wilmington coverage)
Atheist billboards stir debate in Lakeland (Another “One Nation Indivisible” billboard in FL. Without our knowledge a group in FL put up almost the same billboard at the same time in 5 locations in one city there. What are the odds of that?)
Vandals Strike Godless Billy Graham Pkwy Billboard
UPDATE #1: June 28, 2010 – Over this past weekend, one or more vandals defaced with spray paint part of the “One Nation Indivisible” billboard on the Billy Graham Parkway in Charlotte. The words “under God” were added below “One Nation Indivisible” with an arrow indicating their placement between “One Nation” and “Indivisible.” The AP, Washington Times, Charlotte Observer, and several other newspapers have covered the story, as have several local television stations, and the story was featured on the Yahoo! home page, so now we are getting emails from outside the country.
Below are the most relevant news links…
Atheist billboard defaced on N.C.’s Billy Graham Parkway (Yahoo! coverage)
Defacing the Pledge of Allegiance (again?) (The Washington Post “On Faith”)
Controversial sign vandalized (Local news coverage video with our media rep Will)
‘Godless’ billboard in Charlotte defaced with ‘Under God’ (Local news coverage video with our media rep Will)
‘Under God’ spray painted onto secular Pledge billboard (Local news coverage video with our media rep Will)
Vandals Add God To God-less Billboard (Local news coverage video)
Pledge without God sign defaced in N.C. (Washington Times story)
Controversial ‘atheist’ billboard is defaced (Charlotte Observer story)
‘Godless’ billboard in Charlotte defaced with ‘under God’ (Local news coverage, Charlotte)
Atheist Group’s Sign On Billy Graham Parkway Vandalized (Local news coverage, Charlotte)
Spray Painters Add “Under God” to Atheist Sign (Local news coverage, Charlotte)
Billboard Erected By NC Atheists Vandalized (Local news coverage, Charlotte)
Atheist Group’s Sign On Billy Graham Parkway Vandalized (WFAE Radio from Charlotte, click on “Listen”)
Godless Billy Graham Pkwy billboard vandalized (Examiner story)
‘Under God’ Spray-Painted On Secularist Billboard (Local news coverage, Charlotte)
Religious vandalism, continued controversy over pledge of allegiance (Local news coverage, Raleigh)
‘Godless’ billboard in Charlotte defaced with ‘Under God’ (Local news coverage, Wilmington)
Billboard Boorishness: Vandals Attack Secular Patriotic Message In North Carolina (Official blog of Americans United for Separation of Church and State)
Mike Huckabee on the Vandalized Atheist Billboard (Friendly Atheist)
Atheist Billboard in North Carolina Vandalized Within a Week (Friendly Atheist)
Atheist Ads Vandalized (Institute for Creation Research coverage)
Institute For Creation Research Explains Atheist Billboard Vandalism (Friendly Atheist response to the coverage above)
My kind of vandals (WorldNetDaily commentary on the vandalism)
WorldNetDaily Supports Atheist Billboard Vandalism (Friendly Atheist response to the WorldNetDaily commentary)
Columnist at Conservative Website Defends Vandalism of Atheist Billboard (American Atheist Press Release)
One Nation, UNDER GOD! (Christian Journey News)
U.S. atheists fights monotheism with ‘patriotic message’ (Christian Today, Australia)
Atheist Billboard Campaign Upsets N.C. Residents (CBN coverage)
Defaced Billboard Restored!
UPDATE #2: July 1, 2010 – The Charlotte billboard that was defaced by one or more vandals last weekend was replaced this morning. Within about an hour, the Charlotte Observer had posted the story online.
Defaced ‘atheist’ billboard is repaired (Charlotte Observer story)
Out with the old, in with the new…
For more pictures of this billboard and others in the campaign, please click HERE.
Happy 4th of July!
Photoshopped Image of the billboard at night with Fireworks.
Click HERE for a hi-res version.
Cover of the June 30 – July 6 Creative Loafing magazine.
UPDATE #3: The reaction to the billboards continues with a featured story in Creative Loafing (a free entertainment magazine in Charlotte), discussions on radio shows, commentaries and op eds. Also, The Rev. Ralph Sexton, pastor at Trinity Baptist Church in Asheville, and the We Still Pray movement has begun putting up billboards which read; “One Nation Under God,” which has resulted in more coverage and interviews. We are gratified that we have been able to start this important conversation in North Carolina. Now let us hope the debate of the billboards develops into true dialogue among our citizens as we explore together this critical church-state issue.
Nonreligious activists launch a new secular movement in N.C. (Charlotte’s Creative Loafing magazine)
Separation of Church and State (WFAE Charlotte public radio discussion inspired by the billboard, click on “Listen Now”)
Let’s not let Pledge divide ‘one nation’ (Durham News Op Ed inspired by the billboard)
Dueling billboards in Asheville debate religion’s role in government (Asheville Citizen Times story about “One Nation Under God billboards being placed)
More ‘Under God’ billboards going up in Asheville, other NC cities (More coverage of the “Under God” billboards from the Asheville Citizen Times, includes our media rep Jennifer’s response)
Godless Billboard Will Soon Have Some “Under God” Competition (Charlotte Fox News video)
Controversial billboards to be seen in the east (More news video coverage of the “Under God” billboards which includes a response from our media rep Jennifer)
Atheist Billboard Vintages (Friendly Atheist comments on the video above)
Turn the other cheek (Post about a Greensboro News & Record story not online, includes a quote from our media rep Phillip)
Church Group Responds To Billboards Removing “God” From Pledge (Local Greensboro video news coverage including a phone interview with our media rep Phillip)
ABC interviewing people in Asheville about ‘under God’ billboard controversy (Asheville coverage)
National spotlight to hit Asheville as billboard debate rages on (Asheville coverage includes part of an interview with our media rep Jennifer)
War on Religion (Nightline segment about Edwin Kagin containing a very small, out of place, spot on the billboard in Charlotte and the vandalism)
One nation includes all (Letter to the editor by our Raleigh media rep Randall)
Billboard Battle in Bible Belt: One Nation ‘Under God’ or Not? (ABC World News Tonight coverage)
God vs. Atheism in Battle of the Billboards (Direct link to the video above)
ABC News Airs Segment About North Carolina Atheist Billboard (Friendly Atheist comments on the video above)
An atheism debate writ large, on billboards (LA Times article)
Religious battle fought on billboards (USA Today coverage of the LA Times article, scroll down toward the bottom to see)
Local atheists say they ‘want a seat at the table’ (Charlotte Observer article)
North Carolina Atheists Get Positive Press (Friendly Atheist post on the Charlotte Observer article above)
Atheists bring out fearful side of faith (Front page B section of the Charlotte Observer opinion piece on the earlier Charlotte Observer article)