Atheist Billboards Stir Debate in Florida

Published June 24, 2010

| FoxNews.com

New billboards that promote "one nation" -- but no "God" -- are causing a stir in a Florida community.

Atheists of Florida, a group that advocates the separation of church and state, put up five signs Wednesday in Lakeland, targeting the area’s devout Christian population, MyFoxTampaBay.com reported.

Members of the organization's Lakeland chapter say they aren’t looking to convert Christians to atheism, but send a message this Fourth of July that atheists are Americans, too.

"There's quite a strong representation of religion out here and we feel that this is really where the message should be," Atheists of Florida president John Kieffer told the TV station.

The billboards read "one nation... indivisible," excluding the phrase "under God." The reference to God in the Pledge of Allegiance was added by federal law in 1954, on Flag Day.

One of the billboards stands across from a VFW Post, and Vietnam veteran David Kissell told the station he thinks it's a disgrace to our country.

"Our nation was formed under God and its principles, and it's a shame we allow this to happen in our neighborhoods," Kissell said.

Kieffer, also Vietnam veteran, admits that gaining acceptance as an atheist and changing back the Pledge will not be easy.

"It's going to be a struggle and it's going to be hard work," said Kieffer. "We are fighting a majority. The majority of this country would not agree with our world view, however we're Americans too."

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