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Groups place ‘godless’ billboards across SD

This is one of the billboards placed along South Dakota’s highways. They are sponsored by the South Dakota Coalition of Reason. (Todd Epp/For The Daily Republic)

By Todd Epp

For The Daily Republic

 Atheist and agnostic groups in South Dakota have launched a billboard campaign across the state.

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 The billboards note: “Don’t believe in God? Join the club.” The words are superimposed over an Earthrise image.

 The signs’ appearances mark the formal launch of the South Dakota Coalition of Reason (South Dakota CoR), an alliance of seven nontheistic (atheist and agnostic) groups in the state.

 The participating organizations are: the Siouxland Freethinkers chapters in Sioux Falls, Brookings and Rapid City and Secular Student Alliance Groups at the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University, South Dakota School of Mines and Black Hills State University.

 Sponsored by South Dakota CoR with $11,148 in funding from the United Coalition of Reason (UnitedCoR) and an anonymous South Dakota donor, the billboards will remain up through Sept. 15. They can be found in or around Brookings, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Spearfish and Vermillion.

 According to the coalition, the campaign is part of a coordinated nationwide program that began in 2009. Since then, similar campaigns have been launched in 33 other states and the District of Columbia.

 Each local campaign is sponsored by a multi-organizational coalition of non-theistic groups in the area.

 “We want people to know that secular freethinkers like us are a regular part of communities all over the state,” said Eric Novotny, coordinator of South Dakota CoR. “South Dakota non-theists are your friends and neighbors, your coworkers and family members. And we should feel as free as anyone to express our views openly.”