Atheist Billboard Campaign Upsets N.C. Residents

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Residents across North Carolina are protesting a series of atheist billboards they say attack the Pledge of Allegiance.

The billboards which read, "One Nation Indivisible" are popping up in several areas across the state, including the Billy Graham Parkway in Charlotte.

The North Carolina Secular Association and other atheist groups want Americans to no longer acknowledge God in the Pledge of Allegiance.

"I believe that God is sovereign over all things, and so, it's offensive to me personally," one resident said.

But humanists like Randy Best, with the Ethical Humanist Society of the Triangle, says this billboard campaign is designed to separate religion and patriotism.

"If we wanted to be offensive we could have been offensive quite directly. We could have said something about God quite explicitly, and we didn't. We chose not to do that. We chose to make a message that's inclusive," Best said.

The words "Under God" were added to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954 by a joint resolution of Congress.

President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the bill into law after hearing a sermon based on the Gettysburg Address, in which President Abraham Lincoln used the words "under God" to set the United States apart from other nations.

Best argues the phrase "under God" excludes atheists, and that the new billboard campaign in North Carolina is simply more inclusive.

"People have been angry about it, and I'm sad that trying to make an inclusive statement that we're all Americans should anger some people," Best said.

Business owner Mike Connelly's antique shop is right next to one of the billboards. He said business is good right now, but he's concerned that could change.

"It's a little bit frustrating when you've got a relatively new business. You don't want any controversy whatsoever surrounding your establishment," Connelly said.

Other business owners in the area agree the atheist campaign is upsetting as a business owner and an American.

The billboard is now on display in six cities across North Carolina.

A billboard in Charlotte has since been altered to include the phrase "under God" after someone anonymously spray-painted the phrase on it.

The atheist group has ordered another billboard to replace it.

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