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Image courtesy FFRF

Shortly before Darwin Day 2021 (February 12) the Freedom From Religion Foundation and its Chicago chapter unveiled the striking billboard above in Chicago.

At the time FFRF Co-President Dan Barker said that that science works and must be trusted during pandemics such as Covid. He added:

It was a natural selection given the continuing pushback by the Christian Right against masking and social distancing mandates.

Tom Cara, FFRF’s Executive Director for the Metropolitan Chicago Chapter, coordinated the billboard project. He said:

This new billboard is timely in two ways. First, to encourage everyone to help keep us all safe by trusting in science, not superstition, and to mask up! Second, to give science the respect it deserves by honouring the birthday of Charles Darwin.

During this critical time in our history, it is very important we recognize the outstanding contributions of those in the science and medical fields.

The billboard was just one of a host efforts to get Americans vaccinated and produced positive results – but only among those untainted by religion or Republicanism.

Natalie Jackson, in this August op-ed, concluded:

Most white evangelical Republicans, and Republicans in general, disagreed with our question about the Golden Rule, that “because getting vaccinated against COVID-19 helps protect everyone, it is a way to live out the religious principle of loving my neighbors” (57 percent and 58 percent, respectively).

This may be because for some white evangelicals and Republicans, politics and religion are inseparable – and God’s will, or their interpretation of it, controls everything.

At the beginning of this month, The Jerusalem Post confirmed that white evangelicals don’t give a toss about the welfare of others.

It quoted from a recent Pew Research Center survey that found that only 57 percent of white evangelical Protestants had received at least one shot of the vaccine, compared to 86 percent of Hispanic Catholics, 79 percent of white Catholics, 73 percent of white non-evangelicals and 70 percent of black evangelicals.

Curiously, the JP neglected to point out that the study showed that atheists top the list of those who have received jabs. That was left to the FFRF which said the study showed that “fully 90 percent of atheists are vaccinated.”

Barker said:

Atheists believe in this life, not an afterlife, and we don’t need a god to threaten us with hell to do the right thing. We’re good for goodness sake.

The FFRF emphasised the underlying issues behind the disparate vaccination rates. Its Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor added:

This is one of the great moral issues of today – and religion is simply failing. Religious folks are often suspicious of a tiny little shot to prevent the spread of a lethal contagion that has killed 1 in every 500 Americans and has completely overwhelmed and overworked our heroes on the health care frontlines.

It takes religion to make the immoral seem moral.

The numbers, said organisation, show some interesting trends. Agnostics lag slightly behind atheists, while “nothing in particular” Nones are about average. Catholics score above average, and Hispanic Catholics even better than agnostics. FFRF said:

It seems like a rare instance of American Catholics listening to their Pope  – and the Pope having the correct message. Now, if he would only apply himself to the scourge of rape and abuse within his church.

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Veteran journalist and free speech activist Barry Duke was, for 24 years, editor of the Freethinker, the oldest continually active freethought publication in the world, established by G.W. Foote in 1881.