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Billboard to bear ad favoring nonbelief; Sign set to appear in Falls for 4 weeks

An advertising campaign that promotes the virtues of nonbelief in God and living without religion will be coming to Niagara Falls next month.

The Amherst-based Center for Inquiry is renting a billboard on the Niagara section of the Thruway, near Niagara Falls Boulevard, that will read: "You don't need God -- to hope, to care, to love, to live."

The sign is set to appear Sept. 12 and will run for four weeks.

It is a continuation of a Center for Inquiry campaign that originally launched in March in Washington, D.C., Indianapolis, Houston and later in Portland, Ore.

The think tank also is expanding the "Living Without Religion" advertising campaign to Grand Rapids, Mich., and Durham, N.C.

The center also had planned to do an effort in Knoxville, Tenn., but a billboard company refused the ad, claiming it was too offensive to a large percentage of Knoxville residents, according to Ronald A. Lindsay, Center for Inquiry president and chief executive officer.

Lindsay said the company's refusal of the ad underscored the need to have the campaign become more widespread, as a way to confront negative stereotypes of nonreligious people.

Many area residents encouraged the Center for Inquiry to conduct a local ad effort, said CFI spokeswoman Michelle Blackley.

The Thruway location was chosen because of its high volume of traffic by tourists.

A $10,000 gift from the Stiefel Freethought Foundation and a $5,000 gift from the Andrew Norman Foundation is helping pay for expansion of the ad campaign.