by Anthony Lane
You may have seen the billboards and ads around town: "CHURCH EQUALS STATE.com,” “CELEBRATE CONFORMITY.com,” “CREATE ISOLATION.com,” and “FREEDOM FROM EXPRESSION.com.”
If you checked any of the Web sites, it became clear they were all part of the same effort, but with no indication of what the sponsor was up to. One Indy reader emailed wondering if it was a joke. A friend who drove by one of the signs called me, delighted at the irony and wondering who was responsible.
Well, Citizens Project ended the mystery early this morning, explaining that the dystopic vision expressed by each sign would be "exactly what Colorado Springs might be like if not for the tireless efforts of Citizens Project." (The full release is below the fold.)
Citizens Project is a local nonprofit focused on equal rights. The ad campaign is expected to go on for a few weeks.
Citizens Project Revealed as Source of Provocative Advertising Campaign
Colorado Springs, CO — Today local equal rights non-profit group Citizens Project revealed they are behind the provocative ad campaign in Colorado Springs featuring the messages “CHURCH EQUALS STATE.com,” “CELEBRATE CONFORMITY.com,” “CREATE ISOLATION.com,” and “FREEDOM FROM EXPRESSION.com.”
Appearing on billboards and bus shelters, on sides and tails of city buses, on TV, in newspapers and online, the integrated multi-media campaign features simple text on vibrant backgrounds that lead to web pages asking viewers to “imagine a world where school prayer was mandatory, where only one culture was valued, where citizens were encouraged to never get involved, and where individualism was simply unacceptable.” These were followed by the cryptic assertion: “Right now, people in our community are working to make this dream a reality. If you’d like to know more, join our e-mail list today.”
Today the ads reveal the Citizens Project’s logo superimposed over the text, and the web pages changed, with the “imagine a world” ideas followed by “that’s exactly what Colorado Springs might be like if not for the tireless efforts of Citizens Project. Since 1992, we’ve been working to protect your rights — and the rights of every person in Colorado Springs — by promoting TRUE American values: diversity, equality and religious freedom, including separation of church and state.”
The purpose of the campaign, which launched in mid-February and will continue for at least the next few weeks, is twofold: 1) to spark a local dialogue about diversity, equality and religious freedom, and, 2) to raise awareness about Citizens Project’s advocacy work on these issues in the Pikes Peak region.
Over the past 18 years Citizens Project has been a voice for respecting differences, protecting equality, and promoting civic engagement, so we can all live together while preserving the fundamental rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution for everyone. There are wide political and cultural gulfs in our community. And if we want to defend and protect the fundamental American values of liberty and equality for all, then we need to make a community commitment to respect those differences, while letting others hold onto their beliefs without limiting their rights and freedoms.
Citizens Project hopes this campaign will spark these conversations, help connect people of differing views, and inspire a commitment to preserving equal rights and liberties across the cultural spectrum. The organization invites the public to join the conversation through its online blog and at informal neighborhood gatherings being held around the community. Announcements for these events will be released separately with full details.
Those interested in this effort are also invited to join Citizens Project’s e-mail network and attend the Creating Community Breakfast on June 3, 2010.