Freedom2012: Branching Out from Billboards
Freedom2012, the web site and billboard campaign created by a Cincinnati couple, has spread beyond Cincinnati and branched out from billboards to banners and yard signs.
As conceived and funded by Cincinnatians Rob and Michelle Duebell, the campaign originally consisted of a web site about religious freedom issues written for a general audience, and a billboard featuring a striking image of the Statue of Liberty — handcuffed with her face in her hands — to direct people to the billboards. The Duebells rented the billboards with their own money, and made the art available to anyone in the country who wanted to put up more.
Groups have since put up billboards in Cleveland, Miami, and New Mexico.
The only change in the artwork has been to make it more specific. Instead of the words “First Amendment” crossed out with a red line, the signs and billboards now read “Religious Freedom.” More than one freedom is protected by the First Amendment, and Freedom2012 discovered that people found the specific message more compelling than the general one.
And the signs have gone beyond billboards. Because of requests for smaller sizes, Freedom2012 had art for various sizes of signs from bus shelter posters to yard signs created and made available free of charge. Several area parishes have erected 4 x 8 banners across the street from or next to their property, including St. Columban (Loveland), All Saints (Kenwood), Christ the King (Mt. Lookout) and St. Gertrude (Madiera).
Rob Duebell says an oversized eletronic billboard went up this week on Cleveland’s busiest highway. Paid for by Cleveland pro-life donors, the sign at 1480 and Lee will reach about 600,000 people before Nov. 6th. In Cincinnati, a billboard on I-75 South near the Mitchell Avenue exit, likewise paid for by donations from area pro-life families, will be seen by about 3.2 million people before election day. All told, Freedom2012 expects its messages to reach 13 million people.
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“As you know the message draws attention to President Obama’s attack on our Church and Christian witness in America,” Duebell says. Spanish signs in Miami, FL, are particularly targeted to Cuban immigrants, many of whom value freedom of religion after living in a Communist state. But most donors and locations are in Ohio.
“We have concentrated in Ohio and there alone we will reach millions prior to the election,” Duebell says. “Many are predicting that it may come down to Ohio.”
Right to Life of Greater Cincinnati had 500 yard signs made up with Freedom2012 artwor for the organization’s annual Banquet for Life. “They went faster than new releases of iPhones and virtually everyone took one home,” Duebell says.
Executive Director Paula Westwood says most of the rest of the signs were gone within a week. “We are so blessed that so many people are willing to put them up at their homes,” she says. “People took them immediately, or called to pick them up. It takes a lot of courage, especially in Ohio where the election is very tense.”
The Deubells say they created the campaign because they see it as their job as Catholic laypeople to follow the call of every bishop in the United States to fight for religious liberty. Though the signs and website are aimed at all Americans, even those with no religious faith, the Deubells say they particularly hope they reach Catholics who downplay or don’t understand implications of how the Obama administration’s actions attack religious freedom.
“So many of us are praying the Catholic voter’s eyes will be opened by November 6th,” he says.
For more information about Freedom2012, including many photos of the signs, see the group’s Facebook page.
For our previous piece about the campaign, click here.
Photos courtesy Freedom2012.
For our past religious freedom stories, click on “religious freedom” in the lower menu. For a roundup of religious freedom websites and other sources, see our Religious Freedom page.