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Charlotte billboards will rip religion, politics

TAMPA, Fla. A prominent atheist group is using next month’s Democratic National Convention to take aim at the presidential candidates’ religion, putting up billboards targeting Mormonism and Christianity in Charlotte.

“Our political system … depends too much on religion and not enough on substance,” said David Silverman, president of American Atheists. “Religion is silly and religion has components that are inherently divisive. … There is no place for any of that in the political system.”

The billboards go up Monday and will stay up for a month at a cost of roughly $15,000.

American Atheists wanted to put an anti-Mormon billboard in Tampa, Fla., to coincide with the Republican National Convention. Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney is a Mormon. When no billboard company would lease the group space, Silverman said the organization decided to focus solely on the Democrats in Charlotte. CNN

At RNC site: ‘Hi, it’s Mitt calling’

Less than two weeks before he will accept his party’s nomination for president, Mitt Romney’s voice was heard live inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum for the first time.

“Hi, it’s Mitt calling,” the former Massachusetts governor told about 140 campaign and convention staffers gathered Thursday.

The surprise call was to thank the staff that has worked for up to a year and a half to stage the Aug. 27-30 convention.

“I’ve organized a couple of big events myself, as you know, and I know what kind of work is involved in bringing together the number of people that we’re assembling,” Romney said. Tampa Bay Times

Ex-Republican Chafee set for Charlotte

With former Democratic U.S. Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama set to speak at the Republican convention, Democrats can now point to their own get – Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee.

Eight years after he was a VIP at the 2004 GOP convention, next month he’ll be one at the Democratic convention.

Chafee’s office confirmed that the independent governor will attend “a couple of nights of the convention,” which takes place Sept. 4-6. Chafee’s appearance at the Democratic convention won’t exactly come as a surprise: He left the GOP some time ago.

But he does have some Republican pedigree as the son of prominent GOP Sen. John Chafee and as a GOP senator himself who once said it was “inconceivable” that he would leave the GOP. Politico

N.C. Dance tells workers to stay home

Uptown Charlotte may be “open for business” during the convention, but the N.C. Dance Theater won’t be.

The theater announced it will be closed the week of Sept. 3. Staffers have been asked to work from home. Jim Morrill

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