"Reject Christian Nationalism. Keep religion out of government." That's what the billboard near the State Capitol reads — in all caps. In smaller type is the name of the group that paid for it: Humanists MN.

The sign has been getting plenty of attention. When a local Reddit user snapped a photo of it and posted it with a "Found in St Paul, MN; Proud to live here!" caption earlier this spring, it garnered nearly 50,000 upvotes.

No matter your take on the First Amendment and its clauses, however, the billboard likely prompts a question: What's a humanist?

That's something Ellie Haylund, president of Humanists MN, finds herself answering often, even though her organization calls themselves the state's largest group of nonbelievers.

"So many people have not heard of it," Haylund said of humanism. "But as soon as you describe it, most people I know, say, 'Oh, that's me, I didn't know there was that name for it.'"

Humanists don't believe in a god. Instead, they unite around shared ethics and values — such as compassion, critical thinking, civic engagement and sustainability — and come together for service projects and community gatherings. The American Humanist Association's slogan is "Good without a god."

"I always tell people that I would rather label myself or define myself by what I am, not by what I'm not," Haylund said, explaining why "humanist" is a better fit for her than "atheist."

While sharing a name and certain qualities with the humanist movement of the Italian Renaissance, the type of contemporary humanism that Haylund is a part of had its beginnings about 100 years ago. Author Kurt Vonnegut was one of the more famous adherents. It's now gaining new energy and momentum among the growing number of people who identify as having no religion, Haylund said.

Humanists MN, which has several hundred dues-paying members and thousands of more casual adherents, has been around for 36 years. Billboards (which cost the group more than $7,000 for three months) are part of an effort to gain visibility and spur action on the separation of religion and government. The local organization put up its first billboard ("Good without a god") last year.

The group also successfully encouraged Democratic state legislators to start a Secular Government Caucus in Minnesota. Formed last October, the caucus aims to counter what its members say is a growing push to impose Christian beliefs in government. It includes legislators who are outspoken nonbelievers as well as lawmakers who are religious and support the separation of church and state.

Co-chair Rep. Mike Freiberg, DFL-Golden Valley, recently invited Humanists MN program coordinator Audrey Kingstrom to the House. Legislative sessions usually begin with a prayer, but Freiberg asked Kingstrom to give a "secular invocation."

She used the occasion to make a point:

"Be mindful that the moral authority by which you govern only exists when everyone's voice is heard and respected, when informed reason and verifiable evidence undergirds your decisions, and when compassion, cooperation and civility guide your process," she told the room. "Hold fast to these noble aims and this shared purpose. So may it be."

This month, Humanists MN returned to the State Capitol along with the humanist congregation First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis and Or Emet Minnesota Congregation for Humanistic Judaism as part of an annual event they call the National Day of Reason. They gathered in the basement for croissants and coffee and invited other groups of nonbelievers, including the Central Minnesota Freethinkers, Jews for a Secular Democracy and Minnesota Atheists.

One of many humanist gatherings around the country on the first Wednesday in May, the breakfast aimed to counter the much more prominent annual National Day of Prayer, which falls on the following day.

Rep. Athena Hollins, DFL-St. Paul, one of the secular caucus' co-chairs, said bringing dozens of nonbelievers to the Capitol was important.

"I was raised agnostic. And so I didn't realize that that would be a big deal in this space," she said. "It's become clear to me now, though, that me even being 'out' as being a secular person is kind of revolutionary, which is strange. I'm very respectful and I support everybody and their religious beliefs. But I just think that the decisions that we make and the policy that we need needs to be reflective of all people, and for that reason we need to be making it secular."

The breakfast's featured speaker was Wisconsin lawyer and "American Crusade: How the Supreme Court Is Weaponizing Religious Freedom" author Andrew Seidel. On his way to the Capitol, he drove past the humanists' billboard and took note.

He stopped to snap a photo and share on Twitter, weighing in with a little wit:

"Check out the @humanistsmn billboard just a few blocks from the MN Capitol. 'Reject Christian Nationalism. Keep religion out of government.' Can I get an amen?!"