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'God is' billboard replaces controversial Lincoln Tunnel atheist billboard
December 23rd, 2010
05:44 PM ET

'God is' billboard replaces controversial Lincoln Tunnel atheist billboard

By Emanuella Grinberg and Nicole Saidi, CNN

An atheist billboard on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel that declared Christmas a "myth" has been replaced by a pro-Christian billboard.

The old billboard, put up in late November by the American Atheists organization, said "You know it's a myth. This season, celebrate reason."

The sign stirred controversy among Christian organizations, prompting the Catholic League to erect its own pro-Christmas billboard on the New York side of the tunnel that read, "You Know It's Real: This Season Celebrate Jesus."

The new sign, which was posted by the Manhattan-based Times Square Church, reads "God is," and includes a word cloud of religious themes.

See images of new "God is" billboard

The sign is a direct response to "atheist billboards near the Lincoln Tunnel declaring Christmas a myth," the church said on its website.

"We want to encourage people to seek God and prove that indeed He is," senior Pastor Connor Conlon said. The ad originally ran as part of a subway ad campaign Times Square Church ran in January 2010.

iReporter Lulis Leal noticed the new sign while passing through the Lincoln Tunnel and shared photos of it with iReport. She said people on both sides of the issue are talking about the latest billboard. She said she's even observed people arguing about it.

As for the old sign, an American Atheists spokesman said the organization's lease ran out on the space, as they'd only had it reserved for a month.

"They have First Amendment rights," spokesman Blair Scott said.

Since putting down $20,000 for the billboard, the group has earned $65,000 in donations, which Scott attributed to the national publicity it garnered - with a little help from the Catholic League.

"We received e-mails from hundreds of agnostics and atheists who heard about the billboard and had never heard about us who thanked us for being there and letting them know they're not alone, and that was our target audience from the get-go," he said.

"We sent the Catholic League a thank-you letter."

- egrinberg

Filed under: Atheism • Catholic Church • Christianity • Christmas • Holidays • iReport

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soundoff (1,586 Responses)
  1. Chris

    If God is real, why do religions feel the need to advertise it. Wouldn't he make himself known to everybody.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:52 am |
    • Anita

      He does. But not through man's advertisement. I remember when I was really first struggling with the concept of God, I was driving from California to Missouri. I was somewhere in Utah, and was rounding curve after curve, amongst hill after hill. All of a sudden, I took inside of me, at that inner core, the difference in hues of colors that were appearing as I rounded these curves. I was awestruck by the beauty. Throughout the rest of my trip, I soaked in that what I saw around me. It was at that moment, I believed that God is – right now, right here. No man, especially his billboard, could have convinced me of this reality. God made Himself known. I was and am delighted.

      December 24, 2010 at 4:26 am |
    • bird

      Because religion has nothing to do with God, and everything to do with money and political power. God did not create religion, man did. As soon as man created religion, he choose to start excluding people. Does God exist? Who knows. Unfortunately for the world, organized religion exists, and as long as it does, there will never be harmony among people.

      December 24, 2010 at 10:41 am |
  2. dwayne

    I damn sure don't want any christian praying for me. I think they have a dead god and who in their right mind would want to go to their heaven and their hell is laughable.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:50 am |
  3. Nicole

    A+ for design. It's incredibly visually appealing, probably superior to 99% of the religious stuff I see around here. Christians are fun- church services that are like rock concerts, flyers and billboards that are super cool looking. I can see why so many people convert.

    Having said that, It's sort of sad that an expression of a contrary belief system made them so defensive.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:46 am |
  4. Joe

    Atheist people worship money and Al gore.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:45 am |
  5. BADGUY

    I pray to a bobble head statue of G.W Bush. He kept them Muslim hoards at bay as well as the "Welfare mothers". That's the only proof of divinity I need.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:45 am |
    • Observer

      Please check your history book for 9/11/01 when George "Childrens do learn" Bush was president. He didn't do so good on the day he read "The Pet Goat".

      December 24, 2010 at 1:26 am |
  6. MM

    So for the atheist they were happy to receive money. For the Christian, they'll just be happy with a lost soul who receives salvation. It's not about money. It's about soul salvation.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:44 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Delighted to hear it. So next time they pass the collection plate or some TV evangelist asks for a free-will love offering, skip right past that cheap, tawdry money part and just send them your soul. Heck, throw mine in as well, it's not like I'M using it.

      December 24, 2010 at 12:49 am |
  7. dwayne

    It might be neat to have a christian god; you could raise it like a pet.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:43 am |
    • susan Maddern

      why are you so bitter against God! did you ever read the bible? God hasan't done anything to deserve what you post here.He's a loving and forgiving God and no I can't see him to know he is real but I believe in faith and love and prayer and that's all I need to believe he exists and that he died on the cross for my sins! I'm so sorry that you have such a empty shallow feeling about God but maybe someday something will bring you around to believing in him.I won't Judge you because that is wrong but I can pray for you.Hae a Merry Christmas I know I will!

      December 24, 2010 at 6:51 am |
  8. dwayne

    Remember your jesus is dead (fact) bleed out 2000 yrs ago.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:42 am |
  9. Clarice

    You know what, no matter what you bitter atheists do to try and rain on my parade, you can't. Merry Christmas, see you in Heaven.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:40 am |
  10. dwayne

    judgement day; what a laugh.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:38 am |
  11. Joe

    Atheist people can't prove love. So it's not real. I want proof. Prove to me you love your kids. Proof, proof, proof. You can't so it's not real. It's a fairy tale. How does it feel to demand proof?

    December 24, 2010 at 12:38 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      I wouldn't consign my kids to burn forever in Hell. That's kind of a really low 1st rung on the ladder of love, but regrettably your God couldn't make it up even that far.

      December 24, 2010 at 12:42 am |
    • Don

      It feels fine, Joe. Why? Because you're committing a category error. I don't know anyone who claims that love is something objectively, ontologically real (yeah, you'll have to look up what ontological means,. I know that you have never seen that word before), whereas "god" is claimed to be such. Learn the difference between the conceptually real and the ontologically real.

      December 24, 2010 at 9:05 am |
  12. dwayne

    Better wake up; your jesus god has been dead approx 2000 yrs. Don't think he'll be forgiving or not forgiving anybody.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:37 am |
  13. Frank

    The atheist billboard was just mean spirited and bitter.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:34 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Oh, right, like "you're all evil tools of Satan who will burn in Hell forever and deserve every second of it" ISN'T mean and bitter.

      December 24, 2010 at 12:40 am |
  14. John

    Maybe we should reconsider the one god and only one god concept. Would it not be a lot more fun like back in the good old days when there was a plethora of gods. Gods were everywhere and some were even female gods with all good, big perfect breasts. Those are my favorite kind. Why has nearly everyone bought into this only one god thing? Since we never hear from any gods at all, there stands a good chance that there are many. I would also ask why is god such a cowardly creature? What's with the hide and seek games? He needs to man up and show himself. What's he afraid of? Could it be that he is not there at all? Kinda makes you wonder sometime, eh?

    December 24, 2010 at 12:34 am |
  15. dwayne

    It's amazing that one sick christian god could have caused so many people to get killed.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:33 am |
  16. Rhubarb

    Merry CHRISTmas, everyone!

    Now, ask yourself: Did you feel hatred toward me when you read that? Jesus will forgive you that sin, if you ask Him to and you sincerely repent.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:32 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      I did not feel hatred toward you when I read that. That's why I'm always so perplexed when Xians attribute the motive of hatred to atheists when we disagree with them. What's up with that?

      December 24, 2010 at 12:38 am |
    • Rhubarb

      Well, the fact that you called me a "sucker" earlier when you disagreed with me, was a factor...would you call me that in person, face to face?

      December 24, 2010 at 12:52 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Well, I've got good friends who believe (sort of) in God (altho it's a kind of nebulous, generic universal spirit, not the literal Yahweh of the Bible), and I've called THEM suckers to their faces, why should I hesitate to do so with you?

      More to the point, tho, if I said "That aluminum-siding salesman is a con artist. He's gonna bilk you. He just wants your money. He's playing you for a sucker!", how could you possibly interpret that as me HATING you?

      December 24, 2010 at 2:08 am |
    • CatholicMom

      RichardSRussell,
      I am amazed how many comments revolve around money on these posts.............

      December 26, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
  17. dwayne

    As best as I can tell; the christian bleed out approximately 2 thousands years ago.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:31 am |
  18. BADGUY

    What's with all this "you wouldn't talk to a Muslim this way, why are you picking on Christians?". I lived and worked in a Muslim country for 7 years. I never had anyone try to convert me or drag me into a mosque. Muslims don't worry me. Right wing Christian Evangelicals DO! Their numbers and moves to control politics in the USA is a direct threat to my well being.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:30 am |
  19. dwayne

    I am not scared of any of those sick gods.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:28 am |
  20. John

    Ok so the relentless arguing in online forums and in comment sections at the end of online articles is starting to infest our highways and billboards. Uh oh.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:24 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.