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An atheist billboard on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel that declared Christmas a "myth" has been replaced by a pro-Christian billboard.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

    The reason for the season is Mithra pure and simple as that! Look it up for yourself. He was worshipped 1000yrs before this nonsense about Judaism and the 2 offshoots was ever even thought of! Born on Dec. 25th to a virgin in a cave. Heralded by angels and visited by the magi. Died for your sins and rose again....now you tell me; who stole what story and is shoving it down peoples throat as their own? Who is being hateful and offensive? What? You couldn't even come up with a new origin story for your myth?...pathetic and it's called plagarism! Geesh!

    December 24, 2010 at 8:06 am |
  2. Dan

    I woke up this morning in a warm bed with my beautiful wife of 22 years sleeping next to me. Our two children in their rooms across the hall and our big, goofy dog sleeping in the laundry room. We are healthy and well-fed. We enjoy tremendous prosperity – especially when compared to the rest of the world. We have A LOT to be thankful for. As for me, I thank God. Merry Christmas everyone:)

    December 24, 2010 at 8:01 am |
  3. Anon

    Looks like they forgot to add "dead" in that billboard.

    December 24, 2010 at 7:57 am |
  4. Noah

    God is...a joke. Believers are the punch line.

    December 24, 2010 at 7:56 am |
  5. Fred Magyar

    "We want to encourage people to seek God and prove that indeed He is," senior Pastor Connor Conlon said."

    When you publish the' proof' in a peer reviewed scientific journal, let us know. In the mean time don't forget that The Australian Snake god and Thor are among the 2800 or so known deities that are or were considered the one and only true god...why not still believe in them?

    December 24, 2010 at 7:55 am |
  6. A Believer

    All I know is that when I couldn't walk after a horrible accident and relied on doctors and family, medicine and reason, I still couldn't walk. When I let all of that go and began to pray, I was healed. I've never looked back and still pray and believe. I also have the MRI's to prove that my injury healed with no earthly explanation.
    I'm sorry that some of you were obviously hurt and abused by your religious upbringing but God didn't do that to you – man did. Look for the miracles. That's the true God. He, she, it exists.

    December 24, 2010 at 7:54 am |
    • Don

      If I cared, I'd be offended by your patronizing garbage. But I don't care. I just hope that you'll grow up and stop thinking that people are atheists because they were "hurt". I know it makes you feel better to believe that, but that's your problem.

      December 24, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  7. John

    The world will by far be a better place once we are rid of ALL religion

    December 24, 2010 at 7:47 am |
    • Noah

      Fact.

      December 24, 2010 at 7:58 am |
  8. LEB

    As an atheist I have to say I don't care what anybody celebrates. The people that are saying 'the atheists get all upset', well not really, just the extremists. Most of the atheists I have ever met really don't care what you believe. The groups on both sides that are putting up the billboard are just people who don't want to leave others to their own lives and want to do thinking for them. At least the billboard company made money.

    December 24, 2010 at 7:43 am |
  9. Fred

    The leader of the atheist group is jewish, so we know who is behind this. If they think Jesus was part jewish then the attack on him is anti-semitic.

    December 24, 2010 at 7:34 am |
  10. cyberia

    LOL@God, you ask very honest questions about God and humanity. If you truly want to know the answers to those questions, give the reading the Bible a shot - read it as ONE whole book, from beginning to end; you will see it is a living breathing story of how it all began, how to make sense of where we are in this story at this point in human history, and what lies ahead. I promise you all the answers are there and they do make sense. 'Come now let us reason together', says the Lord.

    December 24, 2010 at 7:33 am |
    • Lol@God

      The bible was written by man, just as all other religious books which you reject were as well. Including those religions around before Christianity. Living in Colorado, Christianity is shoved down the masses throats non-stop, yet if there is one Atheist commercial or billboard out there then there is an uproar. The hypocritical nature and close mindedness of the majority of bible thumpers has made me realize that in all that is needed for me is to be a good person. No possible reward or punishment for not being this good person, simply being good because it is the right thing to do. Why must we as society have an organized, man-made thing telling us how we should live our lives and why? If I am a good and caring person and end up being wrong about this religion thing and am punished by God for not my actions, but for my beliefs, then so be it. I can handle that consequence and hold my head high knowing that I was good to my fellow man.

      December 24, 2010 at 11:41 am |
  11. BD70

    I think aliens created us and when we die our spirits are reincarnated into yet another spin on earth. lmao! oiy...have to learn to use the potty all over again.....Merry Pagan CHRISTmas!

    December 24, 2010 at 7:21 am |
  12. Susan

    America was founded on Christianity. As much as people would like to fuel their hatred towards the Catholic church as the epitome of Christianity, they are misguided. It isn't about hate but about love. We all have stop this horrible anger. Has any religion stepped up and asked the people to do this? Stop believing that you can toss your beliefs into the American pysch. It's never going to happen. Christianity IS America. India IS Hindu. Iraq IS Muslim and so on...........

    December 24, 2010 at 6:58 am |
  13. Stan

    Patrick Henry wrote in 1776 "It cannot be emphasized too strongly or too often that this great nation was founded not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religion, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For that reason alone, people of other faiths have been afforded freedom of worship here."

    December 24, 2010 at 6:55 am |
    • Scott

      @Stan: Patric Henry was wrong

      The United States was not originally intended to be a Christian nation.
      Jefferson, Washington, Franklin and most of the founding fathers were skeptics or Deists;
      they specifically intended a secular government with an "unbreachable wall" between church
      and state; they even wrote into the treaty with the Moslem nation of Tripoli a clear
      statement that, unlike European countries, the "United States is not, in any sense, a
      Christian nation." (So clearly understood was the principle of separation of church and
      state in those days that the treaty passed Congress without any debate on that clause,
      and President John Adams signed it at once, without any fear that it might jeopardize his
      political future.)

      December 25, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
    • World Without End - Scientific Pantheism - Philosophic Restore

      @Stan... this country was founded by many different Christain groups fleeing Europe to get away from other Christain groups, everytime other Christain groups took over a European government and persecuted the other Christains by burning them at the stake etc.. The Christain on Christain persecutions, probably started as far back as when Roman Emperor Constantine had his bishops decide which Christain Books were acceptable and which were not about 300 years after the crucifixion,,.so quite a bit of persecution was necessary to clean up all the versions of Christianity that existed. There were even crusades against South France Albigensians and Czechslovak Hussite Christains in addition the ones in the Holy Land, not to mention the pogroms against those of Jewish faith.

      So when America was finally colonized, when Catholics and Anglicans persecuted Protestants they migrated to America, but then when Protestants took over England, Catholics came to America. Look up the 30 Years War as well. It was as a result of wanting to avoid all that unproductive persecution of each other because of Religion, that the the founding fathers thought it would be a good idea to not allow such persecution or favoritism in the US.

      December 26, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
  14. Tipper

    Why does there have to be a war on this subject? I believe in God, I celebrate Christmas for what it is because that is my choice. I have a free will to do so. An athiest or agnostic also has that same free will not to believe. I live my life based on my belief and my faith in a greater power other than my own. I don't shove it down anyone's throat, I just live my life day to day doing the best I can. If you don't believe in God than just don't believe and live your life accordingly. Why such nastiness from all sides? I just don't understand I guess, or perhaps I'm simplifying it too much. God is real to me and I've never doubted it, but if He isn't real to you then fine, don't believe, live your life and be happy. RESPECT should come from all sides, in all beliefs, it's just that simple.

    December 24, 2010 at 6:54 am |
  15. Stan

    For those who do not believe that's sad. but people like Patrick Henry didPatrick Henry, who is called the firebrand of the American Revolution, is still remembered for his words, "Give me liberty or give me death." But in current textbooks the context of these words is deleted. Here is what he said: "An appeal to arms and the God of hosts is all that is left us. But we shall not fight our battle alone. There is a just God that presides over the destinies of nations. The battle sir, is not of the strong alone. Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death." The important part of what he said has been deleted from various books because of a minority, and since when does a minority rule? GOD Help us all

    December 24, 2010 at 6:51 am |
  16. belgian citizen

    Well, we can see your 'God is' billboard but we cannot see God, and we never will because – until scientifically proven – it does NOT exist.

    December 24, 2010 at 6:44 am |
  17. Stan

    For those who do not believe in God or anything to do with him, that's your problem. But people like Patrick Henry, who is called the firebrand of the American Revolution, is still remembered for his words, "Give me liberty or give me death." But in current textbooks the context of these words is deleted. Here is what he said: "An appeal to arms and the God of hosts is all that is left us. But we shall not fight our battle alone. There is a just God that presides over the destinies of nations. The battle sir, is not of the strong alone. Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it almighty God. I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death."

    December 24, 2010 at 6:35 am |
    • DC

      "For those who do not believe in God or anything to do with him, that's your problem."

      Actually,...it's not a problem at all.

      December 24, 2010 at 7:32 am |
    • Scott

      So which god was he talking about? Most of the founding fathers where Deists not classic Christians

      December 25, 2010 at 3:21 pm |
  18. Karloff

    They missed a few–God is: nonexistent, a delusion, a scapegoat for bad behavior....

    December 24, 2010 at 6:24 am |
  19. DC

    "God is"...your perpetual imaginary friend that will always be there to provide a false sense of security for you!

    December 24, 2010 at 6:11 am |
  20. dwighthuth

    Still looking for god when god is nowhere around? Still using the god as a generalized term of understanding through the lack of understanding? When is humanity going to wake up and realize that the term god is the biggegst money known to humanity? You continue to give them money in hopes of x occuring when all you are doing is throwing your money down the hole into the maul of those that seem to say that they care. God is a bigger money pit than Oak Island.

    December 24, 2010 at 6:05 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.