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An atheist billboard on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel that declared Christmas a "myth" has been replaced by a pro-Christian billboard.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

    Gee, somebody must have felt threatened by the truth! Have to put up the old lie of religion again, can't afford to let people know that THERE ISN'T ANY GOD. That'd spoil the scam.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:22 am |
  2. Kite005

    Hey the athiests can have their beliefs also. Why do christians feel the need to overwrite some athiests message? If they are really comfortable in their own belief there would be no need to feel threatened by anothers belief which is different.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:21 am |
  3. toshmaster1

    Hey i love christmas as much as the next guy but it no more represents reality than santa

    December 24, 2010 at 9:21 am |
  4. Kada

    Oh I got one. "God is" your imaginary friend. Seriously can't we grow up yet? Not one of you know anything about any god. Of course the church wants people to believe in their imaginary made up god pal, they get paid by those same people to tell them everything is ok and someone loves them. Psychologically I would say people who need religion are weak minded and delusional. Give them your money and you get to buy into saving your eternal soul. LOL

    December 24, 2010 at 9:19 am |
  5. toshmaster1

    The sign says a lot of things like god is aware of the struggle. if this is true why doesn't he do anything about it? Grow up! this is total nonsense and actually hurts people who think he is going to engage somehow in their lives

    December 24, 2010 at 9:18 am |
  6. philosopher

    It's odd how those who criticize religious believers associate such an assent with irrationality. Study your philosophy, people! Most philosophers were theists. The idea that reason could actually lead one to God is subsequently brushed off with "well, they weren't rational when they came to that particular conclusion." Can you say "begging the question"?

    Here's a quiz for you. Who said this?

    ""On such a principle, then, depend the heavens and the world of nature. And it is a life such as the best which we enjoy, and enjoy for but a short time (for it is ever in this state, which we cannot be), since its actuality is also pleasure. (And for this reason are waking, perception, and thinking most pleasant, and hopes and memories are so on account of these.) And thinking in itself deals with that which is best in itself, and that which is thinking in the fullest sense with that which is best in the fullest sense. And thought thinks on itself because it shares the nature of the object of thought; for it becomes an object of thought in coming into contact with and thinking its objects, so that thought and object of thought are the same. For that which is capable of receiving the object of thought, i.e. the essence, is thought. But it is active when it possesses this object. Therefore the possession rather than the receptivity is the divine element which thought seems to contain, and the act of contemplation is what is most pleasant and best. If, then, God is always in that good state in which we sometimes are, this compels our wonder; and if in a better this compels it yet more. And God is in a better state. And life also belongs to God; for the actuality of thought is life, and God is that actuality; and God's self-dependent actuality is life most good and eternal. We say therefore that God is a living being, eternal, most good, so that life and duration continuous and eternal belong to God; for this is God. "

    I'll give you a hint. He discovered logic.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:16 am |
    • Kite005

      I didn't know there was a person who discovered logic!

      December 24, 2010 at 9:25 am |
    • philosopher

      @Kite005: Yup. Logic is an art, along the lines of algebra or calculus. Historically, people start out by doing such things more or less "intuitively", but (often) poorly. Then someone comes along and discovers just how it must be done to be done quickly, consistently, and without error. For analytic geometry, that someone was Descartes. For calculus, Leibniz and Newton usually get the credit. For logic, it was... (drum roll, please)... Aristotle!

      December 24, 2010 at 10:32 pm |
  7. 1685 macy

    I guess the dead can only tell us what is REAL. The question is are you so sure of yourself when you are at the end of your life? You would be amazed how many start to worry when the time reaches them. Keep in mind it's so easy not to care when you're healthy...

    December 24, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  8. toshmaster1

    – santa is
    – the tooth fairy is
    – virgin birth is
    – dead people rising from the dead is

    December 24, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  9. ReasonIncarnate

    God Bless you Don

    December 24, 2010 at 9:13 am |
  10. ReasonIncarnate

    I'll bet you believe in evolution. Prove it. Did you know that the evidence for evolution is less than that of God and Jesus? It takes more faith to believe in evolution than God. Non-believing scientists have tried for years to prove evolution and disprove God...no luck yet....
    Yea, I know you are goiing to start parrotting words like "millions of years of fossils....". Do the research yourself in stead of just repeating what you've heard. If you actually look into it yourself, you will be completely surprised and, hopefully, saved from an eternity in hell. When the scientists tell you that a fossil is 2-million years old ask them how they know. Their answer will be "because it was in a rock that is millions of years old." Well, then ask them how they know that the rock is millions of years old. Their answer will be "because it has a million year old fossil in it." Hmmm... sounds like a logic loop (key word being loop). Also, ask them what they base their millions of years on and they will tell you that since science records have been created (around 7,000 years ago), there is no evidence of evolution. So, based on the fact that nothing has evolved over the past 7,000 years, it must have taken millions of years for man to evolve. Now that is some sound logic and science huh? See what I mean when I say that it takes more faith to believe in evolution than God? I pray your eyes and ears open soon so that like me, you will be saved by the blood of Christ, my Lord.

    All my Love,


    December 24, 2010 at 9:05 am |
    • Evolved DNA

      I think you will have to get an understanding of what evolution is about before you can get answer you will understand. There are many books out there.

      December 24, 2010 at 11:50 am |
  11. 1685 macy

    Sad you hear so many disrespectful comments about Christmas. Never really hear too much disrespect about Hanukkah or Kwanzaa.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:03 am |
    • Marshall

      Most of these come from the same source.Early people celebrating the time of the year when the nights would soon become shorter and the days longer.

      December 24, 2010 at 11:23 am |
  12. Dave

    ............said it before, say it again, jesus was an alien get over yourselves.

    December 24, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  13. Marco Budgyk

    Hard to tell which billboard is stupider.

    December 24, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  14. ReasonIncarnate

    I am celebrating the birth of my Savior (Jesus Christ). I don't care if this is the day he was born or not, and I don't care what where the current practices came from. All that matters is where our hearts are today. I also let my kids dress up for Halloween. Does that make me a worshipper of the dark arts (oh wait, without God there is no evil, so why isn't Halloween attacked the same as Christmas?).

    This is the day we (the majority) have chosen to celebrate the birth of our Lord. If you are so tolerant, let us do it (unless you feel threatened and insecure). If you don't like it, all you have to do is stay home and don't support it. I'll bet most people who are voicing their objections on this silly blog have Christmas decorations, trees and presents in their houses....God Bless you one and all. I may not like your behavior, but I love you as a brother in Christ.

    Yours Truly,


    December 24, 2010 at 8:55 am |
  15. cavemanstyle

    EVERYONE CAN THINK WHATEVER THEY WANT... YOU'RE ALL STILL GOIN' IN THAT PINE BOX IN THE END .. Deal with it. Let people believe whatever as long as it doesn't infringe on anyone else's life. QUIT PUSHING YOUR OWN PERSONAL BELIEFS ON OTHER PEOPLE, THAT'S SELFISH, AND SELFISH ISN'T GODLY.. You're a hypocrite if you think you can go around trying to brainwash others with what YOU believe. I don't care what religion you are.. Muslim, Christian, Catholic... whatever... you go around trying to brainwash others with what you believe, and you're just as bad as those that choose NOT to believe in a god.

    December 24, 2010 at 8:55 am |
  16. Corey

    I love Jesus – he devoted his life to helping the poor, meek, and disenfranchised. I love Mary – she's the mother I've never had and I feel safe and loved in her presence. I know God has a plan for me and I will devote my life to helping mankind. Merry Christmas – joy and peace to all!

    December 24, 2010 at 8:55 am |
  17. hannah

    You haven't a clue what whack-jobs so-called Christians really are until you move from New York to a place like Tennessee!
    Atheists have just as much right to their opinions – and billboards – as anyone else. Seeing my first Southern "Happy Birthday Jesus" sign amidst Santa, angels a gazillion light-up candy canes, reindeer, blow-up elves, a full-blown nativity scene, etc, on a Southern front lawn pretty much did it for me! Holy crap!

    December 24, 2010 at 8:55 am |
  18. Bob

    One time, I got kicked out of Barnes and Noble for moving all the bibles to the fiction section

    December 24, 2010 at 8:53 am |
  19. Hawk


    December 24, 2010 at 8:51 am |
    • OurPlanet

      Check you caps lock as well.

      December 24, 2010 at 10:24 am |
    • Evolved DNA

      Oh dear Hawk..are you about to offer the evidence for your rant.. if hateful means we ask questions to which you have no answers, then I guess based on that interpretation we are. Hope you can read this as it is not in caps..

      December 24, 2010 at 11:43 am |
  20. Corey

    I love Jesus. He devoted his life to helping the poor, afflicted and meek. I love Mary, she is the mother I've never had. I love God for the perfect gift of life and for the opportunity to serve Him. Thank you for the season.

    December 24, 2010 at 8:50 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.