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An atheist billboard on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel that declared Christmas a "myth" has been replaced by a pro-Christian billboard.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

    The need for myth , I have never understood.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:44 am |
  2. WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot

    Let's face it...religion was created to reduce the terror associated with the uncertainty of life on earth. If that helps you live your life, then good for you. If you think it is no more than mythology, that's fine too. The problem begins when the folks who Know The Truth try to force it on everyone else. Human nature being what it is, I don't see this division ever being settled, so we will continue to have a cultural divide, and religious warfare throughout the world.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:43 am |
    • Scott

      @ WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot: Actually I see a bit of hope from this blog. Most of the disagreements are reasonably civil and no one has gotten killed. It the past things were worse

      December 25, 2010 at 8:04 pm |
  3. bmh

    God is love. You gotta have it in your heart. If we all did, I'm certain this world would be a better place.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:42 am |
  4. Aboutjab

    The need for myth, I have never understood.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:41 am |
  5. Cieje Valentine

    I'll stop following CHRIST when someone gives me a babelfish.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:39 am |
  6. kd

    this back-and-forth is beyond dumb and only underlines the ridiculousness and childishness of both sides.

    No billboard is going to sway me to do anything but follow directions to a restaurant or gas station.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:38 am |
  7. ReasonIncarnate


    *facepalms at "ReasonIncarnate" for using Pascal's Utterly Refuted To Death Wager*

    Yea, that's what people do when they don't have a valid argument. No original thought huh?

    December 24, 2010 at 9:38 am |
    • Don

      *facepalms at ReasonIncarnate's lauaghable and ironic claim of "no original thought" when ReasonIncarnate didn't have an original thought when it used Pascal's Utterly Refuted To Death Wager*

      December 24, 2010 at 10:18 am |
    • Evolved DNA

      What if you died and found out it was not your particular god who was there.. you are also an atheist to 99% of gods that other humans believe in. If I remember Jesus was nailed to a cross, and Thor has a hammer?? just a thought.

      December 24, 2010 at 11:54 am |
  8. John Muller

    INTENTION around what you do is everything. December 25th might not be the exact date of when Christ was born but it's the intention around the celebration and why we celebrate Christ birth and the message of love that was his life. We do this to remind ourselves of this message.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:37 am |
  9. Geez

    I just find it funny that today its perfectly ok to believe Al Gore, his lies and fudged facts... but if you believe in God then you are dumb. Guess its true. Some peoples religion is politics

    December 24, 2010 at 9:34 am |
  10. J

    That makes the church look really insecure. Do they really think a sign is going to change a persons faith? What does that say about their faith, and their belief that it is right choice and not just a way to control people?

    December 24, 2010 at 9:34 am |
  11. GTX

    No Christian should "jump down the atheists' throat". I apologize for those on the fringe; however, it has been my experience that atheists are the ones that throw more than their fair share of verbal insults at Christians. I find it very interesting that they always choose Christians and never Hindus, Muslims, or Jews.
    You have your right to faith ... and "faith" is what it really is as you can not prove that there is no God. To posit an absolute like that would mean that you have absolute knowledge.
    Most of the statements here are childish – yes, most Christians know that the "world" has invaded what we refer now to Christmas – does the reason for celebrating the birth of Yeshua have to be historically pure to make it relevant? We celebrate easter as well and there were no chocolate bearing bunnies near the cross. It is a ludicrous argument – who cares when Yeshua was born – all that matters is that this is the time that we collectively celebrate it – let it alone and have your own faith ... and again, for those bashing from a Christian standpoint, I apologize

    December 24, 2010 at 9:34 am |
    • iLuv8T

      Religion very stupid
      they remove the no God t0 a yes God
      instead of moving forward
      we re taking steps backwards again

      December 24, 2010 at 12:11 pm |
    • Scott

      @ GTX: “I find it very interesting that they always choose Christians and never Hindus, Muslims, or Jews.” In America Christians are the problem. American hindus, muslims and jews are pretty well behaved.

      December 25, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
    • OtherDon

      > I find it very interesting that they always choose Christians and never Hindus, Muslims, or Jews.

      This is due to the dominance of Christianity in the places where those commenting here live.
      I have never had a Hindu knock on my door or cold call me. I have never seen a Koran in a hotel drawer.

      For me, personally, I was once a born again Christian. I understand that to some level it is easier to rationalize the magical stories than to accept a world without the supernatural.

      > yes, most Christians know that the "world" has invaded what we refer now to Christmas

      That's a little backwards, right?

      According to St. Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, the "Roman Church purposefully placed the keeping of Christmas between two popular folk festivals, Saturnalia and the Kalends of January, in order to give Christians something to celebrate [undisturbed] about while others were engaged in secular merrymaking."

      Though I am not a fan of the two month long shopping "holiday" either.

      Happy secular merrymaking!

      December 28, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  12. mttrailboss@bresnan.net

    If we came from the ape or monkey.., where did the ape come from ? Interesting question..

    December 24, 2010 at 9:33 am |
    • Scott

      If god created everything where did god come from

      December 25, 2010 at 7:56 pm |
  13. John Muller

    We are all in the energy of God the highest power, the highest thought, nothing greater.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:32 am |
  14. god is...

    ...a concept, by which we measure our pain. – John Lennon 1970


    December 24, 2010 at 9:30 am |
  15. ReasonIncarnate



    *facepalms at "ReasonIncarnate" for using Pascal's Utterly Refuted To Death Wager*

    Yea, that's what people do when they don't have a valid argument. No original thought huh?

    December 24, 2010 at 9:30 am |
  16. GOD

    I don't exist

    December 24, 2010 at 9:30 am |
  17. ReasonIncarnate

    Prove me wrong. Or prove yourself right, either way. I challenge you to provide any proof of your position or any proof agains mine. What's the matter, you can't handle doing anthing other than telling us to prove our position? The burden is now on you my friend.

    Prove Christianity wrong, prove athiesm right, or be tolerant of others. Is that too much to ask?

    December 24, 2010 at 9:29 am |
  18. comanchesue

    the sign is beautifully done. the only thing that struck me in the story is the comment that the athesits sign was replaced be a "pro christian" sign. this implies that the athesist sign was anti christian. We athesists are not anti christian and the sign was not antichristian.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  19. Alex

    What do we do with people that claim to listen voices? We send them to psych wards (people that suffers Schizophrenia, for instance). 90% of the people on Earth are insane by definition. Claiming god is real and yet there is no evidence to support their claim. We try to test those claim in a lab but what do they claim, you cannot put god in a lab. Seems like the whole idea is self-protected. Why do we prosecute people who doesn't take an ill relative (and died) to a doctor claiming he/she is going to be cure by god? Food for though. (oh, wait, there is nothing there for believers to feed).

    December 24, 2010 at 9:25 am |
  20. Mike-The-Sane


    December 24, 2010 at 9:23 am |
    • CatholicMom


      Have you notice how many times 'money' has been brought up by those posting who have 'money' for their god?

      December 26, 2010 at 3:05 pm |
    • World Without End - Scientific Pantheism - Philosophic Restore

      CatholicMom... please tell me the Catholic Church has finally done as Jesus told other rich men, and renounced all their riches and have seen the light and are selling all their real estate and everything will be donated to the poor and to heal the sick. If so it would probably solve the economic issues too. Don't worry, the rich man Jesus said it to, didn't understand either.

      December 26, 2010 at 7:45 pm |
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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.