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An atheist billboard on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel that declared Christmas a "myth" has been replaced by a pro-Christian billboard.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

    "Only Way" is a perfect example of the rantings of the brainwashed.

    December 23, 2010 at 8:10 pm |
  2. shamgar50

    I like the "There when no one else is" line. Was god there when the Nazis murdered six million jews? And if it was, was it just twiddling it's thumbs.

    December 23, 2010 at 8:08 pm |
    • HUH?


      December 23, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      God was there when the thousands of priests were murdered right along with the Jews, too.

      I suppose God could have made us without a free will, like a robot, but then we couldn’t choose to LOVE Him or anyone else. As it is, some choose to hate even when they are capable of loving.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:07 pm |
    • jumper53

      GOD IS always there. GOD IS there whenever we do what we do good or bad. Now I don't want to cause a stir, but those who die move on to a place beyond this. Whatever the believed religion those that die move on to something greater. They move into the presence of GOD whether they accept that or not. Believe it or not, it is a promise. That place is beyond any earthly definition. That is because it is the place of GOD and regardless of what the religions tell us that is beyond earthly description.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
    • Scott

      @CatholicMom: Thousands seems like a surprisingly big number. Can you post substantiating sources pleas?

      December 24, 2010 at 7:14 pm |
    • KilgoElCid11

      With the existence of evil there also must be an existence of good. You bring one instance, a big one. What about all the great things that Christians and non-Christians have done generation after generation. How about the time someone helped you up when you fell? There are instances big and small that show the kindness that can come from humanity. God is in many of those. So evil just proves there is a God. Also, we have free-will given to us by God. Where was God? God was there with the Jews giving them the strength to carry on. However, he does not stand in the way of anything. We must stand in the way of evil. Who is more evil, the nazi's or those that did nothing when they could? Stop blaming God for the problems in the world. Blame yourself and the rest of humanity.

      December 24, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      Priests and Pastors Died for Their Beliefs.

      Hitler wanted not only to conquer all of Europe, but Hitler also wanted to create a new religion and to replace Jesus Christ as a person to be worshipped. Hitler expected his followers to worship the Nazi ideology. Since Catholic priests and Christian pastors were often influential leaders in their community, they were sought out by the Nazis very early. Thousands of Catholic priests and Christian pastors were forced into concentration camps. A special barracks was set up at Dachau, the camp near Munich, Germany, for clergymen. A few survived; some were executed, but most were allowed to die slowly of starvation or disease.


      December 26, 2010 at 10:48 am |
  3. Observer


    December 23, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
    • pete

      Stop shouting, you sound like a preacher.

      December 23, 2010 at 8:13 pm |
    • Dalits

      You mean to say a so called true believer cannot or does not "DRIVE PRETTY CARS, WATCH TAINTED TELEVISION AND MAKE LOVE IN EMPTY COLD ANIMAL UNIONS" FYI Most materialstic countries are christian countries

      December 23, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
    • Don


      December 23, 2010 at 9:05 pm |
    • ladderflappy

      as an atheist, I don't feel sad about believers in the invisible man in the sky........................i pity you and your children

      December 24, 2010 at 1:43 am |

    Religion is similar to the game Whack-A-Mole. You're the mole and god is the mallet. Fun!

    December 23, 2010 at 8:04 pm |
  5. Robin Bray

    Dog is. Woof woof!

    December 23, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
  6. Andrew

    Let's just put up a billboard of beer and hot chicks. That way everyone will be happy.

    December 23, 2010 at 8:01 pm |
    • shamgar50

      Don't forget hot guys. Our gay brethren deserve representation also. Fair is fair.

      December 23, 2010 at 8:15 pm |
    • jumper53

      Lets now forget that GOD created both beer and hot chicks....and hot guys too (for the chicks)

      December 23, 2010 at 11:17 pm |
  7. Jason

    Christians say things like "The Christian GOD is the only TRUE god who created everything!" If that were true, why did christianity not even emerge until long after other religions, such as the pagan religion (on which, much of the christian system is stolen from). Face it... God did not create man... man, in a time when the world, events and the universe were misunderstood, created god as a way to rationalize and explain things they did not understand. And if the bible were true, then how DID Noah fit millions of animals on his "ship"???

    Think about it. Lets assume there is a minimum of 10,000,000 land based species on earth (in reality there are probably more). Two of every animal... 1 male, 1 female. That is 20 million animals! The largest naval ship in the world today does not have room for 20 million animals! And wood ships, as Noah supposedly build never got anywhere near the size of modern ships. Shoot, a modern Freight ship could not fit that many animals when you take into account the different sizes between species! Not to mention, he supposedly, just he and his sons built this ship? (I think his sons were involved)... Yeah, riiiight! With the tools available at the time, three people building a ship as infinitely large as this would have taken much longer than any human could possibly live.

    Face it, humans don't live for hundreds of years. Never have, never will. As a matter of fact, according to science, life expectancy was shorter during that time frame (by quite a bit) than it is now!

    December 23, 2010 at 8:00 pm |
    • Mike

      Apparently you don't think God is possible of anecdotes?

      December 23, 2010 at 8:02 pm |
    • pete


      Most christians don't think it's an anecdote.

      December 23, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
    • shamgar50

      Mike, try Allegory, not Anecdotes.

      December 23, 2010 at 8:13 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      The thing is, with God anything is possible! But of course, we do not have the mind of God…we humans are very limited…we still do not understand our own minds very well, let alone try to figure out God’s mind!

      December 23, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
  8. StevieBoy

    Boy Christians sure do get their panties in a wad when you question their fables! I sure do hope Atheism, aka logic and common sense, grows and gets more vocal throughout the country. Where are the tax-free Atheist "churches" on every corner of this nation??? Those are some congregation numbers I'd love to see grow! Wise up people and use your brain!

    December 23, 2010 at 8:00 pm |
    • krg

      How nice of you. Do you always lump 78 % of America's population into one group of stupid fable believers? Yeah...shows your real character.

      December 23, 2010 at 8:07 pm |
    • shamgar50

      krg, if the shoe fits.................

      December 23, 2010 at 8:23 pm |
    • CRAIG


      December 24, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
    • Scott

      @Craig: Thanks for posting the article. It was quite funny. Nice piece of propaganda

      December 24, 2010 at 7:09 pm |
  9. Mike

    Not believing in God is as much a leap of faith as believing in God. There is no way to prove or disprove either conclusion.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:57 pm |
    • krg

      I agree. Those who believe- will believe no matter what, and atheists will not believe no matter what. I believe, but choose not to degrade those who do not believe. That's why I think this billboard junk attacking eachother is so very wrong.

      December 23, 2010 at 8:02 pm |
    • Mike

      KRG – I agree totally

      December 23, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
    • shamgar50

      Not really. I see no evidence of god. 18,000 children die every day of hunger. I see that as evidence of there being no god. We're supposed to be god's children. What sort of father watches his children starve to death. A truly horrible death by the way.
      If there is a god, only a fool would worship it.

      December 23, 2010 at 8:03 pm |
    • krg

      Shamgar- while I agree it is hard to understand, I believe that God has granted us free and although God wants us to help other, we, as Christians are not stepping up to the plate. I believe we all have something to learn, and our journey, and not our destination is what matters. I have MS, and I some bad days I wonder why God would give me this. But, oh- the Good ones are so much sweeter, so much better than befor I ever had MS. I don't know why God allows suffering, but I believe he is there when I suffer. That is what counts.

      December 23, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      There is plenty of food to feed the world but man through his greed does not distribute it…. it is grown by hard working farmers and gathered by hard working field hands and sent out by truck, rail, and ship workers…yet someone causes it to not reach the hungry. This is a grave error on mankind.

      God did not make man to do evil but He does allow satan to prowl about the world and if anyone wishes to do the right thing, there will always be satan and his minions tempting man to do evil to gain wealth or power. Catholic Relief Services is the greatest charity next to our government when it comes to helping bring relief so I would have to say that Christians are stepping up to the plate but it doesn’t mean that we have done all we can do.

      I am so sorry to hear about your MS and the struggles you have to deal with. I have had to deal with after effects of an illness that almost killed me 3 years ago. This is how I look at my pain today: I think about how some of the Saints wore hair shirts and did things like that to ward off thoughts that would tempt them in some worldly desire…and so when my feet hurt I think of it as my hair shirt!

      All suffering can be offered up to Jesus and joined with His Passion on the Cross…think of the good that came out of His pain! His Suffering and Death and Resurrection was out of love for us that we might also have life everlasting. We can accept our pain and offer it to Jesus for the good of the world or you can offer your pain for a specific person you love or for all those lost and wandering about the world, who do not know the Love we know.

      So you see, there can be good that can come out of your sufferings and it is one way you can love your neighbor! Your neighbor may not know what you want for the good of his soul but God will hear your prayers and what you are asking.

      God bless you forever.

      December 23, 2010 at 10:38 pm |
    • Anarimus

      This brings us to the question of evidence and dogma. The Bible makes a bold claim that it is the infallible word of God. Now if this is true then the stories within it must be true so let's look at creation vs evolution. Creation is not a symbolic or poetic story in one of the books of the New Testament even Jesus states it as 100% fact however creation states all animals were made as they are today however evolution says that is a lie. Evolution has these major evidences, Fossil record, genetics, geographic speciation and common vestigial traits amongst species. Creation has......nothing.

      There is more evidence that disputes Biblical claims and i think you see the point i am getting at. A lie that makes you feel better is still a lie and when laws are passed by people that affect all humankind and lies are taught as truth and asked to be accepted as such in a science classroom then it is up to bold people to say "This cannot continue."

      December 24, 2010 at 3:07 am |
  10. Stu

    God often surprises us, says Pope in BBC broadcast.

    ....ain't that the truth! Wonder why the Pope is in England? Perhaps to entice more Anglicans/Episcopalians into the Catholic flock. All is forgiven now that HVIII has been dead for centuries. Nice message from Vatican Inc.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:57 pm |
    • Stu

      correction....wonder why the Pope was on English TV.

      December 23, 2010 at 7:59 pm |
  11. Casan

    I can understand a young person will adopt the worldly views of his parents, considering all he competing views, makes perfect sense. However after certain age, and considering the access we have to worldly knowledge at least in developed countries, I have to say that it is a shocker that such a fraction of our society actually still believe in this nonsense.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:54 pm |
    • jumper53

      Can we not see that that which makes no sense make no sense only to that which is sensible. You see up defines down. East defines west. And vice versa. Without one there is no other. This is all part of the whole. But what is always there is that point between the two. The point that puts it all together. It is the point where sense becomes nonsense and vice versa. That point is forever. That point is constant. That point defines both and all. That point IS. It is absolute, true and eternal. That point is where GOD IS.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:11 pm |
  12. Only Way

    Atheists cheating themselves and trying to avoid to face the truth. However, a DAY is coming none of the fake stuff with stand. The Jesus with appear in His glory, the Judgment seat will be set. Heb 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment
    Joh 3:36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

    December 23, 2010 at 7:53 pm |
    • Mike

      You do know those words were written by man, right? The Bible was written by mortals.

      December 23, 2010 at 7:55 pm |
    • Jason

      Moron christian. When that day comes, you can enjoy your biblical "apocalypse". I my self will be at the bar with my friends actually living and enjoying my life, free of fear coming from beliefs based on fiction.

      December 23, 2010 at 8:04 pm |
    • pete

      All that fear mongering is falling on deaf ears, you should try something else.

      December 23, 2010 at 8:04 pm |
    • Dalits

      Did u know Jesus when to India and studied Buddhism and came back to teach it. Every time he spoke of "He" he was referring to Buddha not god. When people started to write the Bible god was introduced.

      December 23, 2010 at 8:06 pm |
    • jumper53

      ONLY WAy
      I fail to see wrath in a GOD that is love. Love is patient, kind, everlasting, does not envy or keep records of wrong. Love is compassion, grace and mercy and mercy triumphs judgement. You see, Jesus hung on a cross and cried out " Father forgive them" because the Saviior knew that GOD forgives and it was finished. The perfect plan was put in place for all of mankind to be reconciled to GOD. Not one sheep lost regardless of what they believe. A perfect plan by a perfect GOD. It is a promise by GOD whether accepted or not.

      December 23, 2010 at 10:52 pm |
    • Pastafarian

      Sounds a lot like The Great Pumpkin to me!

      Happy Festivus to all, and to all a good night!

      December 24, 2010 at 5:53 am |
    • Scott

      It’s interesting how the Christians keep repeating the same old phrases and never seem to have an original thought

      December 24, 2010 at 7:00 pm |
    • hawk

      God directed mortal man to write his words

      December 24, 2010 at 9:21 pm |
  13. JC

    Bah. Stupid story. Stupid people. You are all are posting in a troll thread. No make the sign of the "L" on your foreheads and get on with your pitiful little excuses for lives.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
  14. afb

    I love how they chose a rainbow motif... So what does that tell us?

    December 23, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
  15. Mike

    This is like politics... Crazies on both side ruin in for everyone else. I'm agnostic, and know many people who are Christian. Heck, my best friends are Christan. I also know agnostics, muslims, and one atheist. What do they all have in common? They are all nice people. Not one of them would think to harm anyone, forcibly convert them, etc. etc. etc. They have discussions, sometimes spirited, with each other from time to time, but that's all. It's the crazy lunatics that seem to ruin things for everyone else, and portray the wrong message to the masses.

    Heck, I was watching Joel Osteen the other day and I wish you'd see more of him in the mainstream media. His message was basically "Don't try to convert people, people don't like being forcibly talked at. Just live your life with god, be happy, and people will see that light and want to have it also." I thought that was such a good message, even though I am not religious I can see the wisdom in the words...

    December 23, 2010 at 7:50 pm |
    • shamgar50

      Joel Osteen's followers are just as deluded as any christian.

      December 23, 2010 at 7:58 pm |
    • Mike

      Why do you care what people believe? What does it matter if they live good lives and help those that need it.

      December 23, 2010 at 8:00 pm |
    • Scott

      @shamgar50: Yes but it sounds like they might be pleasant and willing to keep their religion to themselves. Just think what a wonderful world we would have if all religions had always behaved that way

      December 24, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  16. conoclast

    It's OK little sheep, you needn't be frightened; god is back on his billboard and it's safe to come out again. The evil communist atheists have been vanquished yet again by your loving and just church; personal checks and credit cards gladly accepted.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:50 pm |
    • CatholicMom


      Thank you…we all love to hear about the Good Shepherd, Jesus, and how He goes out into the desert to retrieve even just one lost sheep. It is happening every day somewhere in the world, a lost sheep who has been hiding in the darkest of places [counting his gods, I mean his money] gets a glimpse of the Light, comes out from hiding and is found. I was once lost but now I am found.

      Being called a sheep is not a baaaaaaaaad thing at all! Jesus is the Good Shepherd and I am happy to be one of His flock!

      December 23, 2010 at 9:54 pm |
    • Nogodisagoodgod

      @Catholic mom... you do know what shepherds do to their sheep, don't you? Hint: it's where syphilis came from.

      December 23, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
    • conoclast

      CatholicMom, Touche' My baaaad!

      December 23, 2010 at 11:37 pm |
  17. Dude

    To those who say that atheists do not oppose Islam as well Christianity, I suggest you remove your heads from whatever region it is currently embedded in and actually look at what atheists write about both religions. Not that I actually expect believers to do anything but comfort each other with silly myths and hand holding.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
  18. Gazork

    Any time I notice something On CNN that has something to do with religion, God, etc. I follow the comments to study the inevitable squabble that follows. How silly, intolerant & immature both sides are. Certainly not all believers & non-believers are like that. Occasionally a rational comment takes place.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:47 pm |
    • Steve (the real one)

      Welcome to the BELIEF BLOG! CNN also has the Political Ticker and entertainment sections! This my friend, is the BELIEF BLOG!

      December 23, 2010 at 7:52 pm |
    • jumper53

      You see the yes and the no of it. The two that complete the one. Without believers there would be no non-believers and vice versa. No up no down. Yet what some miss is that place in-between that holds it all together. You know if you have a husband and a wife, it is marriage that holds them together. There is a place where east meets west and that place is a place that is absolute and eternal. That place is where GOD IS.

      December 23, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
  19. Gavin Ford

    Calling a myth what it really is is not hateful in the least.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:43 pm |
  20. RICK

    Much ado about nothing........believe or not believe what you want, all parties concerned got the attention they wanted.

    December 23, 2010 at 7:42 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.