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An atheist billboard on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel that declared Christmas a "myth" has been replaced by a pro-Christian billboard.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

    Fail. This author of this article is being willfully ignorant of the point of the ad (a common malady amongst god-botherers I'm afraid).
    The ad does not state "Christmas is a myth". It's pointing out that the virgin birth is a myth. Virgin births, parting of seas, loaves and fishes, giant arks, talking snakes, pillars of salt, walking on water, rising from the dead – all fairy tales with no supporting evidence (no simpletons, you cannot use the bible as proof of the existence of god, nor god as proof the bible is divinely inspired – only a witless moron would make that kind of circular argument).

    "Declaring Christmas a myth" makes zero sense. It is in all likelihood a well worded twist on the original intent. I say 'well worded' as that is just the sort of strategy churches apply – use misleading language and divide – us against them.
    Atheists no more want to get rid of xmas than any of the vast number of church-goers who don't really believe in much of what they hear from the pulpit, but go along to keep the peace.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:13 am |
    • abbyful

      Actually, many events in the Bible can be linked to actual events and explained by science. Do some research on it. The famines, the water turning to "blood" (becoming red), the raining of fire and ice (volcanic explosion), etc. They weren't made up events, they actually happened. Whether or not it was God causing them you may be able to debate, but you can't debate the fact that the events happened.

      December 24, 2010 at 10:22 am |
    • abbyful

      Oh, and the parting of the Red Sea was most likely the Reed Sea. And yes, that is plausible to. A strong Eastern wind can part the water and people would be able to walk across.

      December 24, 2010 at 10:25 am |
    • Scott

      @abbyful: And the death of every first born in Egypt, from the greatest house to the most lowly slave; but, not the Israelites, and just the first born?

      December 25, 2010 at 9:07 pm |
  2. Adam

    Whether or not I even believe in any religion, why must you (the "believer") try so hard to convince / coerce me (the "non-believer") that we should share the same religious views? Why is this whole religion thing about how many people you can influence and bring into your group? Why am I (and my group) not good enough? If religion can't be completely explained by rational, logical methods than why are we even arguing? Why does every religion preach love and acceptance except for those not in the club – seems hypocritical just slightly?

    December 24, 2010 at 10:13 am |
  3. Ryan

    Its so funny that people get so mad about religion on both sides. As a Christian, Im totally fine with other people having there own views on what they believe and what the don't beleive. But Come on people, quit bashing and mocking eachother. I, for the most part don't even read these comments anymore under the articles becasue its just filled with people hating eachother. Merry Christmas Everyone!!

    December 24, 2010 at 10:05 am |
  4. Lawrence

    From one extremist thought to another "Is everbody right if everybody is wrong"

    December 24, 2010 at 10:03 am |
  5. ReasonIncarnate

    Evolution? Give me a break! You may have your roots in primoridal soup, but not me. If you feel strong about your position, go to the following web page and counter each of the points made.


    Good Luck, you'll need it!

    December 24, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  6. OurPlanet

    Why a billboard when there good work is needed in other areas??

    December 24, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  7. BillyD1953

    The existence or non-existence of God is not up for a vote nor is it up to the highest bidder. Dogmatic religion is just so silly and not even remotely intellectually compelling. Okay, so you believe and I don't. Big deal. Neither of us has even the faintest notion of the true nature of reality. But the idea that the whole point of this vast and timeless universe (and potentially other universes) somehow all boils down to a single, transient biological species on a single planet, much less one individual member of that species is just absurdly parochial.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  8. maggie

    We cannot judge the value of the bible on the basis of the teachings of Christendom. They do not teach it and definitely they do not follow it.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  9. abbyful

    Wow, so much hate in these comments!

    December 24, 2010 at 9:57 am |
  10. Jon KIng

    Christians are bullies. They have countless outlets to spread their beliefs but if one little billboard dares give another idea, it must be met with fury. Ridiculous.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  11. dmeredith

    If you don't belive God is REAL if you don't belive there is a Heaven and a HELL .....DIE" and find out.....enough said period!!

    December 24, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  12. ReasonIncarnate

    Christianity: Why Believe It’s the Only Way
    Christianity is not based upon evidence...but it is backed by evidence. Obviously anyone could “claim” to be God. The difference with Jesus is that His life completely backed those claims. Check out the history, check out the claims – it’s an absolutely phenomenal study.

    A primary focus for your study is that Jesus fulfilled over 300 messianic prophecies written in the Old Testament scriptures. With the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the reliability of the Septuagint version of the Old Testament, both of which have been proven to exist prior to the time Jesus walked on the earth, you can be assured that these prophecies were not “conspired” after-the-fact. They were truly fulfilled by the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Examine the probability of one man fulfilling just a handful of the most specific prophecies, and you’ll be amazed. “And He [Jesus] said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me.” Luke 24:44

    Another focus for your study is to understand what Jesus said and did as a historical figure. No legitimate scholars today will deny that Jesus lived about 2,000 years ago, was a great teacher and doer of good works, and that he was crucified on a Roman cross for the crime of blasphemy among the Jews. The only dispute is whether Jesus rose from the dead three days after his crucifixion and that He was, in fact, God incarnate. This is where everyone must test the evidence for the resurrection, examine their hearts, and make a decision about who Jesus really was.

    Jesus said that He alone was the way to the Father (John 14:6), that He alone revealed the Father (Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22). Christians do not go around saying Christianity is the only way because they are arrogant, stupid or judgmental. They do so because, based on the evidence, they believe what Jesus said. Christians believe in Jesus, who claimed to be God (John 8:58; Exodus 3:14), who forgave sins (Mark 2:5; Luke 5:20; 7:48), and who rose from the dead (Luke 24:24-29; John 2:19f). Jesus said that He was the only way. Jesus is unique. He was either telling the truth, He was crazy, or He was a liar. But since everyone agrees that Jesus was a “good man,” how then could He be both good and crazy, or good and a liar? He must have been telling the truth. He is the only way.

    Buddha didn't rise from the dead, nor did Confucius or Zoroaster. Muhammad didn't fulfill detailed prophecy. Alexander the Great didn't raise the dead or heal the sick. And though there is far less reliable information written about these “religious” leaders, they are believed in and followed by millions.

    Christianity: Not Religion – A Relationship
    Christianity is not really a religion; it is a relationship with God. It is trusting in Jesus and what He did on the cross for you (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), not on what you can do for yourself (Ephesians 2:8-9). Christianity is not about ornate buildings, flamboyant preachers, or traditional rituals. Christianity is about truly accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior.

    Learn More Now! http://www.allaboutreligion.org/christianity.htm

    December 24, 2010 at 9:53 am |
    • Don

      ReasonIncarnate, you are aware of the major differences between the Qumran family (DSS) and the current Masoretic text family, right? And you're aware that no prophecies written before the fact have ever come true, right? Only those written after the fact have–because they were written after the fact! Easy to predict something when it's already happened.

      And you're aware that your creation mythology comes from two traditions: Egyptian and Sumerian, each with its own story.

      December 24, 2010 at 11:35 am |
    • Scott

      @ ReasonIncarnate: Interesting presentation; but, it has some problems

      “you can be assured that these prophecies were not “conspired” after-the-fact”. Yes I agree the prophecies were created in the BC; but, the interpretation and application to Jesus are quite open to question and disagreement.

      “No legitimate scholars today will deny that Jesus lived about 2,000 years ago “ No legitimate scholar? Not even one? Perhaps you’re defining legitimate as “people who agree with you”? From my reading, everything about Jesus is in dispute including the question of his ever existing at all.

      ‘He was either telling the truth, He was crazy, or He was a liar. But since everyone agrees that Jesus was a “good man’. He could have simply been mistaken . And not everyone agrees he was such a good man or even that he existed at all
      “"Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division:
      For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two
      against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father;
      the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law
      against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law." (Luke 12:51-53)”

      “Buddha didn't rise from the dead, nor did Confucius or Zoroaster. Muhammad didn't fulfill detailed prophecy. Alexander the Great didn't raise the dead”. And there’s no proof Jesus did either.

      December 25, 2010 at 8:52 pm |
  13. JJ

    Indeed, the best sales job for atheism is in fact organized religion and their disgusting practices. After all, don't all khristians consider all their "god"'s rules to be "negotiable"?

    December 24, 2010 at 9:52 am |
  14. ReasonIncarnate

    Does God Exist – Things to Consider
    Once you're ready to ask the question, "does God exist?" here are a few observations to consider as you begin your search for an objective answer:

    Discoveries in astronomy have shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the universe did, in fact, have a beginning. There was a single moment of creation.
    Advances in molecular biology have revealed vast amounts of information encoded in each and every living cell, and molecular biologists have discovered thousands upon thousands of exquisitely designed machines at the molecular level. Information requires intelligence and design requires a designer.
    Biochemists and mathematicians have calculated the odds against life arising from non-life naturally via unintelligent processes. The odds are astronomical. In fact, scientists aren't even sure if life could have evolved naturally via unintelligent processes. If life did not arise by chance, how did it arise?
    The universe is ordered by natural laws. Where did these laws come from and what purpose do they serve?
    Philosophers agree that a transcendent Law Giver is the only plausible explanation for an objective moral standard. So, ask yourself if you believe in right and wrong and then ask yourself why. Who gave you your conscience? Why does it exist?
    People of every race, creed, color, and culture, both men and women, young and old, wise and foolish, from the educated to the ignorant, claim to have personally experienced something of the supernatural. So what are we supposed to do with these prodigious accounts of divine healing, prophetic revelation, answered prayer, and other miraculous phenomena? Ignorance and imagination may have played a part to be sure, but is there something more?
    If your curiosity has been piqued and you desire to look into this matter further, we recommend that you consider the world's assortment of so-called Holy Books. If God does exist, has He revealed Himself? And if He has revealed Himself, surely He exists...

    Want to learn more, go to the source: http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/does-god-exist-c.htm

    December 24, 2010 at 9:51 am |
    • Don

      What created god? What is god? How can the universe be created when existence apart from the universe is meaningless? How can morality be objective when it's based on the subjective will of god?

      Silly theist: start thinking.

      December 24, 2010 at 11:37 am |
  15. Marie MD

    Nothing says freedom of speech than shoving your beliefs on someone who doesn't agree with yuou on a billboard. People have been seeking god for centuries as I see what we call civilization going down the toilet I see him/her as a heartless comedian or non existent!

    December 24, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  16. bobweeken

    I don't see how this is news. A group bought a billboard for one month. When there time was up an opposing group bought the same billboard and put up the oposing message?

    We had a similar thing happen in Dallas. There was a Coors Light billboard that is now a Miller light billboard.
    CNN please report on that change.


    December 24, 2010 at 9:48 am |
  17. GTX

    typical atheist drivel (quoting a prior poster):
    "Your IQ is single digits...you are just afraid to die. There is no hereafter...it's just over..."
    It seems to me that almost all attacks are from Atheists and on Christians. The irony of it all is that this demeaning poster has as much faith (if not more) to believe that there is no God! To posit that there is no God then you must have absolute knowledge. It would be like saying there are no pink stones with purple dots on them anywhere in the universe – to say that would mean that you would know ever single stone in the universe.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:48 am |
  18. dave

    I'm not going to try an bash anyone , but I would like a few questions answered from the religous group.
    1.Which religion is correct, there are many and they can't all be correct ?
    2.Where exactly is heaven ? We have been in space, we have large telescopes and no evidence of heaven.
    3.If there is a God , why does he not show himself ? If he did millons of people would not die fighting about religon.
    4.If I olny believe in what I see, when I die why would God not respect that fact. Only people who blindy worship a God that no one has ever seen gets to go to heaven ? Seems like heaven is for naive people.
    5.Where was God during 911 ?? or was that how he shows his love for mankind.
    6.I must admit my son believed in the tooth fairy without ever seeing even a picture of him so I guess people do the same with God as well.
    7.We should all just be the best people we can be and stop fighting about whether there is a god or not , or who's religion is correct.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:46 am |
  19. SellingOnEbay

    I swear my BM this morning looked exactly like the Pope! Its a miracle!

    December 24, 2010 at 9:44 am |
  20. Gene

    Those of you who do not believe in god, i feel sorry for you. to have such emptiness in your heart. it must be cold and painful. Well when you die I'm sorry to say you will burn in hell. I'm sorry and I hope you find the lord before the end.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:44 am |
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