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An atheist billboard on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel that declared Christmas a "myth" has been replaced by a pro-Christian billboard.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

    Top Ten Signs That You Are An Unquestioning Christian:
    10- You vigorously deny the existence of thousands of gods claimed by other religions, but feel outraged when someone denies the existence of your god.

    9- You feel insulted and ‘dehumanized’ when scientists say that people evolved from lesser life forms, but you have no problem with the Biblical claim that we were created from dirt.

    8- You laugh at polytheists, but you have no problem believing in a Trinity god.

    7- Your face turns purple when you hear of the ‘atrocities’ attributed to Allah, but you don’t even flinch when hearing about how God/Jehovah slaughtered all the babies of Egypt in ‘Exodus’ and ordered the
    elimination of entire ethnic groups in ‘Joshua’—including women, children, and animals!

    6- You laugh at Hindu beliefs that deify humans, and Greek claims about god sleeping with women, but you have no problem believing that the Holy Spirit impregnated Mary, who then gave birth to a man-god who
    got killed, came back to life and then ascended into the sky.

    5- You are willing to spend your life looking for little loop-holes in the scientifically established age of the Earth (4.55 billion years), but you find
    nothing wrong with believing dates recorded by pre-historic tribesmen sitting in their tents and guessing that the Earth is a couple of generations
    old!

    4- You believe that the entire population of this planet wi th the exception of those who share your beliefs—though excluding those in all rival
    sects—will spend Eternity in an infinite Hell of Suffering. And yet you consider your religion the most ‘tolerant’ and ‘loving’.

    3- While modern science, history, geology, biology, and physics have failed to convince you otherwise, some idiot rolling around on the floor, speaking in ‘tongues,’ may be all the evidence you need.

    2- You define 0.01% as a “high success rate” when it comes to answered prayers. You consider that to be evidence that prayer works. And you think that the remaining 99.99% FAILURE was simply the will of God.

    1- You actually know a lot less than many Atheists and Agnostics do about the Bible, Christianity, and church history—but still call yourself a “Christian.”

    December 24, 2010 at 11:05 am |
  2. IMnotU

    Yes, Blair Scott, we're not alone. Look around you. Do you see people? Yes. There you go... we're not alone. (Idiot.) Either Blair Scott is a bold faced liar about the thanks from "Agnostics and Atheists" or he's too stupid to realize someone is pulling the wool over his eyes. An Atheist, by definition, does not believe in deities and buying a billboard wouldn't sway people to suddenly change their belief. This would be like Christians seeing a billboard for Hinduism and running off to convert to polytheism.

    I found it sickening that, rather than using the $20K to feed the hungry or shelter the oppressed, all this money was spent on... a billboard.

    The not so surprising reply message to "its a myth" and "celebrate reason"?
    "No it's not!" and "do the opposite!"
    Childish.

    Hurt egos have historically caused stupid people to do stupid things. I never would have known about the Atheist billboard if the Times Square Church hadn't brought attention to it. (So I thank you for that, TSC.) I am strengthened in my commitment to embrace reason.

    Why spend $20K on a billboard rather than turn the other cheek? Because it would be detrimental to the coffers if they let the Atheists win the battle of WORDS! (Actual message: What would Jesus do? Fund a billboard and forsake the needy.)

    The response from the Catholic League? They donated money to support the Times Square Church's efforts in leasing more billboards. Way to render support for humanity in this economic crisis, "Christians"!

    The winner in this battle? The billboard company.

    The losers? Continuing their losing streak, The Poor.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:05 am |
  3. W00K

    God is good....unless you are gay, then you can rot in hell.

    Peace.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  4. Jon O

    I just want Christians to start voting in such a way that it reflects the morality they believe they have the right to impose on everyone else.

    I'm not too sure anyone can find me any biblical passages that show Jesus would support a profit-based, greed-driven, pay-for healthcare system that has been proven to deny care to people who need it while providing never-ending increasing rates.

    All the feeding of the poor and healing of the sick he did and not once did he ask for payment, proof of insurance or proof of employment.

    People need to get back on track with the whole "being Christian means you emulate Christ" thing, and not just "I'm Christian so I get to throw my bible at you whenever I feel it is convenient."

    Because what i see is that the bible disappears the moment the wallet comes into play.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:03 am |
    • Don

      Well, Jon O, given that over half the hospitals in the US are government-run (clearly not for profit), that the US healthcare system is a mixture of socialism, fascism, and a very small part market, and the only greed comes from the government, I think we see where the fault really lies: government.

      December 24, 2010 at 11:31 am |
  5. Alan

    At its' best, religion sets high expectations for moral behavior...but really folks...it was all made up to control the illiterate masses thousands of years ago....nice stories but virgin births, talking snakes, Noah....please

    December 24, 2010 at 11:03 am |
  6. VAJill

    How about NO religious billboards, pro OR anti? This is all just silly.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  7. kbc

    LOL you atheist fools crack me up keep making stupid comments I love to laugh

    December 24, 2010 at 11:00 am |
  8. Nancy

    That's hilarious. Christians are so mad theat an Atheist billboard was up that they have to put up one of their silly ones to combat it lol.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:54 am |
  9. ohiogb

    I don't get the argument that "rational" people can't live a life of faith. I know some Christians have been misled theologically that arguing faith is a mandate of their belief. For me it takes more faith to believe that everything around me is random or that a mysterious explosion started a process that ultimately evolved into creatures capable of love, generosity and altruism. It really is more rational for me to believe in a God whom I have experienced for myself. One who placed his character into his creation. I'm a Christian who doesn't hate Muslims, I don't judge people who have not been able to experience God as I have. I try not to allow my life to be governed by the deeds or misdeeds of those around me. I think we can all agree that a message of peace and goodwill to all humanity is a good thing. Peace to all of you.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  10. A believer

    Christians: Get OFF these sites and let the atheists argue with each other!
    And if all of the atheist would "come out of the closet and get out of the churches", we would have fewer pedophiles and adulters in the churches.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:47 am |
  11. Candy Cain

    I despise religion just as much as I despise atheism. Both positions are born of nothing more than human ego and have nothing to do with revering a god or rejecting one.. This debate is just illustrating the wide spectrum of human arrogance that stalwarts our lives.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:46 am |
  12. Faith

    I think all of this fighting back and forth is completely unnecessary. The TRUTH is, we all really have no idea, no solid proof, no true facts of God's existence. It's all a mystery....life is a mystery. It is quite pointless to be arguing with each other over this. Why can't we all just be happy and accept that each and every one of us has different beliefs? I'd much rather shake your hand, smile and ask how your day is going rather than dispute with you all. I don't care what you believe in, to me, we are all humans, we are all going through the same struggles. Live your life happily and freely and don't waste this precious life we live disputing and arguing...especially with strangers.

    "We are all the same, human in all our ways and all our pain".

    December 24, 2010 at 10:44 am |
  13. BigTex

    David Silverman (head of American Atheists) is not an atheist...he is a Jew. This is another way to attack a Christian / American holiday without blaming the real perpetrators.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:42 am |
    • Candy Cain

      Oh Tex,

      You sound like an idiot for defining someone you do not know. Like, for example, you must attend cross burnings because your name is Tex and you're a Christian who thinks freedom of speech is an attack on his faith. Kind of like when Sarah Palin insults everyone in sight and then gets her panties in a bundle when someone talks back. Oh dear, my rights are being violated! Oh no! My freedom is under attack because a fellow American voiced an opinion that contradicts my own. They must be a jew!

      You must be a moron.

      December 24, 2010 at 10:54 am |
  14. Dom Woolf

    I don't mind those who believe, where I draw the line is when they try to force their morality or values on me as laws. Leave the non believers alone and we will leave you alone to believe whatever nonsense you like. That goes for christians, muslems, witches or whatever. Everyone believes in something, I believe I'll have another beer.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:40 am |
  15. Christopher

    'god' is.... NONEXISTENT! This atheist organization was right, it is a fallacy that is pushed on people in order to make them adhere to the personal likes and dislikes of religious folk out of the fear of a 'god' that never existed, didn't exist, and doesn't exist today.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:40 am |
    • Candy Cain

      Your ego is just as out of control as a southern baptist preachers. That is YOUR truth and you do not have any more right to force it on someone and declare it fact than any person of faith does. Both sides are wrong and need to shut the F up already! You people are accomplishing nothing by arguing non stop.

      December 24, 2010 at 10:49 am |
  16. WITNESS

    The problem with the truth & fact is all the feral minded, self centered idiots who insist their version is correct and preach it as such.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:38 am |
  17. Kevin

    I've always thought that the Santa Claus/God are basically the same. Both are traditions passed down to children by well-meaning and loving parents. Believing is magical, special and enriching. Discovering the truth is painful. When you realize that Santa doesn't exists, it is depressing. But wanting something to exist and wanting it to be real doesn't make it so. If believing in God (or Santa) helps you get through your pain and suffering, then who am I to take that away from you? Go to church, enjoy the company of your friends, make casseroles and by all means, believe. But keep your hands off our textbooks, stay out of political issues where your narrow mindedness only hurts others, and please keep your pseudo science to yourselves while real scientists try to solve the world's problems. Believing that Armageddon is inevitable (and desired!) is not exactly a foreign policy I'm willing to accept.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:37 am |
  18. Nick

    God is gay.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:36 am |
  19. GodTookNoPart

    GOD = Ancient crowd control. Ancient opiate for the masses. Open your eyes people. Something good happens = " Thank God for this blessing." Something bad happens = " It's gods will and for the greater good." REALITY – There is no invisible puppet master in the sky! If there is, he certainly isn't the " Saint " you Christians claim him to be. You claim all bad occurences are because of " free will" but then you claim that " god has a path for us all," a bit contradictory dont you think? I believe in science in reason because, well, it actually makes sense, there is hard, tested, physical evidence to back up the claims. The bible is solely based on " faith." "What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof" – C. Hitchens

    December 24, 2010 at 10:35 am |
  20. up1652

    If you choose not to believe then so be it. But why must you constantly harass those who do. Faith is personal.

    December 24, 2010 at 10:34 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.