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An atheist billboard on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel that declared Christmas a "myth" has been replaced by a pro-Christian billboard.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

    What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof. ~ Christopher Hitchens

    Christians, believe whatever you want, but keep it away from me any my family.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:36 am |
  2. CraigT

    No matter what the message it is just plain idiotic to put up a word cloud on a billboard.
    Way to promote accidents and unsafe driving.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:35 am |
  3. Paulie

    Just because you cant prove something doesnt mean it isnt real. I cant prove atheists dont touch themselves at night but I can guarantee you most of them do.

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

      Yet we atheists CAN prove that priests like touching little boys.

      December 24, 2010 at 11:38 am |
  4. Charlie

    Hey christians – proof please. Otherwise, keep your insanity to yourselves.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:34 am |
  5. Anonymous

    Since early 2010 and onward, I've decided to label/categorize myself as a..."anything" when it comes to "religion". Yes, Jesus and God are real and yes, I still believe in "some parts" of the Bible but, make no mistake, this "story" is not about you or me, and what we believe. This extremely "divisive" CNN piece was posted to do just that...divide the public on this side or that, this belief or that and that's exactly what's happening here. This is a diversionary tactic used by the New World Order minions, who carry our their sick and evil plot against the human race. Don't fall for it. The nameless/faceless, small number of, ruling elites are laughing at all your comments "behind closed doors" at this very moment. Go spend some time with your children, your wife/husband, boyfriend/girlfriend. Go outside and show a stranger a random act of kindness. Be compassionate towards your fellow human being. Love, revealing "the truth", critical-thinking and unity, will defeat the New World Order agenda. YOU have the power.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:32 am |
    • Anonymous

      "I've decided NOT TO label/categorize myself...."...oopsy typo. 😦

      December 24, 2010 at 11:52 am |
    • Matt M

      Yeah because when you really think about it, a secret shadow new world order is trying to divide us with billboards to control our minds.

      December 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
  6. BlackNGold

    I find non-believers incredibly brave. You are basically gambling with your soul. I mean, I have to give up some time on Sunday mornings, give some time to help others, give some money to help others, and pray for others. In return I have a pretty good chance to get to go to Heaven. What did i lose? A little bit of time and money? If I'm wrong, I still go the same place as you. If your wrong, you get to keep your weekend mornings and you don't have to help people, but you don't get the same benefits I do. Is eternal misery really worth a little bit of your time and money? Thats gambling.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:28 am |
    • Don

      Will Pascal's Utterly Refuted To Death Wager never die?

      December 24, 2010 at 12:00 pm |
    • OtherDon

      > Find non-believers incredibly brave. You are basically gambling with your soul.

      Nope. It's a sucker bet to gamble your time and money on any religion.

      Sorry, but even if I tried to convince myself that some solitary all powerful extraterrestrial being created us and judges us based on a belief in a magical story,
      it is still not possible for me to believe.

      I was a born again Christian. I can no more believe again in that than I can in Santa or the easter bunny.

      > I mean, I have to give up some time on Sunday mornings, give some time to help others, give some money to help others, and pray for others.
      > In return I have a pretty good chance to get to go to Heaven.

      When you say "good chance", what do you mean? Have you examined all the possible outcomes, religious or otherwise?

      My guess would be: when I die, chances are that I:

      1. Decompose: 99.999999999 %
      2. Go to a good eternal Christian/Muslim/Jewish place: 0.000000000001 %
      3. Go to a bad eternal Christian/Muslim/Jewish place: 0.000000000001 %
      4. Get reincarnated: 0.000000000001 %
      5. Get transported to the Heavens gate ship: 0.000000000001 %
      6. I exit the computer simulation, and try again: 0.0000000001%
      6. Other: 0.000000000896 %

      > What did i lose? A little bit of time and money?If I'm wrong, I still go the same place as you.

      If, in fact, the belief in the Easter Bunny was the only requirement for going to the eternal chocolate egg in the sky, then perhaps we both missed it (depending on the rules). But I'm not sure I wanted to go there either.

      > If your wrong, you get to keep your weekend mornings and you don't have to help people,

      Helping people is not a Christian activity. Anyone can help people. It's actually more rewarding if there is no religious obligation/threat.

      > but you don't get the same benefits I do. Is eternal misery really worth a little bit of your time and money? Thats gambling.

      I would assume that eternal worship of a strange creature is also misery. What exactly are you hoping for?

      There are many gambles worth taking in life. Wasting time believing in fairy tales is not one.

      December 24, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      OtherDon,

      Did you use the words ‘time’ and ‘money’ in your post four or five times?! Is your god time and money?

      December 26, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
  7. wintex81

    Thanks for this great debate! I know you are all alive because I hear your thoughts, and this is the only evidence I need to know that your spirit exists. When you realize that the essence of your life is not visible in this world, then you begin to understand rational reality. What you are made of was not created in this world, but comes from some place that we have not seen. But God is spirit, and this is why we are capable of knowing and loving him.

    wintex 81

    December 24, 2010 at 11:27 am |
  8. al_beck

    Pretty word cloud- Too bad it is full of false hope and reasons to not help yourself or others.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:27 am |
  9. Mark

    There is no "god' When is society going to realize "god" is just a myth. All the churches just want to drain your wallet.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:27 am |
  10. Dallas5superrings

    Why are there so many Christian Haters? Did Christians fly planes into buildings? Do we demand "Christian Law"? If you have never had the power of Jesus Christ, work in your life, you have no idea what you are missing. Hey, with the life I led for MANY years of boozing, taking vicoden by the handful, one day I got "Tired of being sick and tired" ask for Gods help in getting sober. And now I am....I am ashamed to admit how many times I drove drunk home. I should be in prison for killing some one while I was loaded. Cats have nine lives huh? I have had about 20. The point is, we are ALL here for a reason. So all you "anit-Jesus" folks? Like Gnarls Barkley said in the song "Crazy" "you think YOU are really in CONTROL?

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

      Yes Dallas, I am in control. I've never drank. Never done any illegal drugs. Never smoked. And I'm far more moral than you are. And I'm an atheist. Your past is your problem, and reflects solely upon you, as a theist. For that's what you were and are: a theist. You weren't an atheist when you were drinking and doing drugs. You were a theist. Please stop lying to us and to yourself.

      December 24, 2010 at 11:59 am |
    • Dak

      Or maybe you finally got sick of your ways but needed a focus to gather your strength.

      Had you been born in say Hydrabad you would accredit your sobriety and new found responsibilty to the Lord krishna.

      Isn't it possible you were always aware of the damage you were causing yourself and others and you wanted to change and this was the true component of your success?

      December 24, 2010 at 2:26 pm |
  11. ManOFReason

    I think it's funny actually. There is no proof of any of these holy actors ever existing!

    lmao

    Lets see, join me, lets recite some.

    Satan, God, Angles, Demons, Holy Ghost... okay, which have been proven true? Common sense and logic reveals that not one of these has EVER have been proven to exist.

    How about the Bible being touted by some as "fact". Lets see, 66 books today, some written hundreds of years after Jesus was alive. The evidence supports that men wrote these and that they could not even agree on which books to include in this Bible book. So, these are stroies by man for man, nothing more.

    The old saying applies here, very well. If it sounds to good to be true, it is!"

    It's time you believers wake up and smell the coffee! I did years ago. Sure, I like the idea, in a way, of life ever after. But then I like the idea of being perfect and with endless cash flow reserves. Wait, that sounds to good to be true. 🙂 Happy holidays!

    By the way, it's luck and person helping person that will make our world better. Use common sense and logic your whole life and you, we, will all live in harmony and prosper as a whole.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:18 am |
  12. Marshall

    By definition, “God” is OMNIPRESENT, which means it is everywhere, in me, in you
    and in all creation. Behind the creation is the Great Void, where there is no
    separation and all is one. This idea—this perception of the mystics and sages of
    ages—is backed by science, in that ALL IS ATOMS VIBRATING, and we are
    exchanging atoms with everything around at all times. All is connected, and we are
    breathing the air exhaled by others from around the globe. We are washing with
    Buddha’s sweat, so to speak. Or Jesus’s, or Hercules’s, or that of any other of the
    thousands of deities man has created.Acharya’s Religion 101

    December 24, 2010 at 11:16 am |
  13. tony

    The vilest Bill Board I've seen has been a up for years before this controversy. It's on Highway 101, N of Salinas CA and says;

    "School. I need to be there! God."

    December 24, 2010 at 11:15 am |
  14. zaglossus

    This will make the folks at Fox News happy which around the Holiday Season becomes the White Christian Broadcasting Network.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:13 am |
  15. pete

    My replies are being posted as new posts. Is anyone else having the same problem?

    December 24, 2010 at 11:11 am |
  16. JimboBillyBob Justice

    I don't believe in God.
    I don't hate God (if there is one)
    But I'm not too fond of his fan-club...they kill each other over a sky-fairy and apparently he isn't good with money.
    ~Geroge Carlin~

    December 24, 2010 at 11:11 am |
  17. dualactionblend

    Doesn't seem like much of a story. The lease for the ad space ran out, this atheist organization didn't renew and someone new took the spot. How is that a story? There's no triumph of religion over atheism as your article seems to imply. I'm an atheist and I didn't think the atheist ad was out of line, nor do I think the Christian one is either. People make up their own minds in the end and if an ad is going to convince them to change their mind, to either side, they didn't really have much of a reason or justification to feel the way they did in the first place. Ads can't change facts.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:10 am |
  18. impulse94

    Thare are many gods. So let's hear why "yours" is the true one.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:10 am |
  19. Sam

    This isn't about God or Non-God. It's about petty bigotry and egos. Flip sides of the same coin.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:09 am |
  20. Dave

    I don't get why some atheists need to proselytize they're point of view like they were Pat Robertson and then condem religeous people for doing the same. Why can't they just live and let live. I doubt anyone of religeous faith drove by and said, "Gee your right, there is no God, thank you billboard."

    December 24, 2010 at 11:06 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.