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An atheist billboard on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel that declared Christmas a "myth" has been replaced by a pro-Christian billboard.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

    Question for those of you that do not believe that God exist.................Does Mohammad exist? Does Allah Exist? If you say yes then you are a hypocrite, if you say NO then you tell those that follow Islam their Holy Book is a lie............good luck with that!

    December 24, 2010 at 12:26 pm |
  2. Krista

    Why do people care so much about what others believe in? Why do people get offended and hate others because they dont believe in the same things they do? If you want to be an athiest, fine. If you want to believe in God, fine. If you are a Jehovahs Witness, fine. If you're a Buddhist, fine. No one has a right to tell you what you cant believe in and what you should believe in, or try to cram their religion down your throat because they think it's better. Everyone talks about freedom of speech, and I believe we should have the freedom to believe in what we want and what makes us happy without judgement from others. If I want to believe in Christmas, let me. Dont take something away from me that makes me happy (along with millions of other people) just because you dont believe.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
  3. kwolf443

    I think both sides need a time out , If there is or isn't does not matter because we all still live on the same planet , threating with hell and fire or threating with nothing makes no point. We all live on the same planet believer or non believer.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
  4. Jackie

    This is very disturbing!!! I never knew there were so many athiests out there. Very sad!!!

    December 24, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
  5. David

    To: MountainSoldier

    "CO: How do you presume to know what God does and does not do? You have your preachers preach it at us constantly. 'Scripture' is not 'perfect', no matter how deluded you are and your insistence that it is. You don't even know who wrote the Bible, yet you accept it sight unseen. To the rational rest of us who base our assertions and claims in this plane of reality on FACT, that is really, really sad."

    Response: The Bible is God's words that were given to men to put into Scripture. So if you're denying what the Bible says, your specifically denying God's own words.

    "And if 'He' provides 'what we NEED', then why are child molesters, serial killers, and genocidal maniacs hard at work while the pleas of their victims go unheeded? Don't shovel your stuff at the rest of us. Believe what you want to believe, but many of us aren't buying what you're selling."

    Response: Child molesters, serial killers and genocidal maniacs exist because of one reason, SIN. When God created the Earth and everything in it, he made it perfectly. It was man who came along and screwed everything up. Man chose sin. God gives everyone a free will to do what they want – hence child molesters, serial killers and genocidal maniacs.

    Response: When you're at the Great White Throne Judgement... you can then tell God and Jesus that your not buying what they're selling! Good luck with that!

    December 24, 2010 at 12:24 pm |
  6. keithmoore1

    Here's the real truth: Both atheists AND these God fanatics are goofy. Praise the agnostics!

    December 24, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  7. Paulie

    No problem atheists no weddings, no christmas, no easter, no holidays off and when you die no funeral, no burial, no last rites, no service, no gravestone (for you or your kids) we will just cremate you and flush you down the toilet like you never existed. You know all running water eventually works its way to the waste management plant from the drain so enjoy eternity with the rest of the human waste.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
    • Paulie

      no big loss to mankind or God

      December 24, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  8. CAPTAINACARS

    @thorrsman : Murderers, rapists, child mollesters, war mongers, thieves, con artists, hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, mudslides, wild fires, tsunamis, republicans, democrats, lawyers, HMO's, car salesman, priests that molest kids, starving people, plauges, cancer, heart attacks, plane crashes, bridges collapsing, car bombs, letter bombs, terrorists flying planes into buildings........ need i keep going? I can do this all day.There is my proof. Now it is your turn.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
    • Paulie

      most of those things with the exception of the weather involve people doing evil and people can leave a bad weather area no one makes them stay

      December 24, 2010 at 12:27 pm |
  9. Tom

    By the looks of the rainbow, I'd say that God has become gay-friendly too! It's a Christmas Miracle!

    December 24, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
  10. John Steel

    The funny thing is that many in the atheist camp are becoming as fanatic as hard core believers. Even more amusing is the war of the billboards. I doubt many folks are making their faith decisions based on what they read on billboards. A thought for both sides – If you truly believe in what you claim, then you should have faith in that and realize that God does not need an ad agency and if there is no God, there is no need to proclaim that either. Allow others to pursue their beliefs in peace and they will hopefully do the same for you.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:19 pm |
  11. Believer

    To all you Atheists out there that want to force your beliefs, or lack there of, I dedicate a song to you by CeeLo.. F.U.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
    • Tom

      it's nice to see the rainbow on the billboard. So tell me, when did God come out?

      December 24, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  12. Commentary

    The argument of nonreligious v. religious is very frivolous. It attracts many intelligent and not-so-intelligent people to the same fight, all arguing for or against the same concept that's been argued for or against for centuries.

    I am not religious in that I really don't support many modern day "churches" professing themselves in the name of Christianity. I am spiritual, however, and I do believe in Christ and His Father.

    However, I won't randomly quote convenient Bible verses and Christ's words to prove his existence to you, my colleagues, who do not believe. I know you won't accept that as a valid argument, and I'll say to you, in terms of actually arguing, it isn't valid. I believe it to be true, and if you don't, then that solves nothing.

    I see no reason to try and "prove" God to you. If you don't believe it, power to you. I wish you did, but I understand completely why you don't. The difference between you and I is that I am willing to believe in something I can't see, something that has many contradictions and has been very flexible for 2000(ish) years. If you aren't willing, for whatever reason possible, including those I just named, I understand. My believing, however, doesn't make me less intelligent than you or deluded, really. I just believe in a certain concept that you choose not to believe in. It's as simple as my believing in a certain theory of economics which you choose not to. It doesn't make me any less intelligent than yourself – it's just a difference in preference.

    I don't endorse "religious" people constantly berating you or making no sensible argument in their favor on your terms. I wish every religious person could be rational and answer with actually effective means of debate, a.k.a., things that get things *done*.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:16 pm |
  13. trox

    It should be no secret by now how Christmas came about. No it is not biblical, nor is it commanded in the bible to observe it. Christians who have studied any history at all realize that Jesus wasn't born on December 25th. There are many pre-Christian mythological god-men who were born on December 25th such as Krishna, Attis, Osiris, Dionysus, Mithra, and Horus. And there are hundreds more christ figures predating Christianity with nearly the same identical story even down to being born in Bethlehem, virgin birth attended by shepherds and rising on the 3rd day. Before Christianity, not after. Some even before Judaism. It's no secret to historians, or people who study ancient religions.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:15 pm |
    • (yet another) Steve

      Fundamentalists have an answer for this. The same answer they have for everything that could refute their belief system. The Devil did it. He created all these stories to confuse us so we wouldn't know who the REAL savior is and therefore swell the ranks of his kingdom.

      December 25, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
  14. one atheist

    "We want to encourage people to seek God and prove that indeed He is," senior Pastor Connor Conlon said.

    Prove that indeed he is what? What is he? Even the pastor doesn't want to commit himself.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  15. Jim

    "God is" what we created him to be. Nothing more, nothing less. We created him to help us deal with life's trouble, complexities, death, and our fear of the unknown. If it works for you, great! I am glad. If it doesn't, that is okay too. We all deal with life in different ways.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
  16. Paulie

    Atheists ought to thank God that religious people believe in God because is the only thing that keeps them from killing and murdering them en masse because its considered a sin. If God's rule is ever repealed watch out.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:13 pm |
    • Hurdurr

      The whole 'murder is sin' thing never seemed to stop the Church during the Inquisition, or the Crusades.

      December 25, 2010 at 3:37 am |
  17. Johnny A.

    It's shocking to see how many religious dimwits are foaming at the mouth over this. Oh, wait, no it isn't.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
  18. JAB

    God is just pretend and no one can prove otherwise. Humans, as a species, really need to move on and leave this ignorance in the past.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:06 pm |
  19. Simon

    Funny, all this energy put out over something so small as a belief! All the in fighting and arguing in the world, can never prove one way or the other the reality of a god or divine intelligence.
    So the question begs "Why all the fighting?" you are welcome to your belief's as long as those don't infringe upon me, and I’ll afford you the same courtesy.
    Beliefs really are small things, get over them. Really not that big a deal if I do or do not believe in god or jesus or allah or the flying spaghetti monster or or or or or or............Just not that big a deal at all.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:03 pm |
  20. chrisnbama

    I have read the bible, cover to cover, and what I found there was forgiveness. Over and over again people messed up, and asked for forgiveness over and over again. We Christians KNOW what the birth of Christ means. That a father loved we humans so much, so wonderfully, that he sent his son to to die, just for us...believers and non believers. You choose not to believe, that is fine by me......But you better be right, and it's eternal.

    December 24, 2010 at 11:59 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.