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An atheist billboard on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel that declared Christmas a "myth" has been replaced by a pro-Christian billboard.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

    Yes, God IS aware of your struggles. He ALLOWS it. Really. He's the one Christians say is all-knowing, all-powerful, the end-all, be-all and has complete control over the universe. So...WHY does he permit really horrible things to happen to good people (even devout Christians) and let the evil doers get away with it time and again? True, none of us are perfect, but some really good souls have been hurt and destroyed over the ages. "It's a test of faith" Christians say. Ohhh...riiiigghhht. How many times must one's faith be "tested" before HE is satisfied? 50? 100? 10,000? Sounds like an unsure, insecure, sadistic god to me. Religion is FULL of fallacies and it's nothing more than a cult, a vehicle for political power and a mechanism to oppress the uninformed and the uneducated. Plus it's been the reason for WAR and KILLING for thousands of years. "God loves everybody. Just a long as they believe in MY god." What a bunch of lemmings.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm |
  2. Jeannot

    This is an unfair battle: The Church has the means for extorting money from its clients, and misusing it for these ads, while Atheists have to rely on volunteer contributions.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
  3. UncleChicken

    Good Gravy. I've spent the last 45 minutes reading through these comments hoping to find 1 – just 1 Christian who actually knew what they were talking about. And it is no wonder the atheists think Christians are stupid. Ya'll are. You have no freakin' idea what the Bible teaches or the "reasons for the hope that lies within". These stupid answers like, "I just KNOW it's true" or "I've experienced God" or "Just open your mind and abandon weak human logic" are incredibly dishonoring to God and deserve to be mocked. What would you say to a Muslim who says, "I just KNOW Allah exists and Muhammed is his prophet?" Then why do you think YOUR answer like that is acceptable? You wear your ignorance like a badge of honour, as if being illogical and weak-minded is the height of spirituality.
    Every time an atheist throws out a straw-man argument or an easily addressed 'inconsistency', instead of addressing that and discussing it intelligently, the 'Christians' throw out some lame response about 'faith' or 'just believe'. If that's all you've got, OK, that's fine – but please just shut up and don't pretend that you are representing Christ or Christianity. Learn, then speak.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
  4. Dom Woolf

    I have no problem with believers as long as they quit trying to make their version of morality into laws they expect me to follow. Any religion that trys to force people to follow their version of beliefs has proven themselves to be a false religion be they christian, muslem or wiccan. Pray to your sky farie and leave the rest of us alone.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
  5. Matt M

    The real story here is that an omnipotent omnitemporal eternal creator of the earth the sky and all things in this universe needs a BILLBOARD to get converts. I am not saddened because people believe in god, I'm saddened because believe in god without question or scrutiny. Einstein, Hawking, Feynman, even if you don't agree with them, it is worth finding out why the smartest men ever to walk the face of the earth did not believe a personal god.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
  6. Sky Daddy

    Imagine if "God is" was replaced with "I am." What a wonderful world we'd live in. Believers use God so they can conveniently avoid accountability and not feel guilty about it.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:48 pm |
  7. billfromny

    What a gigantic waste of time and money – on the part of BOTH groups! We're hurting here; people are are dying and hungry, right in our own neighborhoods, and these religious, and anti-religious groups are too busy fighting over who's right!

    This is just shameful! And for the religious, sinful!

    December 24, 2010 at 12:46 pm |
  8. jeb

    Out of all the people I've known throughout the years, (believers and non-believers), christians act the least christian... it's sad

    December 24, 2010 at 12:45 pm |
  9. STOP

    ALL OF YOU IMMATURE LITTLE KIDS STOP ARGUING ABOUT THIS. Seriously, grow up and get a life for the love of god. I can imagine these people in their parents basement on a computer getting their kicks out of saying "atheism is logic" or "GOD is the way" please get a life and stop this. look at yourselves, pointlessly arguing mute points over cnn comments. BOTH sides of this argument have to stop cramming their "believes" down my throat. Hypocrisy is amazing....

    December 24, 2010 at 12:44 pm |
  10. Desi Sylskar

    God is.........busy in another galaxy. Gave up on humanity a long time ago.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:43 pm |
  11. J

    Oh, that makes a lot of sense. Replace a controversial billboard that offended some people with another one? Bright.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
  12. Joshua

    God IS funny

    December 24, 2010 at 12:39 pm |
  13. Paul Ester

    The church's billboard is far superior to the atheist billboard in terms of both graphic design and simplicity of message. American Atheists—hire a real graphic designer next time around! Your billboard was illegible.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:38 pm |
  14. BCC

    Ha! This is great...best line in the article.... "We want to encourage people to seek God and prove that indeed He is," senior Pastor Connor Conlon said.

    Prove it then...wait, you can't? While some things that have happened in history have never been explained, that does not correlate into there being a god, for all we know, it may just be aliens or just natural occurrences that we cannot fully understand yet. I would challenge anyone to prove, without a doubt, that there is a god because religion is completely found on the basis of myth currently. Go ahead and follow something that happened 2000 years ago and has no substantial scientific evidence that it is in fact true, but people need to realize that they need to stop force feeding it to anyone who does not believe it to be true or has doubts.

    I have never seen atheists walking around door to door on weekends forcing people to believe in something and harassing them until they either agree or stop answering doors. Imagine if they did though....the whole religions community would be up in arms stating that it is an invasion on their beliefs and intruding on their privacy.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:36 pm |
  15. Polineutral

    You know, it's funny how the atheitsts yell and screm that religion forces us to believe in God, that religion crams down our throats that Christian belief if a tool for control. If that is true then being atheist is being part of a religion as well. Because atheists believe in not-believing in religion. And yell and opress those loudly who do not conform to their beliefs. They will force others to conform to their atheist ways. Pretty much like most other religions out there I'd say. I believe in God personally. But my views are far different from the norm. (For example, those of you that read the Bible, tell me where it says that the good shall go to heaven, and that the evil shal spend and eternity in hell?)

    December 24, 2010 at 12:35 pm |
    • BCC

      Not true at all. Atheists do not tow the line that they have to be right for the most part. Look around in the media and tell me who constantly speaks out about which one is right. Could it be that those that do not believe in god simply are tired of the same rhetoric over and over and over again? The force feeding and belief is perpetrated by religious communities, not the other way around. The only time that it seems the opposite is when something like this happens because, all of the sudden, all the religious believers jump up and say "You are not right" and flame on the situation so it seems more prevalent than it truly is.

      December 24, 2010 at 12:41 pm |
    • Polineutral

      BCC, I partially agree with you. I won't deny that there are plenty out there who are quite fed up with the rhetoric. But there are some atheists as well, who want to force change into their own views, like the atheists who wanted to forcefully stop school from saying the pledge of alleigance because it contains, Under God". I thought it was particularly selfish, since this country was originally founded on Christianic beliefs. Instead of forcing schools to stop reciting the pledge, he could have asked the school for an exemption for her daughter. Or at least make that decision be her daughters not his. And you know politicians are all too quick to force us to see views like his.

      December 24, 2010 at 1:20 pm |
  16. jeb

    This says it all...

    http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2010/12/19/a-holiday-message-from-ricky-gervais-why-im-an-atheist/

    December 24, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  17. RT

    What a bunch of wussies. There is no f#$@ing god.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  18. T

    An Atheist is someone who is Anti- Theist. The USA has 89% of the population reportedly Theist who believe in at least one deity. An Atheist is a skeptic. Curious who does not take a belief without something to prove it. Religions have been around for years and there have been hundreds and possibly thousands of gods in our history. The fact American's believe in the Jewish and Palestinian god is due to the Europeans who colonized America. Nothing more, and nothing less. If they had been born in Pakistan, they would be Muslim If the had been born in Bombay that would worship Lord Kristna. If they had been born in Thailand they would probably be Buddhist. If they had been born in Viking Scandinavia that would be worshiping Thor. If they had been born in ancient Greece they would be worshiping Athena or Zeus. You see what we worship has everything to do with where we were born and how we were raised.

    If you believe that the only god that is real is your god, then you are an atheist towards all the other religions beside the one you practice. So everyone is an Atheist against religions they do not believe in.

    To believe that your one god is the only one and that you have a personal relationship with it and that it listens only to you and answers your requests, is absolutely delusional and very self centered, and arrogant.
    To believe in the Jewish god and Palestinian gods is even more delusional. If you consider man has been on the earth for at least 100,000 years, you have to believe that God watched man for 97,000 years with indifference. Watching him die and suffer. Average age 25, death usually by violence or bad teeth. Then finally after watching for all this time, he decides he might get involved with man on earth. Does he reveal himself to the millions of Chinese who could read and write and had access to astronomy and science? No he decides to reveal himself to several thousand farmers in bronze age Palestine. If this is what you believe you need to keep this to yourself.

    If you believe that your god listens to you, answers your prayers, loves you and watches over you and will take care of your when you die, this should make you very happy. But it does not. Believers can not be happy until the Atheist believe it too......

    December 24, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
  19. therm

    Will you just listen to the g0dd@mn delusional rants that these xtians are posting! I CAN believe it though, my dad is a religious freak-of-nature and he sends me xmas cards covered, front to back, with religious slogans and dogma which reach a fevered and delusional pitch of nonsensical, illogical rhetoric that are not even sentences at all, always becoming just a stream of stupid non sequiturs until there is no more room to write, or he exhausts himself. You see, I don't believe in fairy tales, so he prays 'real' hard for me. It won't work, so he's just wasting his life away with that nonsense. It's too bad. We start out in this world NOT crippled by religion, yet xtians seem to think that by not having the delusion, we are not 'normal'. Normal is NO religion; religion is baggage that some people store in their closet with their other skeletons, but it's not normal, and it's not real. Therein lies the danger.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:30 pm |
  20. Andy

    So let me get this straight,
    The Catholic League put up a new billboard which cost 20,000 dollars, then they replace the other billboard, which is another 20,000 dollars, so assuming they only kept each one up for a month that's 40,000 dollars spent which could have gone to the needy, fed 4000 people $10 meals, so on and so forth. Instead they spend it just to prove a point, I don't know what that point is though... any ideas?

    December 24, 2010 at 12:29 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.