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An atheist billboard on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel that declared Christmas a "myth" has been replaced by a pro-Christian billboard.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

    I love when people say "don't push your believe on me!" when it comes to God. Yet, they are perfectly willing to push their belief that God is not real on me and this is okay. Quite the little conundrum we have here. Who has the right to push what on who?

    So I say let the entire subject lye. There only one way to find out who is right in the end like there is only one way to find out if someone really has brain. Either way involves death because for every picture or scripture of God that is counted false every tecnhical innovation saying it can "see" the brain can be counted false too.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  2. Mr Phil

    None of the agnostics and atheists are talking about Mohammed or Islam because this article is about a billboard that says "GOD IS" NOT "MOHAMMED IS." Besides, Muslims don't feel the need to market their religion like christians do you don't see any cheap bracelets that say WWMD or uncreative t-shirts like "Got Mohammed?" or having people knock on your door at all hours of the day trying to convince you that their faith is the ONE TRUE FAITH. If your religion was so great, why would you need these snake-oil styled tactics? Oh, because the bible instructs you to evangelize? Well, the bible also instructs you not to eat shellfish, handle pigs' flesh on the sabbath (aka football), wear clothes of a mixed fiber, etc. Oh, but we don't follow the old testament. Is that not the "word of god" also? Now do you get why so many of us are skeptical and why religious sects like the catholics are losing so many members (and don't even get me started on the child molestation, adulterous affairs, and illicit drug use committed by a wide variety of religious leaders).

    December 24, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
  3. malakai

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

    A 'proof' is a mathematical term. The idea that Pastor Conlon thinks it is possible to 'prove' an abstract concept such as a deity is evidence to how uneducated, uninformed, and gullible s/he is – a common theme among those who have partaken of the communion Kool-Aid. Christians can't have proof because it removes the element of faith. If a person 'knows' – that is to say: concretely, demonstratively, empirically – then it is not possible for he or she to 'believe'. And according to Christian mythology, belief (in Jesus Christ as the son of God) is essential to salvation.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:14 pm |
  4. Coney

    Work for World Peace - End All Religion

    December 24, 2010 at 1:13 pm |
  5. NP

    The true meaning of the season is Yule, a pagan festival. The Church stole the true meaning of the holiday and turned it into some Christian BS. They (the Church) wanted to make Christian religion law so they turned pagan celebrations into Christian ones to make the "transition" easier. How dare they? Now they preach "the true meaning of the holiday" when it was stolen from pagans! F_ck you, Christians.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:12 pm |
  6. ec1wardc1

    As an atheist, I live my life to the fullest without shame or regret for anything. I am still a moral person. God is a fantasy invented to empower a few to have control over society and I will never again buy into their stupid game.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:12 pm |
  7. Terry P

    A loving God would not allow little children to suffer; wars to kill millos, nor good people to untimely die from horrible diseases. Then I see preachers on TV asking for money to buy cigars and mansions – and people who can't afford to give money doing so to buy their way into heaven. Its a crock.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:11 pm |
  8. BuyMyMonkey

    I don't understand why people care so much what others believe. If I'm an Atheist (and I am), why can't I just be happy of the positives that positive messages bring, regardless of their source? I hear some Christians deride the Mormons for being crazy, despite their TV ads being very positive! Geez, religious or not, there are too many haters out there. People please tolerate and love one another, regardless of belief.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
    • annie

      I'm Christian but not religious, I have a deep believe in Jesus, I don't judge or ostracize others for having different views, the number one thing that Jesus stood for was tolerance. God is love! Having god in my live has allowed me to escape unscathed from some very painful situations, I think it's sad that religion divides people and turns people against god. Many question god's existence and so-called love, and I don't blame non believers for doing so. There's a whole continent of suffering people {Africa} there's homelessness, disease, natural disasters countless crimes being committed against humanity on a daily basis, the greed that consumes our world is only growing stronger. Yes it's for all intents an purposes an ugly evil world out there. But all these things are not of God's creation, no not at all. God aches for us, but we must prove our worthiness, sincerity and love to him. This world is but a mere stop on a spiritual journey that we must all take, I believe it's a test, it would be wonderful to just live in a beautiful peaceful Earth, where we all just love each other and look out for one another, and I believe somewhere out there, that exist but entrance isn't granted to everyone. Just as you must prove your worthiness for that coveted spot to an Ivy league school or that job promotion you've worked so hard to get. So we must prove to god that we are worthy to continue on this journey. I wish all of you out there, whether your Atheist, Mormon, Jewish etc...Much love health and happiness always!!!

      December 24, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
  9. Ellen Hunt

    Hilarious. That's the free market. 🙂
    Am I an atheist? No. Do I think god has anything to do with the "big guy in the sky myth" or much of what is in the religious literature of the world? No. I do not. So how is it that I am as a scientist, not an atheist?

    Well, there is this very interesting thing in quantum mechanics. Without an observer, states do not become "something", they remain without form. This has been proven. It is what the story of Shrodinger's cat means. That says to me, as a scientist, that consciousness is fundamental to the physics of our universe. It says also that there is free will. And it says that there is, of necessity, a kind of over-arching consciousness that is present as all of creation. It says that consciousness will never, and can never be destroyed, it always was and always will be. At the very least, it means those things.

    And I think that our existence is more astonishing than we imagine, and that our fundamental one-ness cannot ever be changed, though millennia come and millennia go.

    So I and others try to communicate about things. What we speak in is words. But like a map, you cannot build your house on a map. Just so, you cannot build or know god or "reality" or however you term it in or as words. What exists, simply exists, and nothing we say can change it. If our map is wrong, that does not change the territory. If our words are wrong, that does not change what we speak of into what we say.

    And that is the closest I can get to saying what I think and feel about god.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
  10. Wanderer

    The Christian kill their own pure heart and original mind. The atheist preserves them.

    December 24, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
  11. Melissa

    David: There is free will. God doesn't always help us. For example, if a person robbed a bank God is certainly not going to help the person not get caught, not go to prison etc. Many times when someone chooses a life opposite of God it will have a negative impact on innocent people such as victims of child molesters, murders etc. If we choose to do right & believe in him God will give us the strength to overcome obstacles & other unfortunate events in our life. Unfortunately, the world we live in is not perfect. We are free to choose what direction we take in life. 

    December 24, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
  12. therm

    Did you ever notice how many xtians there are on the freeways and in the shopping malls – practically none. If there were so many people in the US who ACTUALLY believed in what they say they do, driving on the freeway would be pleasant, and in the mall, people would be excusing themselves, and pardoning themselves, and getting out of the way. But no, we have greedy, don't-give-crap xtians here. Hell, the pope even had to come out some months back and tell all of his minions that they weren't acting very xtian-like when driving. Of course, he could have said that about any public place. It just goes to show that xtians don't even actually believe in all that cr@p. Otherwise we'd never hear from them and life would be good!

    December 24, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
  13. CarlSaganFan

    If "Gods" do exist you must then ask the question, who or what created the "Gods". The simple answer is that humans created them out of ignorance and fear of death. End of Story.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:59 pm |
  14. ThinkAgain

    What a person believes or doesn't believe is not what's important; living a good life, with honesty, integrity, ethics, compassion and one that leaves the world a better place from having lived it is what matters.

    Whether or not you believe in God – or believe in God by another name and engage or not in a specific set of rituals is not the point; living a good life simply for the sake of doing so is the point. What happens to us when we die will take care of itself.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:58 pm |
  15. Sean

    Let the Atheist vs. Christianity comments begin... sigh...

    December 24, 2010 at 12:58 pm |
  16. STOP

    Seriously everyone here has to grow up. Get a life and stop arguing mute points over CNN comments. Seriously, look at yourselves, getting kicks out of saying "atheism is logic" or "god is the one" Grow up and get off the computer because you probably have no life, and that is why you are on here. BOTH sides have to stop forcing their "beliefs" on other people. Hypocrisy is amazing....

    December 24, 2010 at 12:56 pm |
  17. ThinkAgain

    At least this billboard is hopeful and comforting. Eugene, Oregon had a huge billboard for years right outside of town that said, "The wages of sin are death."

    I much prefer the message of God as merciful, a good listener and there when you need him.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:55 pm |
  18. Lol@God

    To STOP, I know right, and I constantly have atheists come to my door of my own home and preach to me telling me what I should believe. Damn those atheists forcing their beliefs on everyone...

    December 24, 2010 at 12:54 pm |
  19. Dr. LIGO


    As for your intellectualism, there are two kind of things we do. The deeds that we do with a free will and the deeds in which we are bound by God. The things that we do with free will are the ones to be judged. As for a man's destiny, it is written because God knows what are we going to choose by our free will.

    The misery that we see in the world is due to the "free will" acts of people. They will be judged on the basis of that.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:54 pm |
  20. YBP

    GOD IS...

    A figment of each believer's imagination. That's why no one can agree on exactly who he is, what he thinks, what he wants, how he feels. Believe what you want to believe, but keep it to yourself, because it's childish and foolish.

    December 24, 2010 at 12:53 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.