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An atheist billboard on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel that declared Christmas a "myth" has been replaced by a pro-Christian billboard.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

    Most people only believe in the flesh. They know of nothing else but the carnal nature they have. They sorrowfully have no knowledge of spiritual things and have little in the way of real intellect. They are proudful and only boast of wordly things as that being the only thing they really know about. It is the foolish man who says they are the only ones in the universe, and that their opinion is the only one that matters. These same ones are completely devoid of perfect love and they trust no one, and therefore have no one. They will die cold, alone and done for, like a rotting corpse full of maggots. If you try to reason with these reatures, they will sap your strength and dumb you down to their level of utter ignorance of the truth. When they say there is no creator, they really believe that they are supreme over all of you, and us, and over all the living creatures in the universe. So, do you really want to follow them? The complete fools will say yes.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:56 pm |
    • melton

      I will be the first to reply to my own post. Unlike most of you, I did not create myself, no more than I built my own house with my hands. Most of you have created nothing but the beliefs of fools. You think that you are g-d himself, yes you do and I for one am not deceived by your lies. You can be deceived all you want, and be destroyed with the rest of the human creatures that have absolutely no light in them. Well, you don't even know what light I am talking about anyway.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:03 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Melton, if other people don't understand what you're talking about, likely explanations are:
      (1) They're stupid.
      (2) Meanings of words have not been mutually agreed upon.
      (3) You don't express yourself well.
      (4) YOU don't understand what you're talking about.

      I know where I'd put MY money.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:31 pm |
  2. Jon KIng

    5 million churches, every other story someone says God this or God that, Christians have countless outlets for their beliefs....but one billboard with an opposing opinion must be answered with full fury? Wow, thats sad.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
    • pete

      And they are the ones who are persecuted?

      December 24, 2010 at 12:12 am |
  3. LiveNLetLive

    It always bothers me to see comments on these boards about religion. People get so *angry* about one side or the other. Look, whether you believe it is nature or God, we were given the free will to make our own decisions about life. I choose to believe as a personal choice but I also dislike when anyone of any faith or non-faith attempts to force their beliefs upon ME. It's not my right to attempt to make anyone believe what I believe and it's not your right to attempt to force me to believe what you buy into. Its my life, I happen to like the "fairy tales" not because I'm a "cult member" or "mindless idiot" but because I believe in their lessons and the meaning behind them. I don't buy everything in the bible as "gospel truth" (pardon the pun) but as parables much like Aesop's stories (I.E. Noah's Ark story as referenced above). This is my choice to see things in this way, and I suppose I'll either be judged for my beliefs or will just die when the time comes. We can only do our best in our lives for ourselves and others, we have no control over what comes "next" (or doesn't as the case may be). Either way, so be it, right? I mean, what does it matter to anyone here? Are we so arrogant & afflicted by tunnel vision that we can only see our own beliefs and discount everything else? As for "the holiday season", yes, I agree that the Church based their holidays upon Pagan and other religions' holy days. Who cares how they started? Either celebrate your belief or celebrate your family or don't celebrate at all! It's your life, your personal ideals, live & let live!

    December 23, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
  4. chris

    boo hooo hooo! xtians are soo sad because somebody doesn't believe in their fake baby jebus... get a life already!

    December 23, 2010 at 10:54 pm |
    • Rhubarb

      Jesus Christ is Lord, and there is a day coming when every person who ever lived will acknowledge on bended knee that He is Lord, whether they ever believed it or not – because on that day, everyone WILL believe (Romans 14:11-12). Arguments to the contrary are meaningless and a waste of time, because the clock is ticking...and this WILL HAPPEN. It is an absolute guarantee, because the Word says so, not because I or anyone else believes it. And inside, I have total peace about that day, because He is my Lord and I am saved. Jesus said "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27). A non-believer does not have this assurance, but they could if they were true free-thinkers and opened their heart to Him. Ironically, the very rejection of Jesus and the Gospel is a direct fulfillment of the scriptures, which say in no uncertain terms that this would occur in these last days, precisely as it is. Jesus loves you and He died for you – please, for your eternity's sake – ask Him to forgive your sins today and accept Him as your Savior. This is the choice before you.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Well, Rhubarb, at least you got the part about "sheep" right.

      Look, if you really think your guy is such hot stuff, why didn't he come back during the lifetimes of his disciples, the way he said he would? Promising answer: He lied. More likely answer: People who wrote up the news stories about him lied. Either way, it's been 2000 years, and he still hasn't shown, despite many many many many many many people like you who've claimed "any day now".

      Time to give it up, sucker. He ain't a-comin' back. Didn't come back then, hasn't come back since, isn't back now, and won't EVER be coming back in the future. Know why? Because he's DEAD, that's why.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:25 pm |
    • Rhubarb

      Hello, Richard –

      Merry Christmas! You cite Matthew 1:23, 25. I find no contradiction and am interested in hearing your explanation. Also, I am not interested in anyone 'adopting' my faith. I'm very interested in as many people getting saved as I can possibly reach with the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

      December 24, 2010 at 12:09 am |
    • RichardSRussell

      Matthew 1:23 (the prophecy): Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.

      Matthew 1:25 (the fulfillment): And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

      What did the prophecy claim his name would be? What did it actually turn out to be? How could you miss this?

      December 24, 2010 at 1:52 am |


    December 23, 2010 at 10:54 pm |
  6. mistamista

    I sincerely wish that this holiday would get it's act together and evolve like human beings did. [Smile if you got the pun]

    The bible should have started with, "Once upon a time..." or "In a galaxy far, far away...". Either of these is more to the liking of people who are under the age of 10....and the rest of us are grown up enough to know that there is but one true god....and he is the flying spaghetti monster (http://www.venganza.org/).

    You guys better play nice or you'll have those nut-bags from the Westburough Baptist Cult picketing your whole town as they spread the message about their fictional god who hates EVERYONE except their sign printing service!

    December 23, 2010 at 10:53 pm |
  7. mickflanigan

    F Religion. Period.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:51 pm |
  8. JesusisLord

    The Resurrection is real. Why some of us know and others don't is, in fact, a mystery, but we do know. Our job is merely to witness during our brief sojourn on planet earth.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      You CLAIM "the Resurrection is real", but you weren't there, and the stories about the people who supposedly WERE there all contradict each other. Sounds like another pack of lies to me.

      Besides which, the guy who was supposedly resurrected had claimed "I'll be right back", but he never showed. You wouldn't accept alibis like that from a bunch of high-school jocks trying to explain why they were late for practice, why would you base your entire life on them?

      December 23, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
    • JT

      Fairies are real. Why some of us know and others don't is, in fact, a mystery, but we do know.

      December 24, 2010 at 10:32 am |
  9. Paul

    For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing

    December 23, 2010 at 10:48 pm |
  10. Jaysea

    Wow...mention Jesus, God, Christmas & the emails keep on coming! Hey everyone...no one knows what's behind "door # 3" - death. This is my little theory:
    I'd rather BELIEVE NOW & find out nothing is there, then NOT BELIEVE & find out there is! It's not very hard to have some faith...whether it be Christianity, Judiasm, Moslem, Buddism etc. I prefer Christianity as I get to celebrate Christmas....one of the best holidays out there! If others rather not believe in anything then that's their choice. One can lead a horse to water but can't make him drink ! Merry CHRISTmas 😉

    December 23, 2010 at 10:45 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      If you're agnostic, you get to celebrate ALL the holidays.

      Has that convinced you to become an agnostic? If not, go back and re-examine what a shallow motivator you've cited.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
    • David

      You might want to search out some of the Pagan religions, they realy have some great parties and festivals.

      December 24, 2010 at 1:50 am |
  11. Bill

    Anything wrong with embracing the mystery and beauty without having to attach some unrealistic story to it?

    December 23, 2010 at 10:45 pm |
  12. Joy

    Is to. Is not. Is to. Is not. Sound familiar? All of this is so juvenile.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:44 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Yeah, let's act like adults, you know, as in a court of law, and stop just asserting stuff and start demanding evidence.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:14 pm |
  13. Paul

    "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing" 1 Cor. 1:18

    December 23, 2010 at 10:42 pm |
  14. Terre08



    December 23, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
  15. stan

    aren't atheists forgetting the attrocities of the 20-th century, Stalin, Hitler, Pol Pot... all incontrovertibly non 'God' in their belief and out working. The only conclusion we are left with from our observation of human history is that with or without God mankind is capable of doing evil. True followers of Christ however are the ones who like their Lord and Savior, love their enemies and by doing good show who they are following.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
    • Don

      Hitler was catholic.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:13 pm |
    • pete

      So atheists are not capable of "doing good"?

      December 23, 2010 at 11:37 pm |
    • Terre08

      Well Stalin went to a religious seminary to learn his skills and Hitler was a catholic.

      December 24, 2010 at 12:40 am |
    • JT

      You seriously need to get your info from other sources than just your pastor. Hitler was Catholic and said many times he believed he was sanctioned by the RCC and he did indeed have much support from the church. Also, no one does bad things in the name of atheism. They are just bad/evil people. OTOH, many people and movements have done many, great atrocities and genocide in the name of religion. It takes religion to make otherwise good people do atrocities.

      December 24, 2010 at 10:28 am |
    • Scott

      @ stan: The problem isn’t god. The problem is religion, dogma that must be obeyed and must not be questioned. Communism and Nazism are just 2 more kinds of mandatory dogma (religion)

      December 24, 2010 at 9:15 pm |
  16. Kaathoga

    Gee, I'm not surprised "shrug", I hardly fear the inquisition,I'm more affraid of right wing bible Jockeys in our government. Most of those government officials whom embrace the "10 Commandments" about 10% of the time, wanna sweat over something, start there. As for the billboard, when you challenge a persons faith its like arguing musical taste.. all you get is a headache and a feeling that the person is somehow missing your point.. and they feel the same way. Let the masses who want to follow, do so. Let the Fact seekers, not accept the "gods will" answer because its an empty explanation to them, be their view, and be nice to each other. Name calling is for grade school, move on, as usual with these stories, theres nothing to see here...

    December 23, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
  17. SkyKIng

    Years ago, I agreed with the non-theistic point of view. Then the years passed, and the body of observations grew. Too many things happened to be just coincidence. A 'plan' became obvious. Not that I really want to concede that I am not in 'control', the evidence is just overwhelming that something else is. Notice the words on the billboard. Concepts. Ideas.
    God is no longer a mystery. No, he or she or whatever is not as depicted on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, not like the Sta-puft marshmallow man, but is real, if intangible. Not tangible, but God definitely IS.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:40 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      Million-to-1 coincidences happen 8 times a day in New York City.

      Just as gambling is basically a tax on stupidity, belief in miracles is a price you pay for innumeracy. If you really understood statistics and coincidences, you wouldn't be such a sucker.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
  18. elvisg

    The "You know its a myth" billboard was great. Its about time. There needs to be more like them. I'd rather read them than other dumb advertisements. I'd rather read them than have to stand and sing God Bless America at Phillies games. I'd rather read them then watch all the commercials advertising Christmas sales on TV.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:35 pm |
  19. deb

    Always love it when the Christians are hypocrites argument comes out. Like no athiests are hypocrites. If I believe in God, I die, and I am wrong=no problem. If an athiest dies and they are wrong=screwed.

    December 23, 2010 at 10:31 pm |

      Your post cracks me up. You are proving the atheist point of view. You dont deep down believe in god. You just convince yourself you do because you are afraid of what will happen if there is a god. You are just one very large step yourself from being atheist. Ironicly, you are the biggest hipocrit I have seen yet. I have more respect for the nut jobs who truly believe in this crap than someone like you who obviously knows it is BS, and yet, just to conform, and give yourself some internal comfort that your "covered either way" say you believe. pitiful.

      December 23, 2010 at 10:48 pm |
    • RichardSRussell

      You have just cited a 1st-grade version of what's known as Pascal's Wager. I urge you to read up on it, including all the many ways in which it's wrong.

      Let me give you just 1 example. You believe in God, you're wrong, and it's actually ALLAH who's in charge, you're just as screwed as any atheist. (That's only the beginning. I always like to throw in the part about all the many hours of your life you wasted BEING wrong.)

      December 23, 2010 at 11:01 pm |
    • pete

      If you believe in him only because you want eternal life then you may still be screwed.

      December 23, 2010 at 11:32 pm |
  20. Christian, Non-Christian Please Read

    Ok, I am seeing hostility from both sides, me personally, I am a Christian and proud of it, but bottom line, this is supposed to be a time of joy, peace, and fellowship, so to all of you Christians, and non-Christians alike....I hope you a very merry Christmas, and for at least one night, lets all try to get along. CHRISTIANS: May God bless you! NON-CHRISTIANS: Peace be with you!

    December 23, 2010 at 10:30 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.