Atheists’ billboard calls Christmas a myth –

In Apologetics on December 7, 2010 at 4:24 pm

Atheists’ billboard calls Christmas a myth –



Drivers approaching the Lincoln Tunnel in New Jersey this holiday season are the targets of an advertisement that its sponsors describe as a strike against Christmas.

A billboard scheduled to be displayed near the entrance to the tunnel into Manhattan through the holidays shows a silhouetted manger scene with the message, “You KNOW it’s a Myth. This Season, Celebrate REASON.”

The $20,000 campaign, sponsored by a national organization called American Atheists, is timed to preempt annual accusations that liberal groups are waging war on Christmas by asking church adherents to question their holiday traditions, American Atheists president David Silverman said.

“If the religious right wants a war on Christmas, this is what they’re going to get,” he said. “If they want a war on Christmas, we’re going to make sure they know what one looks like.”

The campaign is one of several atheist media blitzes scheduled this holiday season.

It joins a $200,000 national television, newspaper and magazine advertising campaign sponsored by the American Humanist Association and the Stiefel Freethought Foundation meant to challenge biblical morality and fundamentalist Christianity.

Those ads juxtapose passages from religious texts — selected because they appear to advocate “fear, hatred and intolerance” — with quotations from humanist scholars that promote “love, equality, peace, freedom and reason,” according to a news release.

The campaigns come on the heels of studies reporting that rising numbers of Americans identify themselves as non-religious — 15 percent in 2008 compared with 8.2 percent in 1990, according to the Trinity College American Religious Identification Survey.

The Pew Forum on Religion in Public Life reported in April, however, that of the 5 percent of its survey respondents who said they do not believe in God or a universal spirit, only 24 percent identified themselves as atheists.

Silverman said his group interprets such numbers as a sign the country is on the verge of explosive growth in secularism.

Many potential secularists live in the New York-New Jersey area, Silverman said. The Lincoln Tunnel billboard, one of several the organization plans in the next year, was placed where generally affluent and highly educated commuters will have plenty of time to think about it as they inch their way through one of the most chronically clogged roadways in the region.

The message is meant to address people Silverman described as closet atheists: those who attend religious services during the holidays without believing in them.

“Stay home,” Silverman said. “Don’t give the church money. Don’t give the church power. Tell the truth to your friends and families.”

Newark Archdiocese spokesman Jim Goodness said that he is aware of the billboard — his son passed it recently — and that he isn’t impressed.

He added that the archdiocese declined an offer to buy a rival billboard, saying it has more constructive ways to spend its money. The message of Christmas is too resilient to be threatened by a sign, Goodness said.

“We’re looking at well over 2,000 years of this message being part of humanity,” he said. “One message on a

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