Catholics and Atheists Wage Billboard War Over Christmas

By DNAinfo Staff on November 30, 2010 7:37pm

Pro-Christmas billboard.
Pro-Christmas billboard.
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Catholic League

By Jordan Heller

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MANHATTAN — The Catholic League, upset over an anti-Christmas billboard at the New Jersey entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel, threw a "counterpunch" at atheists Tuesday with a billboard of their own on the New York side of the tunnel.

The new 26-by-24-foot billboard at Dyer Avenue and West 31st Street features a depiction of Joseph and Mary looking adoringly at baby Jesus, with the message: "You know it's real. This season, celebrate Jesus. Merry Christmas from the Catholic League," according to the Catholic League's website.

The sign is a direct response to a similar billboard erected last week above the New Jersey entrance to the tunnel by an organization called American Atheists, according to Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League.

Their billboard also features a nativity scene, but with an entirely different message: "You Know It's a Myth," the sign reads. "This season, celebrate reason." 

"We decided to counterpunch after a donor came forward seeking to challenge the anti-Christmas statement by American Atheists," Donohue explained on the organization's website.

"Our approach is positive, and services the common good," Donhue continued. "Theirs is negative, and is designed to sow division. It's what they do."

Dave Silverman, president of American Atheists, explained their sign on the group's website, stating that many people observe religious rituals that they do not believe in.

"They go along to get along, which simply leads to more prejudice and bigotry," he said in a statement. "Closeted atheists hurt themselves and others like them by remaining silent about what they know to be true."