With Christmas less than two weeks away, a leading secular organization in the US, the American Atheists (AA), has launched a billboard campaign in New York City’s Times Square that urges people to dump the Jesus myth but keep the Christmas merriment.
The billboard sponsored by the New Jersey-based American Atheists (AA), features an image of Santa Claus and one of Jesus Christ. It tells passers-by to "Keep the Merry" in Christmas but "Dump the Myth!"
The Blaze describes the message from the American Atheists (AA) that Jesus is fable as "overtly offensive."
According to Fox News, the AA has been waging a yearly campaign against Christianity with billboard messages in American cities. In 2011, the group posted ads as part of its Jesus is myth campaign in three states with images showing Santa, Jesus, the Greek god Poseidon and the Devil, and a message that said: “37 million Americans know MYTHS when they see one.”
While most Americans are not bothered about the signs, a few Christians are disturbed.
According to Fox News, Anthony White, 41, of Jersey City, N.J., asks: “Why did they have to put that up?”
Atheist.org reports that David Silverman, president of American Atheists, explains: "Most Christians are really atheists who feel trapped in their family’s religion. They need not be Christian to enjoy the holiday season.” He said: “If you know God is a myth, you do not have to lie and call yourself Christian in order to have a festive holiday season. You can be merry without the myth, and indeed, you should.”
Silverman continued, "We encourage people to be honest with themselves and their families this year. If you don't believe in god, tell your family – honesty is the greatest gift, and they deserve it."
Many will agree with Silverman that much of the festivities of the Christmas holiday season is divested from religious beliefs. Many who have no commitment to the beliefs of the Christian faith enjoy the holiday season, probably even more than those who do.
According to Atheist.org, Teresa MacBain, the AA's communications director, said the holiday season is about "family friends and love," and that the "beauty" of the season has nothing to do with "the gods of yesteryear."
McBain added: "Indeed, the season is far more enjoyable without the religious baggage of guilt and judgmentalism... Dump the myth and have a happy holiday season.”
The Christian Post reports MacBain was a Methodist pastor for 20 years before becoming an atheist.
According to Fox News, Silverman said a private donor paid more than $25,000 to have the billboard posted. The billboard will remain at the Times Square for one month, until Jan. 10, 2013. Silverman explained: “We chose Times Square because it is a place where people go to shop and be festive, which has nothing to do with religion."
Lamar Outdoor, the advertising company that leased the space to American Atheists, said it was not the company's responsibility to censor messages. According to Lamar spokesman, Hal Kilshow, "We felt as long as it's not misleading that it's their First Amendment right. We think it's their right to have their message heard." Kilshow said they have not received any complaints about the billboard.
Christians will disagree with Kilshow that the message is not misleading. The Catholic League has attempted to counter the ads in the past. In 2010, they posted signs at the Lincoln Tunnel with messages designed to refute the claims by the atheists.
According to Fox News, the Catholic League spokesman Bill Donohue, said the American Atheists have gone too far this time. He said: "This year it's different. This is vile. When you depict Jesus on the cross with a crown of thorns, this is exploitative. We as Christians never harass, intimidate or insult atheists. But they can't seem to say, 'We simply disagree with you.' They have to insult us."
Many atheists will contest Donohue's claim that "Christians never harass, intimidate or insult atheists."
The Christian Post reports that a New Jersey pastor said the AA ad was "ignorant and vulgar." He said the AA lacks basic knowledge "about the conventions of world literature." He said: "Jesus is different. Only the most dense and simple-minded person would put him in the same category as the other three ( the Greek Poseidon, Santa and the Devil). Clearly, even those who lack a personal commitment to Jesus recognize that there was in fact some historical figure by this name – religious leader and teacher – around 2,000 years ago."