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Billboard War Pits Creationists Against Atheists

Another holiday season, another billboard showdown

Rachel Silberstein
October 10, 2013
Times Square billboard.(Answers in Genesis)
Times Square billboard.(Answers in Genesis)

In the story of Hannukah, the Maccabees defeated the secular Hellenists in a miraculous battle and the oil burned for eight days. But this year, a billboard war over God’s existence has officially devolved into a stalemate.

In time for the holidays, a Creationist group has launched a smug retort to American Atheists, in the form of giant billboard signs proclaiming, “To all of our atheist friends: Thank God, you’re wrong” posted in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco, CNN reports. Behind the signs—including the one unveiled in Times Square on Wednesday—is the multi-million dollar evangelical group Answers in Genesis, which also backs Kentucky’s controversial Creation Museum.

This stunt is the latest in an ongoing billboard war, in which atheists and religious groups inundate the public with their views over life’s unanswerables. But to the rest of us bystanders, the back-and-forth is getting rather old, as Salon writer Mary Elizabeth Williams points out:

Three years ago, the American Atheists paid 20 grand to place a holiday-themed billboard outside the entrance to New Jersey’s Lincoln Tunnel that read, “You KNOW it’s a myth. This season, celebrate REASON!” A Christian group swiftly took that as a challenge, and slapped up its own billboard announcing, “You Know It’s Real: This Season Celebrate Jesus.” And last year, the American Atheists erected a Times Square billboard that featured Santa and Jesus and demanded, “Keep the Merry! Dump the Myth!”

So perhaps Answers in Genesis felt they needed to make a preemptive strike against the American Atheists. And sure enough, Silverman’s organization is ready to retaliate. “They’re throwing down the gauntlet, and we’re picking it up,” he told CNN, adding his group is ready to “slap them in the face” with it. Oh, well, that’ll open up their minds.

Then there was that time American Atheists posted billboards reading “You know it’s a myth, and have a choice” in Muslim and Jewish communities in New York City, but were blocked from spreading the message in Hasidic Williamsburg by a concerned property owner.

What do you think about the billboard showdown?

Rachel Silberstein is a writer living in New York.

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