The American Atheists have erected the above billboard at the New Jersey entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel as part of a campaign to encourage people to “come out of the closet” about their atheism and “stop going through the motions” of taking part in Christmas shopping and celebrations. Some Christians, who are not the target of the campaign, are upset.
“I don’t think it’s any good for the kids. I’ve got a 7-year-old daughter — she believes in Christmas,” one woman told 1010 WINS’ Terry Sheridan. “I don’t think that’s right. We don’t go around telling them what we think about [atheists], so why should they put up something like that,” another man said. The billboard went up the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and is expected to be up through Christmas Day. [American Atheists president David] Silverman said atheists were unfairly targeted in the “war on Christmas,” a phrase often related to the public display of Christmas imagery on government funded property. “We get blamed for a war on Christmas every year. This time we’re actually going to pay attention to that. We’re actually going to earn a little bit of that,” Silverman said. “We have been blamed repeatedly for being unpatriotic, we have been told that there are not atheists in fox holes, we have been told that we are immoral. Nobody has ever cared if we would be offended.” While acknowledging “everybody has the right to believe as they see fit,” Silverman said his group believed there were “a lot more people” who were atheists, but feared publicly admitting it. “A lot of people in church, a lot of people in the mosque, a lot of people in the synagogue know they’re praying to air,” Silverman said.