NEW YORK – American Atheists has launched a new billboard in New York's Times Square claiming that "nobody" needs Christ during Christmas.
The 40′x40′ billboard uses motion graphics to ask "Who needs Christ during Christmas?" It then crosses out the word "Christ" and replaces it with "Nobody."
AA President David Silverman said in a statement, "This year, start a new tradition: Don't go to church. You hate it, it's boring; you probably only go because you feel guilty or obligated. Instead, spend more time with your family and friends – or volunteer. There are better uses of your time and money."
Public Relations Director Dave Muscato commented, "Most people don't care about any religious ties to the season because church and religion are not what Americans care about during this time of year – they care about family and friends and giving presents and food and having fun."
"Many so-called 'Christmas' traditions celebrated by Americans have nothing to do with Christianity. For example, the North Pole and Santa traditions come from Nordic and Germanic pagan traditions, and caroling, yule logs, mistletoe, holly wreaths all pre-date Christianity."
AA, one of the largest secular organizations in America, has attracted a great deal of controversy with its billboards, which have been posted around the country. Last year, the group released an ad calling Jesus a "useless savior." The message read: "Sadistic God; Useless Savior, 30,000+ Version of 'Truth.' Promotes Hate, Calls it 'Love.'"
Ken Mellinger, senior pastor of Living Hope Church, previously told The Christian Post that such an accusation at God does not hold up.
"Christianity, accurately understood from the Bible, does not seek to make slaves. The goal is always freedom which is first spiritual, then physical but still very important. Christianity is opposed to all oppression," Mellinger said.
The latest Times Square billboard is scheduled to run for 15 seconds three times each hour, before moving to a three-board display at Penn Station next week. It will be up through New Year's Day.
Times Square has recently become somewhat of a battleground for Christian and atheist billboard messages. In October, Creationist group Answers in Genesis posted a billboard with a statement directed at atheists reading, "Thank God you're wrong." Freedom From Religion Foundation later posted a response ad with the phrase "OMG, there is no god!" alongside the face of former "Saturday Night Live" cast member Julia Sweeney.
AiG and Creation Museum President Ken said the FFRF response was hateful in nature.
"I think that's deliberately in the face of Christians, shaking their fist at God because it's taking God's name in vain and they know that," Ham said, who noted to CP that the ad campaign brought a significant increase in viewing traffic to his organization's website.
"Our approach wasn't to denigrate them. We certainly boldly told them they're wrong, but they had to do something that was offensive to Christians, that is to take God's name in vain."