American Atheists is putting up a new billboard making fun of prayer outside Metlife Stadium in New Jersey, where the Super Bowl is scheduled to take place on Sunday.
The 14 feet by 48 feet billboard features a man in a priest uniform with the text "A 'Hail Mary' only works in football. Enjoy the game!" referring to the Roman Catholic prayer to the Virgin Mary and also the name of a long-forward pass in football.
"Prayer is superstition, plain and simple," AA President David Silverman said in a statement.
"It trivializes the dedication of the players and takes away from their achievements. A third of football fans pray in hopes of helping their team. These are adults we're talking about – people with children, people with careers, people who vote. It's 2014; it's time to stop believing that prayer works. Give credit where credit is due and celebrate what this is really about-coming together to cheer on hard-working athletes doing what they do best."
Managing Director Amanda Knief noted that people of all religions, as well as atheists, come together during the Super Bowl, and noted that the organization, one of the biggest secular ones in the country, is excited to be part of the event.
The atheist group has become famous for putting up billboards that target religion throughout the country. In December 2013, it had a billboard in New York's Times Square claiming that "nobody" needs Christ during Christmas.
"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," Silverman said about the Christmas tradition.
The billboard prompted State Sen. Andrew Lanza from Staten Island, N.Y., to run a petition calling for the "immediate withdrawal" of the ad as it lacks "decency, civility and kindness."
"It seems to me that this is part of a continued 'War on Christmas' and also upon the belief and value system of millions of Christian, Jewish and Muslim people who have faith in God," Lanza commented. "Religious persecution of the kind that similarly led to the Holocaust began with small baby steps of ridicule and hatred of the religious beliefs of others."