The American Atheists group is launching a new billboard in New Jersey on Dec. 11 that compares Jesus to Satan and other figures, and it is drawing criticism by some church leaders.
The billboard will be erected on the side of the Lincoln Tunnel on Dec.11, where roughly 120,000 cars drive by every day, according to The Examiner. The sign composites pictures of Jesus, Santa Claus, the Greek god Poseidon, and Satan, or devil-like figure, dressed in a business suit.
“37 Million Americans know MYTHS when they see them” is written atop the billboard, and continues to ask, “What myths do you see?” in between the pictures, suggesting that Jesus and the other figures belong in the same category.
A New Jersey mainline congregation pastor told The Christian Post that he finds the billboard “ignorant and vulgar." He said the American Atheist’s billboard message equates myth with untruth, which demonstrates a lack of knowledge about the conventions of world literature, among other things.
“Jesus is different. Only the most dense and simple-minded person would put him in the same category as the other three. 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,” the pastor added.
The pastor also accused the American Atheists of inciting hostility towards religion, describing the poster as having “a mocking, condescending tone towards anyone who views life and reality differently than they do.”
The atheist campaign is being released not coincidentally close to Christmas celebrations, and it seeks to reach out to atheists who have not come out yet, and people who do not give religion much thought.
A statement on the group's official website read: “Since 1963, AMERICAN ATHEISTS has been the premier organization laboring for the civil liberties of Atheists, and the total, absolute separation of government and religion.”
According to the website, the organization was put together after the 1959 Murray v. Curlett court case that challenged prayer recitation in the public schools.
The American Atheists group is also coming out with a second digital billboard, the design for which will be revealed on Mike Huckabee’s Fox News show Dec. 10.
The second billboard will be released in Florida and will feature an advertisement for the upcoming “Regional Atheist Meets” event that brings local atheist groups together for a three-day conference in December to discuss atheist and secular issues.