American Atheists has launched a billboard campaign in several Bible Belt states urging people to skip church this Christmas and stop listening to "fairy tales."
"Even children know churches spew absurdity, which is why they don't want to attend services. Enjoy the time with your family and friends instead," said American Atheists President David Silverman. "Today's adults have no obligation to pretend to believe the lies their parents believed. It's OK to admit that your parents were wrong about God, and it's definitely OK to tell your children the truth."
The new billboards feature an image of a young girl writing a letter to Santa Claus, which reads: "Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church! I'm too old for fairy tales."
The billboards have gone up in Memphis; Nashville; St. Louis; and Fort Smith, Arkansas; while a fifth billboard in Milwaukee is co-sponsored by the Southeast Wisconsin Freethinkers. They have been positioned in residential areas near schools and churches, which marks a change from previous campaigns, which had been centered in urban settings, such as Times Square in New York City.
Last year, the AA billboards claimed that nobody needs Christ during Christmas. The motion graphics featured a text asking "Who needs Christ during Christmas?" before crossing out the word "Christ" and replacing it with "nobody."
The latest billboard campaign was rejected in Jackson, Mississippi, however, with area lessors refusing to put up the ad because of the content. AA Public Relations Director Danielle Muscato claims that the billboards are needed in the South, where "discrimination and mistrust of atheists is especially pronounced."
Earlier this year AA launched its first-ever all-atheist TV channel in July. Atheist TV is being offered on streaming service Roku, with AA asserting that it represents a different option to TV channels that "kowtow" to religious preferences.
A worldwide Pew Research poll released in March found that the majority of Americans believe that it is necessary to believe in God to be moral. The results showed that 53 percent of Americans who responded to the survey shared that view, while 46 percent say that belief in God is not essential to morality.
The global poll found that in 22 out of the 39 countries surveyed, the majority of people believe that faith in God is needed for people to be moral and have good values. The results varied considerably throughout regions, with European nations most often rejecting that such a belief is necessary for morality, while Africa and the Middle East were particularly strong in opinion that faith in God is necessary for good values.