A Wisconsin man who is sponsoring a billboard that denies there is life after death said in a statement that the message is "a legacy for my grandchildren."
The message, which says "Enjoy Life Now" and "There Is No Afterlife," is posted on a 10-by-30 foot billboard in Janesville, Wis., according to a news release from the Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). The group's name and website are also promoted on the sign, which features a stained-glass pattern around its edges.
Wayne Hensler, who is a lifetime member of FFRF, is sponsoring the billboard for one month. He hopes other members of the organization will be "inspired" to put up similar messages where they live on behalf of FFRF.
"One of the greatest disservices of religion is that it misdirects human energies from this world – our only life – to some unprovable, highly improbable imaginary afterlife," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of FFRF, in a statement. "We should enjoy life now, but also realize that the only afterlife that ought to concern us is leaving our descendants a secure and pleasant future."
She added, "We're very grateful to Wayne for his vision and initiative."
Michael Jackson, senior pastor of New Life Assembly of God Church in Janesville, said in an emailed statement that he wasn't aware of the billboard until CP brought it to his attention.
"Earlier this year the church I pastor put up a 60-foot cross on our property," wrote Jackson. "Our critics questioned, why didn't [we] take the money from the cross project and use it to feed the poor (we do feed the poor, by the way)? I would now turn that question around and ask the critics, why didn't they take the money that was used for the billboard and use it for some productive purpose?"
About 900 miles away from Janesville, in New York City, a set of advertisements with opposing messages have made national headlines in recent weeks. Answers In Genesis, a Christian apologetics ministry, put up a digital billboard ad in Times Square that says, "To all of our atheist friends: Thank God You're Wrong." FFRF, in response, posted a message in Times Square that says, "OMG, there is no god!"
Ken Ham, president of Answers In Genesis, told CP earlier this month that his organization's ad campaign, which also included billboards in the the San Francisco Bay Area at the time, resulted in a spike in Web traffic to the Answers In Genesis website and social media pages.
"To date, it has exceeded our expectations," said Ham. "It's every bit of what we hoped for but I would say it's even a lot more than that."