Atheists have decided to borrow — or “steal” — President Donald Trump’s famous line about “fake news,” but rather than apply it to the mainstream media, they have, instead, used it to describe church and the gospel.
American Atheists is out with its annual Christmas billboard campaign, an effort that usually pokes fun at Jesus’ birthday or at belief in a higher power more generally.
The new campaign, which encourages people to skip church, features a cartoon photo of the nativity along with the line, “Just skip church. It’s all fake news!” CBN News reported.
The billboards in New Mexico and Texas are the "Fake News" design. The Oklahoma market said that design was too "controversial," so we did the "Atheists are comin' to town" design there instead. pic.twitter.com/jOJIXh6r54
— American Atheists (@AmericanAtheist) November 30, 2017
That design was apparently too controversial in Oklahoma, where an alternative billboard now features Santa flying with his sleigh as well as a message that reads, “Just like Santa Claus, the Atheists are coming to town!”
In both billboards, the message is clear.
“Everyone knows that the stories we’re told in church aren’t the truth,” David Silverman, president of American Atheists, said in a statement. “People ignore that fact because they enjoy the community, the friendship, and the traditions that go along with religion.”
He went on to argue that religion has no “monopoly” on those things and that atheists are “creating their own traditions and lifelong friendships.”
“Spend time with your friends and family, give gifts, do charitable work, and enjoy the season,” Silverman said. “You can do all of that while also celebrating the truth.”
He’s apparently trying to convey all that through his organization’s new billboard campaign. American Atheists’ billboards are up throughout December in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Texas, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Some residents in New Mexico expressed a range of opinions on the “fake news” billboard.
“I think it’s offensive to a lot of people,” one woman told KOAT-TV. But one local man had a different view, saying that the country is diverse and that people are entitled to their opinions.
“I have no problem whatsoever with the billboard,” he said. “Freedom of speech.”