Atheists play Grinch with 'Christmas' billboards

by Vanessa Garcia Rodriguez, |

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Christian Examiner) -- Anti-Christian groups are stepping up their attacks this holiday season, with one taking the fight to the Bible belt with a billboard campaign meant to mock the religious nature of Christmas.

The New Jersey-based American Atheists is targeting cities across the South with the anti-Christian message on signs in residential areas near schools and churches.

Monday, Dec. 1, residents of Memphis, Tennessee, Nashville, Tennessee, St. Louis, Missouri, and Fort Smith, Arkansas, began seeing the ads featuring a mischievous looking young girl writing a letter to Santa that reads: "Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church! I'm too old for fairy tales."

A fifth billboard in Milwaukee co-sponsored by the Southeast Wisconsin Freethinkers (SWIFT) also went up this week. American Atheists failed to secure advertising space in Jackson, Mississippi because billboard companies rejected the content.

According to a statement by American Atheists, every year during the Christmas season they launch a billboard campaign targeting "in-the-closet atheists who are pressured to observe religious traditions during the holidays."

The group boasts they are taking their campaign to southern states to spark anti-Christian "activism" there.

"The fact that billboard companies would turn away business because they are so concerned about the reaction by the community to a simple message that not everyone goes to church and not everyone believes in gods shows just how much education and activism on behalf of atheists is needed in the South," said Public Relations Director Danielle Muscato. The group also plans to hold the American Atheists 2015 National Convention in Memphis during Easter weekend.

Muscato told Nashville's NBC affiliate WSMV there has been feedback from the campaign by some who feel they are being attacked.

"We don't attack people," Muscato said. "That's not what we're about. We attack ideas that aren't supported by evidence, and religion is one of those ideas."

In Illinois, the Chicago chapter of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and the Chicago Coalition of reason are erecting public displays intended to counter nativity scenes and other religious symbols throughout the metropolitan.

In a statement on their website, the groups indicate that a display in Chicago's Daley Center Plaza will feature an illuminated letter "A" for atheist and banners celebrating both the winter solstice and the birth of the nations Bill of Rights ratified on Dec. 15 1971. The groups will also erect two secular displays in the Arlington Heights Park District of the city.