NORTH BERGEN, N.J. (1010 WINS) -- An atheist group that has paid for a large billboard outside the Lincoln Tunnel reading "You KNOW it's a Myth" says it is targeting "closet" atheists as part of its Christmas season campaign.
The large billboard featuring a silhouette of a traditional manger scene is located on the New Jersey side of the tunnel and sponsored by a group called American Atheists.
David Silverman, the president of the organization, spoke to 1010 WINS Saturday and said the purpose of the billboard was to "attract atheists who are currently in the closet."
Justin Schrager of 1010 WINS interviews Silverman
Silverman described the target audience as "people who are secretive not only to their friends and family, but maybe even to themselves about [their atheism]."
The billboard is causing some controversy among those in the Garden State.
"I don't think it's any good for the kids. I've got a 7-year-old daughter -- she believes in Christmas," one woman told 1010 WINS' Terry Sheridan.
1010 WINS' Terry Sheridan reports
"I don't think that's right. We don't go around telling them what we think about [atheists], so why should they put up something like that," another man said.
The billboard went up the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and is expected to be up through Christmas Day.
Silverman said atheists were unfairly targeted in the "war on Christmas," a phrase often related to the public display of Christmas imagery on government funded property.
"We get blamed for a war on Christmas every year. This time we're actually going to pay attention to that. We're actually going to earn a little bit of that," Silverman said.
"We have been blamed repeatedly for being unpatriotic, we have been told that there are not atheists in fox holes, we have been told that we are immoral. Nobody has ever cared if we would be offended."
While acknowledging "everybody has the right to believe as they see fit," Silverman said his group believed there were "a lot more people" who were atheists, but feared publicly admitting it.
"A lot of people in church, a lot of people in the mosque, a lot of people in the synagogue know they're praying to air," Silverman said.
Silverman said despite the fact that the billboard has only been up for a few days, he and his group are calling the campaign a success.
"We're getting a lot of response from closeted atheists saying 'thank you for putting it up.'"
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