Advertising billboards focused on Christmas are everywhere this time of year, but residents in five American cities might notice something a little different among the typical advertisements: an atheist message. According to NJ.com, a group called American Atheists have bought billboards in Memphis, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Nashville, and Springdale, AR.
The billboard pictures a young girl penning a letter to Santa Claus, next to a caption which reads, “Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church! I’m too old for fairy tales.” Apparently, the aim of the billboard is to encourage people who may be atheists to shake off the social or familial obligation to religious beliefs during the holiday season.
Time reports that American Atheists’ President David Silverman said, “Today’s adults have no obligation to pretend to believe the lies their parents believed,” in a public statement.
The billboards are also meant to generate public interest in American Atheists’ annual convention, which is slated for April 2015.
Billboards have been an advertising staple since the standard billboard was created in 1900, and have since caught up with the tech age that we live in by shifting to digital displays. More than 80% of motorists notice billboards on major routes, where the American Atheist billboards are located.
In Arkansas, one church has responded by buying ad space on the very same digital billboard. Grace Church in Alma purchased an ad that is set to run through the day before Christmas, which reads, “Questions, Doubts, Curiosity? All welcome at Grace Church Alma.” According to the church’s website, they mean to respond to American Atheists with love and support, not opposition.