An Atheist group is targeting children in the South for its newest advertising campaign, advising youngsters to skip church and avoid the "fairy tale."
The Cranford, New Jersey American Atheists group is continuing its trend of attacks on Christianity through billboard advertising during Christmas time with a new campaign aimed directly at children.
"Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church! I'm too old for fairy tales," the billboard reads. Despite the irony of redirecting young attention from Christ to Santa Claus for the sake of avoiding fairy tales, the billboards are currently up from now until December 24 in areas where the group feels it will have the most impact.
"The billboards are located in Memphis; Nashville; St. Louis; and Fort Smith, Arkansas," a press release states. "A fifth billboard in Milwaukee is co-sponsored by the Southeast Wisconsin Freethinkers (SWIFT). While previous billboards have been located in urban settings such as Times Square, these billboards are located in more residential areas to be near schools and churches."
The activist group says that the new locations of the billboards are intentionally set to help what they see as "in-the-closet" atheists who only go to church during the holidays as a result of peer pressure. The group says that discrimination and mistrust of atheists is most prominent in the South, hence the targetted locations.
"Even children know churches spew absurdity, which is why they don't want to attend services. Enjoy the time with your family and friends instead," said American Atheists President David Silverman. "Today's adults have no obligation to pretend to believe the lies their parents believed. It's OK to admit that your parents were wrong about God, and it's definitely OK to tell your children the truth."
One billboard location that the group was unable to infiltrate was in Jackson, Mississippi where local billboard owners rejected the sign. "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.
Near the billboard in Springdale, Arkansas (not Fort Smith, as the group says in a press release), local churches say they plan to put up their own signs opposing the message. Leaders at the Grace Church in Alma, Arkansas are currently working on a nearby billboard that will read "Questions, Doubts and Curiosity...All Welcome At Grace Church" to further embrace those who might have questions about the atheist message, or Christ in general.
Last year, American Atheists ran a billboard campaign in New York City's Times Square until a state senator asked for it to be taken down. The atheist group responded by placing the billboard in the senator's home district. Similar billboards have been placed in major metropolitan areas by the group each holiday season since 2010, calling Christianity a "myth."
The billboards are also designed to advertise for the group's upcoming American Atheists 2015 National Convention in Memphis, Tennessee next spring. Atheist speakers at the event include HowStuffWorks.com founder Marshall Brain, celebrity fashion designer Fade au Grau of Lifetime's Project Runway, and Lucien Greaves of The Satanic Temple.