American Atheists, one of the largest secular groups in the nation, has launched a billboard campaign encouraging people to skip church this holiday season to avoid "fake news."
The billboard, which depicts a nativity scene next to a "fake news" slogan, went up on Wednesday on northbound I-25 near Mongomery in New Mexico. Two more are reportedly being put up in Dallas and five more in Oklahoma.
Richard Mansfield, a senior pastor at New Beginnings Church in New Mexico, said that some of his parishioners were offended after seeing the billboard.
"I think they're trying to give a slap in the face to not only the Christian community but people that have faith and people that have hope," the pastor said.
Nick Fish, the national program director for American Atheists, said that his organization wanted to "get a rise" out of believers, but maintained that "the idea is not to be offensive."
He said that the billboard was intended at starting a conversation to remind people that there are millions of atheists in the U.S.
"We want people to critically think about everything they're being told," he told KOB4. "We want people to think about what messages they're getting in church and think about the fact that in this country, we give a really big pass to preachers or churches or to religious beliefs that hold really abhorrent views," he added.
The term "fake news," which became the 2017 Word of the Year last month, has been frequently used by President Donald Trump to describe unfavorable coverage by some media outlets, such as CNN, but the term has also been thrown back at him by critics.
Fish said that people are "rightly skeptical" about the news that they see on social media or hear from families and politicians, but he lamented that they often do not extend the same skepticism to religious views and religious leaders.
The billboard in Oklahoma City promotes the organization's National Convention that is scheduled to take place there on March 29 to April 1 next year, and reads "Just like Santa Claus, the atheists are coming to town!"
The advertisements will be appearing throughout December in Albuquerque, New Mexico; Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; and Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Oklahoma.
In the past few years, American Atheists have put up Christmas-themed billboards encouraging people to skip church.
Last year, the group poked fun at Trump's campaign slogan "Make America Great Again" with a billboard suggesting that people can "Make Christmas Great Again" by not going to church.
David Silverman, president of American Atheists, stated in 2014 that the group's billboards are aimed at atheists who are living with theists in mixed families.
- Doughnut shop draws backlash from LGBT activists over partnership with Salvation Army
- Ohio legislature approves measure banning abortions on babies diagnosed with Down syndrome
- Famed theologian RC Sproul dies after being hospitalized due to breathing difficulties
- Medical waste company terminates contracts with abortion providers
Apart from attacks from Fulani herdsmen and Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, Christians in Nigeria are also facing increasing threats and attacks from occult groups that are targeting churches at night.
Many Americans who consider themselves evangelicals do not actually hold evangelical beliefs, survey finds
About a quarter of Americans consider themselves to be evangelical Christians, but a survey has found that a significant proportion does not actually hold evangelical beliefs.
A Christian teacher in the U.K. is suing a school after he was suspended for referring to a transgender pupil, who self-identifies as male, as a girl.
A prominent secularist group has called for an IRS investigation into an Alabama church after it displayed a sign that endorsed Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore.
A leading secularist group has raised concerns about cross memorials that were created by high school students in Georgia as part of a city effort to honor local military veterans.
The supporters of the Islamic State terror group are reportedly trying to frame Christians for the attack on Al Rawdah mosque in Egypt last month in an attempt to incite revenge attacks against them over the holiday season.
Members of the British parliament are asking the government to consider refusing entry to U.S. evangelist Franklin Graham, who is accused of making inflammatory comments against Islam and the LGBT community.
A new documentary from the History Channel has claimed that Jesus Christ may not have been born in a stable of an inn but a residential house owned by Joseph's relative in Bethlehem.
A young boy who was staying at the Smyllum Park orphanage in the 1960s was beaten "black and blue" after catching two nuns in an embrace at a boiler room, a child abuse inquiry has heard.
There has been a significant decline in President Donald Trump's job approval rating since February, and it is most noticeable among white evangelical Protestants, a group that proved to be his core voting bloc in the 2016 elections.
Amnesty International Ireland is being threatened with criminal charges after it refused to return an illegal donation from U.S. billionaire George Soros to fund its pro-abortion campaign.