A controversial billboard in St. Charles County compares a belief in God to that of a fairy tale.
“The message this year is that not everyone believes in this stuff,” said Danielle Muscato, director of public relations for the nonprofit American Atheists, the group responsible for the billboard. “If you don’t believe in God you don’t have to pretend to believe in God.”
The billboard, located on South St. Peters Parkway in St. Charles County, faces traffic driving westbound on Hwy. 364 near the Harvester Road exit. It shows a little girl next to a letter to Santa that reads: “Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church, I am too old for fairy tales.”
Muscato said the point of the billboard is to make a parallel reference that believing in God is like believing in a fairy tale.
“She thinks God is less believable than Santa,” said Muscato. “You can go to a mall and see Santa. You can leave cookies for Santa and in the morning the cookies are gone, which is evidence. But there’s no such evidence of God.”
Muscato also said the billboard is aimed at promoting the 41st annual American Atheist National Convention in Memphis this April. A total of five billboards – including the St. Charles billboard – are strategically located in cities within driving distance of Memphis. The five billboards, located in Nashville, Memphis, Milwaukee, Springdale and St. Charles, were put up on Dec. 1 and will be gone after Dec. 24.
“The basic message is that if you are an atheist you are not alone,” said Muscato. “There are millions like you. Be open about your atheism.”
The billboard is located less than a mile from Harvester Christian Church in St. Peters, where Todd Winslow is executive pastor. Winslow said as a person of faith the billboard seems hostile toward Christians, but that the response should be one of compassion.
“To see a billboard like that, the right response of people of faith is not anger, but to view it with an eye of compassion,” Winslow said. “I don’t have to agree with them. Jesus died for them just like he died for me.”
While Winslow said anger and hostility are not the answer, he did question the reason for the billboard.
“If they are really just trying to promote atheism the ad could say something like ‘my lack of belief in God helps me really care more about the people around me, or it helps me be a better father,’” Winslow said.
Still he said, “Christians are not supposed to add to the wall of hostility, they are supposed to break down those walls. The best thing to do … is to love God and others, including people of other faiths.”