LA VERGNE, Tenn. (WKRN) – A GoFundMe account set up by a group titled “Keeping Christmas Sacred” has raised more than $2,500 to pay for two billboards in response to American Atheists billboards placed in Memphis.
Similar billboards by the American Atheists were placed in Nashville, St. Louis, Fort Smith, Arkansas and Milwaukee.
The billboards show a little girl writing a letter to Santa with the message, “Dear Santa, all I want for Christmas is to skip church! I am too old for fairy tales.”
In response, Marshall Hart started the Keeping Christmas Sacred GoFundMe and in just four days has raised $2,590 toward a $2,700 goal.
The billboard is in response to billboards posted by the American Atheists.
“While I love that God had the grace to give me life in a free country with freedom of speech that so many of my countrymen have bled for, there’s also such a thing as decency and respect,” Eric Hart wrote on the website.
Hart also said on the website he does not “have a problem at all with one single person on Earth because of their differing religious convictions and I certainly don’t hate Atheists- I used to be one and I’d still be if it weren’t for God reaching down and showing me Christ.”
The campaign was able to purchase one billboard and then through a donation of time from the billboard company, the group was able to purchase a second billboard.
The billboard shows a little girl in a Santa hat wrapped in Christmas lights. It reads, “Dear Santa, All I want is to keep Christmas sacred and celebrate without being bullied. With Respect to All.”
The American Atheists have changed their billboard in response. The new billboard states, “Dear Christians, I share my toys. Why don’t you share the season? Happy holidays for all!”
“Their billboard is just basically saying that we have to be Christian to celebrate Christmas and we are bullying them somehow by putting our billboard up,” American Atheists Spokesman Danielle Muscato said. “That is absolutely wrong.”
He continued, “We would never bully anybody and we advocate against bullying.”
The national organization said the new billboard will stay in place through the first of the year.
“It basically says you can share this season with non-Christians if you are a Christian,” Muscato said. “Atheists and others have enjoyed this time of the year long before Christianity existed.”
The billboards are also promoting the National Atheists Convention in Memphis April 2 through 5.
According to the GoFundMe page, the Christian group has raised enough money to pay for its billboards.
They are still collecting money through the website and plan to donate all the extra money to the Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis.