Evangelical group Answers in Genesis is borrowing a page from the atheist activist playbook, launching an effort this week to reach non-believers through a targeted Internet and billboard campaign. Their message? "Thank God you're wrong."
The organization has purchased billboard space in the middle of New York City's Times Square, San Francisco and Los Angeles bearing the message: "To all of our atheist friends: Thank God you're wrong."
Image source: Answers in Genesis
In Times Square, an electronic message will flash for 15 seconds every two minutes between 42nd Street and 8th Avenue. The group bought three billboards in San Francisco and six or seven in the Los Angeles area.
"Yesterday marked the beginning of our new billboard campaign to reach atheists on both coasts of America," organization president Ken Ham wrote Tuesday on his blog. "Residents and tourists in New York City and the San Francisco Bay Area ... will see these new billboards that encourage them to visit AiG’s website and to read articles and watch a video that present the case for God’s existence."
Cynthia Jeub, a faith blogger for the Huffington Post, criticized the message to atheists as ineffective and unloving.
"The first reason I don't think Christians should support this photo should be obvious. To say 'you're wrong' is unconvincing," Jeub wrote. "It's also unloving, but while being loving should be first on the list of priorities for people who follow Jesus, my experience with supporters of this kind of thing would say something like 'speaking the truth is the most loving thing you can do.'"
She's not alone -- a user named Tim Ricard took to AiG's Facebook page to also voice his opposition, calling the campaign "counterproductive."
"The billboards say 'you are wrong' and that is all. It reduces the Bible to a single negative statement," Ricard posted. "My only thought is that congratulations on proving atheists correct about 'Christians' being condensing and self-righteous. The point is not that they are wrong, but that Christ is correct. It is a matter of emphasis."
Ham said the ad campaign isn't meant as anything malicious -- it's just supposed to reach secular people in the hope that they will be introduced to Jesus' message.
"Atheists live in a world of ultimate meaninglessness and purposelessness," Ham said said in a statement Monday. "But the good news is that God sent His Son to offer the free gift of salvation. There is purpose and meaning in life. And we thank God for that."
Watch Ham speak about the existence of God:
On Tuesday, Ham hit back at critics whom he said have made "ridiculous accusations" about his organization as a result of the campaign; he declined to specifically identify these claims.
"This culture needs to hear from Bible-believing Christians who stand for the truth. We continue to make public challenges and statements to get people talking about God and His Word," he wrote in response to anger and criticism. "Right now the national news is focused on politics -- we need to get people focused on the real issue: this nation has turned its back on God in so many ways."
AiG is known for spreading its Christian message in a variety ways: the group owns and operates the Creation Museum, located in Kentucky, which provides an interpretation of science and creation through a biblical lens. The museum has been criticized by evolutionary theorists who disagree with the information it presents.
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