Arsonists Try to Torch Atheists' Billboard

By Wire Reports and NBC10.com Staff
|  Friday, Dec 20, 2013  |  Updated 9:33 AM EDT
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Two men tried to torch a Freedom From Religion billboard erected in response to a

NBC10

Two men tried to torch a Freedom From Religion billboard erected in response to a "Keep Christ in Christmas" banner.

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Police say someone tried to torch a billboard in New Jersey that was put up by atheists to protest a “Keep Christ in Christmas” banner.

The billboard paid for by Madison, Wisc.-based Freedom From Religion Foundation proclaims “Keep Saturn in Saturnalia,” a reference to an ancient celebration of the Roman god of agriculture.

Authorities say it was torched Tuesday night by two unidentified men who fled in a pickup truck.

The sign didn't burn, but its steel support beams were charred.

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation has objected since 2011 to the "Keep Christ in Christmas" banner that is put up in Pitman, N.J., each year, saying it should not be on public property or hung by town firefighters. Members of the community came together then to display bumper stickers and signs with the "Keep Christ in Christmas" message

FFRF Co-president Dan Barker tells the Courier-Post the banner show “favoritism to Christianity while censoring nonbelievers.”

The "Christ" banner is provided by the local chapter of the Knights of Columbus -- the self-proclaimed “world’s foremost Catholic fraternal benefit society” -- and hangs over a county-owned road between a private utility pole and privately owned building.

Pitman Mayor Russell Johnson told the paper that the new billboard has “drawn more attention to the Knights of Columbus banner.”

“I think it’s rallied a majority of the people here in support of the banner.”

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspects.

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