KERNERSVILLE, N.C. - Residents in a North Carolina town are upset after an Atheist group put up a Santa billboard telling people to skip church. It sits off Business 40 Eastbound in Kernersville for thousands of drivers to see.
"I think this is awful," one woman said. "After all we do have Christmas because it's Jesus' birthday."
The billboard reads: "Go ahead and skip church! Just be good for goodness' sake. Happy Holidays!"
The staff and patrons at the Route 66 diner knew there was a billboard just off the edge of the parking lot facing the highway, but they had no idea what it said.
"It is beyond disrespectful to my community and disrespectful to my beliefs," said a local resident.
It's a sign that seems out of place in a large faith-based community like Piedmont, but the New Jersey based group behind it, American Atheists, said that was part of the point.
"We try to go to places where you may not hear from Atheists so much," said a member of the organization.
National Program Director Nick Fish said the goal is to let Atheists and people questioning their faith know they are not alone this time of year.
The billboard is a follow-up to last year's controversial ad where a little girl asked to skip church. This year, Santa responded.
Fish said the billboard will stay up through December, but residents want to see it taken down immediately.