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New York City is among the locations in America where Christmas cheer comes alive every December, with a giant colorfully lit tree perched atop ice skaters at Rockefeller Center among its many attractions.

Now this year, atheists are pitting the image of Jesus being crucified against one of a smiling Santa Claus on a giant billboard in Times Square proclaiming “Keep the Merry!” and “Dump the Myth!”

“We know that a large population of ‘Christians’ are actually atheists who feel trapped in their family’s religion,” said David Silverman, president of American Atheists, the group responsible for the display.

“If you know god is a myth, you do not have to lie and call yourself ‘Christian’ in order to have a festive holiday season. You can be merry without the myth, and indeed, you should. We encourage people to be honest with themselves and their families this year. If  you don’t believe in god, tell your family – honesty is the greatest gift, and they deserve it.”

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Teresa MacBain, a former pastor who is now communications director for American Atheists added, “The true beauty of the season – family, friends, and love – have nothing to do with the gods of yesteryear. Indeed, the season is far more enjoyable without the religious baggage of guilt and judgmentalism. Dump the myth and have a happy holiday season.”

A private donor reportedly paid more than $25,000 to have the message posted above a nightclub for one month, ending Jan. 10, 2013.

Advertising giant Lamar Outdoor leased the space to Silverman’s group, said it wasn’t the company’s place to censor the message.

“We felt as long as it’s not misleading that it’s their First Amendment right,” Lamar spokesman Hal Kilshaw told Fox News. “We think it’s their right to have their message heard,” he said, adding they have not received any complaints over the Times Square billboard yet.

This isn’t the first year American Atheists have posted anti-Christian messages at Christmas time.

Catholic League spokesman Bill Donohue noted, “Last year Silverman’s billboard outside the Lincoln Tunnel featured a picture of a statue of the Roman god Neptune, a classical portrait of Jesus, a depiction of Santa, and a guy in a devil’s mask. It said they were all myths. When asked by the New York Times why I wasn’t upset, I said, ‘It’s inane. Nobody knows what this means. I mean, Neptune? Over here, we just looked at each other in puzzlement.’

“This year Silverman wanted to make a big splash, so he decided to draw blood. It shows what he is made of. He and his supporters do not want to be left alone – they want to inflame the passions of those with whom they disagree. Unlike Christians who do not provoke, harass or otherwise mock atheists, Silverman and his ilk want nothing more than to stick it to Christians at Christmastime. It’s who they are.”

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