As we close out 2014, Answers in Genesis has a freedom message that is going to be proclaimed today and for the next few weeks to millions in America and abroad. It will be done through strategically placed billboards along with an associated social media campaign, and will be based on a number of freedom-related verses in the Bible.
Because “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23) and we are all “slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6), everyone needs to know we can be freed from slavery to sin because God’s Son died on the Cross, thus paying the penalty for our sin (2 Corinthians 5:21). Yes, we can have real freedom in Christ—the risen Christ—“
if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). We read in 2 Corinthians 3:17, “
Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (NIV). And John 8:31–32 states, “
Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’” (And there are many other similar passages, like Romans 8:1–4.)
Just before we discuss our new billboards that deal with the topic of freedom, here is a short devotional on our website that deals with what it means to have freedom in Christ.
Very intolerant groups of atheists and other secularists are now imposing their religion of atheism on the culture.
What is the greatest symbol of the Christian message—the message of having freedom in Christ? It is the Cross. And yet, along with Nativity scenes and Ten Commandments displays, Christian crosses are being removed from public places across the US. Working to eliminate Christian things in public places, very intolerant groups of atheists and other secularists are now imposing their religion of atheism on the culture. At Answers in Genesis, we are burdened that God’s people should understand that when Christian symbols are removed because of pressure (including lawsuits) from secular groups, they have actually successfully imposed their own religion of “No God” on the culture. That’s why we need to engage these groups and the culture as a whole to challenge them concerning the true freedom we all need in Christ—and point out the fact that this nation was built on freedom of religion and freedom of speech as outlined in the First Amendment to the US Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Actually, when the government bows to the secularists and, for example, bans the teaching of creation from science classes, thereby protecting evolution, and also removes Christian symbols from public places, it has actually dictated that the state religion that should be imposed on the culture is one of naturalism, which is atheism.
Answers in Genesis is engaging the culture with a very high profile 15-second digital billboard in Times Square.
Beginning today and spanning the next few weeks, Answers in Genesis is engaging the culture with a very high profile 15-second digital billboard in Times Square. About one million people will be gathering in that famous square in downtown New York City on New Year’s Eve, and they will have an opportunity to see the new board (which went up this morning). This special digital billboard will challenge the secularists who are increasingly intolerant of the Christian message. It is AiG’s way of bringing the greatest symbol of the gospel message—the Cross—to millions of people in Times Square as well as to millions more watching the famous ball drop on TV at 11:59 PM on Wednesday evening. It’s also our way of saying AiG is tired of the increasing intolerance of the Christian message in this culture, and it’s time we stood up boldly and very publicly and engaged the minority of people who are successfully infiltrating this generation with the religion of atheism.
Now, you can’t put much text on a digital billboard for it to be effective, so we had to come up with something succinct yet memorable, and we pray the Lord will use it for His purposes. People who see the board and go to the AiG website will certainly learn of the truth of God’s Word and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This new digital board (which will also appear in other places across the nation) has a fourfold purpose:
With an understanding of the purposes of this new campaign, you can watch our "Thank God for Freedom" digital board here:
Below are the locations, dates, running time, and also the number of impressions of each board (i.e., an estimated but conservative count of those that will see the digital message), beginning with the high profile one in Times Square that launched this morning and will be seen by a huge number of people as the famous ball drops on New Year’s Eve. Most of the locations for these boards are in what many would call “liberal” locations of the country.
The big vertical board, which is just above the CNN sign in Times Square, is the one that will air the new “Thank God for Freedom” digital message starting today and running through New Year’s Day (and will then move to another part of the Square). Other locations follow for January, as we discussed posting them in impressive locations in generally liberal locations. This campaign will get lots of attention!
Timing: 12/30 – 1/1
Details: Panel above CNN Board in Times Square (Duffy Square area), near TKTS Broadway show ticket booth and next to big red staircase. Fifteen spots will air seven minutes per hour every day.
Impressions: Three million impressions in three days, plus an estimated additional one million pedestrians in the square and one billion watching around the world as the famous ball drops on New Year’s Eve.
Timing: 1/2 – 1/25
Details: In Times Square above the Disney Store and one block down from the Good Morning America ABC TV studio. Fifteen-second spot will air seven minutes per hour every day.
Impressions: 10,000,000 estimated
Timing: 1/5 – 2/1
Details: Digital with two faces near the city’s financial and business district, and will run 7.5 minutes per hour.
Timing: 1/5 – 2/1
Details: Digital board with two faces on G Street and 7th Street near the Verizon Center, and will run 7.5 minutes per hour for four weeks.
Timing: 1/5 – 2/1
Details: Located in downtown Columbus in the business district; will run 7.5 minutes per hour for four weeks.
Now, we are aware that when AiG comes up with engaging billboards that are designed to catch people’s attention, we can’t please everyone with them. No matter what billboard we put up, some people will criticize it for varied reasons. However, we have done the best we can—after much discussion and research—to make a public stand against the increasing secular attacks and proclaim the Cross of Christ at a time when so many in the church (including many church leaders) will not challenge what is happening in the nation. Here is some more background behind the current billboard campaign.
These new boards help us declare what we often say at AiG events, in articles, media interviews, and so on: Those who are proclaiming tolerance in our culture (i.e., typically liberals) are often some of the most intolerant of people. And their intolerance is usually directed at biblical Christianity. With the use of the word liberal in the board, you need to be aware that the main groups opposing AiG’s outreaches are characterized as liberal (Americans United, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, American Atheists, and so on). Of course, there may be political conservatives who oppose AiG and its Ark Encounter project, but the opposition to our outreaches has been led by liberal groups. And we point out that with the billboard shorthand we are not saying that all liberals hate AiG.
We also recognized, as we launched this carefully thought out billboard campaign, that we live in an age when many in the church seem to be passive about the efforts of humanists to undermine biblical Christianity in the culture. In fact, a part of AiG’s mission/vision statement is to proclaim the truth and authority of the Bible “with boldness,” and “willingly engage society’s challenges” in an uncompromising manner.
The words “intolerant liberal" on the billboards are meant to engage secularists head on.
Indeed, the words “intolerant liberal" on the billboards are meant to engage secularists head on. Secularist groups (like the ones we mentioned above) have engaged in misinformation campaigns about AiG and its various projects (like the Ark Encounter) in an attempt to undermine them and bash the Christian faith along the way. The billboard contains a true statement about their intolerance and humanistic worldview. Yes, it’s bold communication, even within the Christian community where it seems that few believers have the boldness to take a stand for biblical Christianity. Such wording on a billboard actually gets noticed instead of just blending into the cultural landscape.
You may be aware that great pressure has come to bear on the state of Kentucky by liberal groups to disrupt the construction of the Ark—so much so that on December 10, the state bowed to their pressure and will no longer offer an incentive in a few years to the finished Ark. As Christians deal with hard-hearted secularists, we should consider the examples from both the Old and New Testaments that showed the supposed “harshness” of believers toward the unrepentant. There is the account of the mocking of the prophets of Baal by Elijah in 1 Kings 18. And then the account of Christ with the money-changers in the Temple: “
When He had made a whip of cords, He drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen, and poured out the changers’ money and overturned the tables” (John 2:15). Christ used very strong language in dealing with the Pharisees, publicly calling them “
whitewashed tombs” (Matthew 23:27) and being “
of your father, the Devil” (John 8:44). And John the Baptist called the Pharisees “
a brood of vipers” (Matthew 3:7).
More examples of “tough” talk include when Christ’s apostles asked Him about some unbelievers, “
Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard [Your] saying?” (Matthew 15:12). Christ said, “
Let them alone. They are blind” (v. 14). When John the Baptist rebuked Herod for “
all the evils which Herod had done” (Luke 3:19), should he have just not spoken up? (He paid the price.) Many of today’s Christians don’t want to offend unbelievers.
We trust you would agree that our billboards are not anywhere near as aggressive as these examples of the treatment of hard-hearted people seen in the Bible.
As we share our faith and warn nonbelievers of judgment by a holy God, it may sound harsh, but it’s acceptable if we present the gospel with real concern for these non-Christians. Warning about the reality of a judgment to come helps point the way to God—and is a loving thing to do.
Again, our boards have come in response to increasing attacks from secularist groups, media, and bloggers on the Christian message and on AiG as we publicly proclaim the truth of God’s Word and the gospel through the Creation Museum and the coming Ark Encounter. And the billboards are also a counter to the numerous hateful billboards posted by liberal groups over the past few years, as well as our response to their misinformation strategy as they attack Christians in general and our coming Ark project in particular. Imagine if our next billboard campaign supported biblical marriage and addressed gay marriage. Even some of our supporters might say this is an unloving thing to proclaim to the culture.
We are called to be active salt and light in the world.
Certainly, Christians are to speak with grace. But as the Apostle Paul would speak with grace as he engaged unbelievers (in Acts 17, a passage AiG frequently cites), his approach could sometimes be confrontational (e.g., the false teachers of Galatians 5). Society’s growing “let’s all get along in love” approach has led many Christians to become passive in the culture about proclaiming biblical truths and not be bold about what we believe. Most Christians today prefer the comfortable confines of their churches and homes and don’t want to engage the culture. Being passive is not, we would submit, a part of a believer’s calling. We are called to be active salt and light in the world.
At the same time, please pray for us as we study God’s Word about such matters. We are fallible people with feet of clay. But AiG earnestly tries to apply Scripture as we follow the examples of both Jesus Christ and Paul who, as they expressed harsh words towards the enemies of God, still showed concern for their souls. We want to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, but also boldly proclaim the truth and confront their errors and lies. It can be a tricky balance, and we seek God’s wisdom.
Thinking back on this new billboard campaign (and previous ones), we eagerly look forward to more billboard outreaches to secularists. The key to effective billboards, like the ones that are currently posted, which we believe will become a part of a national conversation, is to use very few words and push a web address. As we do so, we would submit that more than ever, Christians need to expose the agenda of liberal groups as they try to remove Christianity from the culture. We must proclaim biblical truths in our ever-increasing secularized world—one that continues to accept the accelerating humanistic takeover of society, moving it farther away from God.
Our billboard outreaches in the past have been covered by dozens of media outlets, and overall these stories have been fair. We are grateful. In addition, traffic on our Facebook page, comments emailed to us, and so on increase after such boards go up. More important than those numbers, however, is that secularists are going to our website, perhaps for the first time, and are being exposed to biblical truths. More generally, our billboards have been creating a national “buzz,” and people of all beliefs have been going to our website and talking about the things of the Bible.
Of course, we recognize billboard messages can lead to varying interpretations and opinions. Some Christians thought that our pro-life billboards a few years ago were too “in your face.” But we hope you will extend grace to us as we engage the secularists with these new boards and as we are blessed to see web traffic and media coverage grow.
Please pray with us that the secularists . . . would trust in Christ as Savior and Lord.
Please pray with us that the secularists who are going to our website (displayed prominently on the billboards) will be convicted of their sin as they read our web articles and watch our videos, and then would trust in Christ as Savior and Lord. We are sure that all Bible-believers will agree with us on that point.
Yes, we do need more people like Elijah, who was willing to publicly stand against the prophets of a false religion of his day and confront them concerning their false gods! (Read 1 Kings 18.) There are many “false prophets” today imposing their false religion of atheism on this once very Christianized culture.
Please stand with us and pray for this campaign.