Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, told CNN his group's sign is a "counterpunch" to the Christmas message from American Atheists. He said David Silverman, president of the atheists group, is "denigrating" religion.
The American Atheists ad features a nativity scene with a simple message: "You know it's a myth. This season celebrate reason."
At the Manhattan end, drivers read: "You know it's real. This season celebrate Jesus."
Silverman said the atheist billboard cost $20,000, while Donohue said the $18,500 cost of the religious one was paid by a donor who wanted to respond. Silverman said he had not yet decided whether to keep his message up through Christmas or have it taken down Dec. 21.
This year, the Catholic League has sent small one-piece nativity scenes showing Joseph, Mary, the infant Jesus with shepherds and magi to all 50 state governors. Accompanying letters urge them to display the nativity scenes in state houses.