Church Christmas Sign Upsets Atheist Organization - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Church Christmas Sign Upsets Atheist Organization

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Pitman, New Jersey -

A war over Christmas is brewing in Pitman, New Jersey. It has to do with this banner that says "Keep Christ in Christmas," but some say this sign violates the separation of church and state.

The banner was paid for by the Knights of Columbus, but it hangs over one of the town's main streets and one group made up of atheists-- has a big problem with that

Christmas is a big deal in this town. Look no further than Haggerty's Christmas village.

Of all the decorations in town, it's this banner over Broadway saying "Keep the Christ in Christmas" causing controversy-mainly by an Atheist organization called Freedom From Religion.

An attorney for the Wisconsin based group says since the banner hangs over a public road-equates to the township endorsing a Christian message not so says the borough's Mayor Russ Johnson.

"It is a banner that's attached to two private entities hanging over a county roadway which is does not require a county permit," Russ Johnson said.

Instead of suing, Freedom from Religion paid for its own billboard, it says "Keep the Saturn in Saturnalia," a play on an ancient roman holiday-celebrating the winter solstice.

"The government is endorsing to keep Christ in Christmas message very clearly and they've given it over to a private organization to display their religious message." Andrew Seidel of Freedom from Religion said.

It turns out someone was so upset-they tried to burn down the opposing billboard with gasoline last night. Luckily the fire went out before it did any damage. Police are investigating but the controversy has some in this town found it as a Christian Summer Retreat fuming.

Most we talked to say the opponents of the banner just brought more attention they say to the reason of the season.

The group has issued a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest of the arsonist, but the borough says it has no plans on forcing the banner to come down.

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