A fundamentalist Christian group has decided to capitalize on the 1 million people who will be in Times Square on New Year’s Eve to watch a giant crystal ball slide 143 feet at the stroke of midnight. Answers in Genesis, which runs the Creation Museum in Kentucky, has placed a 15-second ad four and a half blocks away from where the massive, 1,212-pound Waterford Crystal ball will descend until it reaches the bottom at precisely the start of 2015.
The ad, which began playing Tuesday, shows a blue sky with a white cross. A message then appears in white font, “To all of our intolerant liberal friends: Thank God for freedom.”
“The :15 digital board will remind Americans of the religious freedoms they enjoy – whether they hold to the worldviews of Christianity, atheism, Judaism [or] other belief systems – and must be defended,” the group said in a statement. The billboard is meant to “draw attention to religious liberties under assault in America,” which include removing religious displays like nativity scenes and Ten Commandments from public spaces.
The ad will run for seven minutes per hour each day, including the minutes before the New Year begins. The group expects the ad will make 3 million impressions over that period of time. On Friday, the video message will move to a billboard above the Disney Store in Times Square.
"The nation's Founding Founders predicted that a future government would be tempted to infringe on religious liberties. That's why their very first amendment was to establish a safeguard for religious expression,” Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis, told the Columbus Dispatch. “Sadly, that freedom is being chipped away today by atheists and other secularists."
This isn’t the first time religious groups have used Times Square ad space to share their message. In December 2013, American Atheists, an atheism-advocacy group, placed a 15-second ad that asked, “Who needs Christ during Christmas?”
“We all love this time of year,” American Atheists President David Silverman said in a statement. “Christianity has been trying to claim ownership of the season for hundreds of years. But the winter solstice came first and so did its traditions. The season belongs to everybody.”