MONROE, La. (KNOE 8 News) - The Atheist Americans holiday campaign debuted in Monroe yesterday with two digital billboards near Hwy 165 and Pecanland Mall.
"It's definitely a strong Christian community and a lot of strong believers in this area," says Kyle Klitzke of Monroe.
With its location directly in the center of The Bible Belt, this year's Atheist American holiday billboards are not welcome by a majority of residents.
"I praise God that there was so much stirred up about it that it was taken down," says Shawn Cooper, also of Monroe.
The two digital billboards were highly visible from Hwy 165 near Pecanland Mall and promoted the idea to skip church this Christmas.
"The fact it says atheist Christmas goes against what they're trying to push in the first place," says Joey Kennedy, pastor of New Life Church of God in Bastrop.
"We're kind of the heart of The Bible Belt here. On the east coast or west coast it would probably be more accepted," says Klitzke.
Program director for American Atheists, Nick Fish, says the controversy in Monroe was expected.
"We kind of expect it to happen at least once every holiday season," Fish says.
The billboards lasted less than two hours in Monroe before the billboard company, Outfront Media, suggested the organization take it down.
Fish says it does not matter if their message was well-received.
"They need to get over themselves and realize this is a country with a lot of viewpoints, and they're not the only ones with a view on this," Fish says.
Ultimately, The American Atheists holiday campaign was moved to Shreveport.