A billboard in Pitman, N.J., which displays a holiday message from an atheist group, was almost torched by someone Tuesday night.
South Jersey Times reported that an off-duty police officer saw two men douse gasoline on the sign, and then tried to set it on fire around 11:45 p.m. The men fled in a blue-ank-silver Chevrolet Model 1500 pickup truck when they noticed the officer approach the scene, and the billboard did not catch fire, authorities said.
The billboard, which reads “Keep Saturn in Saturnalia,” is being rented by the Freedom From Religion Foundation. The Wisconsin-based group has opposed a Knights of Columbus Christmas banner that says “Keep Christ in Christmas” in Pitman’s business district for the past three years.
Co-president of the FFRF, Dan Barker, tells the Courier Post that it shows “favoritism to Christianity while censoring nonbelievers.”
The organization also claims that the Christmas banner is illegally hung without proper permits.
According to the Times, Saturnalia was an ancient Roman holiday named after Saturn, the Roman god of agriculture. The billboard includes a picture of the ringed planet Saturn.
This is not the first time someone tried to protest at the billboard.
A man wearing a Santa Claus costume was standing at the sign for a while on Sunday.
On the same day, a man and a woman with their child attempted to climb up an extension ladder to paste a poster of a manger above the Saturnalia sign, but the protest was halted by police.