‘Life is Short. Eternity is Not’: Wisc. Churches Counter Billboard Claiming ‘There is No Afterlife’

Billboard Wisc. fbJANESVILLE, Wisc. — Two churches in Wisconsin have sponsored a billboard that serves as a counter to an atheist message that was posted at the site last month.

As previously reported, Wayne Hensler, who is in his mid-eighties, purchased ad space on a highway in Janesville in November, presenting a message that bears the declaration, “Enjoy life now: There is no afterlife.”

“It’s something that will make people think a little bit, and maybe help them make a little more joy in life,” he stated. “With all these signs, especially the religious ones—God this and Jesus that—this is kind of counteracting that kind of thing.”

Hensler has been a member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) since the 1980′s, whose name and website appeared on the sign. The atheist activist group announced the billboard in a news release last month, applauding Hensler for his effort.

“Christianity unfortunately instructs that we humans are just ‘passing through’ this world. Think of hymns such as ‘This World Is Not My Home,’” FFRF Co-President Dan Barker, a former evangelical minister, wrote. “But as Emily Dickinson put it, ‘That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.’”

“One of the greatest disservices of religion is that it misdirects human energies from this world—our only life—to some unprovable, highly improbable imaginary afterlife,” added co-founder Annie Laurie Gaylor. “We should enjoy life now, but also realize that the only afterlife that ought to concern us is leaving our descendants a secure and pleasant future.”

However, after taking note of the sign, two area churches decided to purchase the space to present the message of Christianity.

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“Life is short. Eternity is not. — God” the billboard now reads.

The new display is the combined effort of Bethel Baptist Church and New Life Assembly of God in Janesville.

“We wanted to make sure that our sign immediately covered that sign so there would be no fill in,” Pastor Michael Jackson of New Life Church told the Christian Post this week. “We wanted that previous sign to be in people’s minds when they saw ours replace it.”

And while Gensler’s sign only took up one side of the billboard, the new message can be seen from both directions.

Earlier this month, both churches posted a photo of the billboard to their Facebook page, which was received with support.

“I was just telling my sister about that ‘other’ billboard and how upset it made me!” one member of New Life Assembly wrote. “Thank you for getting the truth up there for all to see.”

“Thank you for something positive. My daughter even commented on how sad that other billboard was,” another stated. “Praying for the people of that organization.”

Photo: Bethel Baptist Church

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  • exasperatedatheist

    Threatening people with an eternity of torment in hell for not believing the same bizarre supernatural stories that you do is not a “positive message,” and Dale’s inference that only the threat of God’s judgement is keeping him from a life of crime is not exactly flattering to him or Christianity in general. Incidentally, the prisons are full of Christians, and you can hardly find an atheist.

    And James’ dismissal of atheists as useless isn’t going to win any followers. Keep it up guys, you’re making converts…to atheism.

    • R.S.

      To show that atheists are morally better than Christians, some atheists claim that less than one percent of imprisoned Americans are atheist, even though atheists represent 10% of the population. Such statistics are either made up or based on a questionable 1925 study. In truth, “the segment of the prison population which self-identifies as non-religious is approximately twice as large as found in the general population.” – See more at: http://commonsenseatheism.com/

      • C.P. Steinmetz

        You surely did a hack job on the source you cited. The source essentially shows how any simplistic interpretation of the data is wrong – from either side.

        And yes, the assertion you replied to was wrong – religion or lack thereof – as measured by a variety of variables, does not promote or protect against prison. Having money and/or other resources does.

  • Mary Waterton

    If the atheists believed what they said on that billboard, then they wouldn’t waste their time and money on billboards. They would party like there is no tomorrow … because according to them there is no tomorrow. They are liars. At the root of it they hate God.

    • C.P. Steinmetz

      “They would party like there is no tomorrow … because according to them there is no tomorrow. They are liars.”

      Strong statements based upon what? The atheist point is that ‘tomorrows’ are limited, so make the most of them. Also, do you just ‘party’ all the time? Just like you, atheists may work hard to do good. Seriously, what makes them liars? Why is the atheist action a waste of time and money on billboards any more than that of the Christians?

      Other than mirroring your own fears, do you have any evidence for your statement: “At the root of it they hate God.” I would very much like to know what that evidence could be.

      • Antiochus “Tony” Jiang

        sorry Mary you cant hate a being that doesnt exist? do you hate nine tailed foxes? what about crab people? and i love the strawmen about athiest as well

    • thatoneguy

      no. you just hate them, and you’re projecting your feelings about them as their feelings about God. that and its hard for a person to hate something that they think doesn’t exist. sounds like you’re just angry and not thinking things through clearly. if you were a man of God you wouldn’t be so quick to judge them, you would pity their misguided souls and begg God to forgive them.

    • So you think you understand people to the same extent of your God to be able to dictate how it is they should be living?

      You Jews are all pathetic.

      Nations existed long before the Jewish that had roads, schools, hospitals and generosity to the poor!

  • exasperatedatheist

    Mary, you can’t hate something that doesn’t exist. And your inference that, if Christians stopped believing in their version of god that they would embark on a hedonistic rampage, isn’t very flattering to Christians. The prisons are full of proclaimed Christians, and statistically bereft of atheists. If there truly was a link between religion and behavior, wouldn’t the opposite be true?

    • challengingchristian

      When I was in the military, I had a very good friend that was an atheist. We went through basic training together and during that time, I came to know and respect him. I still plan to visit him one day in the near future. We would talk about what I believe and what he believed. He would strongly argue his point and I would strongly argue mine. It never ended up any where. My point for this is that you believe in what you believe and nothing can stop that, but you need to know that religious people are the people that crucified Christ. The people who have faith in God alone and not in some denomination are the people that truly serve Christ. There is no link between behavior and faith. Everyone on this earth is fallible and imperfect. We all need God’s Word everyday and a new-found sense of revelation in our soul. It’s kind of like a workout for the soul. We can’t live off of our salvation from yesterday. I know you don’t believe what I believe, but that doesn’t mean that you or any other atheist is automatically terrible and useless. God works through everyone. You may not see the anger, frustration, or emptiness from your life, but my hope is that one day you will recognize it and fill it up with worship. If you are so sure that you don’t believe that God is real, you should challenge yourself to listen to Christian music everyday for the next thirty days and read the Bible. If you are such a strong atheist, I’m sure you will have no problem doing these things without feeling the tiniest inkling of doubt about what you believe.

      • C.P. Steinmetz

        How revealing.

        If scientists in the last many hundreds of years followed “you believe in what you believe and nothing can stop that,” there would have been no scientific progress. We would still believe lightning or diseases were signs of God’s wrath, etc. You have illustrated the problem succinctly: Those who follow religion believe they have ‘TRUTH’ and nothing will change their minds – while those who follow science are willing to change their beliefs based upon evidence. For certain people, changing beliefs can be stressful, I suppose.

        If “There is no link between behavior and faith”, what good is faith?

        “We all need God’s Word.” A rather bold statement, with no backing other than your faith. And, “We can’t live off of our salvation from yesterday.” You again assume without evidence, that their is a need for such a thing as ‘salvation.’ You could be right on all of these, but why should anyone believe it without objective evidence?

        This statement comes across as insulting: “I know you don’t believe what I believe, but that doesn’t mean that you or any other atheist is automatically terrible and useless.” Substitute the term “Christian” for ‘atheist’, and see how you feel.

        Interestingly, ” If you are so sure that you don’t believe that God is real” is actually a challenge to you. You claim these things; you provide evidence. As a scientist, I – and others – ask that such claims be substantiated. Actually, from a scientific point of view, the critical task would be for you to tell us what test could be performed to invalidate your “God hypothesis”.

        Your last paragraph challenge should be met with a challenge to you – open your mind to evidence and reason, read science literature, and see if you can do “these things without feeling the tiniest inkling of doubt about what you believe.”

  • C.P. Steinmetz

    So sad. Both sides so sure. The atheist trying to counter the omnipresent religious propaganda, and the religious upset with anything that challenges their beliefs.

    Unfortunately, those who claim an afterlife is “truth” have the burden of proof, and there isn’t a shred of objective evidence to support that position.

  • Tionna Meeks

    Straightforward personal opinion and belief. Not all Christians are bigoted, self-righteous, horn blowers. Just as not all Atheists are intolerant, self-serving, defects. The point of  this freedom of religion is supposed to be tolerance, but in the end all I’m reading are the ways each other are wrong or right. Tolerance is not agreeing on the same things. Tolerance is the ability to disagree without hate or hostility. Christians who believe in an afterlife should be allowed to live as though they may have more to gain in death. Atheists who believe this is all there is should be allowed to live as such. As long as laws are not being broken, and there is a mutual respect.
    I am a Christian. I also pray for my non-Christian friends. My home is centered on Christ. This does not deter those friends from visiting because they know they are respected ad people in my home. I also have no issues in their homes for the same reasons.
    My advice is give respect, pray if you are a praying person, tolerate the differences, and allow people to practice their own beliefs without belittling them.

  • John

    What’s a persons opinion on bill maher documentary “relugious ….

  • Debbie

    People are in jail because they have made questionable choices. Just like atheists choose not to believe in God and Christians choose to follow Him. What you don’t hear is stories about those prisoners in incarceration leading others to Christ. I’ve heard a couple accounts of it. Things happen for a reason. Not everyone learns lessons the same way. The same goes on in schools. Visual learner? Physical learner? Any of this ring a bell? I know for a fact God exists. I have felt His overwhelming presence multiple times. And typically, it’s an overwhelming feeling of love. I have physically felt Him. It’s as if I was hugged all over. Completely enveloped in warmth. It honestly felt like a huge hug. There is an afterlife. Just because you haven’t experienced it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    • C.P. Steinmetz

      Several interesting things about your post.

      First, you don’t hear a lot about about religious activity or conversions in prison because cons knows that feigning ‘getting religion’ is a good way to lessen their sentence. In short, by and large, getting ‘religion’ is a known scam.

      One of the things that bother me are ‘true believers’ who claim to have ‘truth’, but actually have ‘faith’. In short, you do not ‘know for a fact God exists.’ You believe very strongly. But, your strong belief is not evidence or ‘proof’ of your assertions. If there were actually ‘facts’, you would not have to convince people. Do you have to convince people that airplanes can fly? As is always the case, objective evidence would be welcomed.

      Then you make the definitive statement: “There is an afterlife.” Unfortunately, as I stated above, those who claim an afterlife is “truth” have the burden of proof, and there isn’t a shred of objective evidence to support that position. If you have such evidence, I would be overjoyed to hear it.

      You will have a much better time talking with people of other faiths or no faith if you would realize that your beliefs are just ‘beliefs’, and not ‘TRUTH’ graven on stone. You will note that I am not trying to convince you of the rightness of my views – whatever they may be. I only hope that you do not cut off discussion with people by somewhat arrogantly asserting that you have “TRUTH”, if you cannot provide objective evidence for your views.

    • If you believe in providence and The Sovereign Rule of your King Jesus then they are in jail because Jesus controlled them as a robot and put them their as a stumbling block “Or in The Case Land Min” between them and happiness in life as a human?

      Hence the “Jails our full of proclaimed Christians” So why is it you Jews do not just forgive them then as brothers and release them? They acknowledged their belief and repentance?

      Hypocrites… Your own scriptures show you all to be nothing more than hypocrites! Who choose your own lies over your King Jesus to build your Jewish Christendom “Christian Nation!”

      Do not trust the hypocrites to their own religions with anything!

  • Trisha JP

    I don’t know why anyone on either ‘side’ (atheist or Christian) try so hard to argue with each other in comments on posts like this. It’s disheartening seeing anyone blasting another person for their beliefs regardless of how they match up to mine. If someone was to believe their Dog was their ‘God’ then so be it, all that I can do is shed positive light on Christianity and tell that person that I may not agree that this Dog is a God, but that I still love them and share the word and that if it interests them at all to learn about Christianity and Jesus that I would be delighted to share it with them in a non-hostile non-pushy way. I would ask them to share with me what their own beliefs were because mine are important to me, and it’s beneficial to understand what is important to another person. I know there are many Christian people with good hearts that try to put their best foot forward, but we are all human and we each stumble. If I see a radical atheist spewing hateful remarks to people it doesn’t make me think all of them feel that way.
    Lets all just offer maybe a kind word and understanding to each other instead of an argument that doesn’t have a resolve. Neither party is going to change their mind or their beliefs thru a post (most likely).

  • C.P. Steinmetz

    People probably ‘try so hard to argue with each other in comments on posts like this’ for the same reasons why you posted.

    I assume one reason you posted was to convince people to your point of view.

    • Scott

      C.P. Steinmetz; Greetings to you. I was just curious what you hope the response to your postings are. What are you seeking? How would you describe the purpose of your postings? Additionally, (and this is not meant to be sarcastic, but a legitimate question) Do you post on other theistic news websites, such as those dedicated to Islamic information? Thank you!

      • C.P. Steinmetz

        The issue is not what I hope to accomplish. My response was to the statement “I don’t know why anyone on either ‘side’ (atheist or Christian) try so hard to argue with each other in comments on posts like this.”

        And, hopefully it is obvious, that my reason for posting is to convince people to my point of view, which I assume is why I assume most people post.

        I have posted on other theistic websites. I don’t post on Islamic websites because Islam isn’t the threat to my liberty that unbridled Christianity is. That is, Muslims are not an imminent threat to establishing or re-establishing a theocracy in the U.S.

    • K Torok

      How about you, C. P.? What’s your purpose for posting?

  • Scott

    C.P. So, your hope is to convince people of your point of view. How successful do you think you’ve been with that endeavor at this time? Do you find internet…’conversations’…to be an effective tool to accomplish this?

    Interesting; you’re the second nonbeliever (if that label is appropriate..if not my sincere apologies to you) that I’ve discussed this topic with in the last two days. They also do not post on Islamic websites. Their response was (paraphrasing) “If you find any worthy, let me know.” Of course two out of millions means very little, right? Curious to see what further research discovers on that.

    Anyway, thanks for the response, take care, and have a pleasant evening!

    • C.P. Steinmetz

      Sorry, I didn’t answer your question on what I ‘hope the response to your postings are’, as that wasn’t what I was responding to. However, like everyone, I am sure, I would hope that people at some point pause and question their knowledge.

      How successful? It is all a matter of statistics. If you keep trying, at some level, you will have success. I don’t think I am alone in that view. And, what level of ‘success’ does one need to justify his/her efforts?

      Is the Internet a effective place to do that? No, but, again, statistics. Besides which, I have no measures of ‘success’. In my college teaching, I had success, but perhaps I was dealing with fertile ground.

      I don’t understand your point on Islamic websites. ‘Their’ paraphrasing does not represent my response at all. What is your point on that anyway?

      • Scott

        Hello again, and thanks for the response!

        You said on the Islamic website issue: “‘Their’ paraphrasing does not represent my response at all.”

        I’m aware of that 🙂 One issue I’m asking questions about is the nature of internet ‘commenters’, primarily those who post on websites that are ‘religious’ in nature. Which atheists post most frequently on Christian websites and why, do they also post on Islamic websites, Mormon websites, etc..why or why not…so far there’s NO cross-over for a variety of reasons. It’s interesting…My theory is that MANY atheist perceive, like you do, that the primary threat is Christianity…it’s the big dog so to speak. Knock down the big dog and that will do a huge part in ‘clearing the way’ so to speak…of course I could be completely wrong..and probably am…but it’s still fun to think about…another reason for no cross-over is that perhaps atheists who come out of a Christian background stick with that…perhaps atheists who come out of a Muslim background tend to stick with what they know as well…who knows..

        I also think that the tone in most comments (with some exceptions) is breathtakingly rude on both sides of the debate, and would NEVER be used in real life encounters..I hope Like you, my face-to-face encounters and conversations have always yielded more fruit than internet discussions.

        I think the real audience..the one who may be swayed one way or another on the internet…are the ‘lurkers’. Again, total speculation here…but why not? Okay..take a look at the comments just on this story alone. How many of those who have posted comments are sitting back and saying “Gosh, I’m wrong on this! The (atheist/christian) is right!” We have no way of knowing..but they all think they’re right. I strongly suspect that neither James Grimes or Clay Waters will be converting or ‘de-converting’ anytime soon. But what about the ones sitting back…and just reading? The ones who aren’t certain enough to comment? They are the ones who can be most swayed IMO….and I think both sides need to consider how they present their case.

        Finally, there’s an article in The Atlantic about Frank Luntz, the political consultant. I don’t agree with all of his politics, but this comment hit the nail on the head for me:

        “It was what Luntz heard from the American people that scared him. They were contentious and argumentative. They didn’t listen to each other as they once had. They weren’t interested in hearing other points of view. They were divided one against the other, black vs. white, men vs. women, young vs. old, rich vs. poor. “They want to impose their opinions rather than express them,” is the way he describes what he saw…. Haven’t political disagreements always been contentious, I ask? “Not like this,” he says. “Not like this.”

        That’s what I see happening, C.P., on the religious front as well. People really aren’t listening. Thanks for the time…hope you have a fantastic weekend!

  • Sovereign Freedom – Freedom is always worth killing for, worth dying for and worth living for but a single moment of slavery is a life not worth living and that includes slavery to The Slave Lord and King Jesus!