JANESVILLE, 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.
“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