"Yes Virginia, There Is No God" is just one of four messages displayed on Anchorage city buses, following a local atheist's idea to bring an anti-religion advertising campaign to town during the holiday season.
People Mover would not release the name of the man who partially funded the campaign but the other donor to the campaign, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, is speaking out.
The foundation said Wednesday that it choose sto go where it's wanted -- and its members believe the people of Anchorage want the campaign.
"As we like to say, Christians don't own the month of December," said Annie Laurie Gaylor, FFRF's co-president. "No month is free from pagan reverie and [the donor] helped with this very generously -- so it's our first bus sign campaign in Alaska."
The 10 bus signs have four different messages. Three buses each have signs reading "Imagine No Religion" and "Enjoy Life Now: There is No Afterlife," while two buses each have signs reading "Sleep in on Sundays" and "Yes Virginia, There Is No God."
Half of the ad campaign's $4,800 cost was paid for by FFRF, with the other half covered by the anonymous member of the organization. Group officials say he refuses to be identified, due to fear of public backlash against his career.
"Atheist and agnostic still seem to be at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to social acceptance, and we are marginalize and sometimes demonized," Gaylor said.
Channel 2 spoke with a pastor at a local church who disagrees.
"I appreciate the fact that they're trying to be honest with what they believe, because it opens up the dialogue for the Gospel and we look down on no one," said Kris Carmady, associate pastor at City Church.
The signs had a polarizing effect on People Mover riders Wednesday.
“If it has that sign, I will not ride the bus,” said bus rider Chris Mayokok.
"I think it's kind of offending actually," said bus rider Nicole Ritter. "I believe in a higher power that's my personal opinion."
Despite objections to the signs, city officials say the People Mover ads are legal.
“The message falls within our legal guidelines, and in this sense they're no different from any other client," said Lindsey Whitt, communications director for Mayor Dan Sullivan's office. "Opposing views can and do advertise with us."
FFRF says it has more than 60 members in Alaska. The group contacted 20 of them to speak with Channel 2 in person, but none of them were willing to go on camera.
The signs will remain on the buses until the end of December.
Contact Mallory Peebles