Atheists use images of Santa, reindeer to promote gathering in Oklahoma City

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Santa is helping deliver a national atheist group's message promoting its upcoming convention in Oklahoma City.

The American Atheists organization says advertising with Christmas imagery on billboards in `the buckle of the Bible Belt' will reach atheists whose voices may be muted in the conservative state.

One billboard features an image of Santa flying his sleigh over the Oklahoma City skyline and reads, "Just like Santa Claus, the atheists are comin' to town!" Another in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Dallas features a Nativity scene that says "Just Skip Church. It's All Fake News!"

Albuquerque pastor Richard Mansfield called the Nativity billboard near his church offensive to Christians.

American Atheists leaders told The Oklahoman the billboards are meant to encourage dialogue.

The convention is March 30-April 1.

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