The three billboards haven't gone up yet, but they will show the nativity scene, and will say: "Stop government support of religion. Move this Denver nativity scene to a church."
"The message is there should be: no government supported religion, and that's what we have here," Marvin Straus said.
Straus is the co-founder of Boulder Atheist. His umbrella organization, Colorado Coalition of Reason, or COCORE, is behind the billboards.
"Government should not support religion. That's what the First Amendment is all about. That's what the separation clause is all about," Straus said.
"The display on the front steps of city hall is a holiday tradition in Denver, having survived numerous legal challenges over the past 40 years. Public sentiment and courts support this direction. Anyone is allowed to disagree, and the First Amendment gives them the right to do so," Ann Williams, communications director for Mayor John Hickenlooper, said.
"I think if they are going to have it up, then I think it would be respectful for them to have other religious symbols up as well. I definitely think there should be a separation between church and state," Syd Johnson told 9NEWS as she walked by the display on Tuesday night.
Others think the nativity scene helps keep downtown Denver festive this time of year.
"It's just part of growing up here. It doesn't offend me in anyway. If you don't like it, then don't come down here and be a part of it," Kevin Robbins said.
In 2008, COCORE put up billboards that said: "Don't believe in God? You are not alone," in an effort to create a more cohesive secular community.
The nativity scene will be featured in all three billboards, which cost about $1,000 combined to put up.
The billboards will be up for about a month, according to Straus.
Here's a list of the billboard locations, and dates of when they will go up:
- North Speer Boulevard and East North 11th Street (going up Dec. 6)
- Stout Street and 20th Street (going up Dec. 13)
- Welton Street and 22nd Street (going up Dec. 13)
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