Last Night, the ‘Keep Saturn in Saturnalia’ Billboard Was Nearly Set on Fire December 18, 2013

Last Night, the ‘Keep Saturn in Saturnalia’ Billboard Was Nearly Set on Fire

Who knew the most controversial atheist billboard of the season was the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s “Keep Saturn in Saturnalia” one in Pitman, New Jersey?

Over the weekend, one family tried to attach their own banner (of a Nativity Scene) on or underneath the billboard — and it was caught on tape.

But last night, it got even worse:

An off-duty police officer from another municipality was in Carolina Blue with a number of friends when they looked across the intersection of Lambs Road and Holly Avenue at about 11:45 p.m. and spotted two men underneath the billboard, which proclaims “Keep Saturn in Saturnalia.”

Pitman police said they were told that the off-duty police officer spotted the men tossing gasoline on the billboard or its supports and then lighting it. The fire did not stay lit and the men, spotting the people approaching them from across the street, fled in a possibly blue-and-silver Chevrolet Model 1500 pickup truck with ladder racks, said police.

If the same near-crime happened to a Nativity Scene, the national media would be all over this. But, you know, atheists.

No word yet on who the suspects were but the police might want to dispatch someone to watch over that area tonight…

***Update***: FFRF is offering a $2,000 reward for anyone with information about the potential arson.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • diogeneslamp0

    Fox News, Todd Starnes, Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity are to blame for celebrating and romanticizing these Christians’ criminal lifestyle. Thug life, Xian version.

    See this article on how the right wing media instigates stochastic terrorism:

  • AFabulousAtlantanAtheist

    That good ole fashioned Christian Persecution at work!

  • Frank Mitchell

    In many states (not sure about NJ) the cops sent to watch the sign would probably tear it down.

  • WallofSleep

    I wonder what these potential arsonists would say if some group went around burning christian crosses. Oh, wait…

  • invivoMark

    I find it kind of hilarious how up in a tizzy this billboard is working some people.

  • tubi11

    “In many states (not sure about NJ) the cops sent to watch the sign would probably tear it down.”

    Another reason why all cops should have to wear video cameras, or at least audio devices, when on duty.

  • Richard Thomas

    I think that means it’s working.

  • Neko

    Not the lovely Saturn billboard! What is wrong with people.

  • WalterWhite007

    Whoever did it is likely a flamer!!!!
    Think – Arrested Development.

  • Stev84

    The police officer was clearly infringing on their religious freedom to set heretic billboards on fire.

  • Black Leaf

    I didn’t choose the Jesus life. The Jesus life chose me.

  • R. G. Price

    I’d like to see a “The Solstice is the Reason for the Season” billboard, because really, it’s true.

  • Guest

    they where doing it in a loving Christian way…………..

  • The Starship Maxima

    For God’s sake it’s a fucking billboard. A 13-year-old punk got off for the murder of 4 people because he was rich and white, and people are freaking out about a billboard??


  • WallofSleep

    Right, because we can’t chew bubble gum and walk at the same time.

    EDIT: Or perhaps you were commenting on the arsonist idiots giving too much of a fuck about a billboard. If that is the case, I retract my snark.

  • lucky21
    I agree. That kid deserved punishment to show how his actions have hurt other people. Worst of all the judge did a diservice to the loved ones that got killed by that jerk.

  • Kingasaurus

    Which “freaking out” upsets you?

    The would-be arsonists who feel so threatened by free speech they don’t like, that they are therefore willing to commit a crime to silence it?

    Or the people here complaining about the attempted criminal intimidation?

  • dats3

    Maybe because we’re having a discuss about arsonists and not about the idiot kid in Texas. The Texas case is clearly disturbing but that’s not what the topic of discussion is currently about.

  • diogeneslamp0

    The billboard persecuted Christians by being non-flammable.

  • WallofSleep

    That’s their fault. They didn’t check to see if the billboard would float or sink first before burning it at the stake.

  • The Starship Maxima

    The freaking out as in trying to cover a billboard and then when failing trying to burn it down.

    If the atheists are so determined to make their voices heard by putting billboards, paid for by their own money I might add, then who gives a shit?

    It’s a sad fucking display when people are treating fucking billboards as the mortal enemy of the faith.

  • WallofSleep

    “Worst of all the judge did a diservice to the loved ones that got killed by that jerk.”

    I’d be willing to be my left nut that that mother fucker is on the take.

  • WallofSleep

    Snark retracted, and I apologize for jumping to a conclusion.

  • IAmAGuest

    So it’s not enough that we personally have to burn for an eternity in hell fire, but also our billboards!? Come on give us a break!

  • Matt Ranson

    Considering that Xians used to burn US at the stake and now they only burn our billboards seems to me that we’ve made some progress in the past 1000 years 🙂

  • bribase

    You honestly think this is the first time the natural world has thwarted the desires of believing Christians?

  • No word yet on who the suspects were but the police might want to dispatch someone to watch over that area tonight…

    Holding my breath for… 3 seconds. Gave up.

    Pitman has a population of 9,000. The owner of a blue-and-silver Chevrolet Model 1500 pickup truck with ladder racks would probably be immediately known to many people just from the description. I will be very surprised if the police make any effort at all to arrest the perpetrators. If they do anything, one officer will have a quiet talk with “Bubba” or whatever his name is, and tell him to stop being naughty.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Think nothing of it, bro/sis.

  • Sam McMichael

    From our favorite facebook page, “I fucking love science.”

  • NoelleC

    Patrice O’Neal, in one of his finest roles.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    Yes, and this is much less “offensive” than some of the others. It’s fairly attractive. And it doesn’t mention Christianity at all, it’s about Saturnalia.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    It’s combination of heliocentricity, orbital dynamics and axial tilt.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    The dude abides.

  • WallofSleep

    Thanks to both of you. I was just going to use heliocentrism going forward, but now I’ve also got axial tilt and orbital dynamics.

  • The Starship Maxima


    “We’re gonna be like three little Fonzies. And what was Fonzie? – Cool. – That’s right! We’re gonna be cool!”

  • WallofSleep

    Isn’t “Brosis” the congenital disorder that causes fist pumping and over bronzing?

  • “and it was caught on tape”

    Since the video talked about the people using tape to hold up their cover-up, for a second I thought you were talking about actual sticky tape.

    I’m pretty sure there was no tape in that cell phone that took the video 🙂

  • Jeff

    If it weren’t for jumping to conclusions, most Christians wouldn’t get any exercise.

  • Jeff

    And from that comment, we can conclude the “bro/sis” question?

  • WallofSleep

    I said it was mine. I didn’t say where I got it from.

  • The Starship Maxima

    No, no, that’s Jersey Shore Syndrome.

  • The Starship Maxima

    One of the biggest fallacies is that judges care about “justice”. If that were the case George Zimmerman would be serving 25 – life.

  • WallofSleep

    I still think “Bob Loblaw” is about the most genius comedy character name evar.

  • $84687101

    I would hope police would take this attempted crime very seriously, regardless of what they think of the message. This act of arson, had it been successful, would not only have defaced the message, but also destroyed the entire billboard, property and source of revenue of the company that owns it. And that’s a best case scenario. Worse case, the fire could have spread and destroyed much more property, homes, and businesses and even taken lives. The arsonists could easily have lit themselves on fire as well. This is beyond graffiti or vandalism, this is serious crime.

  • $84687101

    Considering that they took this to the level of arson, and incredibly dangerous and serious crime, I would hope that would motivate even small town cops who disagree with the billboard to take it very seriously. I would also think the billboard company would bring pressure to bear to ensure a real investigation and prosecution, since their property and investment could have been utterly destroyed, not just damaged.

  • Andrew L

    My word, Christianity, the gift that keeps on giving.

  • David B.

    It’s just another manifestation of the Struggle against Saturnalia! Call FOX!

  • $925105

    And the Christian religion of hate marches on.

  • David McNerney

    That would make a great billboard.

  • lmern

    Your comment and every reply cracked me up. Thanks!

  • JA

    Learn to tolerance, Christians.

  • Don Gwinn

    They missed their window. You gotta be drunk enough to think it’s a good idea to go set fire to a billboard, but not so wasted you can’t light a fire with gasoline.
    They were probably doing well not to set themselves alight.

  • Here in the U.S. at least but in other parts of the world, not so much

  • Inside word: these same skilled pyro-consultants were hired to light the infernos of Hell.

    Cool beans.

  • scipio1

    You darn Atheists are just churlish and inflammatory. o_0

  • lmao, too funny

  • Terry Firma

    Female judge, actually. I don’t think they’ve been known to fuck any mothers.

  • WallofSleep

    ” I don’t think they’ve been known to fuck any mothers.”

    Perhaps not in the carnal sense of the word…

  • Armanatar

    Depends on your definition.

  • ansuz


    *wipes coffee off screen*

  • lol

  • Michael

    So will there be a ChipIn widget for this bounty?

  • ansuz

    Maybe they were pagans upset that Saturn is on the billboard as a planet, rather than as a bearded old guy or, I dunno, an hourglass? Or maybe they thought the billboard was haunted and had watched too much Supernatural in addition to being dangerously… vigilante-ish?

    …nope. Can’t think of anything that makes this less appallingly stupid and dangerous.

  • Lorrie Crabtree

    You’ve apparently never lived in a small town. They can be quite cliquish, and the cops do play favorites.* If they haven’t “found” the suspects yet, they won’t. Bubba probably won’t even get a handslap.

    *This is not to say -all- small towns are like this, but many of them are. Especially if they’re in a “red” county, it seems.

  • $84687101

    But you know, it’s mainly axial tilt. I mean, heliocentrism is kind of a given throughout the universe, excepting a few rogue planets, and orbital dynamics are pretty damned similar through our solar system, so axial tilt is kind of the determining factor, right?

  • $84687101

    I’ve kind of been looking for an excuse to post this NSFW, Saturnalia related comic:

  • Richard Thomas

    ” ‘t’? T..time to go?”

  • WallofSleep

    While you are correct, I really like the sting of using heliocentrism, not only as a reminder of “The Reason for the Season”, but also as a reminder of how science proved both the christian church and the christian bible dead wrong about geocentrism.

    Though, considering the knowledge level of those who bitch about this fictional war on christmas, I suspect the reference would go right over their heads.

  • baal

    Arson is generally a felony, yes.

  • baal

    Ah, oic. The “and people” was vague. Thanks for clarifying that you meant the would be arsonists and not the folks here leaving comments.

  • The Starship Maxima

    Apparently the anti-atheist crusaders were such geniuses they considered property damage and possible more serious harm to be acceptable collateral damage in the Glorious Rebellion Against the Billboard Overlords.

  • AmusedAgain

    The only real disappointment I have in this story is that the perps weren’t struck by lightning as they attempted to light the billboard on fire. That would have been one hell of a hilarious thing for them to try and explain!!!!

  • AmusedAgain

    If you’re motivated enough, you could probably find the perp’s truck using Google Maps satellite view. How fun would THAT be?

  • CultOfReason

    Time for some good old fashioned Chrisitan Prosecution.

  • $84687101

    Hell, it went over mine. I like it though.

  • WallofSleep

    Hey, things go right over my head all the time. I suspect that’s the reason I’m going bald.

  • Guest

    A 13 year old got away with murder, and people are wasting their time and effort trying to set billboards on fire instead of writing their legislators about this injustice!

    See how that works both ways?

  • allein

    I live in NJ, and while there are plenty of churches I don’t see a lot of overt religiosity in my everyday life. I doubt the cops in my area would do that. Though Pitman is in South Jersey (I’m in Central) and I’m not familiar with that area. My dad grew up in the same county but I haven’t spent time down there since my grandfather died ~25 years ago.

  • enuma

    I usually post my own version of this every year. Not on billboards though, just Facebook.

  • WalterWhite007


  • Michael

    And it’s arson. You know, where people set a fire that spreads to a nearby building and kills people. Why don’t you care about reckless endangerment of life?

  • Achron Timeless

    Yeah, I can confirm the small towns I’ve lived in operate this way. What’s worse is the ones that go home, beat their wife and kids bloody, and the worst they get is a night in jail to “simmer down”.

  • Justin Miyundees

    They should look for a blue and silver Chevy 1500 pick up with ladder racks. When do I get my wo thousand dollars?

  • That’s the thing. When a little good-natured poking fun at some rhetoric provokes absolute batshittery in response, it ought to be time for those people to reexamine just why they are so angry.

    I’d put a “Keep Thor in Thursday” sticker on my car, but I can’t trust that one person–all it takes is one–won’t take it seriously and have a nutty and smash my car window. And I don’t care about the window in itself, except I simply can’t afford to replace it. It’s this one-asshole-is-why-we-can’t-have-nice-things phenomenon that drives my opinion on religious displays on public land (which differs in principle markedly from most atheists). If it weren’t for that (group of) assholes that would point to such displays as “obvious evidence” that we are a Christian nation, it wouldn’t be much of a problem. But there are such assholes, so we can’t have nice things.

  • diogeneslamp0

    Oh sure, the liberals always say, “Tolerance, tolerance” but are they tolerant of us Christians when we splash gasoline on their property and set it on fire? Never. The hypocrisy!

  • Neko

    When a little good-natured poking fun at some rhetoric provokes absolute batshittery in response, it ought to be time for those people to reexamine just why they are so angry.

    Exactly. I’m alarmed by this craziness and frankly surprised. The billboard is so charming and clever I thought people would just chuckle over it. WTF.

  • Matt G

    The flame not staying lit is clearly a sign from God that He approves this message.

  • Artor

    I’d think the billboard company would be interested in finding the vandals that tried to destroy their property too.

  • Mario Strada

    That’s what I was wondering too. How do you manage NOT to light gasoline on fire?

  • Ryan1159

    It would be a “hate crime” if it was a Christian, Jewish, or Muslim billboard.

  • HA2

    Don’t do that. Playing armchair detective on the internet like that is likely to get an innocent person under the fire of, like, 4chan or something. The internet can bring a lot of people to bear on a random crusade like that, with little to no verification of whether the person they’re going after really is the person they intend to go after.

  • LOL!

    “…(๏̯͡๏)…they don’t have…chariots of iron, do they?”

  • shuteme

    How delicious it would have been had they burned themselves to a crisp? I’d pay a dollar to see that. Perhaps we could send them some higher octane fuel?

  • How many times does Saturn have to prove that he is the one true God?


  • dbwindhorst

    Set on fire, but refuses to burn…it’s a Saturnalia miracle!

  • MN Atheist

    Really? And they should be set to record the entire shift I suppose…Every conversation, every bathroom break…nonsense!

    Yes there are a few bad apples. But if you get to know almost ANY cop you will find a person who cares about his or her community and wants to make it a better place.

  • tsig

    But mothers have been known to fuck so they’d be mother fuckers.

  • tsig

    At least don’t be so obvious about being naughty.

  • tsig

    Christians attack inanimate object twice and are defeated, must be some iron in that sign

  • Aguz

    Why does everyone hate Saturn so much? I mean, he was a dickish god but at least he knew how to party.

  • GeorgeMcBundy

    I agree that the police aren’t going to do anything, but I live near Pitman and even though its population is small, it’s surrounded by more populated areas and it’s common for people to drive through the area on their way to more populated towns surrounding it, so it’s possible that no one knows who Bubba is.

  • And irony.


  • Saturn probably did not want to risk damaging the billboard.

    After all, he’s not perfect.

    He is only a God.


  • Tony Pepperoni

    On the other hand probably about 20% of the people in town drive a truck like that.

  • Shig Urui

    “If the same near-crime happened to a Nativity Scene, the national media would be all over this. But, you know, atheists.” It’s comments like these that make you sound exactly like the angry Christians. Rush, O’Rielly, Hannity… they all use that same verbal tactic. It’s angry and nonconstructive, and you post no facts in regards to what you are actually writing about in that sentence. There’s a thin line between Friendly Atheist and the Glenn Beck of Atheism. Take the higher road… or post facts along with your generalizations… Thanks for the news about this billboard though…sucks that people will set fires and cause danger over this.

  • The judge does not have to be on the take to think that she is doing this for some sort of greater good.

    That is the way religious harm works – but we’re doing it for The God Of _______. so it is collateral damage.

    Corruption is not just about money, but about morality.


  • Keg Man

    I wonder if they consider that a hate crime?

  • Shig Urui


  • BackSpinBubba

    Hey! You are not showing any consideration for my devotion to THOR! As one of many Gods of the Universe, I have chosen him as my personal spiritual advisor, and all around good god.
    All hail mighty Thor! Shout out to Saturn, too.

  • Monica Rose Kiesel

    “I’m God, and I approve this universe.”

  • Rocketvat

    “Oh, most definitely”

  • Dogly

    I know Saturn exists. I have proof. That other fellow with the white beard, well……

  • Where is the 2 hour long segment of *outraged* Fox “News” pundits over this vicious attack on religious freedom? Oh yeah, assaults on the rights of non-christians don’t matter to conservatives.

  • Vik-Thor

    also the property owner usually gets income from rental also…

  • Richard Thomas

    I guess you missed all the ranting, raving, and frothing at the mouth over billboards in Times Square, Festivus poles, White Santas, and Nativity scenes on Air Force bases.

  • The project makes perfect sense. Proto-christians when taking their cult to Europe knew that stealing current religious festivities and throwing them into the new calendar would be the safest bet to avoid a fight, it worked for the Romans absorbing religions where ever they went. Except they broke stride with the Romans by saying ‘Your gods aren’t actually gods, they’re just saints / angels.’ whereas the Roman’s were all ‘Yo dawg, I herd u leik gods?’ and just added the gods to the giant bunch of gods in the sky.

    They moved the dates of the birth and death of their cult leader to Saturnalia and the harvest festivals respectively, knowing people will still celebrate on those days so it was just a matter of time for people to forget the origin of the celebrations and accept–gradually–their cult leader as the source of these holidays.

    That’s why I roll my eyes when idiots say “Christmas is all about Jesus.” … no, no it’s not. It has nothing to do with Jesus and for six thousand years before your cult leader existed it had been celebrated.

  • I know what I’ll be spending my day doing. We need to create a sub reddit to post our findings on!

    Here we go:

    Let’s work together and find this guy. Witch hunts are the best!

  • You’re a party pooper. Witch hunts are great. Even when we get the wrong person! It’s their fault for being shifty looking. >_>

    Wait a minute. You don’t happen to drive a Chevvy 1500 pick-up do you? Icwhuturdoin!

  • Grazel

    Wait are you saying you’re anti-Xianist towards anti-Zionists?

  • Matt Ranson

    Sorry, I don’t understand what you are saying. Where did anti-Zionists enter the conversation. WTF?

  • … Google maps, let’s find Bubba!

  • That article has two entries on–didn’t look at them specifically–but generally means the source is poor.

  • Grazel

    Pronounce out what you said, I was making a joke. I know you used xian as a shorthand for Christian but it’s not how I read it (just as I read xmas as x-mas not Christmas). Also it’s not unreasonable to think the guys who tried to light the fire are anti-Zionists or anti-Semitic in some way.

  • Gath Gealaich

    Learn grammar. 😉 Tolerance is not a verb.

  • Matt Ranson

    OK, gotcha now

  • muffler

    These anti atheists are also against our capitalist system which allowed the billboard owner to profit from whom ever paid the price to post their ad….

  • tubi11

    You’re right, the vast majority of officers, deputies, etc, are outstanding public servants who risk their lives for our security. A few are not. Recording helps deter those that might consider a course of action that is not in the public interest. Recording makes prosecution easier. And recording everything benefits the police as well, as defense against charges of brutality or other malfeasance.

    And clearly the point is to document their interactions with the public, not every time they take a piss. Don’t be a pedant.

  • Don Gwinn

    You mean . . . they’re gonna have a Come-To-Jesus-Meetin’?

  • Don Gwinn

    Gas burns fast, and if you don’t have it on decent tinder, it can actually be an iffy firestarter. Also, drunk people sometimes pour it on something, then stand in the cloud of evaporated fumes, causing the famous “FWOOF!” fireball and often setting themselves ablaze in a merry holiday display. Piles of dead leaves are the worst for this.

    Depending on the level of inebriation, it’s not inconceivable that these two geniuses tried to strike their fiery blow for Christ against steel mounting posts, which would be unlikely to burn quite that easily.

  • Don Gwinn

    What, like Methodists?

  • Gath Gealaich

    “so axial tilt is kind of the determining factor, right?”

    Currently. But the orbit of Earth undergoes semi-periodic changes. Right now, the impact of eccentricity (around 0.017) is fairly low, but it can reach as much as a triple of that amount. (The curve gets a bit complicated because there are multiple superimposed cycles.)

    The tilt also fluctuates, but only by ±1.5° or so, I believe.

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