Mother, daughter on Colorado Springs atheists' billboard are Christians

December 5, 2016 Updated: December 6, 2016 at 6:40 am
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Candy Burns didn't know she was selling her image to atheists when she signed a release after posing for stock photos four years ago.

That's Burns and her daughter, Cheyenne, on the billboard at Interstate 25 and Venetucci Boulevard in Colorado Springs. In the photo a teen is texting a friend that she plans to skip church during Christmas, because "I don't believe that stuff anymore."

American Atheists, the organization founded by Madalyn Murray O'Hair, put up the billboard last Friday. The image, part of a national campaign, is on billboards in Lynchburg, Va.; Shreveport, La.; Georgetown, S.C.; and Atlanta.

Burns is a retiree in Tucson, Ariz., but she grew up in Atlanta, where, she says, people know her and her daughter as devout Christians.

She didn't know what the photos could be licensed for.

"Normally, I could care less, but this hits a little under the belt for me," Burns said Monday. "I'm not an atheist. I love the Lord. My daughter is not an atheist. I have a life in Christ."

She found out about the billboard after a friend emailed her a link to the ColoradoPolitics.com story that posted Friday.

Burns recognizes that because she signed the release, there's probably nothing she can do legally, but she wants American Atheists to take down the billboard.

"If they want to sit there and not believe in God, that's on them," Burns said. "But for them to take a Christian mother and daughter and put them on a billboard, I think that's low. Why don't they use their own people?"

Nick Fish, national program director for American Atheists, said Monday that the organization licensed the image from iStockPhoto and met all the legal requirements to use it.

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