“Keep Saturn in Saturnalia” Vandalism Attempts - FOX 13 News

“Keep Saturn in Saturnalia” Vandalism Attempts

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Pitman, New Jersey (My9NJ) - For many years, the Knights of Columbus has sponsored a sign along Pitman’s Broad Street that says “Keep Christ in Christmas.” Three years ago the Freedom From Religion Foundation learned about this and wanted to hang their own sign across Broad Street. That was not possible, so instead they decided to rent a billboard in the town that says “Keep Saturn in Saturnalia.”

Saturnalia is a former pagan holiday that involved orgies and child sacrifices and is no longer celebrated today.

Since the “Keep Saturn in Saturnalia” billboard was erected there have been two attempts to damage the billboard. In one instance, two men attempted to light the billboard on fire, but did not get very far because they were spotted across the way by an off-duty officer at the Carolina Blue Restaurant.

There is video of the second attempt where a family is seen climbing a ladder and attempting to cover the billboard with a picture of the nativity scene.

The Mayor of Pitman, Russ Johnson, chimed in on the controversy surrounding this billboard.

“The billboard was a surprise to everybody. I kind of woke up to it last Friday morning when I saw a local newspaper run a story on it and didn’t even know it was there. So they put it on the outskirts of town. Ironically, it’s on our property, but it’s on a billboard that we lease out so they have the right to put it there. The perception of our town is that phrase, “Keep Saturn in Saturnalia” is mocking the “Keep Christ in Christmas” banner the way they worded it. It’s upset a lot of people,” he said.

Johnson went on to discuss how Pitman is a religious town and it may not be the best place for the Freedom From Religion Foundation to get much sympathy. “In my opinion they picked the wrong town to get into a Christmas war with. Pitman was built on religious principles. There are 12 different denominal churches in Pitman with a council of churches in a 2.2 square mile town. That banner that hangs over Broadway has been there for over 40 years. It represents the spirit of Pitman and people are upset that these folks from Wisconsin have come in and tried to mock that same spirit with their billboard,” he said.

Johnson said that if the individuals who tried to burn down and cover the billboard are caught, that they will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. “I expect that Pitman residents will continue to rally in support of the Christmas banner versus the billboard. I expect to see potentially another large crowd under the banner on Christmas Eve singing Christmas carols,” he said.

To learn more about Pitman, NJ, follow the town on twitter: @BoroughOfPitman

To follow Mayor Russ Johnson on twitter: @RussJohnson3


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