CHICO (CBS13) — An Adopt-A-Highway for a group of atheists has become the target of vandals spraying religious messages on the sign.
Most recently, someone wrote the words “Pray for” on the sign pointing to the Atheists of Butte County.
Caltrans has since removed the words scrawled on the sign, but the group who paid for it believes the vandals will be back.
The sign tells passersby that the highway they’re driving on is being kept up by volunteers from the group.
“This is something nice to do, its important to keep our highways clean,” said George Gold, president of Atheists of Butte County.
But he says someone is targeting their signs along Highway 99 near Chico.
“The first time was somewhat harmless when somebody put a Christmas wreath on the top of each of our signs,” he said. “The second time, they screwed into the base of the sign ‘Pray’ and this time it seems to me—I’m going to guess—it’s the same person, and they’ve scrawled on the sign ‘pray for’ and then an arrow, meaning they want people to pray for us, the atheists.”
Gold says back in 2012, vandals also defaced a billboard put up by his same group. Someone cut out a word to change the meaning of the sign.
“Our billboards said ‘Don’t believe in God? Join the club.’ It was only directed to other secular folks in the community so they would know that they had somewhere to turn to,” he said.
Some say it’s disappointing to see the signs defaced. Others say they don’t especially care for the signs, but they say it doesn’t excuse the vandalism.
The group doesn’t plan on taking these signs down any time soon, but they are looking into installing some security cameras nearby.
If caught, the vandals could face criminal charges.