WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- In 1954, the words "under God" were added to the Pledge of Allegiance. With Fourth of July just around the corner, some groups are using billboards across the state, including one here in New Hanover County, to help get those words removed from the pledge for good. One business owner off of Carolina Beach Road says the new billboard is not only offensive, but could hurt his business.
"I hate that it's right next to where I'm at," Mike Connelly said. "Hopefully, no radicals will try to come by here and burn the billboard down and affect our business in any form or fashion."
Connelly's antique shop has been up and running for six months just south of Monkey Junction. He says business is good, but fears a new anti-Pledge of Allegiance billboard could affect his business.
"It's a little bit frustrating when you have a relatively new business," Connelly said. "You don't want any controversy for your establishment, in any form or fashion."
The billboard that says "One Nation Indivisible" will be in Wilmington for at least four weeks. The North Carolina Secular Association along with a number of other statewide groups are behind the media push. Mike Werner is a leader with the Humanists and Freethinkers of Cape Fear and supports the message. In a statement to WWAY Monday, he said, "The Pledge of Allegiance did not have 'under God' until it was added in 1954. We want to bring awareness and want to enjoy the same dignity that everyone else does. It's a clear violation of church and state. I'm sure some people will take it as a controversy, but that is not our intent. The Pledge didn't have 'under God' originally. It's religious bigotry and discrimination. It's wrong, and we are calling for it to be changed."
"I think when I was in school, if there was anybody opposed to that they didn't say that part of it," Connelly said. "So, it just seems ridiculous to me."
The billboard will also be in Asheville, Charlotte, Greensboro, Raleigh and Winston-Salem. Connelly plans to show opposition to the billboard and his side of patriotism in one simple way.
"I think we will put a couple of American flags out front, right beside that to oppose that in whatever way we can," he said
The billboards have a price tag of around $15,000 and are supposed to go up either today or tomorrow. Other business owners in the area say its upsetting as a business owner and an American.