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Atheists challenge ‘Heaven’ on New York City street sign
July 6th, 2011
04:47 PM ET

Atheists challenge ‘Heaven’ on New York City street sign

By Samantha Stamler, CNN

New York (CNN) - A new street sign that reads “Seven in Heaven Way,” and that was recently unveiled in Brooklyn, New York, to commemorate seven local firefighters who lost their lives in the September 11, 2001 attacks has drawn the ire of some atheists, who say they’re prepared to go to court to have the sign taken down.

New York City Atheists, a group that opposes the public use of religious references, is challenging the new sign, which was erected in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood.

“We’re supposed to be a secular nation - there really should not be any religious symbolism or signage in public places,” said Kenneth Bronstein, President of New York City Atheists. “We feel that any and all people who died in 9-11 should be remembered and honored. That’s not the problem.”

Bronstein calls the sign a violation of the separation of church and state, arguing that the word “heaven” is a clear reference to Christianity.

Bronstein has contacted the city with his complaint and has proposed an alternative street name: “We Remember the 7-911.”

Groups dedicated to honoring 9/11 victims did not immediately reply to requests for comment on Bronstein’s campaign.

But some New Yorkers told CNN New York affiliate WPIX that they disagree with the New York City Atheists.

"That's nonsense,” said Anbriena Insausti, who lives in Manhattan. “The families should honor their loved ones anyway they want."

Bronstein says the group is prepared to sue the city over the sign and what it says are other unconstitutional government endorsements of religion.

“This is not a matter of faltering patriotism or public ignorance, but rather an effort to promote secularism,” he said. “We want [the sign] to be neutral. Anyone can believe whatever they want to believe.”

“We’ll die for the right to believe,” he continued. “Just don’t shove it down our throat.”

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Atheism • New York

soundoff (3,096 Responses)
  1. Odessa

    They should go to N. Korea... the end picture of atheism.

    July 6, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • Spiffy

      So what you are saying is that the only way you can be an atheist is if you follow a dictatorship?

      July 6, 2011 at 10:35 pm |
    • Free

      Why would people who reject worshipping a character that they can at least imagine is perfect then turn around and worship some clown who is anything but?

      July 7, 2011 at 1:36 am |
    • Ykcyc

      Odessa-Mama,

      Have you been to N. Korea? What does N. Korea has to do with anything?
      Let's go to Mars instead, just you and me? You such a flirt, you.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Richard Slapp

      North Korea? I suppose you would prefer Iran, the "end picture" of Theism. I would choose neither. I much prefer REALITY, sans the imaginary sky daddy. Trouble is, there are many who continue to push their beliefs on the rest of society.

      July 7, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  2. Civiloutside

    I'm ambivalent on this one. I guess my own feeling is that the word "heaven" has sufficient non-religious cultural context that it's hard to argue that it's use is explicitly religious. Also, if it is in fact the case that all of the seven firefighters it memorializes belonged to a religion that acknowledges a heaven-like concept, I find the phrasing actually kinda poetic and touching (maybe a little cutesy, but so what?)

    My only issue would be if any of them were not affiliated with such a religion, because then the sign becomes disrespectful by dismissing their true beliefs. Otherwise, I think this is a fight that doesn't need to be had.

    July 6, 2011 at 10:17 pm |
    • Spiffy

      Well the sign was put up with public money. So I believe it should be kept secular.

      Also in this case it is obvious that heaven was not used in a secular manner seeing as all seven are dead.

      July 6, 2011 at 10:20 pm |
    • Brun

      Good point, Spiffy! I agree with your post!

      July 6, 2011 at 11:13 pm |
    • neoritter

      When you say "public money" do you mean city/government money or do you mean public contributions/donations?
      If the former you're pretty much right, but if it's the former then I disagree.

      I do think though that government should be allowed to pay for religious symbols if it's at a local level and contextually relevant. Say a church is bombed and it's a severe tragedy for the town. The town wishes (aka consensus by tax paying citizens) to commemorate it, so they put a plague or something there. It it might say, "Pray for those that were lost MM-DD-YYY" or something similarily religious.

      July 7, 2011 at 3:28 pm |
  3. JW

    The US consti-tution does not prohibit honoring people in this way. Sometimes people put a cross where someone died in a car wreck. There are also crosses in cemeteries. Why doesnt this group go to funerals and protest if someone has a cross on their headstone?

    July 6, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    • Sue

      The US consti-tution prohibits JW.

      Twang.

      July 6, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • JW

      I was hoping for a response that made sense, but thanks anyways Sue.

      July 6, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • Brun

      JW, the difference is in WHO put up the religious symbol and why.
      Crosses on the roadside are memorials put up by well-wishers. There are no laws against that.
      Crosses in public cemetaries are equally placed to memorialize each dead person's religion. Done equally, this is legal.

      If a city puts up a street label that says "Jesus is God", that is illegal. This "Seven in Heaven" tries to skirt around this, but the fact remains that it describes a religious concept that is narrowly construed as regards religion.
      That makes it illegal.

      July 6, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
    • melvinslizard

      they are... Atheists are actively trying to remove the cross headstones from our National Cemeteries

      July 7, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • MomOf3

      @melvinslizard
      "they are... Atheists are actively trying to remove the cross headstones from our National Cemeteries"

      Atheists are not trying to get crosses removed from graves in National Cemeteries. They are asking that they be removed from graves of soldiers who were atheists. If you didn't put a religious preference, and many atheists didn't for fear or reprisal, the US Armed Forces assumed you were Chrsitian. There are several different who have sucessfully lobbied to have symbols of their faiths on the monuments of their dead, and rightfully so!

      July 7, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • bostongraf

      Thank you MomOf3 for that very important clarification.

      And I think that the same kind of mentality could be used in this street sign case. I would not want to prevent public funds from pointing to the fact that some of 9-11fallen were atheists. I don't feel the need to protest this expression of how this set of seven lived their lives.

      In my opinion, so long as all religions/non-religions can enjoy this type of expression on street sign memorials, it falls under the "there are bigger battles to fight" category.

      July 7, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
    • neoritter

      boston – then the question is, were these seven referenced in the street sign Christian or to the ambiguous nature of the phrase religious; or not?

      If the former than I don't think there should be a problem. If the latter than yes maybe the signage does need to change.

      On the sidenote of the National Cemetary headstones, my understanding was that anyone that didn't put a religious affiliation is being considered atheist by the atheists proposing this. Yes I'm sure some atheists are in there. But removal should be case by case basis, and only a family member or a legal representative can have that headstone changed.

      July 7, 2011 at 3:35 pm |
  4. Reality

    Only for the those interested in a religious update:

    1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    "New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment. "

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations (or “mythicizing” from P, M, M, L and J) and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Ludemann, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% or less of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan sects.

    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hitt-ites, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.
    earlychristianwritings.com/theories.html

    For added "pizzazz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "filicider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedophiliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    3. Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:
    Adulterous preachers, pedophiliac ministers, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    4. Mohammed was an illiterate, womanizing, lust and greed-driven, warmongering, hallucinating Arab, who also had embellishing/hallucinating/plagiarizing scribal biographers who not only added "angels" and flying chariots to the koran but also a militaristic agenda to support the plundering and looting of the lands of non-believers.

    This agenda continues as shown by the ma-ssacre in Mumbai, the as-sas-sinations of Bhutto and Theo Van Gogh, the conduct of the seven Muslim doctors in the UK, the 9/11 terrorists, the 24/7 Sunni suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the 24/7 Shiite suicide/roadside/market/mosque bombers, the Islamic bombers of the trains in the UK and Spain, the Bali crazies, the Kenya crazies, the Pakistani “koranics”, the Palestine suicide bombers/rocketeers, the Lebanese nutcases, the Taliban nut jobs, the Ft. Hood follower of the koran, and the Filipino “koranics”.

    And who funds this muck and stench of terror? The warmongering, Islamic, Shiite terror and torture theocracy of Iran aka the Third Axis of Evil and also the Sunni "Wannabees" of Saudi Arabia.

    Current crises:

    The Sunni-Shiite global blood feud and the warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), hallucinating founder.

    5. Hinduism (from an online Hindu site) – "Hinduism cannot be described as an organized religion. It is not founded by any individual. Hinduism is God centered and therefore one can call Hinduism as founded by God, because the answer to the question ‘Who is behind the eternal principles and who makes them work?’ will have to be ‘Cosmic power, Divine power, God’."

    The caste/laborer system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence are problems when saying a fair and rational God founded Hinduism."

    Current problems:

    The caste system, reincarnation and cow worship/reverence.

    6. Buddhism- "Buddhism began in India about 500 years before the birth of Christ. The people living at that time had become disillusioned with certain beliefs of Hinduism including the caste system, which had grown extremely complex. The number of outcasts (those who did not belong to any particular caste) was continuing to grow."

    "However, in Buddhism, like so many other religions, fanciful stories arose concerning events in the life of the founder, Siddhartha Gautama (fifth century B.C.):"

    Archaeological discoveries have proved, beyond a doubt, his historical character, but apart from the legends we know very little about the circu-mstances of his life. e.g. Buddha by one legend was supposedly talking when he came out of his mother's womb.

    Bottom line: There are many good ways of living but be aware of the hallucinations, embellishments, lies, and myths surrounding the founders and foundations of said rules of life.

    Then, apply the Five F rule: "First Find the Flaws, then Fix the Foundations". And finally there will be religious peace and religious awareness in the world!!!!!

    --------------------------------------------------------------

    July 6, 2011 at 8:48 pm |
    • Huh?

      NON_REALITY PLEASE STFU WITH YOU IGNORANT BS YOU POST EVRY DAY>>>YOU SOUND SO LOST

      July 7, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  5. John Richardson

    @BG Well, you introduced yourself to me in a particularly appalling way and I've since seem you regularly attacking others in even more appalling ways. Peace2All, on the other hand, seems to get along with pretty much everyone. You two may get along equally well, but I'd be really surprised if the effort to get to that point was shared equally. But hey, I'm glad you two can be friends. It does give one SOME hope. Seriously.

    July 6, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • Anthony

      I disagree with this. Let us pick our battles. It's the name of a street. Get over it we have bigger battles to fight.

      July 6, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • BG

      You are far, far too thin skinned to be on this blog. I hope I don't give you nightmares. I'd hate for my "appalling ways" to give you an anxiety attack.

      You want to start getting along? Drop the crap like "bellicose and immature" for starters. Secondly, listen a little closer. During our first argument we either didn't agree or disagreed (I'm not sure...) and you refused to talk any further.

      So, there you go. If you want to be right all the time, go suck an egg. If you want to exchange ideas, fine. But don't expect me to agree with you simply for the honor.

      July 6, 2011 at 8:26 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Thin skinned? Just because I don't want to be buds with someone as clownishly bellicose as you, that makes me thin skinned? And no, you don't by a long shot give me any nightmares! That's pretty funny! And out first interaction was when I misunderstood what turned out to be a frothy mouthed denunciation of David Johnson for good natured kidding of his obviously intense debating style, thought I was playing along with it, only only to have you respond belligerently to me. And then you followed me around trying to pick fights and I announced I would simply ignore you and did for awhile. Oh, and another early post that I saw from you was the one in which you told an ostensible convert to Islam to admit that he just wanted to have s-ex with 12 year olds. Yeah, these are the sorts of behavior I consider pointlessly bellicose and immature.

      July 6, 2011 at 8:42 pm |
    • BG

      Sadly, you and I don't appear to have a future together. It's probably for the best.

      You're the fussy kind that thinks everyone who disagrees with you is stalking you, and I hate drama queens.

      Sleep tight.

      July 6, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • Scanland

      That sounds like it came from some drama-queen's song. "And it just isn't working out between the two of us, darling"
      You might hate drama-queens but you appear to be one yourself. Now rant at me! Go ahead and give me some drama!

      July 7, 2011 at 4:40 am |
    • John Richardson

      Oh no, I don't have a future with BG! And here I always pictured us holding hands and skipping joyfully through the meadow! I am CRUSHED!!! 😀

      July 7, 2011 at 8:10 am |
    • Ruff Draft

      Sadly, you and I don't appear
      to have a future together.
      It's probably for the best.
      O my dearest wonderful John.

      We walked through the fields
      those hair-raising fields
      until the moon rose in the garden in June.

      But when you said to me, dear,
      that my words were not clear
      That's when I decided to tell you what I fear.

      O dar-r-r-ling! My dar-r-rling!
      You said nasty word and now I'm blue!

      We can't live together or bathe together
      but at least I will be sure to stay blue-oo-oo!

      There's no future for us now
      'cause we both have a cow
      so let us part until we meet again now!

      July 7, 2011 at 9:18 am |
  6. Casey

    The statement that our Country is Secular is frankly laughable. The Nation was founded on the basis of Religous Freedom.

    The Const*tution says "The civil rights of none shall be abridged on account of religious belief or worship, nor shall any national religion be established, nor shall the full and equal rights of conscience be in any manner, or on any pretext, infringed."

    The main purpose is to protect Churches and Religions from the Government. This brew-ha-ha is ridiculous. It's funny that Athiests, who pride themselves on Logic and Reason... are acting so idiotic.

    July 6, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • John Richardson

      You obviously don't understand what the word 'secular' means.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:25 pm |
    • Casey

      LOL... Secular: of or pertaining to worldly things or to things that are not regarded as religious, spiritual, or sacred;... Yep... that's what I thought. Religious Freedom ... does not mean "Free of Religion" ... It means that all are free to believe or practice the Faith of their choice (even if that's no Faith at all).

      But thanks for giving me a good laugh.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
    • John Richardson

      From the Secular News Daily: "Secularism holds that a person’s religious belief or lack of same is no business of the government. Separation of religion and state is secularism in action. Secularism is an outgrowth of the struggle for religious tolerance: both religious and anti-religious groups have opposed secularism."

      Secularists like Jefferson and Adams and others advocated secular government in large part to prevent from happening at the federal level the religious persecutions that had happened in the individual colonies with their predominant or even officially established churches. Secularism is the surest way to advance the very religious freedom you obviously value.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • Casey

      Not too familiar with that publication... Secularism is currently protected by the Const*tution by the ammendment I quoted earlier... and I think that's great. The problem we have though... is that it gets twisted around that "Secularism" is the Law of the Land... and that any expression of Faith, or belief in God is a violation of the Law... Like the topic of this story, and the deal with the sign. No no no... The Law of the land is about freedom of Religion, as I previously outlined... if you want to include Secularism in that... hey... that's fine with me. But let's not twist it around.

      A true Government that is Secular... or at least trying real hard to be.. is China. Also the old Soviet Union. It's actually very very difficult to practice religion in those places... you can actually get arrested for it.

      July 6, 2011 at 8:06 pm |
    • Casey

      BTW... Neither Jefferson or Adams had anything to do with the writing of the Const*tution.

      Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independance.. but both those guys were out of town while the ConSt*tution was being written. The phrase "Separation of Church and State" is from a letter .. I think... written by Jefferson... but it does not exist in the Const*tution.

      July 6, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • John Richardson

      No, the only way for freedom of religion (and more generally freedom of belief) can be guaranteed for all is for government not to take sides. Communist governments of course don't establish any RELIGION in the traditional sense as the one acceptable belief system, but they unabashedly establish one political PHILOSOPHY as the one acceptable belief system and have historically been at least as brutal on other, non-theistic belief systems, including rival leftist philosophies, as they have been on religions. So while these governments may be "secular" in a narrow sense, they didn't just miss the whole point of secularism as a vehicle of tolerance, but rejected the very notion that tolerance was desirable, with predictable results.

      Look around today, Where does freedom of religion flourish the most? In avowed theocracies like Iran? No, freedom of religion flourishes the most precisely where the government stays out of religious issues.

      July 6, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Casey

      I'm sure that others, including yourself, may disagree but I believe the notion that many of us hold is that private individuals have the right of freedom of religion but that the government should/must be free of religion. So *you* can hold whatever beliefs *you* like, but the government is expected to be silent on and not influenced by religion, so that all religions and believers are treated equally by government.

      July 6, 2011 at 8:40 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Casey Jefferson was instrumental in developing the Bill of Rights, which of course includes the First Amendment and the establishment clause. But let's see what the "father of the const-itution", James Madison, has to say on the matter:

      "During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, supersti-tion, bigotry and persecution."

      "What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, insti-tuted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not."

      July 6, 2011 at 8:54 pm |
    • Casey

      Feels like a bad Twilight Zone episode.

      Perhaps the point is too subtle for you guys... YES... I agree that the Government does, and must remain neutral on matters of Religion. That is what is behind the deal where is says... "nor shall any national religion be established". What it doesn't say is that they can suppress Religious expression.. in the name of that neutrallity. So... again.. the main deal is to protect Religions, Belief, or Non-Belief from the Government. Over time though... this gets extended and twisted around so we have situations like this sign, meant as a peaceful tribute to fallen Firefighters.... and people getting all riled up about it yelling and frothing "Separation of Church and State!!!!"

      The World is indeed a strange place.

      July 6, 2011 at 8:57 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Casey But the issue here and elsewhere is whether that neutrality is violated when the government actually is the one making the religious expression. I agree that calling a road 'Seven in Heaven Way' is only marginally religious and mostly a way to honor some firefighters who surely deserve to be be honored. So I find this lawsuit extremely ill-considered at best and actually va-guely repulsive at worst. But in many, many other cases, saying that it's perfectly okay to have public insti-tutions like schools actually lead prayers or municipal governments put out highly charged religious displays around holidays, it seems perfectly obvious that government is indeed violating its mandated neutrality. When people bring suit against private citizens having manger scenes on their own lawns or private clubs opening business with a prayer, I'll be on your side 100%. But that's simply not the sort of case that secularists have brought.

      July 6, 2011 at 9:12 pm |
    • Q

      @Casey – Your establishment clause quote is incorrect. It reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,...". It does not read "establishment of a religion" but references religion in its most general sense.

      I agree that the primary role of the "wall of separation" is to protect an individual's freedom of religious expression from undue state influence. What I believe you're missing here is that the specific types of encroachment in mind at the time of founders where those emanating from a majority religious view employing state powers to impose upon minority religious views (or lack thereof). This was the concern of the Danbury Baptists to whom Jefferson was responding when he wrote:

      "Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should "make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof," thus building a wall of separation between Church & State."

      Simply stated, the only way to preserve an individual's freedom of religious expression is to ensure that government, be it federal, state or local, does not act to promote or hinder any particular religious view point. The one exception here is when a secular law serving a secular purpose contradicts a religious practice, e.g. a religious practice which requires parents to abstain from medical treatment for their children, a religious practice requiring the slaughter of animals in a residential neighborhood, a religious practice involving controlled substances, etc. Religious expression like all other individual freedoms are rightly limited when they directly impose upon/harm other individuals.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:33 am |
    • sassypants

      These are great posts Casey. I agree.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
  7. jj

    It's a city street sign! Paid for with public funds. It's nice to honor someone, but you don't need a christian reference. To you believers, how would you like your street name changed to Devil's Street? I wouldn't like to live on Heaven Lane. It may bother others, of different religious beliefs. They are also taxpayers, and deserve fairness.

    July 6, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
    • BG

      Devil's Lane?

      How about just naming the entire city like they did in North Carolina? "Seven Devils"

      Enough devils for you? How about Devil's Creek? Devil's Tower? Lake Devils? Guess what... you can do the same thing with Heaven.

      So what. Stop making up silly shít and get over it.

      July 6, 2011 at 6:34 pm |
    • Luke

      BG

      The naming of a lake does not cost taxpayers. Poor analogies aside, perhaps if the street were named Allah Avenue we'd get a rise out of you. Jehovah's Circle do it for you? What if it were named non-believers kick butt route? Now do you see why we do not invoke any religious references in government funded projects?

      July 6, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
    • BG

      Oh, -now- you want to drag in the Muslims...? When it's convenient. Besides, you're too late. Allah Ave. is in Harrodburg, Ky., 40330. If I bothered to look I'm sure I could find a "Jehovah's Circle" somewhere else. Probably Jersey. Anyway..

      Lakes are usually under the government jurisdictions, city, county, state, etc. Federal parks, etc... . Not always.

      Been awhile, Luke. I see you're still fairly vapid.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • Luke

      BG

      I checked some cases of this. They are private land in the same way that a company can name the streets within its campus. An example would be 1 Amgen way or 1 Cyberonics Drive. And when you buy land where you are the only resident on the Street, you can name the Street. My buddy paid a fee and named his street his last name.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
    • BG

      Yes, this is true – but... if the property is within the city/township, etc.. incorporated limits, the name is subject to government approval. It's not automatic. Even if you're the only resident. That 'fee' your buddy paid was called an application.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  8. Richard

    Hey Freedom of religion right. If atheist feel left out-Ill put up a sign saying "Going nowhere"

    July 6, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • Lee

      Newsflash: just because you think you are going somewhere, doesn't make it so. There is no reason to believe that consiousness survives brain death.

      July 6, 2011 at 6:00 pm |
  9. GSA

    So the terrorists went to heaven according to their beliefs and the firefighters went to heaven according to their beliefs.....hmmmmmm.

    July 6, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • BG

      Giving yourself a hmmmm -er? And that was supposed to be a physical impossibility....

      Gives a new twist on the old joke "why does a dog lick himself."

      July 6, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • Luke

      BG

      I get the feeling that you are the type of adult that still thinks dogs lick themselves because your parents told you that they are cleaning themselves. Sir, he's masturbating. Just making the point, albeit, off topic.

      July 6, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • BG

      Really? Your dog gets a stiffy? Mine doesn't. He must be doing it wrong. Let's let this one go, Luke. Just let.. it.. go.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:09 pm |
    • Luke

      BG

      Your dog is incapable of an erection? How would he reproduce prior to being chopped? The red rocket is a stiffy. And licking is canine masturbation. In any event, this is pointless.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • BG

      I thought you guys didn't even like dogs. Now your getting all up in my face and with -expert- details. Mind your own dogs 'red rocket' and stop getting all personal with my dogs.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      How exactly did a discussion about religiously themed street names devolve into an argument about canine masturbation?
      I tried to emulate what my dog does, but I kept falling off the couch.

      July 7, 2011 at 8:35 am |
    • John Richardson

      Seat belt, Doc, seat belt!!!

      July 7, 2011 at 8:46 am |
    • Giggity

      So one guy tries to make a joke about dog masturbation and then decides he really doesn't want to talk about it?

      I think someone has se.x issues. Gay se.x issues. BG it's time to come out of the closet. Here in this anonymous blog should be a good place to make that tenative step into the light.
      There is nothing wrong with those feelings you're having when you see your dog lick himself, BG.
      If you have dogs, how do you deal with their se.xuality? They need to get off, too, ya know.
      Didn't you know where puppies come from?
      Do you think all se.x is dirrrrrty?
      Do you beat your dogs if they do these evil things in your presence with their glowing red evil parts?
      LOL

      July 7, 2011 at 8:56 am |
  10. JW

    Another thing is that the sign isnt meant to honor firefighters in general. It is to honor these specific seven people. If the community and their families wish to honor them this way, who are these people to tell them that they have to right to do that?

    July 6, 2011 at 5:39 pm |
    • Luke

      The US Const.itution says so, not "people."

      July 6, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @JW

      You said: "Another thing is that the sign isnt meant to honor firefighters in general. It is to honor these specific seven people. If the community and their families wish to honor them this way, who are these people to tell them that they have to right to do that?

      I personally wouldn't have a problem with it, if "they" could prove Heaven exists and that all 7 are going there. Are they all going there because of a single act? Is it works then? Is that what gets you to heaven?

      So, if I'm a Muslim I can take away from this...What?

      Cheers!

      July 6, 2011 at 11:42 pm |
  11. frank

    I'm gonna go with "seriously, get a life, people" on this one.

    July 6, 2011 at 5:38 pm |
    • Luke

      So your argument is, "Who cares? Let's just ignore a possible infraction of the 1st amendment." Great atti.tude.

      July 6, 2011 at 6:55 pm |
    • BG

      Here's Luke.. out in left field yelling "Pass it to me !!"

      Luke, young man. It's not a violation. Read the Civil Rights act of 1964. Use your head. Please.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • Luke

      Coming home from a 2 week vacation is not "out of left field."

      I've read and are aware of the civil rights act of 64. I do not, however, agree with your interpretation of said act. In this case, I see a taxpayer funded street sign that makes a religious reference. I am disappointed, however, that no one noticed this during the name and committee process.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:12 pm |
    • BG

      Pretty safe bet that they did. Trust me on this, Luke. It's all been done before. It's not going to change simply because the atheists are sitting in a corner during the city council meeting and behaving badly.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
    • frank

      I didn't make an argument. Great reading comprehension.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • BG

      @ frank

      Yeah, Luke's like that. Always willing to find fault where there isn't any. Pugnacious little guy.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • Luke

      BG

      I find that you resort to name calling often more telling than any point you ever make on heated topics. I'm in reality – not a little boy or child or anything else you've stooped to calling me in an attempt to belittle me, my argument or my point of view while attempting to prop up your occasional intelligent reply. I may very well be strident, but I'm nothing like you.

      July 6, 2011 at 11:49 pm |
  12. JW

    If these people are so opposed to it why did they not come to the meetings and say something? Why did they wait until they were ready to put up the sign and then take it to court? They just want more publicity at taxpayer expense.

    July 6, 2011 at 5:33 pm |
    • Luke

      Maybe they missed the hearing?

      Sounds similar to the pseudo-uproar regarding the faux ground zero mosque. That building was in the words for upwards of three years. As it turns out, the republican party simply turned it into a talking point in order to garner national votes. Funny, heard much about that thing since the mid-term election? No. They abandoned it.

      July 6, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • BG

      Yippee!

      Didn't have anything to do with the city wanting to know where the funding was coming from.... nah. Or that Imam Rauf.. never mind.

      It was all a Republican plot. That'll do I guess.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:06 pm |
    • Luke

      BG

      The uproar was most certainly a political plot, with me getting first hand witness to it each day as I walk to work passed the building. Where were the people to stop the building three years prior? Where are they now? See a headline anytime recently? Negative.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
  13. Stevie7

    As an avowed atheist, I think that someone needs to tell the New York City Atheists that they need to do a better job of picking their battles.

    July 6, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
    • JF

      I agree

      July 6, 2011 at 5:36 pm |
    • BG

      Nah. Leave 'em alone. They're doing a fine job of píssing everyone off all on their own. How to win friends and influence people. What next? Leave flaming bags of crap on peoples' doorsteps and ring their doorbells?

      Sounds like a plan, New York atheists. Print up some fliers and go buy some Ronsonol.

      God knows they're not short on the rest.

      @ Frogist

      Ti tle II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. They'd lose unless there's a state or municipal code written to specifics

      July 6, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @BG

      Speaking of how to win friends, etc... How is one of my favorite people on the blogs doing these days...?

      How are those renovations going...? Ya' couldn't just sit and watch the paint dry...? *(Back in the saddle again)...?

      Well, I do hope that things are going smoothly for you my friend.

      Take care,

      Regards,

      Peace...

      July 6, 2011 at 6:37 pm |
    • BG

      Hey Peace. Have a good 4th? I gave up M-80s and hammerheads a long time ago. There was this guy that used to put one in a slingshot and light it before launching it... never mind.

      Renos going well, actually! Soup to nuts on the second bedroom, new floor, closet lights, quarter-round, paint, etc. Bathroom has a slow leak from the tub, that's next. Had to do the crawl-way behind the plumbing first. PIA. Kitchen's tore up waiting for new cabinetry, all the appliances work. 80 year old house. We did the windows last year. New major mechanical in the basement. Never buy an old house unless that stuff was done first. Year 75 bad stuff starts to happen. (new roof couple years ago.. yeah. I know.)

      But it's built well and whatever I do will last another 75 years. So while the paint, spackle, glue, polyurethane, etc. dries I'll hang out here and troll the atheists. Seen my troll-brother lately?

      Later, Peace. Always a pleasure.

      July 6, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Peace2All

      @BG

      Yeah... actually my wife and i watched a pretty good fireworks show. Just relaxed and watched some movies. Had one of the best rib-eye's I've had in awhile.

      ..."I gave up M-80s and hammerheads a long time ago. There was this guy that used to put one in a slingshot and light it before launching it... (never mind). " I guess soldiers will be soldiers... ? 😯

      ..."So while the paint, spackle, glue, polyurethane, etc. dries I'll hang out here and troll the atheists. "

      Well, glad you're back. The blog just doesn't have the same, hmm... warm and fuzzy tone and feel to it with out you around. LOL 😀 Ya' keep everyone on their toes !

      Regards -BG

      Peace...

      July 6, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Stevie7 EXACTLY. Needless to say, I get their point. But to carry on like this in this of all cases is just stupid, not to mention counterproductive.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
    • John Richardson

      And the crowd goes silent in rapt wonder. How does he do it? How does Peace2All actually get along well with the most pointlessly bellicose and immature poster on the blog?

      July 6, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • BG

      @ Richardson

      Simple. Peace and I have been to places on this blog that would make your hair stand on end.

      Then we actually talked to each other and acknowledged our differences. Imagine that.

      We can both be right and both be wrong. It's called flexibility and respect, John. You have to want it.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  14. nacholibre

    They don't want any religious expressions in public but that isn't the point of separation of church and state. If these people want to express their beliefs in a public setting, they have every right to. Separation of church and state means the government can't prohibit them from doing so.

    July 6, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
  15. BluDove

    Why do we tolerate Atheists? Atheist believe in the way of the Beast or/and Survival of the Fittest.Scientist have proven adult beast will eat their young if they feel the young is a threat to their survival; a person who believes this way is capable of any crime against humanity. Survival of the Fittest is another way of saying...of the Beast, which the Bible warns us of! Criminals are more than ready to believe this way to ease their councious of the countless crimes against humanity they have committed. Why are we looking to the animal kingdom to tell us how to live our lives? We are suppose to above the animal kingdom!

    July 6, 2011 at 5:28 pm |
    • Lee

      "Why do we tolerate atheists?" How christian of you. "Survival of the fittest" is a crude way to describe natural selection. Just because we understand how nature works, doesn't mean we advocate eating our young. Similarly, just because we understand gravity, doesn't mean we should thow people from buildings.

      July 6, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
    • Stevie7

      And do you know what else, atheists even eat their bread with the BUTTER SIDE DOWN!!

      July 6, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • BG

      "Just because we understand how nature works, doesn't mean we advocate eating our young."

      Just destroying them.

      Right. Got it.

      July 6, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
    • Luke

      Disregarding 99% of your nonsense, survival of the fittest is an economic term, not a biological. Go read a book.

      July 6, 2011 at 6:59 pm |
    • Civiloutside

      See, this is why I post. Because of bs like this. The guy has no understanding of what atheists are, or what they believe, but is spewing inflammatory hate based on complete failure to understand even the basics of what we believe.

      Atheists are humans. We have human emotions, loves, and desires. And a big part if what makes anyone human is community (and that means we most definitely do not feel enti-toes to do whatever self-searching or vile thing comes to mind). So let's get a grip, shall we?

      July 6, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
    • oakydoke

      My dear... We all animals! Very silly post.

      I'll tell you what... Take an informal poll of Death Row inmates, and tell how many of them are religious, and how many of them are atheists.

      After you've found out that the worst of society come from YOUR side of the aisle, not ours, come back and apologize. I'll accept it when you do.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  16. Lycidas

    While I think it's making a big deal out of nothing, they have the right to complain about the sign. And they probably will win the argument based on the laws of our nation.

    July 6, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • blink184

      *blink blink* Did I just see what I just saw? The end times are upon us!
      I'm going to go outside and look in the sky for Jesus in his UFO now...

      July 6, 2011 at 11:59 pm |
  17. Momma Hanna

    @reality – your sick. I couldn't even stomoch the vomit you were puking here.

    July 6, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Sue

      you one big fat momma. way too fat. Those cheeks be makin thunder.

      July 6, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
  18. Lee

    I bet the ones who thought of this sign fail to see the irony that religion, and specifically the idea of heaven (paradise) was a huge part in the 9/11 terrorists motives.

    July 6, 2011 at 5:18 pm |
  19. JF

    Did anyone bother to a background check on these guys? Maybe none of them were Christian. Maybe only 3 or 4. The rest were some other religion that has no heaven or they were atheists. Should the sign then read "Three in Heaven and Four in Hell Way"?

    July 6, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  20. Frogist

    The const!itutionality of it, I don't know. I'm actually of two minds on this... If the firefighters were all Christian and their families Christian then I don't see the problem as it is in memoriam of them. If the sign is meant as a memorial to all who died on 9-11, then it has to come down. The rememberance of those who were lost on that day should not be used as a means to promote religion.

    July 6, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Frogist

      I generally agree, but surprise surprise, despite being a stauch atheist, I don't thnk this is something to go to court over. The recent aerial signs got a message out without targetting a specfic group or indviduals (well, OK, the christians thought they were being targeted but that can be explained by their persecution complex...), so I have no problem with that. This is much more local and personal and I would only want third parties involved if relatives of one of the seven did not approve of the sign.

      Maybe what is needed is a big '*' and something like "In the opinion of the those who believe in a 2,000 year old fairy tale." below in very fine print.

      July 6, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
    • Momma Hanna

      if all references to Heaven have to removed from soceity then so should any references to Hell or the devil. SO no more Devil's cove, or Deveil's backbone or whatever we call our landmarks. Can someone just shut up the aethiest. People outside of NY would never even have know about this sign and could care less (not to lighten the reason for the sign – that is serious) what name they used but the aethieist had to make a a big deal about it. Wha wha wha.,

      July 6, 2011 at 5:24 pm |
    • Luke

      As a NYer and former resident of Brooklyn, there is no way I pay 1 cent in taxes that aided in posting a sign that mentions anything religious. End of argument.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • Luke

      Momma Hanna

      So your argument is "shut up if you disagree with me." There's a lot to be said about a person that thinks this way.

      July 6, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Luke I doubt that your share of the cost of this inexpensive item in a huge city budget adds up to even a significant fraction of a cent. I understand the nature of your objection, but this is one case where making a fuss will cost vastly more in needless ill will than could ever be recouped by adamantly standing on principle, by my calculations, anyway. Results, as always, may of course vary.

      July 6, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • Sue

      Momma Hanna has fat cheeks yo.

      July 6, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
    • Emma Rae

      What about Corpus Christi in Texas? The name isn't proper English, but it still means "body of Christ".
      Just think of all the government money they've spent in labeling things with "body of Christ".

      I think those atheists should do something about city and place names....except that they are just city and place names.
      A street name is kind of like that, too. The US Gov't should have put the kibosh on that stuff back when it was being done in the old days.
      But just because they've gotten away with it for so long does not make it legal, either.
      I'm not going to be militant about these place names myself.
      But if other people want to fight that fight, they are more than welcome to do so.
      I pick my fights when I can. There are legal reasons to fight this fight, but the sheer volume of religiously themed place names make it more of a waste of time and resources than other legal fights that could be done.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:10 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.