home
RSS
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. Bob

    As a non-religious man I still find this retarded. Why are they whining about a street sign? These people sound just like any other special interest group, a bunch of morons who whine and complain and rain on everyone else's parade because they want to micro-manage everyone else's lives.

    July 7, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • rawr

      They aren't micro-managing anyone other than the state. If it were a private lane – call it what you want. This is a public place.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • gaucho420

      Except we live ina country where the top leader takes on oath on a 2,000 year old religious script. And in God we trust is emblazoned everywhere.

      If you left the country once in a while, you'd realize most other modern countries don't pretend to be one thing they're not.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • rawr

      The founding fathers were deists – you are correct. In god we trust was brought up as an idea of "faith" (meaning the currency is not backed by gold and has an idea of deism. It has nothing to do with religion.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Kathalene Lee

      Well said. I am so sick of "special" people and their whining I could just puke.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  2. trace

    I don't agree with what this guy is doing, but at least he proposed an alternative. So many complain but don't offer any solutions.

    July 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  3. Robert Ray

    Heaven is an imaginary place,it does not exist.A figment of one's delusional imagination.

    July 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • DBSaint

      Okay, so while openly admit that my belief in heaven cannot be proven, what evidence to you have to disprove the claim? If you can't then we have to agree to say we don't know one way or the other?

      July 7, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • Karen

      Robert,,,you are not the brightest crayon in the box,,,kinda standing outside of it if you ask me..just like you'll be when you pass away,,,standing outside of heaven,,,saying " Wow" It really does exist"

      July 7, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • rawr

      So, Karen, you have empirical evidence of heaven? Do show it to the world. I'm sure CNN would love to post a story about your evidence.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • rawr

      DBS – to claim an argument has no merit and to claim you still believe is illogical. To then be as uncouth and verbose as to tell others to provide evidence for your claim is not only in bad taste it is irrational.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Kathalene Lee

      Does it really matter if Heaven is an imaginary place? No one asked you to believe. I don't believe in Heaven either, however, I think that those who do are also allowed their opinion.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • rawr

      You are right. They are allowed their opinion. They can be as illogical as they want. To push it upon others in a public place is something completely different. Just because one individual thinks black people and white people should not marry does not mean all the rest of us should be subject to their extremism.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • DBSaint

      rawr...wow, hit a nerve? Did you even read my post? The fact that I belive in a heaven without proof is what "having faith" is all about. If you don't whan to belive that's fine. I never said you had to. My point was that Robert said Heaven was a made up place. Okay, how can he prove that? Why do we accept his argument as fact and mine as fiction...is it becuase he posted first? Finally, talk about bad taste and poor form, I suggest you look into a mirror. You're exactly the type of extremist that makes it difficult for all Atheists who may be willing to have a civil discussion.

      July 7, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
  4. Rob

    Its a street sign and Bronstein's group are a bunch of Morons. Get over yourselves. A street sign does not infinge on your belief system, nor does it mean that the goverenment is promoting Christian beliefs. Its a street sign, and its a word. If your an Atheist and you don't believe in Heaven, this its just a word like blue or green. Get over yourselves and quit wasting other peoples time and money.

    July 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • islegurl

      I'm with you Rob!!

      July 7, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Kathalene Lee

      I'm with you too, Rob.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  5. hingedlwnb

    So by whining over trivial nonsense such as this athiests are showing themselves to be just as intolerant as religious zealots. Lucidity takes another black eye.

    July 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • gaucho420

      Because we should always take the high road, while Christians mostly revert to a very LOW road? Get real.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • hingedlwnb

      Whatever road, apparently the same car is being used.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  6. gaucho420

    This is an extreme reaction, due to the extremism of most Christians in the US. Athiests will do this as long as Christians attacks gays, abortion, evolution and anything similar. I'm an Atheist and I think its ridiculous...but war IS war, and the Christians have been attacking us for years.

    July 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • Harris

      Jesus did not encourage war. Christians (in the true sense of the word) are not at war with you, or anyone else. Ask Jesus for peace. You may be surprised. Praying this helps.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  7. Matt

    Atheist are IDIOTS & MORONS !!!!!!!!!!!

    July 7, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
    • gaucho420

      Idiots and morons who think past old scripts of made of pure BS? Who's the real moron?

      July 7, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • Josie

      Well not all of them. These in particular have nothing better to do.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • rawr

      Thanks for blanketing everyone, Matt. You should be proud.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
    • capnmike

      The simple-minded name-calling one could expect from a brainwashed fool who feels threatened because his belief in fairytales and lies is being threatened by the truth.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
    • GavrielKay

      Actually, atheists tend to be among the most intelligent and educated people in the populace. It is education and rational thought that leads to questioning beliefs in the supernatural. Keeping religion and government separate should be everyone's goal. They both end up worse off when combined.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • Franco

      And religious people are so perfect because they believe in a mythical being because they were indoctrinated as children to have "faith" and not question something that there is no evidence for? Give me a break!

      July 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  8. Nate

    As an atheist myself, let this one go, Bronstein. There are far more important battles to fight.

    July 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  9. Q

    I'm an athiest, and I think this fight is stupid. So what if there is a street sign saying heaven. It's not going to make me believe in god...

    July 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • rawr

      That really isn't the point. Why not have the street called pedophilia pathway. Just because you don't find it offense doesn't mean others do not.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  10. Jason Kilgore

    I agree with the atheists. The separation between church and state should be complete (including the national motto on coinage, the pledge of allegience, etc), or else we fall into the traps that plague so many nations in the past and in the present, leading to religious strife and even warfare. It seems like such a small thing to name a street this way, to most people, but to those who do not share those beliefs, it becomes yet another poke at them, and builds anger and discriminatory practices. Take it down.

    July 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  11. bostongraf

    As an atheiest and avid supporter of seperation of church and state, even I do not agree with this protest. This sign is for the families and heroes, not for the state.

    Not protesting this sign is the perfect example of tolerance being a two way street.

    July 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • rawr

      Nonsense. It is a public place. If they had been a bunch of neo-nazi's and wanted to call it swastika street you'd be singing a different tune.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  12. Barry

    May God bless the souls of the firefighters who lost their lives in the September 11, 2001 attacks, and may God bless even the atheists, who cannot or will not acknowledge his existence.

    July 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • rawr

      Then why not just change the sign and be done with it.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  13. Maritza Melendez

    Kenneth Bronstein may be an atheist but doubt it. He is anti-Christen and it is this type of person we should watch out for. I wonder if Bronstein thought the sign referred to something Jewish would he make the same remarks.

    July 7, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  14. browntree

    I guess they don't use cash money then either. Find something important to go to court over would you?

    July 7, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  15. tony

    Don't use our money then. I think if the people elect the city council, the mayor, and the governor, and those elected official approve this signage, The New York City Atheists should move on.

    July 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  16. Joshua

    "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exersize therof," how is that misconstrued as a "seperation of church and state" ? If you idiots looked at the historical context in which it was written you would know that it referred to there being no official state church like England had (and has)...get over yourselves, what are you afraid of seeing the ten commandments in front of a courthouse? That has nothing to do with the state making a law about religion, nothing...morons

    July 7, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • steve

      why do you want to be governed by myths. Religion is a man made social control mechanism that only benefits the organizations that control it. and by the way they control you as well.

      i for one do not want ANY religion influencing my elected officials regardless of what sillly religious belief they hold.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • gaucho420

      Right, because the ten commandments don't come from a religious text? Well, let's put up Sharia law as well. Why is your Bible better than someone else's Koran? Or my non-beleif all together?

      July 7, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Joshua

      then go do away with any law that has any resmeblence to one mentioned in a religious text of any kind

      July 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • Joshua

      you know, just to be sure...

      Religion is defined as a manmade system but its not taken in such context by the attackers of people's faith. Spirituality is eneveloped in thier blanket use of the term "religion" so, for the sake of argument I use the word in that context when in a forum discussing the matter

      July 7, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  17. Clif

    That's cut that they have their own little club.

    July 7, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
    • Clif

      cute*
      Blah foiled by typos

      July 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Josie

      Ha! Good one!

      July 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • me

      And it's "cute" you don't proof read.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  18. JayKay

    Athiests need to get a life.

    July 7, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • BRod

      They really do! They are as bad as they claim religious people are!

      July 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Josie

      Some people have nothing better to do. It's sad really.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • gaucho420

      Oh yeah...IN GOD WE TRUST, the President takes an oath on a religious text...we're nuts, there's complete separatin of church and state in the US....YEAH RIGHT! Like none at all!

      July 7, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
  19. aubrie

    the word "heaven" is Christian???/ Really? Most religions have some concept or word for heaven.... It's not exclusive of Christians..... Athiests are so stupid....

    July 7, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Stevie7

      I didn't realize that the Consti.tuion said "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ... unless that law is relavant to more than one religion, in which case it's totally ok".

      July 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Clif

      @Stevie
      I don't think putting up a street sign counts as 'making a law.'

      July 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Joshua

      Obviously its impossible for someone to set aside thier spiritual beliefs when they get appointed a judge or when they are sworn in to the presidency or congress. Look at our DC buildings, look at our money, notice that people swear oaths on a Holy Bible, realize that this is ok because they are not compelled to be so by any law

      July 7, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
  20. Anthony L.

    Let me start by saying that the government should not be involved in church or matters that I would consider private. (And there are many). If they focus on what they should be focused on maybe we would get something done for all of the country. ( They should also take a close look at who they are before trying to preach what is right & wrong for the American people).
    Enough of that, I could go on all day, but to the topic: a lot of people died on that day and I knew some of them. Sign or no sign they will always be remembered and always in my heart. So many came together on that day and the months that followed it can only make you proud. So why would a sign bother you? Because it contains the word heaven? 7 Heros died from there. If the sign helps the family get a little bit more of closer then let it be. It's just a word on a sign, why let it bother you? I do not look at this as the state. I look at this as something thats nice. There are real things in life to complain about. The only people that would be hurt or upset here would be the family's. Do you really want to do that? You know I am at a place now where people can believe in what they want and if the works for them thats all that matters. Who am I to judge. The only one I have a right to judge is me. I do believe in God and I push that on no one. Nor will I ever tell anyone they are wrong in what they believe in. I look at it this way, God's existence can not be proved nor can it be dis proved. So however a person wants to believe that's fine by me. I try in life to do the right thing (will never be 100%) but I try. So try to do the right thing here and just let it go. Try to think of someone other than your self. It will make you feel better. Thanks for listening.

    July 7, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • Toni

      Very well put Anthony.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Sybaris

      "So however a person wants to believe that's fine by me"

      That's fine until they start infusing the laws of the land with restrictions on personal freedoms based on their religious dogma. Christianists would like nothing more than to turn the U.S. into a theocracy. Don't know what that's like? Visit Iran.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Kathalene Lee

      Thanks for contributing.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • OhioDad

      Nice post Anthony...

      July 7, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47
Advertisement
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.