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Hebrew atheist billboard gets bumped in New York
The American Atheists' president acknowledged that the pair of new billboards will likely cause a stir, and the did.
March 7th, 2012
02:51 PM ET

Hebrew atheist billboard gets bumped in New York

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)–A controversial billboard from a national atheist group was scheduled to go up in a heavily populated Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn on Tuesday but was bumped when the owner of the building objected to the advertisement.

CNN first reported the billboards were targeting Muslim and Jewish enclaves with, “You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice,” written on billboards in Arabic and Hebrew.

The Brooklyn billboard was in English and Hebrew. To the right of the text on the Hebrew sign is the word for God, Yahweh.

American Atheists president David Silverman said he went to the Brooklyn location when the billboard was scheduled to be put up with reporters and was surprised to see it was not being erected. “We sat there and watched and the billboard didn't go up,” he said. "The Jewish landlord of the building saw the billboard and refused to let it go up," he said.

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Silverman said it was a clear case of religious bigotry. "It was very disappointing to me because I was raised Jewish," he said by phone from New York. "They've been the victims of religious bigotry and now they're the purveyors."

When reached by phone, Kenneth Stier the owner of the building that rejected the billboard in the heavily Orthodox Jewish neighborhood, offered a polite “no comment” on the matter.

Silverman said the billboard has been moved out of the residential area and put up in a pricier spot off a major highway at no additional cost. He added that while it was nice to have more visibility, his group was specifically targeting that Brooklyn neighborhood.

Jim Cullinan, vice president for marketing & communications for Clear Channel told CNN in an e-mail, “We found space for both ads and this contract is being fulfilled,” but would not comment on moving the billboard out of the residential area in Brooklyn.

“It is against our policy to comment on any of our advertisers' campaigns,” he wrote.

Silverman said he was disappointed by the development. “We wanted to get into the residential neighborhood because so many Hasidic are closeted atheists,” he said.

He said they received over a dozen e-mails from closeted atheist Hasidim who thought they were alone until news of the ad campaign broke.

"This is why atheists need to come out of the closet," Silverman said.

Silverman again reiterated the signs advertise the American Atheists’ upcoming convention and an atheist rally, called the Reason Rally, in Washington scheduled for April.

Atheists have long pointed to surveys that suggest atheists and agnostics make up between 3% and 4% of the U.S. population. That number increases when Americans unaffiliated with any religion are included. The Pew Center’s U.S. Religious Landscape Survey found that 16% are unaffiliated, though only a fraction of those are avowed atheists and agnostics.

Silverman told CNN last week he knew that the pair of new billboards will cause a stir.

“People are going to be upset,” he said. “That is not our concern.”

“We are not trying to inflame anything,” he continued. “We are trying to advertise our existence to atheist in those communities. The objective is not to inflame but rather to advertise the atheist movement in the Muslim and Jewish community.”

CNN's Dan Merica contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Atheism • Islam • Judaism

soundoff (1,757 Responses)
  1. gupsphoo

    Yes, the billboard says God is a myth. So what?

    If your god is real, what's there to worry about?

    March 8, 2012 at 3:35 am |
  2. Light1

    A billboard saying that God is a myth shows intolerance toward believers & towards God & atheists have the nerve to say its bigotry not to post up the sign.
    Christians dont have signs that say atheists are close minded and materialistic.

    March 8, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      LIGHT1 the rational secular atheist will not like being called close-minded for sure. However to focus on rationality without emotional maturity n moral fulfilment is unhelpful. Humans r emotional n moral beings. Without emotional n moral maturity the best of rationality is what is gathered here.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:16 am |
    • Shayna

      I am a Humanist minister & totally support this effort. It allows questioning people who have been totally isolated within a religious community to realize they are not strange nor alone. It's a wonderful feeling to find out that there is nothing wrong with you if you reject or question your lifelong indoctrination. Humanists define ourselves by what we are, not by what we aren't. We believe people have the right to determine the purpose and course of our own lives. We also need community & a way to celebrate life-cycle ceremonies, which is why we belong to groups of like minded people!

      March 8, 2012 at 2:30 am |
    • brilliant

      "Christians dont have signs that say atheists are close minded and materialistic."

      Nope, just that we'll be tortured for eternity if we don't think the same way you do.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:32 am |
    • gupsphoo

      "Christians dont have signs that say atheists are close minded and materialistic."

      Please notice that these atheist billboard don't say Christians/Muslims are close minded.

      I don't know why it's bad to say God is a myth is bad while saying God is real is good.

      Please enlighten me, my dear theist.

      March 8, 2012 at 3:31 am |
    • Primewonk

      " Christians dont have signs that say atheists are close minded and materialistic."

      No, you just have billboards that da.mn people to hell.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:52 am |
    • just sayin

      Show us one primewonk, or I might have to think of you in an unfavorable light.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  3. bacteria and monkeys

    the myth is that ethias it self is a myth..................those who fallow dekart and some of the roman and greek writers and many communists in russia are ethias by name , they born as jews and christeans and later they change there views after they got fu ked by preists so they became an ethiasts 99% of them are fu ked bt preiests and the rest by there teachers...i know that for fact and not myth....good for you as hall ....

    March 8, 2012 at 1:15 am |
    • boulderbubblemomblog

      need to go back to school...

      March 8, 2012 at 1:22 am |
    • bacteria and monkeys

      My other name is Poe, and that's the law

      March 8, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • Light1

      You show you have low morals and bad language, shame.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:27 am |
    • Susie

      ethais, dekart, christeans, preiests, ethiasts...what strange alien world do you come from?

      March 8, 2012 at 4:47 am |
  4. bacteria and monkeys

    I FK AN ETHIAS LADY ONCE , MAN SHE IS GOOD THEY ARE EXCELLENT FK.....BUT THATS all they just good fk communist and mutants of human been not to be taken as wifes......

    March 8, 2012 at 1:11 am |
  5. bacteria and monkeys

    we should not allow any ethias to get barried and barried in any holly ground , they should be burned and put there ashes in the toilet so they can be helpful to the bacteria thats what they think....

    March 8, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  6. ALLAH AND YAHWA WHY

    WHY USING THE GOD NAME IN VAIN..
    CLEARLEY THIS IS A HATE CRIM AGANIST ISLAM AND JEWSIH PEOPLE..
    YAHAWA AND ALLAH ARE WRITEN IN ARABIC AND HEBROW LANGAUGES....YAHWA MEANS HE IS THE ONE AND ONLY ONE HE IS THE CREATOR, AND ALLAH M,EANS HE IS ONLY ONE WHO CREAT EVERY THING.
    IF THE ETHIAS HAVE PROBLEM THEY SHOULD USE THE WORLD JESUS AS THE CHRISTEANS USE JESUS AS GOD !!! AND SON OF GOD WHY THEY DIDNT USE JESUS , BEACUSE THOSE ARE VILLAGE IDIOTS AND MUTANT OF HUMAN BEEN, THOSE ETHIAS THINK THEY ARE MONKEYS AND I THINK THEY ARE CORRECT THOSE MONKEYS ARE MUTANTS AND WE ARE IN GOD IMAGE.....SO THEY THINK THAT GOD IS A MONKEY!!!mmmmm go fk your self ethias , communists this is a democracy you can pray to your monkey god and we can pray to our creator....fk you communists

    March 8, 2012 at 1:06 am |
  7. Nii Croffie

    Momoya as an elderly gentleman who is a former minister do you realize the lows u have sunk to emotionally by rejecting the Bible's teaching? The Bible does not necessarily haave to be true. Like a science text it models behaviour n its models work. Emotional maturity is there for your taking. LOVE.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:45 am |
    • Zombie Squirrels Shall Feast Upon Your Nuts!

      "The Bible does not necessarily haave to be true" – don't worry; it isn't.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:54 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      I have always wondered why atheists on this boaard always take a small bit of what u wrote to respond to. We r not studying verses here so y can't u respond in context. This is the main reason most people can't understand de Bible. The verses can say anything. In de context of their passages please.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:42 am |
  8. gupsphoo

    Why are religious people so outraged by a mild message that tells people that they don't have to believe in a myth?

    It's not like when religious people tell you that you're going to be burned for all eternity if you don't believe in Yaweh/Jesus/Allah.

    March 8, 2012 at 12:34 am |
    • sociopath

      Why do these atheist keep telling people that god is a myth. I think people can find that out for themselves. I think they just want to provoke people and anger as many individuals as possible since they don't have anything better to do.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"It's not like when religious people tell you that you're going to be burned for all eternity if you don't believe in Yaweh/Jesus/Allah."

      Gupsphoo. Try this, Religious folks tell other Religious folks that they will suffer for eternity if they don't agree with this interpretation or the other.

      It's like not only is the guy with the Corvette saying that Chevy's rule ....but then spends more of his time challenging other General Motors drivers that he has the best Chevy, in his Corvette.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • The Brady Bunch Chainsaw Massacre

      On behalf of the Department on Motor Vehicles, I am presenting you with handicap stickers for you car, because a metaphor that bad proves that intellectually you are serevely handicapped.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:58 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Explain then how it is flawed....unless you just want me to take your word for it. 🙂

      March 8, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • gupsphoo

      @sociopath – Would you complain when theists tell people that their gods are real? Come on now, don't be a hypocrite.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:46 am |
  9. Reality

    Only for the newbies:

    The following new billboards are currently under consideration:

    #1

    How much money would the following save the US taxpayers ?:

    Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
    There never were and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror like 9/11.

    – One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

    – Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

    Billboard #2

    How much money would the following save the US taxpayers ?:

    Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
    There were never any bodily resurrections and there will never be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity!!!

    – The Mormon empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and evangelical non-profits since there are no longer any claims to being tax-exempt religions.

    Billboard #3

    How much money would the following save the US taxpayers ?:

    Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
    Abraham and Moses never existed.

    – Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

    – All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
    • Susie

      Did you think that up while playing video games in moms basement? Just think of all the money that the govt will have to replace when Christians and Jews disappear and stop supporting most of the million charities in the US that support the mentally ill, rehabilitate drug users and criminals, supply fostercare feed the hungry, cloth thos in poverty supply glasses to those who cant afford them, provide free healthcare to the homeless. Good luck with that

      March 8, 2012 at 4:55 am |
    • Reality

      And the largest group of those caring for the needy???

      By far, the US taxpayers !!!!

      Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" are converging these religions into some simple rules of life. No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired.

      Ditto for houses of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.

      March 8, 2012 at 7:43 am |
  10. Shayna

    I am a Humanist minister & totally support this effort. It allows questioning people who have been totally isolated within a religious community to realize they are not strange nor alone. It's a wonderful feeling to find out that there is nothing wrong with you if you reject or question your lifelong indoctrination. Humanists define ourselves by what we are, not by what we aren't. We believe people have the right to determine the purpose and course of our own lives. We also need community & a way to celebrate life-cycle ceremonies, which is why we belong to groups of like minded people.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Zombie Squirrels Shall Feast Upon Your Nuts!

      Being a humanist minister must be like being an anarchist leader.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:14 am |
  11. what

    Isn't it bigotry to shove atheism down their throats I mean c'mon just leave them alone.

    March 7, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • BFF

      It's for those that know it's a myth

      March 8, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • gupsphoo

      Please explain how putting up a billboard telling people that they have a choice is "shoving atheism down their throats"?

      March 8, 2012 at 12:26 am |
    • HeavenSent

      BFF, Cain started the corrupt religions in rebellion to God.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:44 am |
  12. Clyde M

    I am an atheist. A pretty vocal one. And I, for one, think Silverman is a jerk and detriment to the causes I'd love to see advanced.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
    • Paris Hilton Bravely Comes Out Against Being Against Things And Stuff, Totally

      I don't know anything about Silverman, but I don't really get the idea of joining an atheist group. I am more than happy to debate the absurdity and uselessness of religion if the subject gets thrown in front of me – and religious people often throw it uninvited into many situations – but I'm not on a crusade, I am not going to hang out with other atheists just to talk about what we don't believe in when there are way too many interesting things to do with a day, and I am way too anarchic to follow some leader.

      Basically, I see no point in joining a club for not collecting stamps either.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Al

      Paris fan,

      I think there are a lot more atheist out there than people claim and I think most think like you. I really don't care if more people become atheist as long as religion stays out of government.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:25 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Cain started the corrupt religions in rebellion to God. Atheists love to believe Cain's lies so they can continue their bad behaviors being brainwashed that there are no consequences to their actions.

      LOL. Tried to think, but nothing worked for the atheists. The Stooges were talking to you ....

      March 8, 2012 at 12:47 am |
    • HeavenSent

      I'm tripping badly on acid, so that last post might not make any sense. Take my word: it you were as twisted as I am, it would seem like a brilliant revelation.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:02 am |
  13. sonic10158

    I wonder what would have happened if this wasn't an anti-Religion billboard, but an anti-Atheism billboard instead?

    March 7, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
    • GodPot

      A bunch of anti-atheists getting together to discuss how much they hate atheists? How original. I'm pretty sure that's been covered by the worlds religions for the last several thousand years. Will you begrudge us this recently gained ability to say what we want beyond the reach of your swords and spears? Do you really need to re-hash how you feel about people who you don't like? Doesn't the hate get old after a while? As an atheist I try to love the believer but hate the belief. Sound familiar?

      March 7, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
    • momoya

      D A M N!! Great post, GP!!

      March 7, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Godpot, God's sword is His truth.

      Christianity 101 for dummies.

      March 8, 2012 at 12:48 am |
    • boulderbubblemomblog

      right, good post GP. I've noticed that religious are much less tolerant of hearing about our beliefs than vice versa. They take it so personally.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:32 am |
  14. Pat Burke

    God is real, are all of you just plain ignorant? it says so in the bible

    March 7, 2012 at 10:43 pm |
    • BigTex

      My package of potato chips says they are made with 20% less fat...but also causes anal leakage. Go figure?

      March 7, 2012 at 11:48 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      @Pat: That's called circular reasoning....you can't use the buybull to prove god.
      To put it in terms you might understand:
      Bill: "God must exist."
      Jill: "How do you know."
      Bill: "Because the Bible says so."
      Jill: "Why should I believe the Bible?"
      Bill: "Because the Bible was written by God."

      So outside of the buybull what other evidence might you have? The burden of proof lies on you.

      March 8, 2012 at 4:30 am |
  15. A Believer >>> Atheist

    Do you really need that billboard to tell us you exist?
    The fact that God exists proves that you exist!

    March 7, 2012 at 10:30 pm |
    • Bob

      🙂

      March 7, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • dave836

      😛

      March 7, 2012 at 11:19 pm |
    • Paris Hilton Bravely Comes Out Against Being Against Things And Stuff, Totally

      The fact that god exists? Facts are verifiable. Provide the evidence that makes God a fact.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
    • TruthPrevails

      So now a christard is saying their god created Atheists. We're Atheists because we are smart enough to realize that extraordinary claims (such as your god) require extraordinary evidence.

      March 8, 2012 at 4:33 am |
  16. ashrakay

    Ironically by pulling this billboard it got more viewership in the news for free. That's good business for atheists. 🙂

    March 7, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • jim619

      Not good business though. It just shows how intolerant "you people" are. The placement that was chosen was done with malice. You say you don't want Christian views shoved down your throats, then you do things like this. Seems like you are ignoring what you are asking of others.

      March 7, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
    • ashrakay

      I don't say that... You can't shove a fantasy down someone's throat. You're welcome to try as I'm welcome to rebut. Just expect evidence and fact to be coming your way, not fairies and leprechauns

      March 7, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
  17. spinosaurus1231

    I am atheist and I do not support these things. It is just offensive to people who hold their beliefs dear to them.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
  18. Give me a break

    you are correct so i guess I"m just politely disregarding your existence

    March 7, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
  19. J Mo

    Bootyfunk

    Yes I do, I married one. He respects me and I respect him. My faith teaches me to love ALL and not JUDGE. Again my faith.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:08 pm |
    • momoya

      But the entire reason for faith is the final judgement where you get to go to a good place because you happened to born into a society that just happened to be worshiping the right god in the right way, or however that works.. Religion IS judgement; that's the purpose.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • Give me a break

      Again, my faith................. I don't judge. If you choose not to believe, that's fine. I can't say someone is wrong for what they feel, I ask the same in return.

      March 7, 2012 at 10:15 pm |
  20. Gadflie

    I would love to see how the contract between the billboard company and the building owner reads. Does the building owner have editorial rights in the contract? Just curious.

    March 7, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
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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.