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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- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Atheism • Islam • Judaism

soundoff (1,757 Responses)
  1. J.W

    They could just compromise. This guy will put up this billboard and American Atheists can put up a billboard for a Jewish organization.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:05 pm |
    • BR

      Compromise? In what universe do you live? What is interesting are the very logical replies on each side which are meant to sway the other side to the conclusive reason why 1) God exists 2)God does not exist. Others coming to your conclusion is not going to happen and does not legitimize your position, either of belief or non belief. Humans are no further in respecting each other than the time of the Crusades, when people gave up their lives and families to force others to their beliefs. For some, the strength of believing what you cannot see is stronger than evidence, or not. The lesson is RESPECT, not who is right. Humans, regardless of religion, have not learned this yet. PS: I'm an Atheist.

      March 9, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  2. tony

    Don't discriminate against stutterers either.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
  3. Jeremy

    Atheism is inevitable. As we as a species learn more and more about the universe we live in. Seriously with all we know now (Like DNA) how can anyone believe in the virgin birth anyway? It goes agianst biology. Religion was and is, stories written by primitive humans who thought the earth was flat, were afraid of storms the same way my dog and cat are now, and believed in magic and witches (and monsters). They had no comprehension of any scientific nature (because it wasn't discovered until around 1500 years later) We need to leave this stuff (Religion) where it belongs, in our species primitive past.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • joe

      Isn't it amazing that everyone doesn't understand this?

      No really, it's amazing that anyone would believe such childish, primitive gibberish as in the bible.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • MikeMazzla

      yep....its something that will grow as older gen dies and the younger more educated just realize it as a fact. if you look at churhces and all that the attendees are vastly older people and maybe a few kids who are dragged there

      March 7, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • TrueReality

      That's why the virgin birth is called a "miracle". Even people then knew that it doesn't normally work that way. But you've obviously bought into the extremely flawed notion of "Progress", that this generation is somehow inherently smarter than previous ones, and that human society is bound to continue improving. Humanity has had the same general level of intelligence throughout recorded history, and societies can, in fact, get worse as well as better.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • MikeMazzla

      When it comes to Science true we are most definietly smarter and more intelligent. Because we are better informed. if you want to call that smarter..so be it...but thats the truth. People were very smart for their time but if you were able to talk to a scientist from 200 years ago, 1000 years ago and a scientist today.. obviously today know more..

      March 7, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Morbus

      The human religious impulse isn't about knowledge or intelligence. Religion contributes to meeting a wide range of human social, emotional, psychological, and aesthetic needs, and it's hard-wired into our brains. It's a biological impulse on some level. That's not going to disappear after a couple more generations are raised in cultures that understand the solar system, guys. It doesn't matter how much we know - the basic human needs that are met by religion aren't going anywhere. Ignorance of the functions of religion lead atheists into these utopian fantasies that scientific progress will solve everything - and BTW, utopian fantasies are no more useful or intellectually respectable than any other kind of blind faith.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • Feekoningin

      Actually, I am an atheist, and I do believe that scientifically, a virgin birth is possible. In fact, the scientific name for it is "parthenogenesis." Though it's not supposed to happen, strange things can occur in nature. And with 7 billion people on the planet currently, and the millions or billions of the past, there is a statistical possibility that something unusual like that might happen through genetic mutation. Also, though I don't believe in God, I won't allow you to steal the everyday magic of this world from me. There is still sort of magic in how heat applied to flour, eggs and sugar can yield a cake or how a couple of molecules of gaseous hydrogen bonded to a molecules of oxygen forms a liquid.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
    • T-Max73

      Even if parthenogenesis was possible, that would not automatically make the resulting offspring "divine" or a deity. That's what they call a non sequitur; the conclusion does not follow the premise. Believe in the Virgin Birth if you want, it proves absolutely nothing.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • BelgianWoman

      Parthenogenesis IS possible, but the result is always a girl, not a boy, so in Mary's case it was not parthenogenesis. The truth is simpler than that: she was a very young, naive and very religious girl, who was taken advantage of by a Roman soldier named Panthera.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
    • llɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Quantum Physics has destroyed most of the arguments of Theology, Logic the rest. As for the "virgin birth" pardon the lecture, but there is no easy way out .....

      The so-called "virgin birth" is one of the PRIME examples where there is development of an off-the-wall notion, based on a translation, of a MIS-translation, of a translation, which is then taken out of context, and solidified as doctrine, and driven over the cliff.

      To wit :
      a. Background :
      Isaiah 7 talks about the history of King Ahaz, son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, who was king of Judah. At the time, King Rezin of Aram and Pekah, son of Remaliah, King of Israel, marched up to fight against Jerusalem, and the campaign was long and protracted. See the Syro-Ephraimite War, (Wikipedia : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syro-Ephraimite_War ), and it happened in the 8th Century (734) BC. When Ahaz was loosing faith, Isaiah went to visit him, and told him to "buck up", keep the faith, and continue the war, and told him that the SIGN from god, that they were favored, was that one of his wives, (a "woman of marriageable age") would be found to be with child. The SIGN was the CHILD, (and NOT the manner of the birth). ...."And they shall name him Emmanuel" which means "god is with us". The CHILD was the SIGN.

      Any devout Jew in the time of the Roman occupation, (around 60 AD), would know that story, from Isaiah, and when they heard the words "a woman, (of marriageable age) will be found to be with child" they would connect the stories in their brains, and recognize that the gospel text's intention was to remind them of the Isaiah story, and would "harken" back to it, and realize the intent of the author was to claim that THIS child also was a sign. The general intent of the Gospel of Matthew was to claim the fulfillment of the various prophesies regarding the messiah, and this one was another one of those claims/stories of fulfillment.

      b. The word "virgin" is a mistranslation, of a translation. So WE have a translation, of a mis-translation, of a translation. Matthew, writing in Greek about the "virgin birth" of Jesus, quotes the Septuagint text of Isaiah 7:14-16, which uses the Greek word "παρθένος" (parthenos,), (we still use the term "parthenogenesis") while the original Hebrew text has "עלמה" (almah), which has the slightly wider meaning of an unmarried, betrothed,or newly wed woman such as in the case of Ahaz' betrothed Abijah, daughter of Zechariah. He NEVER meant to imply that he was asserting "gynecological" claims, and THAT whole business was "off-the-wall", a mistranslation, taken to ridiculous extremes, by interpreters who missed the point. THE CHILD was the sign.

      Also interesting that Matthew (1:25) only says that Joseph "knew her not till she brought forth her firstborn son". It does NOT say she REMAINED a virgin. (??)

      See also : Mother Goddess, ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mother_goddess ) and Joseph Campbell, ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Goddess ) and Courtly Love, ( http://cla.calpoly.edu/~dschwart/engl513...ourtly.htm ). The business of Mary, and her idealized state, was extremely important in the civilization/culture of the West, and in some circles remains very important today, (Lourdes & claims of "Marian" apparitions" etc., etc.)

      Over and out. 🙄

      March 8, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
  4. Jay Gee

    How do you know there is a god? Have you had an email from him or her? And you dare to shove your ideas down my throat when it is all fiction. You demand your rights but deny mine. How dare you or any of your god bothering idiot friends?
    Get a real life – the only god is that which is in your tiny mind.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • TrueReality

      I'm sorry, you must be really angry with God to hate Him so much.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Shaggy

      I don't think he hates God, for that he would have to believe Gods exist. I think he more likely hates the foolish people who want to force their interpretations of the tribal laws of people who have been dead for 2000-4000 years on everybody else. Plus, he most likely hates the anti-science and anti-logic rhetoric of such people.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Jen

      What other explanation do you have for the formation of all life on our planet, or for that matter, the formation of the universe than that it was created by God? It takes much, much more faith to be an atheist than it does to be a Christian. For no reason explosions took place and I can't even begin to understand this. At all. Psalm 14:1 The fool says in his heart "There is no God". It might bother you, but the Bible describes you so well! Even if you don't believe in God, he believes in you! Romans 8: The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God." That's you! It's our sin nature. I pray one day you'll see it before it's too late~ get rid of the pride. You'd better be really, really sure, because eternity is a very long time.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • BelgianWoman

      @Jen: even scientists don't know the full explanation yet, so why would a non-scientist have the pride or arrogance to say he/she can explain it? I know it's about matter, antimatter and lots of energy. If you want to call that "god", fine, but don't be so snobbish to pretend you have all the answers when even the most learned quantumphysicists admit they don't understand everything yet.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
    • Bizarre

      BelgianWoman (and Jen)

      Yes. Who is evincing more pride (ego)... those who humbly say, "we don't know (yet, if ever)", or those who say that an omniscient, omnipotent, super-duper, super-handsome (and probably a peachy dancer) being loves them unconditionally and desperately wants to spend eternal bliss with them?

      March 8, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
  5. tony

    Sounds like discrimination based on the discriminators religion. Sue the b******d!a

    March 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • dr science

      Sue him for deciding what billboard goes up on his property? Let me know how that goes.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
  6. ZCarter

    @TrueReality Making fun of and mocking adults who believe in an invisible Sky God is no different than making fun of a grown adult for believing in the Tooth Fairy.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • TrueReality

      It's actually completely different, but I pity you, that you don't understand religion well enough to see that there's a difference.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • Snow

      Great no-answer buddy.. and what you say is BSl.. There is no difference between the two.. If you know the answer oh-so-well, then why don't you elaborate.. Try it.. rather than giving no-answers again.. After all, isn't that one of your sworn duty? to get more people into your cult..

      March 7, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
    • TrueReality

      Okay. The tooth fairy is something invented by parents, and they can be quite easily caught in the act of slipping money under a pillow. Religions, on the other hand, have substantial philosophical proof – read the works of G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, Thomas Aquinas, Augustine, or even Plato and Aristotle. I submit that the simple fact that human beings have a concept of right and wrong is proof of something outside of a purely materialistic view of the world. It cannot be adequately explained by a herd instinct, or societal norms, as some have tried to suggest.

      Anyway, if my only two choices were to believe in the tooth fairy, or be incarcerated in the philosophical prison of atheistic materialism, I'd take the tooth fairy... Atheism is much more limited and narrow-minded than any religion is; others are free to believe or reject various beliefs as they please, but to truly be an atheist, one must reject everything except total and absolute materialism. Even things like right and wrong disappear, if taken to the logical conclusion. Thankfully, most atheists don't take it that far.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
    • Snow

      That is a good description of apocalypse according to your religion.. do you honestly need a book to say that it is bad to hurt another person? that to kill another person is wrong? Your argument about no right or wrong without religion has been debunked hundred times and I am sorry that you could not take time to research the tool you use to argue your case.

      for eg., do you follow the traffic rules on the road because bible says so?

      Tooth fairy was invented to appease children from the anxiety/pain from something they do not understand (now they look forward to getting that dollar instead). Religion and god was invented to appease adults from the anxiety/pain from events in life they do not understand. for questions like, "I am such a nice guy, why would such a bad thing happen to me", it is easy to say "because god wanted it to happen" rather than say, "chance, buddy. Tough luck". it is a simple screen that hides the reality of life from weak minded adults.

      So, there is no difference between the two, really.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
    • TrueReality

      Snow, you missed the argument entirely. I'm not saying right and wrong exist because they're in the Bible – I'm saying they exist in the minds of people because God put it there. Atheists have a sense of right and wrong. Where do you say that came from? In a purely materialistic world, with no gods or supernatural forces of any kind, a world that is entirely due to evolution, where does such a concept of good and bad come from? A concept which people all around the world can come to general agreement on? If the world is as atheists claim, then such ideas should not exist. I have researched the question extensively, and I have found no satisfactory origin for such philosophical and moral ideas in a materialistic worldview. That does not prove any specific religion, but to me, it does disprove atheism.

      And, in fact, my religion has no problem with saying that sometimes bad things just happen.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
    • Chuckles


      Listen, "right" and "wrong" are relative according to the society and were concepts that work in order to have a society work. It's "wrong" to kill someone because of the consequences of those actions and the impossibility of reversing it. I don't need a religion or god to tell me that stabbing someone else and killing them will result in that person's loved ones wanting revenge, a loss of a member of that society and the mistrust it creates between me and everyone else.

      As for "philosophical proof", well lets just say that the Tooth Fairy has it's own philosophical proofs, they just aren't as published or taken nearly as seriously. The main difference between the tooth fairy, or Santa and god/religion is simply age and the degree of seriousness attributed to it.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Snow

      Your argument would hold water if there were no atheists at all. But in this world, they do exist and they do have a concept of good and bad. Where do you suppose they got their morality from? There are psychological experiments done on months old babies who, given a choice between a toy they saw being good and a toy being bad, have strong inclination towards the toy that was good. I can provide you the link to this experiments.. where do you suppose they got their morality from? Do you suppose the babies did extensive studies about god before cultivating those instincts?

      Before you start counting the atheistic mass murderurs from the history, I have to point that I also do have a list of god fearing mass murderers from the history.. They make the likes of Polpot seem like a kitten.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • TrueReality

      Snow, you're still not answering the question: in an atheistic, materialistic worldview, that admits no gods or supernatural forces of any kind, where does the idea of right and wrong come from? Of course atheists know right and wrong – because they, too, are human beings made in the image of God. Faith or belief in God, or the lack thereof, does not alter that. And yes, I do understand that you will not accept that reason, but that's why I ask you for your theory of the origin of right and wrong.

      Actually, I would like to see the link to this experiment – I don't know what you mean by a toy being good or bad. Simply that one is attractive and the other unattractive in some way? I'm not really sure what sort of thing you're talking about... In my experiences with children, they can exhibit both good and bad behavior, but the bad comes more naturally than the good. For example, children generally need to be taught to share, or to not hit their siblings. They rarely need to learn selfishness or violence.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
    • Snow

      Where do humans get the sense of good and bad? well the answer is something you wouldn't like, my friend.. Evolution.

      Traits that helped the growth and nurturing in species (aka good traits) were retained while the bad traits were weeded out over the course of thousands of years. Killing is bad, because it would cause extinction of the species. stealing (food, which was probably the very first currency in nature) is bad because it causes starvation of parts of species and bad for the species in general. Anything that increased the growth of a species is encouraged by evolution and things that caused reduction in numbers is discouraged. These traits are what we now attribute to morality.

      News about those experiments I mentioned can be found at http://www.physorg.com/news192693376.html

      March 7, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
    • TrueReality

      Those experiments are quite interesting, thank you. But they just go to prove that humans have an inborn sense of morality, which we both seem to agree on – what we disagree about is the source of said morality.

      As for evolution, and the general preservation argument, I don't find it quite compelling enough. I certainly agree that society works better with values like that, but I would say that is correlation, not causation. Moreover, your evolutionary argument doesn't hold as much water as it would seem at first – evolution may have species-wide effects, but it occurs at an individual level. The very basic tenant of evolution is "survival of the fittest" – the fittest would, in fact, be the ones best at killing and stealing for their own benefit. The ones less suited, or less inclined, for that would be the ones to die sooner and not pass along genes. What you say is indeed better for a society or species – but the good of the group can run directly contrary to the good of an individual, and it is with organisms that evolution may occur, not societies.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:52 pm |
    • Chuckles


      Actually, you have "survival of the fittest" wrong. The concept points out that whoever has the best genes to survive will do so, that doesn't mean whoever is the best at killing or stealing, though they are valuable traits in terms of killing animals for food or using quick reflexes and other traits to make you a good thief. The whole point is that on a species level, it's an ingrained value to not kill because of all the ill effects. On an individual level, there IS that, it's why we have murderers, and thieves, and ra.pists and so on.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • Snow

      I am glad that you are taking time to respond with good reasons and logic. I really am enjoying the discussion we are having. And It is quite clear from your thought pattern and arguments that you are a very smart person with good judgement. So, taking the chance of seeming rude (which I am not) I have to ask you a question that's been bugging me for a long time.

      For every question that we do not know the answer, how can you accept a reason "coz god made it that way"? When man did not have the understanding of the world around, they looked for simpler solutions to the world around. "How do tides come", "coz god made it that way". "Why does sun raise every morning" "coz god made it that way". But we know these were proven incorrect. So, how can you continue to reason that the questions with answer "coz god made it that way" today would not change in future? if so, how can anything written about god ever be true. Can't they just be questions whose answers are yet to be found? and that god has nothing to do with any of this?

      Coming to the evolution argument we are having, the selfish trait is as important as the other moral traits we discussed, because, without it the individual dies. That is bad for the species again. So, being selfish is not always bad. It is now a philosophical question similar to the one about two emergency workers at the scene of accident- one helps every man he encounters while the other looks at a patient and moves on to the next if their injuries are not fatal. because the next man's injuries could be fatal and time can not be wasted. Who is correct? Both, in a way.

      So, we now have two contradictory traits that are both good for the species. what should be done then? Retain both, of course. That is kind of why the selfish traits as well as good for the species rules still exists in humans. It is a tug of war between these two contradictory traits that probably caused the birth of morality in humans.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
    • fred

      “Religion and god was invented to appease adults from the anxiety/pain from events in life they do not understand.”
      =>and you claim Christians just go about making stuff up. If we are speaking about the God of Abraham the Bible tells us clearly God was not invented by man. Man did create many manmade gods which may fit your assumption but that is very different from God of the Bible. So if you wish to trash the Bible then we have nothing but pure speculation left as to why man has looked to God since the earliest recorded history.
      Your opinion is based on no facts whatsoever yet you claim it is somehow better than a believers. A believer will also tell you of real personal experiences that brought them to the realization of God and you will claim your complete lack of evidence trumps personal witness and testimony of millions. If you were intellectually honest you would say that you personally do not believe and this non belief is based on lack of evidence you find acceptable.

      March 7, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • Snow

      @fred.. "Bible tells us clearly.." well there is the big gaping hole the size of grand canyon in your argument.. Try to understand that a book that itself claims that it was written by god is not sufficient proof for its authenticity.

      Besides, Truth and I are having a logical debate here like adults. Please don't fling in idle comments and base less remarks. Rude? yes, but only to the extent that you are.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • fred

      Sorry, I hadn’t noticed your “Tooth fairy was invented to appease children” analogy of my God was directed at a particular person. I was not discussing the merits of the Bible simply that it contains the revelations of the God of Abraham relative to manmade gods you referred. If you do not accept the accounts of that Bible then your evidence for or against God are nothing but personal opinion. If we both agree to discard what is clearly stated in the Bible then we are left with the personal witness of believers that have had encounters with God. Although you cannot discard their witness you can make subjective arguments to explain away the millions of personal experiences. Having explained away all the personal experiences to your personal satisfaction you can now say there is no proof of God that is acceptable to you. You cannot say God and the Tooth fairy were invented for the same reason or to appease children.

      March 7, 2012 at 8:45 pm |
    • Authority Zero

      Try as they might the posters disagreeing with you have failed to coming up with a sufficient reason why it’s not the same.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:19 am |
    • Authority Zero

      If it’s opinion then it’s not evidence.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:21 am |
    • fred

      Why is it you must explain away the millions of personal experiences with God? If a women says she feels hurt by Rush Limbaugh comment you would not explain it away but, acknowledge it as real (or risk getting your head bit off). The hurt was real and had effect. When she says God came into my life and after experiencing the Love of God was born again a new person in Christ filled with the Holy Spirit. The encounter (experience) was real and had effect. Your response is what?

      March 8, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • BelgianWoman

      @True Reality: "to truly be an atheist, one must reject everything except total and absolute materialism"? Well, I don't agree: I think an atheist or agnostic is much more ready to believe in the concept of "antimatter" than a religious person.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • Snow

      Interesting that you choose to consider the millions who claim god answered their prayers.. But you oh so conveniently forget to mention the millions who prayed but did not get what they wanted.. is that in millions or billions..

      See this is the problem with you apologists that you only want to see the shiny side of the coin but refuse to see the dirty side of that same coin.. if you even TRY to follow the opposing view point, you would notice that in light of the dirty side of the coin, the shiny side goes moot.

      Just because you only want to count the positive encounters and refuse to even think about the negative encounters does not mean you are correct (or that they did not happen), nor does that mean that I am trying to "explain it away". I am simply pointing at another facet of the same argument that you simply refuse to see..

      I am sure you are now going to "explain away" why I am wrong.. they didn't pray correctly.. isn't it? or is it that god did answer, only with a "no".. bah!

      March 8, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
    • fred

      Based on personal experience I can say that before my conversion experience (encounter with God) I did not see the hand of God in events current or past. You could have said to me God answered my prayer and my son lived to which I would say isn’t that great. My thoughts however would have been it was just coincidence. Suddenly after my conversion I look back and “see” the hand of God on that son. Nothing about that event changed but, my att-itude and view of that event became altered. We have no evidence that God did or did not take part in that event. I cannot change what I now know to be true. I cannot see it differently unless somehow I am put back into the mindset I was in previously.
      In short I see the dirty side of the coin but I look at with a different lens. Is my view not as real as yours?

      March 8, 2012 at 6:19 pm |
  7. MikeMazzla

    The most liberating experience of my life early on when at 16 I told my mom there is no way I was going to church anymore because the whole thing was ridiculous. She didnt liek it but she accepted it and now years later me.my wife and my teenage kids are all athiests and you know what? we live a good life, treat people well, pay our taxes, our kids are high honor students etc etc.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • Jim

      Nice story. Of course it has nothing to do with calling others liars on a billboard.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • MikeMazzla

      Who is a liar? those who say they believe and dont? I guess you can call that lying .. i think deep down my mother doest believe it but she just goes with...I dont think she is a liar per se but if you want to use that term so be it

      March 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Justin

      Hello, I do understand your comment and based on the positions taken and many of the actions of organized religion it can be very hard to understand the phenomenon of religion itself. I think a very common mistake of modern times is to judge history with a modern perspective, but the world and the human condition has always been in a state of change. The standards that exist today just don't apply to the past. Religion isn't all about denial of science and reason as it is showcased in this day. Like all things religion must be born, mature, bear fruit, then wither and die. It is only through the shining devotion of many millions of souls throughout the ages that we can enjoy the simple pleasures of living in a moral society that allows us to pursue goals of individual worth, and send our kids to good schools. Of course this is a very western experience, but the idea is easily proven. Fourteen hundred years ago the words of Muhammad were a breath of fresh air in a culture that was corrupted, divided, and cruel. There was a time in the Muslim empire that you could safely walk from one end to the other, a time when it was the center of science and the arts. This is largely forgotten by the West. When Christ spoke his soul-stirring words they were revolutionary and elevated the level of discourse, kindness and culture compared to the culture of the times. Likewise the teachings of Krishna and Buddha reminded us that God is abstract, beyond human comprehension, and that selfless service was the route to paradise. Before the violence and war card arises, I would like to stress that many good sources clearly show that religion itself is small causality percentage of the worlds' historical wars, although it has certainly been used for this purpose. Anything with true power can be used for both good and for the evil inclinations of motivated people. To summarize, I feel we can only enjoy and assert the validity living without religion because our entire world civilization is built on it.

      March 7, 2012 at 6:03 pm |
    • Authority Zero

      I had a similar experience and it was the best decision of my life. And yes it was a decision.. I could continue pretending the insanity was real or speak up and live my life based in reality.

      p.s. Ignore Jim he seems to be lost.

      >Christ spoke his soul-stirring words

      You talk of history then fill in blacks with your belief. There is no evidence jebus ever existed, so there is no evidence he said anything. Which pretty much makes your enter point..moot.


      March 8, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • fred

      Authority Zero
      Are you saying you believe Jesus never existed or are you saying the Jesus as presented by the Bible never existed?

      March 8, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • just sayin

      Virtually ALL scholars of ancient history believe Jesus existed. Some moron, atheist wrote a book with a contrary opinion, but was confronted by an educated man who knew scholars of antiquity and demolished the theory to the point that the author had to take back his statement and admit that in fact Jesus did exist.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
    • BelgianWoman

      I believed in the Easter Eggs coming from Rome, Santa Claus (not the Chrismas guy from the North, but the "real" one from Turkey) and God. When I was 4, I began to doubt the Easter Eggs, because my young critical mind told me: "how is it possible that the bells from Rome can throw these eggs from such a height without breaking them"? Two years later I began to doubt Santa Claus for many reasons, the most important reason being: "why do rich children get more presents from Santa Claus than poor children?" And 10 years later I allowed myself to ask questions about "god" too, with the same result.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
    • BelgianWoman

      @just sayin: I studied history and classical philology, and yes, here and there are some remarks about Jesus; not much, because for the Romans he wasn't important, but enough to assume he has really existed, and was considered by the Romans as a looney and a troublemaker, but quite harmless. What is NOT true however is that he was executed and "rose" the 3rd day: there are many religions, like Mithraism, with the same stories about their hero dying and rising after 3 days. And the Romans really didn't want to put to death an innocent person, but didn't want an uprise by the Jewish either, so they put on a show, crucified Jesus, gave him a foot-support so he wouldn't choke, and took him off the cross after a few hours. Hence why the disciples going to Emmaus REALLY saw him "in the flesh".

      March 8, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
    • fred

      Wow, that is the first I have ever heard that comment concerning why Jesus was seen after his crucifixion. I have seen pictures of the footrest that was not tradition but they were drawn long after Christ and I gave it no more weight than Jesus being light skinned with blue eyes. Makes great movies but thats about all.
      If you have some facts help me out as I note there is more historically accepted information regarding Christ than there is confirming mithraism. How is it you elected to accept mithraism over the gospels and letters of Saul of Tarsus?

      March 8, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  8. tony

    Sounds like discrimintion based on the discriminators religion. Sue the b******d!

    March 7, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
  9. vbscript2

    A Jewish person refusing to let a bigot post an anti-Jewish billboard on his building is now a bigot? That's interesting.

    March 7, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
  10. Rob

    Religion: the plague of the human race... Freedom of expression, it's first victim.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • TrueReality

      Oh, so that's why the most oppressive regimes the world has yet known (Stalin's Russia, Hitler's Reich, the Khmer Rouge, North Korea, etc) have all been atheist.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Carl

      Any ignoramus who thinks the nazis were atheists needs to google "gott mit uns". They should also stop getting their science and history lessons from preachers.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • TrueReality

      Any ignoramus who thinks Nazis were Christians needs to do more historical research. There are ample examples of Hitler being cited in private correspondence or the memoirs of others, saying that he was just manipulating religious groups for his own ends, and would eventually suppress and destroy them, after the war. Also, read about the "German Christian" movement in the Third Reich, and compare it to the basic tenants of the historical Christian church – if you have a shred of intellectual honesty, you will be forced to admit that the Nazis' "German Christians" are not really Christian. For more detail on this whole thing, also read about Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Niemoeller, and the Confessing Church, which protested against the Nazification of the Church, often to the death.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  11. MikeMazzla

    I think the number of people who are truly athiest is much larger.. there is just a faction among all religions taht deep down they know its all BS, but for family or societal reasons they would never come out and say it. I mean the entire thing is so ludicrous that anyone with half an education knows it isnt true..but they just go with it.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • joe

      And that about sizes it up.

      When for the last 1000 years religious people have been willing to torture and kill the non-belivers across just about every culture, it doesn't take much to understand why it's actually become part of just about every culture to not openly disrespect that culture's religion.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • Jim

      The actual number of atheists is much smaller than claimed. Most atheists cannot make the claim that they know that there is no god or gods when push comes to shove. In order to make that claim and be honest, one must be able to be omniscient. Making the claim of being an atheist is making a positive claim and making a truth claim based on a belief. Most "atheists" one meets, observes or debates start out claiming that there is no god or gods but end up making the agnostic claim that they just don't know for sure and that it is possible that there is a god or gods.

      Just like every other faith group, atheists place their faith on what they perceive as the most likely end of the evidence trail. Since an atheist makes a positive belief statement (there is no god or gods) and cannot prove such definitively (one must be omniscient in order to say one knows it all and rule the possibility out) but relies on a step of faith (following the evidence as they see it), atheism is a faith-based belief.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:11 pm |
    • MikeMazzla

      JIm your argument is nonsense...obviously something that happened billions of years ago ( yes billions) But its like saying well I think the earth began as a result of a giant chicken laying an egg that was the earth and then me tellig you well you werent there, and this book was written when people were traveling by hay cart who had no idea the world was round. You see my point. Yes I guess some are agnostic but many..including myself actually are 100% sure that there is no god and the world wasnt created as the bible says.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  12. atheistsarethenewfundamentalists

    Let the athiests cry in their lattes.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • MikeMazzla

      Only athiests like Lattes? I must have missed that at Church when my parents dragged me there

      March 7, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
    • Jim

      How can one disparage latte-drinkers like that? Is arugula next?Am I going to be kicked out of the faith because I like arugula?

      March 7, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  13. YourMom

    Atheists are just as nuts as religious people. Saying there isn't a G0d is just as stupid as saying there is a G0d. The only sane, rational people are agnostics.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:57 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      Are you saying the you are Agnostic about Zeus or Baal or Santa?

      March 7, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • ZCarter

      Most atheists are so-called weak atheists, also known as atheist-agnostics. We can't prove that there isn't a God, but we also Can't prove that God is the Holy Flying Spaghetti Monster. (Pasta be upon him.) So therefore, we hold that until there is a reason to believe him, we won't.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
    • cyberCMDR

      While there are a number of atheists who claim with certainty that there is no God, most basically believe that the available evidence does not require a God. We understand enough about our universe that the big picture is pretty well understood and we are filling in the details (what is dark matter/energy, what specific selection mechanisms resulted in a certain biological trait, etc.). We can also look at the many mythologies that have emerged over history, and recognize that the current big religions have their mythologies as well. Which mythology a person believes in is primarily a function of where they grew up. If that is the primary criteria for your religion being the "right one", that is a pretty weak argument.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • Authority Zero

      YourMom um yea… you got owned.

      March 8, 2012 at 8:28 am |
    • BelgianWoman

      YourMom: So saying there is no spaghettimonster is just as stupid as saying there IS a spaghettimonster? Atheists or agnostics are humble enough to acknowledge there is still more that we don't understand than that there are things we do understand. As Socrates said: "the more I know, the more I know that I really don't know."
      Religious people don't bother about that and attribute everything science can't explain (yet) to a god. Just like prehistoric people did.

      March 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  14. ZCarter

    Hitchens said it best:

    “I think religion should be treated with ridicule, hatred, and contempt, and I claim that right.” ~ Christopher Hitchens

    March 7, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • TrueReality

      And this is supposed to make people respect atheism? It's just as ironic as when someone calls Islam a violent religion, and to prove that wrong, Muslims kill people in protest...

      March 7, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
    • Furtail

      Atheism is just another (anti-God) religion. If you don't believe, fine. If you make it your mission to spread your anti-belief and attack other beliefs – you are just another religionist. Anti-religion is still a religion. Our government needs to stop preferring this religion over all others in this country.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
    • JohnQuest

      He also said that whatever can be asserted without evidence can be rejected without evidence. We should put that on a bumper sticker.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
    • Jorgath

      @JohnQuest – especially since that statement, that "whatever can be asserted without evidence can be rejected without evidence," was asserted without evidence.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
    • Authority Zero

      @ Furtail
      The dictionary disagrees with you.


      March 8, 2012 at 8:30 am |
    • Hitchens

      Yeah, but it was all bull sh it intended for those too weak to think for themselves.

      March 8, 2012 at 1:43 pm |
  15. Erik S

    He he....he said "erect".

    March 7, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • April

      Welcome to CNN where Entity, Constitutuin & Institution are forbidden words!

      March 7, 2012 at 5:07 pm |
  16. TrueReality

    Silverman says that refusing to let the billboard go up is religious bigotry, and that Jews, after all they've been through, should know better... Did he even consider that, after all they've been through, they might very well see this billboard, attacking their religion, as yet another example of the religious bigotry they've faced over the centuries?

    March 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • momoya

      No, he thought that people against bigotry were against bigotry; he didn't know that some people are just against certain forms of bigotry and not all bigotry.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:54 pm |
    • TrueReality

      So an atheist attacking Jewish beliefs is somehow not religious bigotry? I guess Hitler and Stalin didn't actually persecute Jews, then...

      March 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Rational Libertarian

      Did Stalin specifically persecute Jews?

      March 7, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • TrueReality

      Not as an ethnic group, but the Soviet Union was officially atheist and suppressed all religions; there was propaganda against "Zionists", for example.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:30 pm |
  17. jurby

    all the atheists are sure going to be disappointed when they die, their souls leave their bodies and they realize that there really IS an afterlife!

    March 7, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • momoya

      OH my gosh!!. Are you saying that you don't kiss Hanks @ss?!?!?


      March 7, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
    • MikeMazzla

      LOL how do you know that? Because your silly book saiys so?

      March 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Shaggy

      Man are you going to be so dissapointed when you die and....

      Wait, no you won't, you'll just be dead.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
    • Race Bannon

      Aren't you going to be surprised when you die and are met by Quetzlcoatl, who howls "You picked the wrong religion, infadel" just before he thrusts you into the deep hell of eternal sodomy by circus clowns.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
    • Regis990

      @Race Bannon – Nice post, even better name!

      March 7, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
    • BigTex

      Cool. So if everyone who is not a Christian is wrong, and when we all die and we come face to face with them for judgement, I guess all we have to do is say we're sorry and we get in? Sort of like dudes in the Mob that kill people and are forgiven after saying 10 hail marrys and our fathers? Yep...think about it.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
    • BelgianWoman

      Even if there is an afterlife, what does that have to do with religion? Is "being religious" a condition to being welcome in the afterlife? And if so: what religion is "the right one"?

      March 8, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  18. June

    Bravo landlord. Nothing like having to erect a billboard mocking you.

    March 7, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
    • Erik S

      He he, you said "erect" as well. You're funny.

      March 7, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
  19. serdich

    ..so why an Atheist billboard is controversial exactly..is it more controversial than cheesus or alah balah ..

    March 7, 2012 at 4:49 pm |
  20. another religion

    From a secular perspective, how is this any different from posting Jesus billboards? You go to the website and they are asking for donations... w t f...

    talk about exploiting a co-dependency complex...

    March 7, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
    • momoya

      These billboards aren't asking anyone to believe anything specific–especially about such matters as gawd or which gawd needs money the most because it's the right one out of the thousands out there.. These billboards aren't about faith, they're saying, "Hang in there, you're not alone; all myths fade away in time."

      March 7, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
    • fred

      It is that steady drumbeat of myth myth myth. Bill Clinton said if you repeat a lie enough times people believe it. Of course they are asking for specific belief

      March 7, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
    • Portland tony

      When you donate something to a religious group, you hope your money is going for good. When you donate to an atheist group you know you are giving to a public relations organization!

      March 7, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
    • another religion


      Structurally speaking, this is a religion. It advocates a belief or set of beliefs, it proselytizes, and it asks for financial contributions. Your point about the billboard saying "Hang in there, you're not alone; all myths fade away in time" supports my argument that it is exploiting a co-dependency complex, which is what most aggressive proselytizing religions do.

      March 7, 2012 at 5:09 pm |
    • BigTex

      Living in Texas, I drive by all sort of billboards..."I am second", "Abortion is killing", "He is the reason for the season", "Keep the Christ in Christmas"...this example is no different. It's a big double standard.

      March 7, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
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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.