Today’s news:

Godsmacked! Atheist billboard blocked in Hasidic Williamsburg

The Brooklyn Paper

This time atheists found themselves answering to a higher power — a picky landlord.

A Southside loft owner refused to allow a billboard questioning Judaism to be installed atop his S. Fifth Street building on Tuesday amid outrage in Williamsburg’s Hasidic community.

National atheist leaders tried to take out a month-long ad adjacent to Williamsburg’s Orthodox Jewish stronghold with text in English and Hebrew reading: “You know it’s a myth … and you have a choice.”

But at the last minute, landlord Kenny Stier refused to allow workers from the advertising company Clear Channel into his building, according to American Atheists president David Silverman.

Silverman claims powerful neighborhood rabbis convinced Stier to block the non-believing billboard and called the religious leaders and the landlord “anti-atheist bigots.”

“The Jews have stopped the billboard,” said Silverman. “It’s really ugly bigotry. As a former Jew, it’s repugnant to see Jews act like this.”

Several Hasidic leaders said they had nothing to do with the landlord’s decision to block the billboard, and Stier declined to comment.

“I don’t want to get involved in this,” he said.

When it comes to riling up a religious community in most offensive way possible, an atheist billboard in Hasidic Williamsburg is a match made in heaven.

American Atheists announced its plans to install the sign, which would have faced drivers and pedestrians crossing westbound on the Williamsburg Bridge, on Friday.

The plan immediately outraged Williamsburg’s Jewish like Rabbi David Niederman, who called the sign “inappropriate” and the atheists a “group of crazies.”

“They lost their purpose in life,” said Niederman, who heads the Jewish social services group United Jewish Organizations. “They’re not even going to make a dent. It’s a disgrace. The name of god is very holy to us and to the whole world.”

Silverman says he wanted to advertise in the Hasidic community because it is “teeming with atheists,” and claimed its residents often email his group in order to find a way out. He hoped the billboard would inspire some of them to attend an atheist rally in Washington DC on March 24.

“There are a number of [Hasidic Jews] saying they are stuck in their lives and it’s very surprising,” said Silverman. “They can’t leave. They don’t the requisite job skills or an education. So we want them to come to the rally, have a little fun and go home and make decisions with their lives.”

The snubbed sign — which would replace an advertisement for Long Island University — was anything but fun, according to neighborhood politicians.

Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg) said the billboard showed a “severe lack of sensitivity” at a time when Brooklyn should be striving to have open conversations about religion.

“Even if we were to ignore the antagonistic placement of this billboard near the Williamsburg Bridge, the content of the message is conveyed in a disrespectful manner,” said Levin. “This does not appear to be a genuine attempt to engage in a dialogue, but is here merely to insult the beliefs of this community.”

A Clear Channel spokesman said that the company has found another billboard space elsewhere to accommodate the atheists, but did not say where.

This isn’t the first time that Hasidic groups have protested a controversial billboard in Williamsburg — nor is it the first time that atheists have sparked outrage among religious Brooklynites.

Satmar leaders slammed an advertisement for a “90210” remake that featured swimsuit-clad actors near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in 2008. The ad was soon taken down.

And last year, Manhattan atheists threatened to sue the city for installing a street sign that renamed a portion of Richards Street, “Seven in Heaven Way,” for seven firefighters who died in 9-11.

Reach reporter Aaron Short at or by calling (718) 260-2547.

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Reader Feedback

SHAUL from Williamsburg says:
Thanks to the UJcare leaders who stopped this despicable act of defaming Gd's name, special thanks to UJcare Chairman Gary Schlesinger who was instrumental in stopping this
March 6, 2012, 5:24 pm
Ken from Greenpoint says:
and strong support by district leader Lincoln Restler.. guy keep up the good job.
March 6, 2012, 5:31 pm
Jeff from Brooklyn says:

Silverman watch this!!!
March 6, 2012, 5:41 pm
Mike from DUMBO says:
Not that I agree with the message, but I think the Atheists have the same right to post their message as any other group of people would.
March 6, 2012, 5:42 pm
Randy from Not NewYork says:
Bunch of anti-Atheist bigots get their way and people are all cheers? What a bunch of backwater bigots, afraid to have a billboard in their neighborhood, is your god really that frail and weak?
March 6, 2012, 5:43 pm
Walter Beals from NC says:
"Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg) said the billboard showed a “severe lack of sensitivity” at a time when Brooklyn should be striving to have open conversations about religion."

Yep, nothing more open in a conversation than shutting down your opposition.

March 6, 2012, 5:59 pm
Johnny from Williamsburg says:
I'm guessing the sids threatened to buy the landlord's building and fire him if he put up that billboard
March 6, 2012, 6:37 pm
Josh Rubin from Williamsburg says:
"Bunch of anti-Atheist bigots get their way and people are all cheers"

That burns me up!
March 6, 2012, 6:41 pm
jd from Marine Park says:
But they can post their messages on city trees and polls about how women should dress and move aside on the sidewalk to make way for men, and ride in the back of the bus. Meanwhile, there are repetitive mindless prayer messages on public radio and tv ads for "god's match for you" dating. Yet atheists are so horrible as to remind adult humans that they have a choice not to believe in the tooth fairy, their invisible vengeance god in the sky, etc, etc? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot!!!
March 6, 2012, 6:46 pm
Johnny from Williamsburg says:
jd, not to point out the obvious by hyper-religious people tend to be really stupid and can't handle progress
March 6, 2012, 6:49 pm
L.Leiberman from coney island says:
Randy from not New York,Walter Beals from North Carolina all of you would like to have the freedom of expression to work one way and one way only. The community expressed their views and convinced the owner whether by persuasion or by paying him a higher amount not to allow the ad. Why is that wrong? Randy I would like to see to whom you would turn when you're in a foxhole or in a serious medical condition. that's when all atheists turn religeous. Walter,nothing wrong with an open two sided conversation,however not when advestisments,which are a major player in all aspects of "sales" are employed. Both of you stop being bigots. Would you really have this position if the comunity was not jewish? Shame on you.
March 6, 2012, 6:56 pm
Johnny from Williamsburg says:
L.Leiberman if it makes you feel better i think super religious christians are even more out of their minds, and frankly are a danger to this country
March 6, 2012, 7:02 pm
Sarah says:
think Tower Of Babble, @ idiot who said is your g-d really that frail and weak?.
March 6, 2012, 7:06 pm
L. Leiberman from coney Island says:
Johnny,I believe in Freedom of expression as much as anyone else. However I understand the Hasidim's view as well.For the same reason most decent people wouldn't want their children exposed to pornography, these people dont want their children exposed to an advertisement for "atheism". These minor children are not mature enough to deal with the Ad's content. Just like you wouldn't allow a child to stick a kitchen knife in a live electric outlet because of the danger inherent with doing so and would stop him from doing so.You wouldn't say let him be exposed to everything including a jolt of electric power. Similarly you cant allow young minor children be exposed to these type of"mind catching" and dangerous ads until they are mature enough to deal with the content.
March 6, 2012, 7:21 pm
Zin from Queens says:
I would be very interested to see these signs instructing women to make way for men and to dress according to hasidic standards. I've been living in an ultra-Orthodox community all my life, but I must have missed them.
March 6, 2012, 7:26 pm
Jim from Ditmas says:
Sarah - The Tower of Babel is a story of God's wrath when man became too filled with hubris. What are you trying to say?
March 6, 2012, 7:32 pm
Jim from Ditmas says:
Zin -- it was in this paper in October.
March 6, 2012, 7:34 pm
Justin Bieber is God from Bay Ridge says:
Justin Bieber is God. I want to see that on a billboard.
March 6, 2012, 8:10 pm
Libby from Williamsburg says:
JD from Marine Park and Jim from Ditmas I just want to point out about the signs.
I am a Hasidic Williamsburg woman. I have never ever noticed these signs and neither have the majority of women here. It was funny to me how only people outside the community became so enthralled and angered by it while we didn't even know they exist.
There are many signs here that are put up by individuals that cannot necessarily be controlled. Like in any group there are individuals that are out of the loop and our community is not different.
These signs are not put up by Rabbis but by these out of the loop individuals. They are not endorsed by anyone and we just go on living our lives indifferent to them. (Just so you know there are many signs about men too)
Just thought I'd let you know what's behind the signs.
And so that you should know that you cannot really compare silly signs put up by a few silly individuals to a sign put up and endorsed by a recognized group.
March 6, 2012, 9:04 pm
Ken S from Lexington, KY says:
Great news! Atheist beligerence is going to have to be confronted strongly. You guys have made a good start!
March 6, 2012, 9:25 pm
mike from GP says:
Council Member Levin -- you're way off base here.
March 6, 2012, 9:40 pm
Eli from Brooklyn says:
I see people being petty on both sides, the Atheist for choosing a placement just to piss people off and the Hasidim for trying to control their environment to an extreme degree. Oh, btw I'm a hassidic Jew (though not from the Williamsburg group).

Fact is, in the end, they got their way fair and square and, since it's a free country, it's just as fair game as those who wanted to post it. Grow up both sides.
March 6, 2012, 10:08 pm
Walter Beals from NC says:
You have a lot of nerve calling me a bigot when your religion and world view expressly states that if I don't believe as you do, I'm somehow deserving of eternal torture. That is the very definition of bigotry.

The American Atheists have said time and time again, the purpose of their ads are to call out those who already disbelieve, to let them know they're not alone. How is that compared to condemning someone to eternal torture bigotry?

How arrogant of you to pull that "no atheist in a foxhole" routine. There are countless atheists who have given their lives in our military to fight for your freedom, and they didn't call out to your god.
March 6, 2012, 10:09 pm
God from Heaven says:
My biggest regret in all of creation was to make the talking monkey. WTF was I thinking? Next time, it'll be the cats.
March 6, 2012, 10:20 pm
Satan from Hell says:
Yep.. those Rabbi's did a great job. You can't allow this kind of thing. People may actually start to think for themselves!

Besides, you all do know it's a myth down deep inside.
March 6, 2012, 10:41 pm
Satan from Hell says:
to paraphrase Mr. LIEberman..

I believe in Freedom of expression as much as anyone else. However I understand the Hasidim's view as well. For the same reason most decent people wouldn't want their children exposed to pornography, people dont want their children exposed to an advertisement for an "invisible man in the sky" who according to the bible has killed millions and advocates murder, incest, and rape. These minor children are not mature enough to deal with the Ad's content. Just like you wouldn't allow a child to stick a kitchen knife in a live electric outlet because of the danger inherent with doing so and would stop him from doing so.You wouldn't say let him be exposed to everything including a jolt of electric power. Similarly you cant allow young minor children be exposed to these type of"mind catching" and dangerous ads until they are mature enough to deal with the content.
March 6, 2012, 10:46 pm
Jeremy from Alaska says:
You know, Christianity has accounted for more war and death than any religion other than Islam. Since the dawn of Christianity in the first century, religions have gone to war with each other, be it baptist-mormon, or Islam-Christan. And you dare to call Atheists bigots? We don't threaten your lives, we don't harass Christians, we only ask to share our views, without ramming them down anyone's throat--Unlike your Christian messages.

So I'm wondering how that makes us the enemy? Or is your God so weak that he needs to be defended at every turn? You should be ashamed of yourself for once more attempting to repress free speech. You are what is wrong with this world.
March 6, 2012, 10:46 pm
Samuel from Staten Island says:
L. Leiberman, it is not that children are not mature enought to see such content, it seems adults aren't mature enough to that either. But the children are mature enough to be segregated and read those horrible stories of that fairy tale-filled book of yours that you call torah. Slavery is okay, adultery is punishable by death, women are nothing, kill homosexuals. Yes, you are so holy. You are self-righteous bigots!
To whom would you turn when you get sick? God? Or doctor? You should stick with god and see how that works out for you.
March 6, 2012, 10:48 pm
Gabriel from South Side says:
Good. We shouldn't allow people to think for themselves.
March 6, 2012, 10:48 pm
John from Brooklyn says:
Councilman Steve Levin (D–Williamsburg) said the billboard showed a “severe lack of sensitivity” at a time when Brooklyn should be striving to have open conversations about religion.

Really? The best thing you can do for a believer is make them question their belief system. Too many people simply accept things at face value without ever questioning them. Now, if you question your religion and still believe, okay, but if you never ask yourself why your religion actually makes sense or why it should be believed then you're a robot on automatic pilot.
March 6, 2012, 10:50 pm
bckm from Earth says:
god doesn't exist. therefore any reference to the non-existent god is false advertising.
March 6, 2012, 10:51 pm
Satan from Hell says:
Silly Hasidic boys.. your forebearers have created a god in their own image. You worship him rather than thinking outside what has been drilled into you. Don't let fear continue to make you believe the myth.
March 6, 2012, 10:59 pm
Uchendu from Cypress Hills says:
Clear Channel should sue that landlord. I'm sure there are provisions in their contracts that prohibit or otherwise penalize landlords who impede Clear Channel's ability to provide the service its clients have paid for.

That said, compared to how the Williamsburg hasids usually behave towards non-hasids (read: normal people in America) this is actually fairly tame. Usually they vandalize property (scrubbing out bike-lane paint markers, super-gluing bike locks, stapling bigoted signs to trees, etc.) And then they cry "persecution!" if anyone dares to call out their illegal behavior.
March 6, 2012, 11 pm
JM from Queens says:
By denying the sign, the hasidic community has only proven the atheist group's point. Well done. You should have simply let it be and ignored it. But instead, by showing your pettiness, you've given those within your community who are closeted atheists more reason to despise their community, for not embracing all walks of life.

Good job.
March 6, 2012, 11:11 pm
Thopter from Queens says:
Stier declined to comment.

“I don’t want to get involved in this,” he said.


Too bad for him, he became involved when he blocked access. Now he wants to hide from the consequences.
March 6, 2012, 11:25 pm
D says:
The building owner has every right to deny any billboard he wishes. This proves no point of atheists. Their whole argument is the same as any deity believing religion. Why not "disbelieve" and let people believe or disbelieve. This campaign has no positive force what so ever.

As for SILVERMAN, check yourself. I'm sure in the 1940's, some Nazi's would have been amused by your statements that you are a "former Jew." Surely that would not have saved you from dying, a Jew.
March 7, 2012, 12:15 am
Go pray to your DOG says:
god I hate atheists, shoving their beliefs down my throat with their lack of ability to make me think. If you want to pose questions, as a dialogue, that's one thing. This campaign is just pure stupidity. Almost makes me want to seek religion!

What this guy says!:
“Even if we were to ignore the antagonistic placement of this billboard near the Williamsburg Bridge, the content of the message is conveyed in a disrespectful manner,” said Levin. “This does not appear to be a genuine attempt to engage in a dialogue, but is here merely to insult the beliefs of this community.”
March 7, 2012, 12:19 am
Frank from Bklyn says:
jews get their way................AGAIN
March 7, 2012, 12:35 am
Som from Any says:
It's amazing how people hide behind their religion as peace loving until someone goes against their belief then the true side of what their about comes out. pathetic.
March 7, 2012, 1:11 am
phill from stl says:
March 7, 2012, 1:31 am
Jeff says:
IT'S NOT A MYTH, it's a lie.
March 7, 2012, 2:14 am
gods name in vain from williamsburg says:
yup we jews get our way again, and yes i am proud to be an anti atheist, this actually makes me laugh so hard, Silverman said time and time again bla bla bla bla, we know exactly what these antisemitic former jews want, is to use what is most sacred to us and to get our blood boiling and who else as a "fomer jew" would know what to use on a big billboard to entice the neighborhood and to open anyone's mind come on gimme a break the religion of atheism is so narrow-minded without meaning, you want to practice your atheism religion go ahead its a free country no one is forcing you to be a jew or a muslim and of course you don't believe in a higher power so you lash out for loosing your battle. silverman we jews get our way because we are more determine and with gods help we will win always and when it doesn't seem that we get any help we always turn to god and we feel better it suck for you when something doesnt go your way all you can do is get mad and....... yeah no purpose no meaning
March 7, 2012, 3:28 am
other side from outside says:
The religion.causes war argument for being atheist is unfounded, in the sense that one doesn't unequivocally practice a religion to believe in G-D. You want to claim agnostic, fine.
Now, can anyone please tell me one war in the last 1500 year's the Jews as a religious nation instigated? The whole Arab Israeli conflict cannot be counted since it's a non religious conflict. It's a national conflict wwhich started with nonbelieveing Jews seeking a refuge from persecution.
March 7, 2012, 5:22 am
fatimah from CH says:
Once a Jew, always a Jew. The guy is just trying to prove himself and get attention. Ignore hi. The NYPD is spying on Muslims. I could care less. I have nothing to hide.
March 7, 2012, 7:05 am
fatimah from CH says:
Once a Jew, always a Jew. The guy is just trying to prove himself and get attention. Ignore hi. The NYPD is spying on Muslims. I could care less. I have nothing to hide.
March 7, 2012, 7:05 am
Michael from Somewhere sunny says:
"The most offensive way possible"

Excuse me? Off the top of my head I can think of twenty more offensive ways to rile up a religious community. One of them uses lettuces.
March 7, 2012, 7:07 am
JJL from Cobble Hill says:
Disgusting bullying by a bunch of insecure nutjobs. The poor fundie babies coldn't handle the reality that there's no such thing as an invisible sky-daddy who put every atom in the horse head nebula exactly where it is now but also seems to care if a tax collector in Han Dynasty China ate bacon that one time... Anyone who actually believes that the only reason you can add 2 numbers together is because one time a rib-woman was tricked into eating a magical fruit by a talking snake, clearly has a mental disease. You know it's a myth, but you've devoted so much of your life to it that if it's exposed as such you wouldn't even have a personality any more. That's what scares them.
March 7, 2012, 7:55 am
Joe Zamecki from Austin, Texas says:
Yeah! Free speech be damned! Stop those unpopular people from putting out their very unpopular message! That'll teach them for speaking out.

I don't usually use sarcasm, but Thomas Jefferson is spinning SO fast in his grave.
March 7, 2012, 8:04 am
Dan from NJ says:
LOL what's wrong? Praying to stop the billboard not working? If your god hates atheists so much, why not let HIM remove the billboard? Why not leave it all in the hands of your god?

Face it. Praying does nothing because there's no one listening. Your god doesn't exist.

LOL adult fairy tales. Grow up.
March 7, 2012, 8:19 am
Former Yid from Brooklyn says:
“They’re not even going to make a dent", says Rabbi Niederman. He's either in denial, or has his head up his ass, because I, along with dozens of my fellow former Yiddin, have escaped from that cult a long time ago and we're currently in contact with literally hundreds more, residing in that very neighborhood, who are secretly aching to be freed from the prison that is their life. Atheism is rising; religion is fading away... Baruch Hashem!
March 7, 2012, 9:08 am
Anna from Prospect Heights says:
I'd hazard a guess that the building owner said, "no comment," because he'd been paid a whole lot by the Satmar community to keep that billboard off his roof.
March 7, 2012, 9:23 am
Proud atheist says:
Silverman just played his fellow jews for fools. He never would have gotten the publicity that he's now receiving since the community blocked the billboard and created such a controversy over it. Chalk one up for the atheists!
March 7, 2012, 10:15 am
Harry from Elizabeth, NJ says:
Silverman said, “They can’t leave. They don’t the requisite job skills or an education. So we want them to come to the rally...” He does not seem stupid, there is no way that he believes that going to a rally would magically give people job skills or education. The sign therefore was not intended to assist anyone. It was either an attack on religion or an attempt to get his group some publicity. If the second, he was successful and we are helping.
March 7, 2012, 10:17 am
Dallas in Wichita from Kansas says:
Hello To all. I am a Born again, struggling Christian! The only part of the Athiest Billboard Ad that is wrong, is the part about the Mythe. Because it is TRUE, we all have a choice.
One does not need to question, why and what, Mr. Silversteins motives are for trying to Inflame the vast religous organizatons in the neighborhoods.But instead, question why Mr Silverstein does not go to the Middle East and pay, to display, his Message on their billboards ?
I myself, will pray for Mr. Silverstein, and others like him, as well as our Nation, our Leaders, our existence together, as Human beings, who are blessed to live in a country where, (Everyone Has the Right to be Wrong)!(AND LIVE TO TELL ABOUT IT).
March 7, 2012, 10:25 am
Hy from Park Slope says:
All this shows us is how there is alot of hate in Brooklyn. Such passionate disgust with the Hassids, such pleasure in seeing them attacked. The Atheists chose to attack a population directly with an add in English and Yiddish on a major thoroughfare. They should not be surprised when the group fights back, and in this case is victorious to a degree. It's incitement, and because they're Jews, it's permissible. If a group attacked any other group in Brooklyn singling them out specifically, there would be outrage. It's sad how Jews are such a comfortable group to hate for so many of you.
March 7, 2012, 10:26 am
Andy from not from there says:
I'm a very open and proud Atheist and while I do believe we should have the same rights I think their location choice was hateful and unnecessary. A true atheist simply wants the right to not be demeaned for believing something different, not to do the same faith bashing we despise religious a-holes for. I'm glad they we'rent aloud to put it up there, Put it up somewhere else in a more publicly neutral space, not to specifically target and offend a specific group. We should be spreading acceptance among those with a religion based faith and those with a more scientific one, not hate.
March 7, 2012, 10:52 am
Silver Woman says:
What Hy said. The billboard is nothing more than a hate campaign, disguised as a "mission." As with all religion or political beliefs, it is the fanatics who ruin it for everyone. Silverman and his merry band of "non believers" are fanatics. How does my belief in a god or not, affect his well being? It does not. But his slander hateful didactics are meant only to instigate and stir the kind of ignorant hate that we are seeing in these comments. Go back to your "godless" group and preach to your choir.
March 7, 2012, 10:54 am
Aaron from Queens says:
As the antithesis of "faith", reason is the most intolerable concept to the religious masses. The grand delusion must be purged from our society. Thank you American Atheists.
March 7, 2012, 10:58 am
sue from brooklyn says:
keep your oppnions to yourself no need to display them in public thats everyon's problem.
March 7, 2012, 11:02 am
Aaron from Queens says:
Hy from Park Slope:

This same tiny yet vocal population "fights back" when young women dare to ride on bicycles while wearing shorts in "their" community. May I remind you that modern secular society has no need to suffer the dogmatic whims of the pious. This tiny, vocal population is free to join the rest of us in the 21st century whenever they see fit.

And your knee-jerk claims of antisemitism are predictable, irrational, and uninformed. American Atheists post billboards around the country in a variety of communities.
March 7, 2012, 11:09 am
Joe from West Village says:
I'm a committed atheist but it seems that this ad was designed to inflame. There is a way to conduct outreach through a billboard that wouldn't be so offensive but would make a similar point.

Don't think God exists? We think he doesn't. Come hear us out.
March 7, 2012, 11:29 am
migwar from Jackson Heights says:
Actually, they didn't CONVINCE Mr. Stier to refuse to allow the billboard, they PERSUADED him. One is convinced OF something [ie, the wisdom of allowing the advertisement,] but is persuaded TO DO something [ie, allow or refuse to allow the billboard.] Where is your proofreader/resident grammarian ? I could use the job.
March 7, 2012, 11:54 am
Sarah from NJ says:
I appreciate the landlord for blocking access to the building. That offense message shouldnt ever be put up in anyone's neighborhood. All of us should remember who we are, fear g_d.
March 7, 2012, 12:01 pm
Big V from Park Slope says:
Two questions:

So, what actually convinced/persuaded Mr. Stier to refuse the billboard? Money? Threats? The promise of eternal life? I wouldn't want to get involved either, but if you are in the business of renting out your rooftop for billboards, you can't help but be involved in everything they say, as Mr Stier just found out.

Also, wouldn't it be great if the religious minorities (and majorities!) who take advantage everyday of our great country's freedom to express themselves as they see fit and to practice their religion as they see fit would extend the tolerance to others as well? (Yeah, but it ain't gonna happen. I want mine AND yours.......)
March 7, 2012, 1:02 pm
Bob from B'burg says:
So nice to see that Santorum isn't the only nut job out there
March 7, 2012, 1:04 pm
God from Heaven says:
Hey, it's Me again. Would you all please shut the f--k up? The din rising from this planet is enough to deafen Me. Look, I told you all just to get along with one another, help one another, try to have compassion. You know, it's in all of your holy books. Instead, you squabble like ill mannered children. Oh, and by the way, what really pisses Me off is when one group of you get together and loudly proclaim you have some special line to Me.

Anyway, if you haven't noticed, I've been ignoring you these last few thousand years. You're on your own now. I know you can't help it, but try not to be such jerks.
March 7, 2012, 1:08 pm
Chris says:
I affirm the right of the athiest organization to put up a billboard advertising their organization, (assuming that the owner of the privately-owned billboard wants to do so...) I believe in free speech; but even free speech is limited: there are just laws against things like libel, slander, and "hate speech." This and the anti-Muslim billboard, to me, fall into the slander category, and perhaps border on hate speech. To promote your organization and views in a respectful way is one thing, that is called dialog. To use the Tetragrammaton, the name of God that to Jews is so holy, you can't even speak it aloud, and then to call that God a myth, and then intentionally place that billboard in a devout neighborhood, is someone looking to pick a fight. Not only is it immature, it is immoral, and culturally insensitive to say the least. I am a Gentile and I find this highly offensive; it doesn't seem far off from the anti-semetic propaganda plastered up by the Nazis against Jews and other minority groups. To the athiest defenders of the billboard, what is "reason"-able or civil about such efforts to spread your anti-views? Dialog like reasoned adults, not rabid fundamentalists,the very viewpoint/intolerant attitude you supposedly eschew.
March 7, 2012, 1:17 pm
Michael from Williamsburg says:
Whenever someone begins a post, "I believe in free speech, however...." you know that they do not. Free speech is not always fun and free from disparaging intent. We are entitled to be disparaging about anything we wish. There are limits, but being offensive is not one of them. Making fun of religious beliefs is only a breech of the first amendment if the government does it. not individuals. Nazi's were allowed to parade down the streets of Skokie IL. The Jews in this case, or the Catholics in another, or Muslims in a third cannot be allowed to quash free expression of ideas. CANNOT. If the
religious Jews were allowed to, they would ban images of women on billboards and anywhere else they could. No one was born into this world with the right to not be offended. No religion can be allowed to dictate anything to the secular community. If the billboard was meant to inflame people to challenge their beliefs, so be it. If was designed to rally other atheists to attack the synagog then it is illegal. I don't like a great deal of protected speech, but as the famous line goes " I will fight to the death to protect their right to say it" Otherwise no one will come to my defense when I want to tell the government to go to hell.
March 7, 2012, 3:28 pm
Jennifer from Williamsburg says:
You can post your billboard on my building any time!
March 7, 2012, 7:17 pm
it is i from brooklyn says:
I believe in freedom of religion, and freedom from religion.
Don't blast the call to prayer, don't amplify the church bells, don't blast the sabbath sundown siren, don't preach at me, and we'll get along just fine.
March 7, 2012, 11:25 pm
Gary from Deepest Darkest Africa says:
"As the antithesis of 'faith', reason is the most intolerable concept to the religious masses". Aaron, brilliant quote. This is the heart of the matter. Blind faith and the brainwashing of children. This is how religion perpetuates itself.
March 8, 2012, 1:09 am
Dummy from Bk says:
The seeds don't like freedom of speech. Welcome to America.
March 8, 2012, 1:51 pm
Josef from clinton hill says:
1. I have no respect for fundamentalists.
2. The particular religion of the fundamentalists is immaterial - Christian, Hindu, Muslim or Jewish, all fundamentalists are harmful to humanity and the planet at large.
3. I have no quarrel with anyone believing in one god or many gods.
4. As soon as believers seek to compel others to observe their laws or share their beliefs, my quarrel with them begins.
5. It seems to me that as per Mr. Silverman, anyone brought up in a fundamentalist community like that of the very religious Jews of Williamsburg who loses faith in that religion would be in a tough position.
6. As such, the proposed billboard speaks to a real need if there is even one person amongst that community who would like to leave and renounce the community's beliefs, but feels forced to stay.
7. I am extremely disappointed with my former Council Person, Mr. Levin. His siding with the fundamentalists for purely electoral purposes is woeful and I will be letting him know exactly how lowly I think of it.
March 8, 2012, 2:57 pm
Danny from Carroll Gardens says:
Oh please Josef... If you or anyone else who are shocked by this are such proponents of deductive reasoning and rationale, and you didn't see Orthodox Jews fighting a billboard for Atheism, that directly targeted their community, in their neighborhood; then your reasoning skills on a common sense level are just as bad as the fundamentalists... If Silverman was already getting emails from people within that community, there was already an awareness and means to reach his organization...

I'm a live and let live agnostic, and this came off as calculated provocation, when they could have put the advertisement in any neutral site and still reached the intended group...
March 8, 2012, 5:40 pm
Jean Paul Sartre from Brooklyn Heights says:
To quote myself: Hell is other people! So, don't worry
about going to hell, folks. You're already there.
And YOU created it.
March 9, 2012, 12:59 pm
Magda from NJ says:
Indoctrination is child abuse.
March 13, 2012, 7:23 am
Nick M from Park Slope says:
Too bad but it is to be expected. I am an atheist and have a great deal of respect for David Silverman but I am skeptical about the effectiveness of these as a means of enticing skeptics out of religious communities anyway. It will take a lot more than that. And Hassidics are among those who need a heavy dose of skepticism as much as any fanatical culture. It is amusing when I hear Libermann talk about how it is good to protect impressionable children not to have these signs up... Please, it is religion, and ultra-orthodox being among the worst, which is abusing these children by forcing them to conform to an anti-intellectual narrow minded subculture.
June 13, 2012, 2:10 pm
Nick M from Park Slope says:
lol to the person saying Silverman is hateful and fanatical. Um it is your beliefs that tell atheists they are going to hell. This is reaching out to those who want to get out of that hell. Effective? Maybe not. But it is good to see Mr. Silverman is making a positive effort.
June 13, 2012, 2:12 pm

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