State Senator Andrew Lanza Called Atheist Billboard "Hateful," So Now There's One in His District

Atheist_christmas.jpg
Image via American Atheists
The atheists wish you a merry, Christ-less Christmas. Except you, Andrew Lanza.
On Tuesday, we told you about the American Atheists' latest billboard, a cheery, seasonally appropriate number that wishes everybody in Times Square a merry Christmas, minus the Christ part. Predictably, the godfearing folks at FOX News and on Glenn Beck's program were very upset, while most everybody else recognized it as a well-timed bit of marketing for the non-belief lifestyle and moved on.

Well, not everyone. State Senator Andrew Lanza, a Republican who represents Staten Island, is going all in on his war against the American Atheists. It's not going well.

- See also: Fox News and Glenn Beck: Atheist Billboard in Times Square Is "Mean," Comparable to Peeing on Someone

On Friday the 13th (you really have to pay attention to the timing of these things, Senator), Lanza issued a press release calling the atheist billboard "hateful." Same goes for its creators: "Just as millions of Americans are preparing to celebrate Christmas, this intolerant and hateful group deliberately ridicules the solemn beliefs of millions of New Yorkers," he fumed.

Andrew_Lanza_atheist_photo.jpg
Image via.
Lanza's ad against atheism

Lanza then managed both a "War on Christmas" reference and a Holocaust tie-in. Watch your back, Glenn Beck, there's a new overreactor in town:

Not only do the people behind this group not believe in God but they obviously don't believe in decency, civility and kindness to fellow human kind either. This is part of a continued "War on Christmas" and also upon the belief and value system of millions of Christian, Jewish and Muslim people who have faith in God. Religious persecution of the kind that similarly lead [sic] to the Holocaust began with small evil baby steps of ridicule and hatred of the religious beliefs of others.

Lanza called on "all decent people" to stand up to religious persecution by boycotting Times Square. Just ... the whole thing: "To send this message, people should boycott and stay away from Times Square and all those affiliated with hatred of this kind," he advised.

In the earliest version of the press release, Lanza went a step further, saying the IRS should probably investigate the American Atheists to see if the group really deserves its nonprofit status. The exact text of that was preserved on the blog The Friendly Atheist; it read: "Senator Lanza is also calling for the revocation of the American Atheists' 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status because he doesn't believe that tax dollars should be used to spew religious hatred."

Curiously, that part of Lanza's seasonal message seems to have disappeared. But the rest remained, as did a petition to immediately remove the ad, which he promised will be forwarded to the mayor's office, the City Council, the Attorney General's Office, and "the Times Square merchant community."

Six days later, the atheists fired back. American Atheists announced they'd put up yet another billboard on December 18. This one is in Staten Island, i.e. Lanza's backyard.

"We are putting this board there as a challenge to Senator Lanza," American Atheists announced in their own release. "He claims to have been so offended by the first board that he was willing to call for a boycott of Times Square, where it was located. We are challenging him to call for a boycott of businesses in his own district to see if he really means what he says."

American Atheists president Dave Silverman added, rather merrily, "We will not be silenced or smeared by a bigoted elected official, nor will we allow our members and the other tens of millions of American atheists to be slandered by a representative of our own government."

So far, Lanza hasn't responded to this latest volley from the atheists. This really is the most wonderful time of the year, isn't it?

Send your story tips to the author, Anna Merlan.



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11 comments
fcpainting
fcpainting

I'm an atheist, but I don't agree with the wording of the billboard. Christmas is a Christian holiday and I respect others rights to celebrate it as they wish. To say nobody needs Christ in Christmas is an all inclusive statement and one we should avoid. I wish others a merry Christmas and fully support the spirit of the season.The reason so many atheists do not group together or join some organization is because many of us are not actively trying to change your personal views on religion, that's a personal choice each individual makes on their own. That you do not agree with my choice carries as much weight as me not agreeing with yours. Thankfully, our nation is one of many choices and freedoms and the list is growing.It's a sign we are maturing so let's all be grown ups and enjoy the holiday season and all it has to offer.

Merry Christmas!

Glenn Mance
Glenn Mance

Yes I agree it's a wet of money but it is free speech. But we can't all "just get along" when u have people in media who are puppets of corporations & large business owners & spew stories that are non-factual & pander to conservatives & the religious right. & when money is spent in a positive way on ideas that make sense & protect us; for example on trying to get a gun control laws... these politicians do squat cause they's rather bitch about sign cause its easier for the idiots who read the Post to comprehend

gold
gold

Christian bashing is easy. Everyone in the media Trotskyite world does it, so why not run a billboard up at Christmas; funny thing, though, I didn't see one for Ramadan.  I wonder - why not?  How about one regarding the Great Rabbi on Atlantic Avenue?  And then, holy cow, the Christians take it in stride and are not shaken at all.  They don't lose faith, they don't dissolve - and St. Patrick's and St. Thomas' Churches on Fifth will be packed on Christmas eve.  I'm bored by this. Tabita Rachel is essentially correct in her comment, but c'mon atheists, show your stuff, your mettle: pop up a billboard about the Prophet in front of a mosque. I mean, after all, you're serious, right?  All New York is waiting - well, no, nobody cares about atheists or their billboards. Religion, my friends, is tre cool in a post modern world, very avant, very risky. Hey, isn't that what made the Village interesting in the day, in the 60's? I'll be damned - full circle: atheists are boring and religion is hot.  Who knew?

Tabitha Rachel
Tabitha Rachel

The most childish billboard I have seen in my life. How bout grow up and spend your money on making an actual difference that helps others instead of further fueling fueds and division. This is exactly why we CAN'T all just get along.

nevadasmith68
nevadasmith68

How did this piece of shit, Godless emag end up in my inbox? Take this illiterate trash somewhere else.

OldNick666
OldNick666

@gold  "nobody cares about atheists or their billboards"


Yes.  you don't care so much that you post a whining rant about it.  LOL


gold
gold

@OldNick666@gold Soyons serieux!  The V.V. is a great locale for items about cheap booze, excellent on the run eateries, musica, and even atheists. I do not care about the booze, the carbs, most of the music or,  sadly, so sadly, the atheists. It's amusing to read of their antics, though. Now, if the articles showed the intermechanisms of booze, carbs and a-theists ( with some anti-spiritual tunes tossed in, and even some theists) then one might (myself included) be concerned - as though atheists had cornered the pancake or Asian noodle market and were threatening starvation to all who dwell under 7th.   That would be news, oui?  Hardly atavistic, the trouble with atheists is they bang the same old drum, never skip a generation, and are just the same, same, same.  So, as a participant in the mix of post modern expression, one is almost compelled to discuss the tawdry.  Put another way, you are at a party and you run into the ghosts of Christopher Hitchens and then Rasputin. Both are heavily drinking and are at different ends of the room.  Hitchens gets philosophical and delves into atheism; Rasputin tells jokes that get wilder and more bawdy.  Where does the crowd drift? Lo, when Hitchens departs the room, no one notices. Meanwhile, Rasputin keeps on going; proving, of course that the most boring atheists are the dead ones.  The V.V. should run a real estate column  every so often as to what sold in lower Manhattan and what it went for.  Public info.  You might be shocked by the prices, the buyers and the loss of cultural agida that used to fire up the Village. Now, it is tory (sometimes described as tony), high priced and counter to the counter-cultural origin of Village antics.  With me so far? That's counter-counter culture, which means atheists have to pump up that volume to even get noticed anymore, even as Rasputin (and his imitators) run the room. So, it's fun to play around with atheists.  It just is.  It's raining, I can't go for a long walk, alore - let's play with the atheists, you know, torque 'em around for a while, like the game they play.

gold
gold

@pettycoat4@gold A Christmas gift for you. Go youtube: "David Wilcocks Quelle est cette"   an old French carol. No translation needed. For all V.V. readers as well.  It is that season.

OldNick666
OldNick666

@gold @OldNick666 Well buddy, you're still whining about atheists.  You care a heck of a lot, my friend, and every reply reinforces that.  Happy Solstice.

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