Atheist Banner in West Milford, New Jersey Destroyed After Councilman Says He Would ‘Look the Other Way’

I know I just posted this moments ago, but there’s an update.

In West Milford, New Jersey, American Atheists had this billboard put up after city officials said they would allow holiday displays from any religious group on government property:

After it was put up, City Councilman Joseph Smolinski said he would look the other way if anyone tried to vandalize or steal the atheist banner:

… Smolinski was adamant that the [atheist banner] be taken down in spite of any legal implications, adding that he was surprised no individual acted alone to remove it from municipal property. Smolinski said he, for one, would turn the other cheek if they did.

Guess what happened?

The banner was destroyed yesterday morning:

(Jeff Green –

On Sunday, the resident, Gary Steele, said he found the 2-by-9-foot billboard ripped to shreds. All that remained of its message was the group’s name, American Atheists, its website and tag line, “Reasonable since 1963,” written across the bottom.

Township police Lt. Keith Ricciardi said there is no way to confirm whether the damage was done by human hand or the weekend’s “horrific winds.” Police could not say on Monday whether there would be an investigation.

I find it hard to believe winds would rip through a banner like that. That explanation would be more believable if the whole banner flew away…

So, what now, Councilman Smolinski?

Are you still going to look the other way?

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