After NY State Senator Boycotts Times Square Due to Atheist Group’s Billboard, They Buy One Right in His District December 19, 2013

After NY State Senator Boycotts Times Square Due to Atheist Group’s Billboard, They Buy One Right in His District

A couple of days ago, New York State Senator Andrew Lanza voiced his outrage against an animated billboard put up by American Atheists in Times Square:

First, he compared the group’s “intolerance” to the sort of religious persecution that led up to the Holocaust:

Senator Lanza said, “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.”

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 to the Holocaust began with small evil baby steps of ridicule and hatred of the religious beliefs of others.

Then he called for the IRS to revoke American Atheists’ non-profit status:

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.

There’s no religious hatred taking place here. Meanwhile, the Christian non-profit groups that actually work to block the civil rights of LGBT people and women were given a free pass by the senator…

State Senator Andrew Lanza

And if all that didn’t shout “crazy Republican” loudly enough, he went on to call for a boycott against Times Square and its merchants for allowing the billboard to go up at all (as if they had any control over that) and for not denouncing it as hate speech (which it’s not):

“While it is not surprising to me that people who do not believe in God are hateful and malicious, I would have hoped that the people who own this billboard, those who live in Manhattan and around Times Square and the community’s political leaders would have decried this hate speech as something not to be tolerated or allowed.

“I am calling upon all decent people to send a message loud and clear that there is no room in our society for religious hatred or persecution. To send this message, people should boycott and stay away from Times Square and all those affiliated with hatred of this kind. If you agree, sign onto my petition calling for the immediate withdrawal of this advertisement which will be forwarded to the NYC Mayors Office, the NYC Council, the Attorney General’s office and the Times Square merchant community.”

Not that his boycott would ever be effective — Times Square a couple of weeks before New Year’s Eve? Good luck with that — but how does it make any sense for a New York legislator to boycott a huge commercial center in his state?! If it worked, he’d be hurting the people and districts that his colleagues represent! Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face…

Well, American Atheists is responding today in the best possible way.

They’re putting up a billboard in Lanza’s Staten Island district and daring him to call for another boycott:

“Senator Lanza seems to be unaware that there are millions of atheists right here in New York,” said American Atheists President David Silverman. “He accuses us of spewing religious hatred while he himself calls all atheists ‘malicious’ and ‘hateful’ for not believing in his god. We will not be silenced or smeared by a bigoted elected official, nor we will allow our members and the other tens of millions of American atheists to be slandered by a representative of our own government.”

“Lanza had no problem calling for a boycott of Times Square because of our message,” Silverman continued. “We stand behind our billboard and we want the people of Staten Island to know that they don’t need religion to have a great Christmas, either. We are putting up this billboard as a challenge to Senator Lanza. Now the question is, was the senator posturing, or does the he have the guts to call for a boycott in his own district?”

The digital billboard is up on the Goethals Bridge connecting New Jersey to Staten Island.

What say you, Senator Lanza? How could you allow such *vile* advertising to go up in your district? I mean, how dare those atheists say that the holiday season is a time for charity, friends, ice skating, and family… and not just for Jesus?

I’ve asked Lanza’s office for a response and will update if/when I hear back from them.

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  • paulalovescats

    My first thought on how a senator boycotts Times Square……he meets his regular hooker somewhere else.

  • Well, now he has an opportunity to do all his constituents a favor, and boycott his own district.

  • Bob Becker

    Chinese food?

  • It may not be the case as much anymore, but 20 years ago or so, nothing would be open anywhere on Dec 25. So some families would go out and get Chinese food as it was the only thing available.

  • Gerry Mooney

    Well, the Jews have to do *something* on Christmas Day!

  • Oh, yes! Because Chinese restaurants are always open on Christmas, it’s quite a tradition for some families.

  • 1415dr

    This is absolutely hilarious. Maybe stupid politicians are worth all the trouble just for the entertainment value.

  • This is brilliant. It’s amazing how these people have no problem with billboards all over the south telling you forcefully that you’re going to hell, but suggest that Christmas can be celebrated secularly, and they go batshit crazy.

  • LesterBallard

    “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.”

    Now that’s fucking hilarious.

  • LesterBallard

    Speak it, Nelson.

  • ElDouchee

    where do I donate?

  • curtcameron

    I was going to ask the same thing – both the Times Square billboard and this one have “Chinese Food” listed. The only relationship I could think of is that in the movie A Christmas Story, the family goes to a Chinese restaurant when the neighbor dogs eat their Christmas turkey. But they were the only ones in the restaurant. The relationship between Christmas celebration and Chinese food seems pretty tenuous to me.

    This year I noticed that there are movies opening on Christmas day. Seems like that would be a way better Christmas tradition to mention than Chinese food.

  • Vukota Pecota

    This is very elitist of me, but I have to admit I assumed the senator was from some small district in upstate New York. Can’t believe he’s actually from one of the five boroughs in NYC (albeit the most conservative one). I guess there really is Christian crazy everywhere.

  • MNb

    “Religious persecution of the kind that similarly lead to the Holocaust ”
    The victims of the Holocaust were killed because of their ethnicity, not because of their religion.

  • WallofSleep

    “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.

    Sometimes you hear or read a statement that is so back-asswards stupid, demonstrating such a complete lack of self-awareness and situational awareness, that it hits your brain like a wet, rotten corpse. This was one of those occasions.

  • Raising_Rlyeh

    Ah yes, because the one thing the catholic church is known for is “decency, civility and kindness to fellow human kind”.

  • Dave was out of the office when this came in, but I like to think that somewhere, he was making his meme face.

  • – We’d also love to have you as a member! You can join at

    – Dave Muscato, Public Relations Director, American Atheists
    (908) 276-7300 x7

  • SeekerLancer

    Movies and Chinese food are a hallowed tradition for those who don’t celebrate Christmas because they’re two of the only things that are open.

  • Conuly

    Wait, wait, wait. I’m still stuck on the fact that simply being in the vicinity of a billboard – on property you don’t own and have nothing to do with – means you are somehow associated with it.

    Half a mile from me is a huge anti-choice billboard, right here on Staten Island. Can I get Lanza’s help demanding the church tear it down? I don’t want anybody to believe *I* espouse those views just because I live here. And down the block from me we just got a Korean church. They have a huge sign. Can I make them take it down? We already got one random, unsolicited call from a Korean real estate agent in the city (true story!), and I don’t want another. I don’t want to be associated with them and their delicious, delicious food.

  • SeekerLancer

    It’s because Chinese places used to be one of the only things open on Christmas. It’s become a tradition among a lot of people who don’t celebrate the holiday, as is going to the movies which are also open on Christmas. It’s not uncommon for big films to open on Christmas day.

  • Some victims of the holocaust were killed for their religion. Nothing like the millions of Jews, but Jehovah’s Witnesses e.g.

  • Conuly

    Little bit of both. A small number of people who had converted to Christianity prior to the law change were able to escape that way, and some people who had converted to Judaism or married a Jew were murdered.

    There were a few groups, such as JWs, that were entirely targeted on grounds other than ethnicity. They are, of course, a small minority, but they do still exist.

  • Neko

    Now the question is, was the senator posturing, or does the he have the guts to call for a boycott in his own district?

    Heh. As much as I dislike the AA campaign, this was a clever move. Point AA.

  • Fentwin

    Deck the halls with lots of babies

    Fa la la la la la la la la

    Five hour crock pot they are ready

    Fa la la la la la la la la

    Thats the way you know they see us

    Fa la la Fa la la Fa la la

    Telling lies for baby Jesus

    Fa la la la la la la la la

    Don we now our GAY apparel

    fa la la la la la la la la

    Going to the Cracker Barrel

    fa la la la la la la la la

    Watch the right wing heads asplodin’

    Fa la la Fa la la Fa la la

    Off we’re now to worship Odin

    Fa la la la la la la la la

    (silly I know, but thats just me:)

  • ElDouchee

    Hey – you’re that guy from that thing!

  • Pepe

    When they’re not trying to make/break public policy, yes, absolutely.

  • BoGardiner

    “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.”

    Cognitive dissonance theory needs to be taught in high school health class.

  • BoGardiner

    Ditto. Wish it was with a less aggressive billboard.

  • Hugues V

    I am french and I find this hilarious. It seems that it is not easy to be an atheist in your country guys.
    You have all my sympathy!

  • baal

    My preference is sushi places, same idea.

  • JaniceInToronto

    This season is the very bestest for the religionists. I am -loving- the discord.

  • Alierias

    No lines! No crowds! And, when I bartended, Xmas was one of the biggest nights of the year, as all the kids that came home went out to get away from their nut job relatives!

  • Kathy Ward

    In an atheist and I feel that this particular billboard is worded in a rather mean way. All of the others I saw were funny and correct. This one might have a correct message on it, but I think the way in which it is worded is unnecessarily rude and might, in fact, be meant to raise their ire for publicity. This isn’t the kind of publicity we need. The fools already think were hateful and worship the devil. Stick to the positive atheist messages please.

  • MNb

    “A small number of people who had converted to Christianity prior to the law change were able to escape that way”
    At last in 1944 the policy became that they were rounded up as well; before it was ambiguous in Germany and Western-Europe. In Eastern-Europe and the Balkan being a christian never was a rescue. Slovakia and Hungary, which got occupied in 1944, were typical examples.
    An even smaller number managed to escape by betraying other jews (Stella Goldschlag) or by being high-ranked (Erhard Milch) so your point is not saying much.

  • WrennS

    Well… Staten Island is the conservative boro…

  • MNb

    JW’s were not persecuted for their religion but for their refusal to do military service and in general for refusing to declare loyalty to the nazi-regime.

  • You mean the same place that Hurricane Sandy clobbered? You’d think they’d take the hint about god’s will, etc.

  • James Smith

    For a group that talks about being rational thinkers you guys really don’t get it. Do you really think people are only upset with this billboard because it suggests christmas can be celebrated secularly? They are upset with this billboard because it is distasteful and attacking another group. If the billboard would have simply said something like “Happy Holidays from Atheists everywhere. Enjoy the best parts of the season” and listed all the same things, very few would have cared.” People are upset because the billboard was designed to upset christians NOT to reach out to christians or even atheists. So in that way the billboard accomplished its objective. Atheists are never going to be taken seriously until they stop being so immature and childish. What’s wrong with live and let live?

  • Bert Berst

    Maybe that was the point. To piss off all those Christians out there saying that Christianity is the “truth”.

  • shuteme

    Yes of course because christians have never said the exact same things about signs that indeed said just the sort of things as you mention. Keep Saturn in Saturnalia needed to be covered up or set on fire because why please?

  • shuteme

    Well that’s just wrong! Those people should be crucified or something.

  • SeekerLancer

    I might just do that this year. This is the first time I’ve lived near a sushi place and it’s become a new regular thing for me.

  • shuteme

    I for one could care less what those people think. I’m good with rude. I promise you, they are not as offended as I am every time I see one of those “You are going to burn in Hell” signs. I know it’s not true but the children and the simple minded surely don’t.

  • And, dare I say, better designed.

  • JB

    Wait a minute. Does that billboard say Chinese food? Never really associated the “meaning” of the season with that, just that they happen to be open on the holiday. Seems like a stretch.

  • Rob Beasley

    Stop playing bullshit games folks there is a real bad wolf in the house …

    Muslims the world over have been asked by man to recruit. This is not the will of this thing called Go(O)d. This is serving empire…An empire that serves Gold not Go(O)d and cares not for those that serve this empire mindset.

    Here is why the vast majority of humanity are poor both spiritually and materially …

    It’s a simple explanation for what’s been going on for 2500 years. Folks have been feeding the evil wolf that resides inside us all and bullshitting. It’s this empire mindset that was started with Cyrus the Great (540BC) and continued by those Pharisee assholes (160BC).

    “An old Cherokee told his grandson “There is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies and ego. The other is go(o)d. It is joy, love, peace, hope, humility, kindness, empathy and


    The boy thought about it, and asked “Grandfather, which wolf wins?” The old man quietly replied. “The one

    you feed.”

    And here’s that Science…

    Napoleon and Maximilien Robespierre nearly put a stop to it, but those Rothschilds assholes used their connections to British Royalty and the banking systems they used to control Britain to defeat the revolution against empire. They also made a whacking great 40% return on their evil investment….

    Just so happens, call it karma if you will, it delivers the world an amazingly simple solution. Acknowledge the truth of those two wolves, take back the stolen resources , eradicate poverty, pay off the national debts and use the balance to fund a global war on climate change. Oh, and have a party at these assholes expense because they made a Sham/Scam out of religion.

    3 billion in poverty, believers want to kil for a fake God, 99% of wealth with 1% of the population….

    Jesus the Essene, another revolutionary in the spirit of John Lennon, Kennedy and Russell Edward Brand (REB) had this to say.

    5 Jesus said, “Know what is in front of your face, and what is hidden from you will be disclosed to you.

    For there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed. [And there is nothing buried that will not be raised.”]

    6 His disciples asked him and said to him, “Do you want us to fast? How should we pray? Should we give to charity? What diet should we observe?”

    Jesus said, “Don’t lie, and don’t do what you hate, because all things are disclosed before heaven. After all, there is nothing hidden that will not be revealed, and there is nothing covered up that will remain undisclosed.”

  • Rob Beasley

    Nice Job by Silverman though…

  • Thomas Prescott

    You, sir, just won the internets.

  • jdm8

    “Live and let live”

    Either you haven’t seen very many Christian billboards, or you hold Atheists to a different standard than you do Christians.

  • Lark62

    For years, Chinese Restaurants were the only thing open on Christmas – Jews and other non-Christians established a tradition of eating chinese food on Christmas day. A recent Supreme Court Justice was asked during her hearings about where she was when the Christmas day attempted shoe bombing occurred. Her answer included the phrase, “Well, like all good Jews, I was eating lunch at a Chinese Restaurant….”

  • Finn Nicolas

    This is the best response I have ever seen to any insult. Seriously people, that is how you get these arseholes to shut the fuck up.

  • James Smith

    The most common christian billboards I see tend to be things like “god loves you” or just the word “jesus” which to someone who doesn’t believe in god is just about as offensive as seeing a picture of the easter bunny. Now there is of course the westboro baptist church but saying they represent christians is like saying the kkk represents georgia. Most christians I know seem to follow the “live and let live” philosophy and yes, I think they should be held to the same standard.

  • For a group that talks about loving your neighbor and turning the other cheek, you really don’t get it.

    The billboards are neither distasteful nor attacking anyone, certainly not any more than billboards forcefully stating that atheists will go to hell that dominate the landscape in the south.

    It is a verifiable fact that religion if losing its grip in the US. A large part of that reason is campaigns like these billboards that not only spread the message that religion isn’t necessary to celebrate cultural traditions, but that there are plenty of other atheists out there and you need not be worried about being open about it.

  • Richard P. Weiss

    Wow, that senator is extremely bigoted. Well done, Mr. Silverman, well done!

  • Aquaria

    Your genocidal filth shoved in my face is not only disgusting and distasteful, but also an outright threat of finding it all right for me to be tortured.

    You are a disgusting MONSTER, you peddle hateful filth, and you’re too stupid to know it.

  • Indeed. It was quite special for my (Jewish) family, because instead of ordering in, we’d actually go out to the Chinese food restaurant. We got to eat there and have tea in the porcelain cups and everything! That’s a big deal when you’re 10 or 11 years old 🙂

  • *snort* You apparently don’t live in the South, then. I live in a major metropolitan area in Texas, and they’re about split between “Jesus loves you” and “Believe or burn” type signs. These are for mainstream, generally Southern Baptist or Independent churches, not the WBC.

    Your own median is quite to the side of meanie-head, James.

  • Aquaria

    Get out more, LIAR.

    Christards like you think NOTHING of calling atheists slaves to Satan/evil on billboards, that we don’t exist, that it’s all right to destroy the world to get rid of “sinners”, and more, LIAR.

    They’re all over the South, where I live, LIAR.

    And that’s all a lot worse than saying one doesn’t need to believe in your torture-loving scumbag deity to enjoy a season of family and friends and fun, LIAR.

  • Aquaria

    BULL. The Jews were killed for centuries for supposedly killing the christer deity, and for refusing to accept the christard deity as their own–or they were accused of faking conversions.

    Religion was ALWAYS the root of the problem.

  • Aquaria

    How is it as mean as calling free-thinkers slaves of Satan? Do you think that kind of sign has NEVER appeared from a christer organization, ever?

    Think again:

    So where’s the outrage at that, hm? The threats to take away THEIR 501c3 status?


    Saying you want the season to be about the tangible joys of the season and not on a torture-loving fictional character is a good message, and it needs to be said as bluntly MORE often and loudly, not less.

  • You are correct that historically the motivation behind antisemitism in Europe was Christian, but the claim was specifically made about the Holocaust, which indeed was about ethnicity and not religion. Hitler and the Nazis did not give a damn about Christian accusations of deicide or supposed Jewish conversion of Christians (the closest you get was overlap in calumnies like blood libel), as both their private writings and public propaganda made very clear. Their crazy Aryan origin theory, and its application, were justified in terms of ethnic categories, and notably the Nazis did not care about Jewish practice, only lineage.

    So one might make the claim that Christian religiously based antisemitism made the ground fertile, and Europeans culturally receptive, to an attempt at othering followed by genocide, but it goes beyond the facts to claim that their motive was itself religious or that the Jews were targeted because of religious categories. Indeed, by 1900, with incidents like the Dreyfus Affair in France, as well as the writings of Herzl, it had become clear that Europeans and European Jews were both being more influenced politically by the sea-change towards nationalism as an ideology than any religious categories (which had waned from the final peak of their power immediately prior to the French Revolution).

  • ImRike

    This was such an exquisite move that I couldn’t help but join just now. I wish I could carry my membership card on my forehead!
    I am now a very proud member of American Atheists!

  • Dan Robinson

    I never understood the whole idea of hating Jews because they killed Jesus. Wasn’t Jesus a Jew? Wasn’t he killed by Romans? Wasn’t it all part of God’s plan anyway? Wasn’t his “sacrifice” the whole point ferchrissakes?

    Oh well, silly me looking for logic in religion.

  • Randay

    James Smith, your post is one of the most inane I have seen. Not only in the South, all the way to California you can see xian billboards saying you will go to hell if you don’t accept Jesus.

    That is distasteful in attacking both non-xian groups and individuals. The atheist billboards are saying enjoy life now. This particular billboard is an outreach to xians and other religious people who have doubts and are sitting on the fence. The xian message is live and let die.

    My icon, which may be difficult to read, is a church sign that says, “A Free Thinker is Satan’s Slave”.

  • jdm8

    I think you’re probably conveniently forgetting, at best.

    I’ve seen many hellfire & brimstone Christian billboards, plus there’s one up in my city right now that pretty much yells at people about abortion being murder in very clear terms. Broadcasting shaming and guilt like that is very far from a “live and let live” attitude.

    I think Christians do have a double standard on billboards. We even get stupid controversies over innocuous bilboards like (paraphrasing from memory: “Don’t believe, join our group”. Which is basically complaining that atheists dare take out a billboard at all, that atheists should be silent and not let anyone know they exist. But the same people don’t seem to complain a whimper about the hellfire billboards.

  • James Smith

    There are better ways of saying enjoy life than saying “nobody needs god”. I also find the “you’re going to hell” billboards very distasteful. It has been shown countless times that attacking your opponent is not the best way to win people to your cause. Atheists are still a somewhat scorned group. Wouldn’t it make more sense to start out by trying to increase the goodwill first? A simple “Happy Holidays from Atheists Everywhere” would be a happy surprise to see. I also like the Mormon campaign of “I’m Bob and I’m Mormon”. A tastefully done campaign that says “I’m Bob and I’m Atheist” would go a lot further to actually help bring atheists out in the open than billboards like this.

  • James Smith

    So much anger. I don’t peddle anything. I’m not even christian. I just don’t think this billboard is the correct approach for gaining acceptance. It’s disrespectful. It’s the equivalent of putting up a billboard that says “christians are idiots” or “nobody believes in global warming”. You’re entitled to your opinion but that doesn’t mean some approaches aren’t better than others.

  • MNb

    ….SHIT. The nazi’s weren’t in charge for centuries, but for 12 years.
    Your last line no way contradicts what I wrote. I wrote that jews and JW’s were not killed for their religion, but the first for their ethnicity and the second for refusing to submit. Luther was as much an antisemite, but did not have “racial theories”. If you neglect that you neglect an essential difference.
    Simpleton. Not from Europe, I guess? Hardly an idea what the word nazi means? My generation Dutchmen knows thanks to education on primary school.

  • MNb

    Yes. The sad fact is that the decline of religious influence from say 1800 on did not result in a decline of antisemitism. Even in the Soviet-Union jews were not safe.

    And saying that this plot was religiously inspired is simply ridiculous.

  • scmike

    Hi Aquaria. I take it you’re not the ‘friendly’ atheist this site is named after, no?

    I am a born again Christian and have engaged atheists regarding the irrational nature of their worldview many times before. It’s sad to see you so clearly demonstrate that fact here with the name calling, appeals to emotion, and ad-homs. Perhaps you should give some serious thought as to why you must resort to such tactics in lieu of presenting any sort of real rational objections to Christianity? Take care and Merry Christmas!

  • Little_Magpie

    “My first thought on how a Republican senator boycotts Times Square……he meets his regular hooker somewhere else.”

    Fixed that for you. 🙂

    (And yeah, I’m sure some Democrats also hire the services of sex workers; but the Republicans do seem to be especially strong in the powers of hypocrisy.)

  • Darrell Ross

    Aquaria’s statements are in poor taste.

    But I would hardly call them irrational objections. Try living somewhere where you are despised constantly every day by those around you. Live there for a few years. Then get back to us on how much you love those people who harassed you constantly all while claiming that they did so because they loved you.

  • Darrell Ross

    Friendly campaigns exist too. They encourage folks who already identify as atheist and they send a positive message to everyone about atheists.

    But these billboards, in my opinion, are directed more at people who do not necessarily identify as atheist but are about as close as you can get to being atheists. They likely celebrate Xmas as a secular holiday and don’t attend church but on a survey, may still identify as Christian.

    The signs are a conversation piece. They state out loud what many people already think but are afraid to say. It’s a great billboard.

    It takes effort to claim persecution or that they are mean-spirited. They are not.

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