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.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • paulalovescats

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

  • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

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

  • Bob Becker

    Chinese food?

  • https://soundcloud.com/eddieboydmusic flyb

    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!

  • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 1415dr

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

  • Pepe

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

  • http://www.facebook.com/prototypeatheist Prototype Atheist

    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?

  • http://www.DanielleMuscato.com Danielle Muscato

    http://www.atheists.org/donate – We’d also love to have you as a member! You can join at http://www.atheists.org/membership

    – Dave Muscato, Public Relations Director, American Atheists
    (908) 276-7300 x7
    dmuscato@atheists.org

  • ElDouchee

    Hey – you’re that guy from that thing!

  • 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.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    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.

  • 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.

  • http://www.DanielleMuscato.com Danielle Muscato

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

  • Raising_Rlyeh

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • BoGardiner

    Ditto. Wish it was with a less aggressive billboard.

  • 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:)

  • 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.

  • 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!