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Atheist group defiant in face of Republican lawmaker’s threats

Posted by on Dec. 18, 2013 at 5:32 PM
  • 91 Replies

Atheist group tells Raw Story it’s defiant in face of Republican lawmaker’s threats

By David Ferguson
Wednesday, December 18, 2013 7:49 EST
Dave Muscato via screencap
 
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The group American Atheists, Inc. is simultaneously outraged and bemused at a spate of attacks by a New York Republican state senator. The lawmaker is trying to organize a boycott of New York City’s Times Square while starting a petition to shut down a billboard erected there by American Atheists and to revoke the group’s nonprofit status.

In a conversation with Raw Story, American Atheists’ communication director Dave Muscato said that New York state Sen. Andrew Lanza (R) probably knows full well that everything he’s asking for is impossible, but that his real goal isn’t actually to do any of it.

“The petition, all of it, it’s a joke,” Muscato said. “I think he’s pretty clearly just farming for emails.”

Email “farming” is when a petitioner launches a political petition that they know is hopeless, but which they are using to gather the names and email addresses of people from whom they can later solicit donations. The practice is used by groups on both the right and left, but is typically considered to be poor form, a means of roping in the gullible by way of their idealism.

On his state legislative website, Sen. Lanza declared in all capital letters, “SENATOR ANDREW LANZA DENOUNCES AMERICAN ATHEISTS’ HATEFUL TIMES SQUARE ADVERTISEMENT SAYING ‘NOBODY’ NEEDS ‘CHRIST DURING CHRISTMAS’.”

In a statement on the site, Lanza lamented, “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.”

American Atheists and people like them, said Lanza, are going to cause another Holocaust.

“This is part of a continued ‘War on Christmas,’ Lanza said, “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.”

Muscato scoffed, “This is pandering. He’s just puffing up his chest and saying, ‘Look at me, I’m a Christian and I’m so offended by this!’”

“We’re not hate speech,” Muscato said. “I think he just wants attention and to show off how ‘religious’ he is.”

Besides, he noted, this is exactly the sort of government interference in free speech that the U.S. Constitution prohibits in the First Amendment.

“We have a Constitutional right to freedom of speech,” Muscato said. “And this a direct violation of that, a government official trying to tell a nonprofit organization that because what we’re saying disagrees with his religion, it’s hate speech. I’m outraged that he even thinks this is a good idea.”

“Part of me wonders if he hasn’t read the Constitution,” he concluded, “or if he just doesn’t care.”

The group published an open letter in response to Lanza on Tuesday.

Earlier this month, American Atheists unveiled a billboard in Times Square that asked, “Who needs Christ during Christmas? Nobody. Celebrate the true meaning of Xmas!” as the backdrop lit up with words like, “snow,” “music,” “family,” “fun” and “lights.”

In an accompanying press release, the group pointed out that early Christians grafted the celebration of Christ’s birth on to already existing pagan holidays.

“We all love this time of year. Christianity has been trying to claim ownership of the season for hundreds of years. But the winter solstice came first and so did its traditions. The season belongs to everybody,” said American Atheists’ president David Silverman.

by on Dec. 18, 2013 at 5:32 PM
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Replies (1-10):
MeAndTommyLee
by Platinum Member on Dec. 18, 2013 at 5:44 PM

Wait up a minute....

Non-for-profit status?  Wasn't aware an atheist group is able to apply and receive tax free status.  

PrimmednPunked
by Bronze Member on Dec. 18, 2013 at 5:47 PM
1 mom liked this

More intolerance and hate from the religious right.  Wonder how certain members here will try to write this off.

billsfan1104
by Jules on Dec. 18, 2013 at 5:51 PM
How is this hateful? I don't think he should petition to bring down the hateful bigoted sign down, but let not pretend that the Aheists sign is respectful and happy go lucky.


Quoting PrimmednPunked:

More intolerance and hate from the religious right.  Wonder how certain members here will try to write this off.

PrimmednPunked
by Bronze Member on Dec. 18, 2013 at 5:52 PM

Why is it hateful and bigoted?  Because it is true?  I am not a Christian so I don't need Christ in Christmas.  

He is trying to infringe on the groups freedom of speech.  You're ok with that?

Quoting billsfan1104: How is this hateful? I don't think he should petition to bring down the hateful bigoted sign down, but let not pretend that the Aheists sign is respectful and happy go lucky.


Quoting PrimmednPunked:

More intolerance and hate from the religious right.  Wonder how certain members here will try to write this off.


CheesyKitty
by on Dec. 18, 2013 at 5:55 PM
2 moms liked this
"Athiests and people like them are going to start another Holocaust."

Oh yea not hateful at all.

Quoting billsfan1104: How is this hateful? I don't think he should petition to bring down the hateful bigoted sign down, but let not pretend that the Aheists sign is respectful and happy go lucky.





Quoting PrimmednPunked:

More intolerance and hate from the religious right.  Wonder how certain members here will try to write this off.

billsfan1104
by Jules on Dec. 18, 2013 at 5:58 PM
Did you read my post. I said that he shouldn't petition to take it down. Which means THat I am not ok with it.

It's clearly a hateful dig at Christians. Why?? Why engage in the hatefulness? If one wants to celebrate Christmas with Christ let them, if they don't want too, let them. But why put a billboard up stating that you don't need Christ in Christmas??


Quoting PrimmednPunked:

Why is it hateful and bigoted?  Because it is true?  I am not a Christian so I don't need Christ in Christmas.  

He is trying to infringe on the groups freedom of speech.  You're ok with that?

Quoting billsfan1104: How is this hateful? I don't think he should petition to bring down the hateful bigoted sign down, but let not pretend that the Aheists sign is respectful and happy go lucky.





Quoting PrimmednPunked:

More intolerance and hate from the religious right.  Wonder how certain members here will try to write this off.


PrimmednPunked
by Bronze Member on Dec. 18, 2013 at 5:59 PM
2 moms liked this

Tell this to your fellow Conservatives.  They need to hear it too since they are th eones who are pissed about "happy holidays" being said instead of "Merry Christmas".

It isn't hateful to state another point of view.  You only think it is hateful because you disagree with it.

Quoting billsfan1104:

It's clearly a hateful dig at Christians. Why?? Why engage in the hatefulness? If one wants to celebrate Christmas with Christ let them, if they don't want too, let them. But why put a billboard up stating that you don't need Christ in Christmas??


Quoting PrimmednPunked:

Why is it hateful and bigoted?  Because it is true?  I am not a Christian so I don't need Christ in Christmas.  

He is trying to infringe on the groups freedom of speech.  You're ok with that?

Quoting billsfan1104: How is this hateful? I don't think he should petition to bring down the hateful bigoted sign down, but let not pretend that the Aheists sign is respectful and happy go lucky.





Quoting PrimmednPunked:

More intolerance and hate from the religious right.  Wonder how certain members here will try to write this off.



CheesyKitty
by on Dec. 18, 2013 at 6:00 PM
3 moms liked this
I see nothing wrong with thier message. It's no different in my mind than "Remember the reason for the Season, keep Christ in CHRISTmas"

Neither message rings true to everyone but neither message is wrong either.
billsfan1104
by Jules on Dec. 18, 2013 at 6:00 PM
The atheists are stating just as hateful comments.

Quoting CheesyKitty: "Athiests and people like them are going to start another Holocaust."



Oh yea not hateful at all.



Quoting billsfan1104: How is this hateful? I don't think he should petition to bring down the hateful bigoted sign down, but let not pretend that the Aheists sign is respectful and happy go lucky.








Quoting PrimmednPunked:

More intolerance and hate from the religious right.  Wonder how certain members here will try to write this off.

CheesyKitty
by on Dec. 18, 2013 at 6:02 PM
1 mom liked this
Oh I forgot Jesus was all "eye for an eye" he TOTALLY accepts "they started it" as a reason to forget to love thy neighbor.

Quoting billsfan1104: The atheists are stating just as hateful comments.



Quoting CheesyKitty: "Athiests and people like them are going to start another Holocaust."





Oh yea not hateful at all.





Quoting billsfan1104: How is this hateful? I don't think he should petition to bring down the hateful bigoted sign down, but let not pretend that the Aheists sign is respectful and happy go lucky.











Quoting PrimmednPunked:

More intolerance and hate from the religious right.  Wonder how certain members here will try to write this off.

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