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Cranford-Based Atheist Group Says Sign Was Vandalized

The American Atheists have a tradition of sharing their message during the holiday season. In one NJ town, the group says their sign was vandalized.

The Cranford-based American Atheists group has never shied away from challenging religious symbols. The group's Times Square banner (see photos in this Huffington Post article) calls for millions to "Dump the Myth" about Jesus during the Christmas season. This week a smaller banner donated by the group to a resident of West Milford Township, in Passaic County, carrying a simiar message was reportedly vandalized.

According to reports, at least one community member is calling the alleged vandalism a show of intolerance and asking local authorities to investigate. The banner, which was placed near religious symbols for the holiday season, was ripped from its posts on Sunday. The banner shows three wise men and asks people to question the "myth" of the holiday season.

“Many people are claiming that atheists have declared ‘war on Christmas,’ American Atheists said in a statement on the group's website. "These same people are allegedly resorting to illegal activities like vandalism to wage their so-called war."

The Atheist group will celebrate its 50th anniversary early next year. The group was formed in Texas, but has its headquarters based in Cranford, where an extensive library and archive of the group is house.

Monk December 27, 2012 at 11:39 AM
Teresa, if the vandalism was carried out by one or two individuals, is it fair to broad brush critics of some atheists' tactics with, "These [believers] are allegedly resorting to illegal activities like vandalism to wage their so-called war [on atheism]"? And explicitly, that is directly, intentionally, mocking Christianity with "Dump the myth" banners sounds awfully much like a war on Christmas to me. It certainly doesn't promote atheism for its own sake. Please present atheism's values in positive terms, if you don't want believers to feel attacked. It's like you're telling people their clothes are ugly, without suggesting what would look more flattering on them. Vandalism is antisocial and wrong. So is mocking and stomping out public expressions of religion, especially with nothing of value to replace it.
Michele December 27, 2012 at 01:26 PM
Teresa, I have to agree wholeheartedly with Monks comment. All I can ad is that in the article it states that "at least one community member is calling the alleged vandalism a show of intolerance and asking local authorities to investigate". Well a sign mocking the beliefs of others as a "myth" is also intolerant and if Atheists cannot see that, then I have to question their real motives. I believe signs posted by Atheists mocking others beliefs, are designed to incite others and when the offensive sign is vandalized, the key word here being offensive, the Atheists involved will proclaim that it was NOT very Christian. I will go so far at to say if the mocking signs were NOT vandalized the Atheist group invloved would be disappointed. I have seen other Atheist displays during the Holiday season that promote the celebration of the solstice. That is their right and it expresses their beliefs without mocking others for theirs. I do not approve of vandalism but I also do not approve of that very offensive, intolerant display being allowed in the first place. Why not stick to displays that promote the holiday season instead of attempting to denigrate what millions believe?
Shadowram December 27, 2012 at 01:36 PM
That is not really a broad stroke, those vandals were most likely Christian or else there would be no reason to pull it down. but unless the was a video we will never really know. On the 2nd part Christmas is a sham, even the church admits it. Nowhere in the bible does it say Jesus was born on Christmas Day, in fact the closes stament is "when shepherds watched their flocks by night." which would have been in the spring. It was not till 4 centuries after the supposed brith that the Roman Catholic Church declared that Jesus was born dec 25th becuase that day was part of the pagan winter solstice festival. Please look it up. So I am not being mean when I say Christmas is a sham, I am only being truthful about what the church is will to do to deceive people.
Michael Flysta December 27, 2012 at 02:41 PM
To bad there is no video...To suggest that this was done by Christians is out of line as well as just stupid but most atheists are just that, STUPID...And also intolerant of the Christian/Catholic belief.
RQ December 27, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Here is the issue. The atheists wouldn't put up their banner on public property if Christians didn't insist on using the platform of our shared public property to promote their view that humans are evil sinners who better accept a human blood sacrifice performed 2000 years ago, or they deserve everlasting torment in hell. People who don't believe in supernatural nonsense find Christian beliefs offensive. You have the right to your beliefs, but if you insist of using the government as a platform to prop up that myth, then in America those who oppose that belief should have the equal platform to push an anti Christian view. If you don't want to be offended by an atheist banner, don't use the government to push your religion on others. Keep it on private or church property.
Rosanne December 27, 2012 at 05:10 PM
Christmas will always be celebrated as the birth of Jesus the Saviour, no matter what group of citizens are non believers or intolerant of Christianity. O'Hare did her damage certainly, but did not diminish the Christian belief. Certainly her son has told his story and has become a major proponent and evangelist of the Christian message. Christ came into our world with a message of love, perhaps it would well for those who oppose the message to take time and reflect on the reason why they are so opposed to Christmas, and not other forms of worship or expression. As Christians dare we do less than express our faith and in that conscience defend our rights under the Constitution to do so...no matter what faction objects?
Shadowram December 27, 2012 at 05:36 PM
But Rosanne, the church did try to obliterate the beliefs and religions of others and had no tolerance for other beliefs. Case in point the birth date of Jesus being made up just so they can end the Pagan Solstice festival. That was the only reason the church picked December 25th. Jesus was most likely born in the spring, not the winter. Besides other prophets before Jesus was supposedly board on December 25 th like Horus, Mithra, Dionysus just to name a few that were said to have been born on December 25. So you see it's the Church that is intolerant by trying to cancel out other beliefs. Please do not take my word for it..look it up, educate yourself and I mean that in a good way.
Shadowram December 27, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Well said RQ!
RQ December 27, 2012 at 05:53 PM
Rosanne. As an atheist I fully support your right to express your beliefs under the Constitution. My only objection is when Christians want the government to favor their religious views over the views of other citizens. In this case people want to use government property to advance their religious viewpoint, but not allow other citizens to have the same forum to oppose religious views. I celebrate Christmas with my family as a celebration of the winter season. It is just as much my right to celebrate how I want to with my family, as it is yours to have a birthday party for Jesus. Religion in American should be a free market. Atheists only oppose those who insist on government assistance in advancing their religious views.
Camilo H. Smith (Editor) December 27, 2012 at 06:24 PM
Thank you all for discussing this issue and bringing out some interesting view points. Shadowram, if I remember high school religion class correctly (I went to Catholic school) you're right. And Michele, I can definitely see how many people can take offense to those billboards, they are meant to provoke a response. Good or bad, that's for everyone to judge as they see fit.
rich December 27, 2012 at 08:31 PM
unless you seeking truth you will never find it........some of the greatest intellects started out as atheists like C.S. Lewis who took up the challange of scripture "come let us reason together", a phrase atheists like to use but they are only quoting scripture. Atheists are not taken seriously but are thought of as non thinkers. Perhaps they should try to explain bible prophesy , for example Jesus has fulfilled over 300 prophesies of the O.T. ....things he had no control over like place of birth, type of death, who He would die with, who He would be buried with all the specifics of His life etc. ..or explain the apostle Paul ( a jewish leader of the highest intellect who made it his mission to destroy christians until he was chosen by sovereign election to be the ultimate spokesman. Paul said i have been stoned left for dead, ship wrecked (days in the sea) rec'd the 39 whippings several times and then in distress cried out "i'm telling you the truth, i'm not lying " Here is the warning God has given to all man in Romans chap 1....the judement of God is being revealed from heaven to all men who suppress the truth of God (by the way they live") since the invisable qualities of God can be clearly seen in the visable things He has made therfore no man is with excuse. So if you think you have a case to say there just was not enough proof, your case will be thrown out of court. But it does not have to be so.
Gail Opacity December 27, 2012 at 09:01 PM
The hypocrisy of atheists astound me. They expect to have acceptance and to keep their freedom of speech and yet they seek to destroy the Christian customs of others. You can't have your cake and eat it too. They must accept and respect the customs of the faiths around them if they expect the same acceptance from others. I am not condoning the destruction of the banner, however, the banner was, in fact seeking to destroy the joy of Christmas in their community. If you plant pea seeds, don't expect to get tomatoes. Gail Opacity
RQ December 27, 2012 at 09:19 PM
Rich. It's funny that you should bring up C.S. Lewis since I just read Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis this past year. Lewis was not the greatest at logic since one of his classic arguments, the Liar, Lunatic, or Lord argument is a false dichotomy (really a false trichotomy) because he fails to list the most obvious option of Legend. As far as your claim the atheists do not seek the truth, I was a Christian for 40 years, and it was ultimately my questioning and seeking of truth that led me away from faith. As far a Jesus fulfilling prophesies, if the writers of the new testament knew the old testament scriptures I wouldn't be hard to reverse engineer a character to fulfill prophesies when they created the stories about Jesus. So the claim of fulfilled prophesies doesn't hold up. And using the bible to prove the bible is called circular reasoning. As far as the natural world proving God, well, to me, the natural world appears to have come about by natural processes, and no supernatural tinkerer is necessary, so why add an extra ingredient that isn't required to explain the natural world? Still. I wish you the best in practicing you beliefs as long as you don't try to use the rule of law, or the platform of our shared government to enforce your religious laws on me since they are a matter of faith for you.
Camilo H. Smith (Editor) December 27, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Hi all, Just wanted to jump in here again and thank everyone for sticking to the topic and really articulating your various points. Wondering if anyone has had a chance to see the billboard in Times Square. I haven't, but wondering what anyone thinks about that. It's brought much media attention in the past.
RQ December 27, 2012 at 10:16 PM
Gail, I don't think atheists are trying to destroy Christian customs. As an atheist, I'm happy for you to practice your customs and traditions, and I would defend your right to do so. Where I draw the line, is when you seek government assistance, or want the government to favor your religious traditions, or views, over those of other citizens. Since we have a 1st amendment that says government has to remain neutral with regards to religion, if you practice your customs on private or church property, then you don't need to worry about viewpoints in opposition to your beliefs that may offend you. If there is going to be a public forum, as is the case in this story, either we need to allow all viewpoints (even those you find offensive) or none. If that banner was destroyed, then that was an attempt to keep one viewpoint from having equal access to the public forum that was set up in the town square.
Shadowram December 27, 2012 at 10:17 PM
Hi Gail, As an Athiest and not seeking acceptance at all, I acceptance what and who I am. I require evidence before I believe anything, or as much evidence as possible. I also believe nothing is finite and things will change as more facts come out. A good day is when someone can change my mind. I am not seeking to abolish anyone's faith, I only seek to keep the separation of church and state. The government cannot respect any religion and allowing religious symbols of any kind on public property is showing respect to that religion. Keep the nativity scene on private or church property, not on public land. It really is that simple.
Donald December 27, 2012 at 11:13 PM
"Atheists are not taken seriously but are thought of as non thinkers," you say! There are many thousands of brilliant and notable "seekers of truth" (to use your articulation) -- of the "greatest intellect," in every field of endeavor -- who came to be atheists. For example, some 100 Nobel laureates declared themselves to be atheists. (Indeed, Alfred Nobel himself was an atheist.) A VERY short list of atheists could also include the likes of: David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Santayana, Bertrand Russell, Thomas Edison, George Orwell, Warren Buffett, Andrew Carnegie, Noam Chomsky, Marie Curie, Susan B. Anthony, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Sigmund Freud, Carl Sagan, Robert Oppenheimer, George Bernard Shaw, Ayn Rand (the moral muse to Paul Ryan), Richard Feynman, John Stuart Mill, Stephen Hawking, Marcel Proust, et al., et al. For perhaps thousands more, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lists_of_atheists
rich December 27, 2012 at 11:55 PM
non thinkers in the spiritual sense.......unless you seek truth like a drowning person seeks air you will not look for it. Jesus said " i thank you Father for hiding these things from the learned and the wise and revealing them to the simple and the innocent" who seek truth... the verdict " a light came into the world but men would not come into the light because they loved the darkness" with the discovery of the electronic microscocpe to (discovery of DNA which screems out with intelligence ) and quantum mechanics the most highly regarded nuclear phys'ts know that macro-evolution is impossible...if darwin was alive today he would renounce his theory of evolution as he assumed we would be tripping over transitional fossils.....(so far not one that all can agree on have been found) we can say this because of the problem the human eye alone gave him if anyone who will not honestly seek the truth of scripture then read what ivan panin (a russian scholar and atheist) discovered.....just google his name (bible numerics)
RQ December 28, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Wow Rich. Your claims about evolution are so full of extremist creationist dogma, I can only laugh. You should actually read up on what real scientists say, and what the real evidence says about evolution. How ironic that you accuse others of not seeking the truth, when it is obvious you do not want to know the truth about evolution. There are thousands of transitional fossils. Macro vs micro evolution is a term used by creationists, not scientists. This is all off topic of the story any way. You are free to believe what you want, but if you want to impose your views on rational people through the government or laws, then we are going to ask for evidence, not argument from authority, arguments from incredulity, or using the bible as evidence the bible is true.
Shadowram December 28, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Christians should beware wanting to inject their religion into the government square. Not only can religion effect what government does, but worse, government can dictate how your religion is run. Is not protection from religious persecution one of the main reasons why the United States was formed in the first place?. Remember the church in America is about the only institution that can openly discriminate against people based on Gender, Sexual orientation, and religious preference. Would you Christians really want the government to come and tell you that you have to have a female preacher, or maybe even a gay pastor, or how about the church having to hire a Islamic preacher to teach your children the koran in Sunday school. If the government respected any religion, this could very well happen. Its about equality.
Monk December 28, 2012 at 05:35 PM
If I may come full circle, Christians ought to be conspicuous by their charity, according to Scripture. Sadly, the cultural accretions of millenia have overshadowed that simple commandment. Now, if atheists want to focus their criticism on commercialized or overly institutionalized Christmas or Christianity, and not the authentic Christmas or Christian message and practice, they will be doing us all a favor. "I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35
rich December 28, 2012 at 06:17 PM
the 1st amendment .....it states congress shall make no laws for the establishing of a religion nor prevent the free exercise thereof. After George washington was signed in as president it was followed by a 2hr church service. Thomas Jefferson who was hardly a traditional christian and is often held as the keeper of separation (his letter to the dansbury baptist minister wanting to keep the gov from religion) did not interpret such as today. In fact he attended church in the largest bldg in washington for 5 years...the capitol bldg , YES THE CAPITOL BLDG. and even paid the military band for their music with federal money! Putting up a creche or menorah is not congress establishing a religion but it's citizens exercising their free rights ...what is now being considered as religious activism is imaginary. For people who claim such separation is what the founding fathers intended do not have history to back them. "the separation of church and state as interpreted today is a metaphor for bad history". Did someone who does not know history or the law make such a statement........no, it was the former chief justice of the united stated william lindquist. As far as discrimination is concerned christians are the only group where it's always open season to attack. A sign of the latter days " when that which is vile before God, men strut freely about and gain praise. psalm 12 -8 It will always come down to "who do say i am" when people make moral choices.
Donald December 28, 2012 at 07:22 PM
I just don't know where to begin to correct your "facts." Let's start with your "former chief justice of the united stated [sic] william lindquist." There is no such person who ever sat on the Supreme Court.
rich December 29, 2012 at 12:08 AM
thankyou donald for correcting my spelling.....i should have known better chief justice william Rehnquist from 1986--2005
Donald December 29, 2012 at 01:59 AM
Notwithstanding the statements of "rich" to the contrary regarding "non thinkers" and spirituality, there are numerous atheists who are widely considered to be both "seekers of truth" and "SPIRITUAL," as well as enlightened "thinkers." One such modern person of particular note is the Dalai Lama. Just three months ago, he issued this message to the world: "All the world's major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether."
Donald December 29, 2012 at 03:36 AM
In 1985, then ASSOCIATE JUSTICE REHNQUIST -- not "CHIEF JUSTICE LINDQUIST," as you erroneously had said -- wrote a dissenting opinion in Wallace v. Jaffree, having no weight or precedence. The entire sentence you butchered actually read, “The ‘wall of separation between church and State’ is a metaphor based on bad history, a metaphor which has proved useless as a guide to judging.” The foregoing dictum came in the context of Rehquist's view that judges should be looking to the language of the Constitution itself -- in the first instance -- to interpret the First Amendment, not a particular "metaphor." Rehnquist was NOT there in any way rejecting the well-accepted legal doctrine of the separation of church and state, nor its interpretation by the Court's prior precedent. To the extent some may have incorrectly read it otherwise, Rehnquist later clarified the matter (or some might say evolved to a more enlightened view). In any event, in June 2005 (fifteen years after his Wallace dissent and near the end of his tenure on the Court), then CHIEF JUSTICE Rehnquist -- writing the precedential decision of the Court in Van Orden v. Perry -- clearly stated, "One face [of the Court's First Amendment law] looks to the past in acknowledgment of our Nation's heritage, while the other looks to the present in demanding a separation between church and state."
Michele December 29, 2012 at 11:59 AM
@RQ: You stated - "The atheists wouldn't put up their banner on public property if Christians didn't insist on using the platform of our shared public property to promote their view that humans are evil sinners who better accept a human blood sacrifice performed 2000 years ago, or they deserve everlasting torment in hell." PLEASE, PLEASE do not distort the message that displaying the creche is meant to celebrate. It merely represents the joy of Christians at the birth of Christ. Your other comments would indicate that you are actually far too intelligent to believe what you wrote about the display of the creche. In addition, you and others have missed the point COMPLETELY or are trying to distort that point in order to defend what was truly a very offensive display that Atheists placed on that property. NO display denigrating anothers beliefs should be allowed and that is exactly what that particular group of Atheists wanted to do. Why? I don't care what you believe and respect what you believe. Put up your banner. I welcome it. I have seen other banners placed by Atheists that join in with the Holiday celebration that proclaim joy in the celebration of the solstice. One declared "Celebrate the Solstice! Peace to All and Happy Holidays".. THAT was beautiful, classy and celebrated the season. The sign that was WRONGFULLY vandalized denigrated the beliefs of others, seemed envous of those beliefs and was downright juvenile.
rich December 29, 2012 at 03:43 PM
religion is man's attempt to reach God........Christianity is God reaching out to man and revealing His very nature and how He sees life " the thinking of this world is an absurity to God" regardless whether you accept it or not there is no other religion in the world that has the same message. (stay away from denominational thinking and stay only with scripture) 99% religions have God plus works .....christianity says "by works shall no flesh be justified before God" because it is a gift. I will change you from the inside out , you will know the truth and the truth will set you free (from the bondage of sin). i'm convinced that if anyone is really looking for truth read just the gospel of John as a start . remember truth by it's own definintion is exclusive not inclusive. Why do i make an issue about chrisitanity in my responses? Because the atheists are not just squirming about the public land sites but have interjected "the myth" attack on people of faith which they feel comfortable doing because they live in a compassionate country founded on judeo / christian beliefs.
rich December 29, 2012 at 04:10 PM
donald, i thought i had already thanked you for correcting my spelling i was typing without reviewing but if it makes you feel good to bring it up again that's fine. Rehnquist was making the point that religion is not the enemy of the goverment as so was thomas jefferson (in his letter to the dansbury baptist minister) And that this was a country founded and formed by a belief in the God of scripture. The early colonies were in fact indivdual theocracies that based there societies on the God of scripture. Did you know as secretary of education Thomas Jefferson made it part of school curriculum to have a bible and the watts hymnal in every class room. in 1892 (the trinity decision) after seaching out approx 10,000 documents declared the u.s to be a chrisitan nation. This was not just because most people were christians (there were other faiths) but because the writings examined were without a doubt based on the God of bible confirmed by the number of times scriptures were quoted. i would say to really be a true atheist you should not include the year on your dating of things, because in someway your acknowleging someone and something happened in this life that the entire world measures time before or after this event
rich December 29, 2012 at 05:19 PM
to RQ as far as real scientists......your flaw is thinking that all real scientists only accept evolution..... i will not waste the words here to list the many "notables" who don't (but i will if you want me to and there statements ) People will believe what they want if they start out with their own mind set. For example Francis Crick co-founder of DNA wanted to use the science of probability to see what the chances were the simplest molecule could come about by ramdom. He allowed a time period of 4 1/2 billion years ...to his shock and disappointment he discovered it would be 1 in infinity chance of happening. (Science claims that when the odds are greater than 10 to the 50th power it can never happen) Crick however would not accept the God theory so he created "directed panspermia" theory which basically says that aliens somehow sent space ships scattered cells on other planets (like johnny appleseed). which of course only changes the location Athur Keith the famous Britsh evolutionist said "evolution is unproved and unprovable we hold on to it only because the other alternative is unthinkable" how is that for open minded research? this may seem off topic a bit but this is the belief of atheists that all of life is an accident unguided and without any purpose. i don't have enough faith it would require to believe in such a thing. Until Evo scientists can explain how life things came from nothing it will always remain "in the beginning God"

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