Atheist Billboard Not Allowed in Orthodox Jewish Community

As an atheist organization continues to promote a major event through billboards, one Orthodox Jewish community has stopped the ad campaign in their neighborhood.

American Atheists' plan to post a billboard in Hebrew and English saying "You know it's a myth … and you have a choice" in a heavily Jewish neighborhood in Brooklyn was halted at the last minute when the owner of the site refused to display it.

"I think it's their right," said Rabbi Steven Burg, managing director of the Orthodox Union, in an interview with The Christian Post.

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"I think it's your right to say that something is too offensive to the general community …. I don't have a problem at all with that decision."

The billboard that was rejected last minute was part of a nationwide effort on the part of American Atheists to advertise for its "Reason Rally," which will take place on March 24 at the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Another billboard, containing the same message except with Arabic instead of Hebrew as the second language, was posted in a heavily Muslim community in Patterson, N.J.

Dave Silverman, president of AA, told CP that he believed "it is clear that religious bigotry is the reason" for the sudden change of mind for the display.

"He looked at the vinyl and refused to allow the billboard company to post it. Then he went into 'no comment' mode," said Silverman.

"It disappoints me that a group which has been the victim of religious bigotry over the millennia has now become the purveyor of such bigotry."

Silverman also took issue with the claim that because the billboard was offensive it should not be displayed in the Jewish neighborhood.

"Atheists have every right to advertise as we see fit, just like everyone else," said Silverman.

"I wonder how the Jews would react if they were told where they could advertise and what they could say, because some people might be 'offended' at their position."

Rabbi Burg told CP that he did not believe the community was engaging in "religious bigotry" by not allowing the AA billboard to be displayed.

"I think it is up to the local community," said Burg, adding that the atheist group "can go across the street" and display their message there.

"Looking at the billboard, the name of God that they put up there is a very holy name to many Jews and they seemingly did it to be provocative," said Burg.

"So I don't think they should be astonished when people would be upset by it because that is what they wanted to accomplish."

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