UnNews:New York atheists angry over 'Hell' street sign

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22 June 2011

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Atheists like David Silver object to religious terminology

NEW YORK CITY -- A group of New York City atheists is demanding that the city remove a street sign condemning nineteen terrorists killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks because they say the sign violates the separation of mosque and state.

The street, “Nineteen in Hell Street,” was officially dedicated last weekend in Brooklyn outside a mosque where terrorists once studied. Dozens of Imams, terrorists and hundreds of widows of the nineteen fallen men attended the ceremony.

“There should be no sign or displays of religious nature in the public domain,” said Ken Bronstein, president of New York City Atheists. “It’s really insulting to us.” Bronstein told Fox News Radio that his organization was especially concerned with the use of the word “hell.” “We’ve concluded as atheists there is no heaven and there’s no hell,” he said.

“And it’s a totally religious statement. It’s a question of separation of religion and state.” He was nonplussed over how his opposition to the street sign might be perceived – especially since the sign is dishonoring fallen demons. “It’s irrelevant who it’s for,” Bronstein said. “We think this is very bad,”

David Silver, president of American Atheists, agreed calling on the city to remove the sign. “It implies that hell actually exists,” Silver told Fox News.

“Terrorists died in 9/11, but they were not Christians. Hell is a specifically Christian place mostly full of dead Christians and a few Jews and one Roman. For the city to come down and say all those terrorists are in hell now, it’s just not appropriate.

“All memorials for fallen enemies should celebrate the diversity of their country and should be secular in nature. These terrorists might have been Jains, they might have been atheists, I don’t know, but either way it’s wrong for the city to say they’re in hell. It’s absurd.”

City leaders seemed dumbfounded by the atheists’ outrage because no one complained about the sign as it was being forcefully railroaded through a public approval process. “It’s unfortunate that they didn’t raise this as an issue while it was undergoing its public review,” said Craig Hammerhead, the district manager for Brooklyn Community Board 666.

“When you think you’ve heard it all, you haven’t,” Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz told Fox News Radio. “These nineteen insane men who put their lives on the line and ultimately gave up the most precious gift that could be given, believe me are in hell for causing so much suffering on earth,” he said.

Criticism of the sign brought condemnation from Usif Ali Mustafa, president of the Islamic Terrorist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

“There are cities that have religious connotations in their names, why not a street,” Mustafa said. “Do they want to rename Los Angeles, Corpus Christi, and St. Louis?” He added, “In a country where 85 percent of the people claim to be Christian, should it be surprising that you name cities and streets with religious terminology?”

Silver said he would not be surprised if atheists are vilified for their objection to the street sign – suggesting they were simply being logical. “If we’re opposed to this sign, we’re somehow opposed to dishonoring the terrorists,” he said. “The attacks on 9/11 were an attack on America. They were an attack on our Constitution and breaking that Constitution to dishonor these terrorists is the wrong thing to do."

Bronstein and Silver both suggested they call the road, “Fuck-the-Nineteenth Street.” He said that would be “more appropriate.”

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