American Atheists had planned to place a dual-language sign with the words, “You know it’s a myth, and you have a choice,” in the Williamsburg area, but the site’s landlord rejected the action on Wednesday, CNN reports.
Apparently, the group was caught off guard by the landlord’s decision, only discovering the billboard would not be allowed after going to the site with reporters and seeing it had not been erected.
“The Jewish landlord of the building saw the billboard and refused to let it go up,” American Atheists President Dave Silverman told CNN.
Building owner Kenneth Stier has declined to comment on the matter, saying only “I don’t want to get involved in this,” according to the Brooklyn Paper.
Nevertheless, Silverman sees the move as a case of reverse discrimination.
“The Jews have stopped the billboard,” Silverman told the Brooklyn Paper. “It’s really ugly bigotry. As a former Jew, it’s repugnant to see Jews act like this.”
But Stier’s dismissal won’t stop the sign from going up elsewhere in the area. The organization has reportedly chosen a new location along the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway for the controversial message, according to MSNBC.
In addition to promoting an upcoming convention in Washington D.C., Silverman said the signs were meant to send a message to Jewish non-believers.
“We have received a dozen emails from Hasidic Atheist Jews since we announced the billboards,” Silverman told MSNBC. “They feel totally alone. We want to tell them they are not alone.”
The organization also planned on erecting billboard with a similar message, written in Arabic and English, in Paterson, N.J.
Silverman said he knew the sign would upset some people, but he told CNN the group was not concerned about potential backlash.
“The objective is not to inflame but rather to advertise the atheist movement in the Muslim and Jewish community,” Silverman told CNN.