Last month, The Blaze reported on a group of atheists who are up in arms over part of a street in Red Hook, Brooklyn, that was renamed to commemorate fallen 9/11 firefighters. The street — now called “Seven in Heaven Way” — references seven firefighters who lost their lives as part of Engine 202, Ladder 101 and Battalion 32. Now, the group — NYC Atheists — is discussing a potential lawsuit against the city.
According to an The Daily News, Ken Bronstein, the head of NYC Atheists, said:
“We are not against honoring anyone who died or served on 9/11. What we’re against is the use of the word ‘heaven,’ which is a religious concept.
The Founding Fathers set up separation of church and state. We need to draw a line in the sand. This is not a Christian nation. This is a republic.”
The families of 9/11 victims are less than pleased with the atheists’ reaction. Catherine O’Mara, whose son-in-law Brian Cannizzaro is an honoree on the sign, said:
“It’s disgusting and horrible. This means everything to the women who lost their husbands.”
Apparently, the group believes it can “show injury — and the impact of what the city is doing.” Their First Amendment case would argue that the public nature of the sign is a violation of the separation of church and state clause. In response to their claims, New York Magazine’s DailyIntel blog called them “jerky” and quipped:
Because when people say a 9/11 first responder is “in heaven” they are specifically referring to the walled-in sky compound guarded by St. Peter. Not, as you might have guessed, a generic non-religious wish that a person who died running into a towering inferno to rescue hundreds of innocent people might somehow now be at peace.
So far, New York City is sticking to its guns and not caving to the atheists’ removal demands. Lawyers are lining up to offer the city pro-bono representation, with experts claiming that the atheists’ arguments are “far-fetched.” Outlandish claims, though, have been a fixture in many past court battles. Thus, this case very well could make its way into a courtroom.