Firehouse’s ‘We love you!’ sign causes big controversy, demands for removal

Atheists are up in arms over a pro-Christmas sign outside of a firehouse.

The sign, which says “Happy birthday Jesus – We love you,” is on display outside the Utica, N.Y., Fire Department Station 4.

The oft-offended Freedom From Religion Foundation issued a news release demanding the signs removal.

Jesus sign
Photo credit Freedom From Religion Foundation

According to the release FFRF sent a letter to Utica Fire Chief Russell Brooks in April “asking him to ensure the sign was not displayed this year,” following a complaint the group received from a local resident.

Upon discovering the sign was displayed again this year, the FFRF fired off another letter. This time to Utica Mayor Robert Palmieri.

“The sign at Fire Station 4 explicitly invokes the name Jesus, an exclusively Christian god, and makes a direct statement in support of that deity (“WE LOVE YOU”), on behalf of the station and City. This is precisely the sort of religious endorsement prohibited by the Establishment Clause,” the letter read.

In a letter in response, Brooks wrote that he believes he’s within his legal rights displaying the sign.

“I was advised by the Thomas Law Center Center that we were well within our rights to display our Christmas sign,” Brooks wrote. “In addition, they would support us, as well [against] any efforts from any organizations looking to prevent us from doing so.”

The atheist group said that 20 percent of Utica residents, including firefighters, are non-religious and others are non-Christian and posed a hypothetical question to the fire chief.

”How would Brooks feel if his local government put up a sign saying, ‘Happy Birthday, Mohammed. We love you!’? This sign is equally inappropriate because government bodies should not take sides on religion,” the group wrote.

For now the sign remains.

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Carmine Sabia


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