Re: [humanism-174] Crowd rallies in Olympia against atheist sign

From: Mark T.
Sent on: Monday, December 8, 2008 5:05 PM
Hi Cynthia... welcome, & thanks for the great post!
I agree- I'm proud of Washington state's lawmakers for letting the sign be, even if the sign's final sentiment goes a tad beyond.
Here is an article from the Seattle PI blog... the author raises an interesting question, & the comments are pretty good.
I've also attached 2 pics- one of the FFRF sign, and one that makes me want to "make my own li'l sign"!

On Mon, Dec 8, 2008 at 1:30 PM, Cynthia <[address removed]> wrote:
Hello all, this is my first response to one of the freethinkers emails.

(preface: I'm not particularly hostile towards personal faith and spirituality, I'm hostile about the tyranny of the majority situation Christianity creates in our country)

Even if your religion is Nazism (I certainly hope not), pornography, or even dead animals hanging from hooks (would parts of Vodun fit in here?), the law protects your right to the freedom speech, so long as you are not inciting injury and violence.There are lawmakers who are attacking free speech, in argument that personal offense can be an injury. Which is just a shining example of a dominant group's fear of dissent, and its struggle to put a lid on anything they deem incendiary or dangerous. For American Christianity, I believe atheists are perceived to be a bigger threat over any other competing religion. (Hee! I'm like the twenty-limbed, maniacally drooling boogeyman!) Anyway. Pornography wouldn't be allowed to hang in the "free speech zone" due to laws controlling the distribution and viewing of "adult" material... If I remember correctly, there was a man who refused an employer-required vaccination due to being a vegan. I believe he was fired/let go/laid off and took the case to court, claiming that his choice not to use animal products was akin to the moral standards of kosher or halal and that his firing was discriminatory and illegal. And again, if I remember correctly, the court shot down his case, claiming that veganism and personal ethical choices of the like are not protected by law (Now, I know that all the scientists out there could, and rightfully so, argue the benefit of vaccinations - but the vegan choice, as seen in recent years, is being supported by a community questioning the contents and necessity of certain vaccinations). I seem to have gotten off on a tangent and lost my way. Oh yeah, I know where I was going... So, for a religion, like Vodun, that represents a small portion of the population or even a white-supremacy group to hang their doodads, they would first have to prove their worthiness of nonprofit status (and no, I'm not trying to say veganism is like Nazism) - which could be argued to be a discriminatory system in the first place, relying on potentially biased judges. Despite the promised separation of church and state, freedom of religion and speech... Churches are tax exempt, while public property and state buildings are maintained by tax dollars. Should belief and non-belief systems, of any kind, be allowed to put up holiday displays on government property? I say no, there should be absolutely no holiday decor in government spaces.

I'm glad the state is going to continue the sign's display, and hope it appears every year that religious paraphrenalia clutters government buildings. Huzzah for Washington State!

-Cynthia (this one, not the other one)

On Mon, Dec 8, 2008 at 12:26 PM, Ginger <[address removed]> wrote:
You know they claim free speech for their nativity scene but when someone else wants to exercise that same right... I wouldn't necessarily endorse putting up that sign, I think it's too confrontational. However they find it offensive, but they can put up with it , I put up with their nativity scene (as long as others can express themselves equally) which yes, does offend me.
This brings up a question though- say you have a free speech zone sort of like we have in this story, where all can contribute their own religion. What if your religion is nazism or pornography? Dead animals hanging from hooks? It seems these sorts of free speech zone things are just opening a can of worms and these displays should be limited to private property.
Crowd rallies in Olympia against atheist sign
Monday, December 8 | 12:45 a.m.
Several hundred people rallied at the state Capitol on Sunday to protest a holiday display inside that provoked a national outcry by disparaging religion and declaring there is no God.
The "winter solstice" sign sponsored by the atheistic Freedom from Religion Foundation calls religion "myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds."
An organizer at Sunday's rally, Steve Wilson, said outrage over the display was growing, and that it was offensive to people of all faiths.
"When it comes to disparaging my faith on public property, that's where I draw the line," Wilson said.
Three counter-protesters stood at the side of the rally, holding up signs that said, "Get Over It."
The sign went up Monday in the Capitol rotunda, alongside a "holiday" tree and a nativity scene.
It generated national debate after TV talk-show host Bill O'Reilly made it an issue on his program. Gov. Chris Gregoire's office reported receiving hundreds of calls, mostly to protest the state's decision to allow the sign to be displayed.
Gregoire and Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna have defended the atheists' right under the law to display their sign in the Capitol.
The state began granting broader access to religious displays a few years back, after a Jewish group added a Hanukkah menorah to the long-standing display of a massive evergreen Christmas tree - these days called a "holiday tree" - sponsored by the Association of Washington Business.
Organizers pleaded with Sunday's crowd to keep their messages positive, but there were still signs portraying Gregoire as a Grinch. Even scheduled speakers took political pot shots.
"You have led the State of Washington to be the armpit of America. And I'm afraid that our governor is the one adding the offensive odor to the armpit," said the Rev. Ken Hutcherson, a Christian preacher known in the region for his commentary on social issues.
Also on hand was a manger scene made from balloons. The wise men were missing, but the scene included an image of O?Reilly slugging Gregoire.
"He's knocking the sense of God into her," balloon artist Adam Lee told KING-TV.
The atheist sign was briefly stolen Friday, but was returned to the Capitol after somebody dropped it off at a Seattle radio station. It was restored to its display site, along with the added message, "Thou shalt not steal."

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