No room at the inn? Atheists see holiday displays vandalized

Fri Dec 12, 2014 5:21pm EST
 
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By Mary Wisniewski

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Holiday hooliganism is no longer limited to thieves running off with baby Jesus from a nativity scene or vandals throwing eggs at mangers.

Atheist decorations also have become a target for destruction after their addition to some public forums in recent years as a counter-argument to menorahs and creches, a Wisconsin-based secularist group said on Friday.

"It's not unusual at all to run into these heavy-handed tactics," said Annie Laurie Gaylor of the Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Of a dozen FFRF displays erected in winter 2012, five were stolen or vandalized, Gaylor said. In 2013, 14 displays were put up, and two were vandalized.

An atheist banner in a park of the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights vandalized twice, in 2013 and 2014, and the Chicago FFRF chapter is offering a $2,000 reward to find the culprit.

The now-repaired banner asks "Are you good without God? Millions are."

Last year in Pitman, New Jersey, someone tried to set an atheist billboard on fire.

Gaylor said the banners and lighted "A" for atheist signs are in response to religious displays, which the foundation said should not be in public places such as parks or government buildings.   Continued...