by mr dan
In a challenge to the Town of Vernon’s yearly endorsement of Christianity, Connecticut Valley Atheists spent a chilly Sunday erecting our own display on the town green in Center Park. Its Christian and Jewish counterparts were put up the day before (on the Sabbath, mind you). On one side, the familiar crèche, with its somewhat miniaturized figures of Mary and Joseph flanking the blonde-haired, blue-eyed infant king; on the other a large and festive PVC menorah. The town’s Christmas tree stands nearby. And in the middle, our three-sided wooden sign greets pedestrians and commuters with the message:
30 Million Americans Are Good Without God. Are You?
As in previous years, the back panel includes information on the solstice, not as a pagan holiday but as an astronomical event, an understanding of the physics of which marks the difference between religion and science.
CVA obtained a permit for the space (for a 25 dollar fee) and the town approved our design for the third consecutive year. The specific message of the sign is that we who fall into that conservatively estimated group are fully capable of living decent and virtuous lives. But the broader message is one of protest. While our aims are peaceful, our goal is to make people realize that government property should not be used to make statements about religion, for or against. We’d prefer that all three displays be removed and that the town, like all of its neighbors, let the people decide how they want to spend their holiday season.
It is our view that the government, at any level, has no business encouraging or discouraging religion of any kind, and is prohibited from doing so by the first and fourteenth amendments to the US Constitution. The government should remain neutral on matters of faith and let its citizens practice freely, or not practice at all. We have the right to be steadfast, resolved, pious, skeptical, scientific, open- or closed-minded, indecisive, ambivalent or apathetic.
CVA will continue the displays annually until the Town of Vernon stops endorsing religiosity.
mr dan is the vice president of Connecticut Valley Atheists. The views expressed in this posting are his own and do not necessarily represent those of Connecticut Valley Atheists or its individual members.